As the second to last month winds down to a closure, I almost feel as if the month that remains were slipping away alongside too. I think of how many things I have yet to do, so many places to fall in love with, and definitely not enough time. I’ve even began planning how I can come back next year. This last month has been a mixture of working with vouchers, working with different divisions learning their skill set (or some of it anyway) and field work. But most its activities have proven to make it a month of personal reflection. It is of my belief that humans can have almost anything they want, but it’s finding the wanting that is difficult. I have learned so much about life through this job: How to push my boundaries so far they get lost in the distance; how to be grateful for life in every situation, just for simply being alive; how to wake up every morning and decide to have a marvelous day…
For example, just a few days ago I went camping to this beautiful and remote area of the park. I chose to go here because it had never been surveyed. I knew this because of map I made using GIS; I plotted all the points that have been entered in the Herbarium Database, of both the Working and Historical Collection. These points give me a good idea as to which areas of the park should still be surveyed and using the points of the Historical Collection, I can find out where the plants that the Working Herbarium is missing actually are. As I was hiking in, I saw a beautiful gigantic butte. It was basically impossible to get to it, but I knew I wanted to, and that no one else would go there. So the next morning I climbed up the steep mountain for several hours, finding different interesting Haplopapus (Asteraceae) on the way. When I got to the butte I felt I had taken myself further than I would normally have, and I succeeded. Thus, now I know that the furthest point I think I can reach, still falls short of what I can actually do. As it is with everyone, I think. Among the Manzanita and Quercus gambelii slithered out the biggest rattle snake I have seen in my life. It was going toward me, so I moved to let it know I was there. It stopped dead in its tracks and when I left to get the camera, it disappeared. I left soon after that, just finished making Chysothamnus and Eriogonum vouchers and bolted down the mountain. When I got to the trail I saw that the way I had come down was probably the only way that was remotely possible to ascend. I had not noticed, but there were small cliffs to either side of the path I took. And that leads me to the idea that gratefulness is really key in life, because anything can happen, yet we are still here with the possibility of loving life. I went on another long hike and found many other plants but by the time I got back to my car and the trailhead leading to my campsite, it was already dark. I left the excess gear and started down Lee Pass. About mid way I saw probably the only other sight that would have shot my adrenalin more than a rattle snake… The glow of two bright green orbs 50 m ahead of me. Mountain lions are common in this area, but if I was to see one, I had always hoped it would be at least in the day time… Alas it was not this way, so I did what I was taught and got ready to fight, just in case it came to that. After waiting some time, hopefully giving the cat time to mind its business, I continued onward to my tent where I laid awake feeling wonderfully alive, albeit in a tad of peril (just the way life usually is).

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