yellowstone national park

Yellowstone: Mary Bay

2014-07-07 08.32.38

My field partner and I had fantastic luck this year with finding the unfindable. Seriously. Just like the salamanders hanging out in the Observation wetland, Mary Bay was even more of an unexpected surprise. There are only a handful of wetlands in the Park that have all four amphibian species and we were able to add Mary Bay to that list…it took us a few tries though.

The bottom portion of Mary Bay is filled with small thermal pools that dry up quickly and one very large pond that is so mucky around the edge that you can barely survey it. It’s actually pretty gross in there because it’s all filled with animal poo. The geese (as you can see in the photo above) and swans fill the wetland up. In fact, everything likes to poo in there. I’ve never seen so much tadpole poo in my life. I was scooping up large clumps of it. Heck, I even had to take a station break and go in the trees nearby. That never happens. Hailey’s Comet is more common.There’s just something very bowel releasing about the place. I’m not sure if that has anything to do with the fact that one scientist in the Park is convinced that if Yellowstone erupts, Mary Bay will be ground zero. Coincidence? I think not!

This is our annual July 4th survey. It’s usually scheduled for a half day and always takes a full day. Oh Mary Bay… The smaller sites were finished quickly because most had already dried up. The puddle-sized ones were bursting forth with tadpoles, adults still calling and attempting to lay even more eggs and metamorphs pouring out onto the dry ground. It was glorious. By the time we hit the Bay of Poo, the sky opened up and completely drenched us. Not the best way to begin an 1.5 hour survey! Because of the quicksand shoreline we were both only able to survey a small portion of the wetland. Despite this, we were convinced that we had seen spotted frog tadpoles, a load of chorus frog tadpoles, two fleeting salamander larvae and no toad tadpoles.

Later on, I spoke to Deb about what we’d seen and she mentioned being surprised that toad tadpoles are never found there because it’s thermal and they dig that scene. I began to question my amphibian identification skills at that point because, in retrospect, the thousands of small, dark tads clumped together along the shoreline seemed like they could have been toads. Toad tadpoles love to hang out in large congregations and are very curious. They won’t swim away when you approach them. In fact, they’ll usually swim right over to see what’s up. Other species definitely don’t act this way. At the time, we just couldn’t get that close to really tell for sure. So since we were returning in a few days to survey the dreaded upper sites, I agreed to give Poo Bay another looksee. Well, low-and-behold after much heated debate, we determined that the clumps of spotted frog tads were in fact, toads. By the hundreds! Thus, we were able to add Poo Bay to our small list of sites containing every amphibian species in the Park.

Surveying in Yellowstone is definitely like a box of chocolates…just not as tasty.

yellowstone national park

Yellowstone: Dunraven

2014-07-21 10.27.57

2014-07-21 10.05.35

2014-07-21 11.10.40

2014-07-21 11.12.11

Dunraven is another favorite of mine. It has beautiful old-growth forest with lots of small, manageable wetlands to survey. Even better, the hike is super majestic and downright enjoyable. You honestly expect trolls and fairies to pop right out and strike up a conversation. Despite its awesomeness, this year was a bit of a mess when it comes to Dunraven. It was intended to be a one-day survey that turned into a two-day depressing event. To make matters worse, all this went down on my field partner’s birthday. Not good.

All was smooth sailing and we were more than halfway through our survey sites when we happened upon my absolute favorite wetland. I was so psyched to get there and I was telling my field partner all about how awesome it is and how it’s usually packed with tadpoles and such. As I approached the wetland, I was surprised to see that it had shrunk in size compared to previous years. I mean, it was half the size. This was a bit unusual, especially since this year was considered to be fairly wet. I was disappointed but not too floored by this because I have a theory about Dunraven being extremely dynamic and that it’s becoming thermal (no one seems to agree with me on this though). So I was bummed to see my favorite wetland had shrunk but not totally shocked.

Another thing I noticed as I approached was that the water was moving and hundreds of little tails were breaking through the surface and splashing about. This is the kind of stuff that makes a herper jump for joy. So although the wetland had shrunk, the frogs didn’t get the memo and they were still doing their thing. Aces! Just in my first few net swipes I had more spotted frog tadpoles than I could count. This was going to be a fantastic survey! Well, you can guess what’s coming next…

About five minutes into my survey I began to discover that something was very wrong. I netted a dead adult frog, and then another. I stopped and took a good look at the water around me and I saw many dead or dying tadpoles. They were swimming in circles, sometimes upside down, and then just dying. It was extremely eerie. I abandoned my survey, told my field partner that we had ourselves a problem, and then instead of counting the living, we began counting the dead. We searched that wetland with a fine-tooth comb and found two dead adult spotted frogs and about thirty dead spotted frog tadpoles. This is of course not accounting for the hundreds of tads whirling around the surface doing strange stuff.

We both agreed to cut the day short instead of contaminating the other wetlands with our equipment. Being the amphibian lovers we are, all we could feel was dread. Any creature that even so much as walked through that wetland could be spreading something awful throughout the ecosystem.

That night I was able to contact my supervisor, who then contacted the disease specialists for the Park. That crew went out to take samples and either they went to the wrong location or they need eye exams because they couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary.

A few days later we resumed our surveys of Dunraven and on our way out we collected samples for the disease crew. We needed to collect a dozen dead tadpoles, slice their bellies open and place them in vials of alcohol. Since I love blood and guts, I was the slicer and my field partner was the wrangler. She had no problem finding dead things, to the point where I couldn’t keep up with her and we had our dozen within minutes.  The place was certainly in worse shape than we had left it the first time.

I am sad to report that as of right now, months later, we still don’t have any answers. It could be chytrid or it could be something new for all we know. Amphibian die-offs are not a priority in the Park. And even though they are considered species of special concern, that seems to be just on paper. It’s extremely frustrating. You risk life and limb to gather data for absolutely nothing. It all seems so futile at times. As with any job, you have to find your own meaning for doing it or you’ll be miserable and in this case I’ve found it, thankfully.

2014-07-16 10.41.54

2014-07-16 12.01.51

2014-07-16 13.43.53

2014-07-21 17.46.33

yellowstone national park

Yellowstone: Nez Perce off the Mary Mountain Trail

The glorious view from the Mary Mountain trailhead.
The glorious view from the Mary Mountain trailhead.
A boreal chorus frog.
A boreal chorus frog.
Elk antlers
Elk antlers
An adult spotted frog.
An adult spotted frog.
Black bear print
Bear tracks.
A very large wolf print.
A very large wolf print.
Big sky country.
Big sky country.

If you don’t remember the disaster that is Nez Perce, just note that it was by far the worst site of last year that nearly crippled both Andrew and I. It’s a 7.5 mile hike each way on flat terrain (a few miles are sandy so imagine hiking in sand all geared up) and two to three miles between the wetlands. So in total it’s about 18 miles. Not to shabby. Plus, there’s usually unpredictable weather, stream crossings and wild predators involved. It rained on us last year during our surveys making the hike out in wet shoes and socks bloody, painful and cold.

So you can imagine my delight when we were scheduled to survey sweet little Nezzie Perce on Friday of our first week. And if we didn’t finish our surveys all in one day, we’d have to hike back out there on Saturday. Admittedly, I’m in a lot worse shape than last year, plus I’m super sick with a cold so I didn’t have much hope for this ending well. However, as lady luck would have it, we had a huge team of extremely capable USGS employees on hand to help us knock it all out. Compare this to last year when we had a huge team of complete idiots who only held us up. Andy, the coordinator for this project, took one team and I took the other and we made magic happen! As you can see from the photos, the amphibians flocked to us like the salmon of Capistrano. We saw eggs, we saw tadpoles, we saw adults…. It was great and the weather held out.

The most painful part is always that 7.5 mile hike back to the car and this year was no different. There were a few times that I just wanted to just drop dead but my stubborn arse kept plugging away. What helped the most, because I have super bad knees and hips, is using hiking poles (plus mega doses of hyaluronic acid and flax oil). I’ve never done this before but I cannot express to you the difference it made on my joints. Sure, you look kind of like a pretentious idiot who thinks they’re skiing but it’s worth losing some street cred over it. In fact, I wasn’t even sore the next day whereas last year I couldn’t get out of bed for a few days. Yup, I’m a well-oiled machine out here, save for my cold. But who really needs to breathe anyways? That’s so overrated. Overall, it was nearly a 17 hour day. We left the dorm at around 5am and returned a smidge before 10 pm. Yow!

Also, let me note here that I was among four other girls on this hike and it served as a great reminder that girls are way grosser than guys. All we talked about the entire day was poop. This by no means is a complaint. Poop is where I shine people. I have so many classic poop stories, I should write a book, and I broke out a few of my best during this trip. And let me tell you, the ladies were impressed. The guys were absolutely horrified but I think they need a not-so-gentle reminder every so often that we’re nowhere near as delicate as we let on.

yellowstone national park

Yellowstone: Week 1

View from my bedroom window
Yup, that is a mound of snow…in June.

Well, having completed my first week of the 2014 field season, I can say that it’s started out in a very unexpected way. First, I swiftly came down with a pretty severe head cold about a week ago, which has seemingly reinvigorated itself today. I think it was a combination of the dust in the air and the musty-ness of the dorm messing with my allergies and then the extreme temperature change throwing my body into a complete tailspin. I went from very warm temps in New York and all the way out here to snow. Yup, snow. That’s not at all unheard of in June but my body did not get the memo. Second, our field refresher sessions have been in the absolute worst weather. I’m talking 20 to 30º with a mix of rain, sleet, hail and snow. We had to completely bail out of Gibbon Meadows one day but not before getting completely drenched and near hypothermic. Luckily, before I ventured out into the field I bought a really awesome coat from the gift shop for super cheap. It completely saved my arse because although I brought enough warm clothes to get by, I failed to bring anything resembling a coat. Yikes!

We were actually supposed to begin surveying Crystal Bench with the other field crew on Wednesday but the weather report looked so miserable (snow, sleet, hail…) that we didn’t do it. We figured that the visibility and the conditions in the wetlands would make it hard to find anything. However, the other field crew managed to hike out there during the storm to install data loggers (they measure wetland temperature and water depth) in a few of the Crystal Bench wetlands with a bunch of helpers from USGS. While they were out there they realized that the sites were teaming with boreal toad tadpoles. They were finding them by the thousands! Compare this to last year when we saw about four toad tadpoles in that wetland complex. Now, before you freak, boreal toad tadpoles prefer thermal waters so they were fine despite the snow. Needless to say, they completed our surveys of Crystal Bench for us and me and my partner were able to scratch that site off our list without ever having to go there. It’s kind of a bummer though because it’s one of my favorite places to survey.

Our field gear.
Our field gear.
The rest of the crew stomping around the wetland trying to calibrate their equipment.
The rest of the crew stomping around the wetland trying to calibrate their equipment.
This black slick is actually zillions of what seem to be fleas. Ick!
This black slick is actually zillions of what seem to be fleas. Ick!

Speaking of boreal toads. I’m convinced they’re hitting it big this year which is fantastic news. They’ve always been found in a few thermal pockets throughout the Park, however, on a larger scale they’re being hit hard by disease. Throughout their normal range, most populations are in decline. And although an estimated 80% of Yellowstone’s frogs have the same disease responsible for mass extinctions elsewhere, the elevation and climate conditions seem to have made it so the toads can either shed or suppress it (researchers are still trying to figure out how they’re doing it). Yup, it all comes down to location, location, location. From our visit to Indian Pond on Monday, and then our brief and unpleasant trip to Gibbon Meadows on Tuesday and then the news from Crystal Bench on Wednesday, we’re seeing them in massive numbers this year. Just in Indian Pond, I’d estimate that we saw a few hundred tadpoles last year whereas we’re talking in the thousands now. The only difference I can think of is that this is a wet year compared to last years drought year but I’m not sure this is the driving force. No matter what the reason, it’s good to see them thriving somewhere.

Travel, yellowstone national park

Yellowstone: July 18th, 2013

2013-07-18 14.31.00
“Hey, let me down or I’ll eat you like a fly!”

Deb, Andrew and I got an early start since we had no idea what this catchment had in store for us. All we knew of Gibbon Meadows is that Andy and his crew had to stop surveying when they hit a large, confusing wet meadow filled with beaver dams. Needless to say, we were concerned–me especially since I despise wet meadows with the fiercest of all hatreds. Not to mention that there was an entire page of handwritten directions on the easiest way to get into the site. That never bodes well. Last year, Janine and Scot surveyed it for the first or second time instead of Grebe Lake because of the nesting swans. Normally, this and a few other sites are backups in case crews can’t survey one of the regulars for some reason. By the end of the day, we had decided that this site would remain a backup or be turned into a multi-day backpacking trip–but I’m getting ahead of myself.

First of all, I will preface all of the bad by saying that this catchment is absolutely beautiful. The terrain is breathtaking which made the entire event much easier and kept me in good spirits. However, right from the parking lot we had a tough time. The first thing we had to do was ford a river and that meant either doing a perilous circus act by crossing over a skinny log that was high above the water or wading through the river that was nearly above my waders. We all chose the wading and my waders were minimally filled (Deb had to do it twice because she left her GPS in the car). Then it was a half-hour trek through some nice, flat terrain on an animal path. We, of course, encountered a nesting pair of sand hill cranes who amazingly enough did not eat my face off but certainly threatened to do so. One of them kindly escorted us into the forest…the forest of death (or so it felt). This was nearly two hours of hiking through very intense, rugged terrain. To say the least, it was exhausting and brutally hot. On several occasions I stopped for a drink and remarked on how beautiful it all was and Deb–sweet, always cheery Deb–acted astonished and completely disgusted by the place. You know things are bad when Deb isn’t digging it.

Eventually, we made it to the sites in question and we could definitely appreciate Andy’s predicament. The beavers were having a field day in this site. They had built dams every fifty meters or so along the stream, yet we never saw a lodge. Some areas were completely flooded, some were still dry but certainly wouldn’t remain that way for long, there were thermal seeps, and the once dry forests were now dying from the inundation. This wet meadow was an ever-changing landscape that defied our ability to characterize it in a way that would make any lasting difference. Next year, this place would be a habitat completely changed from the one we were seeing–perhaps an even better one for amphibians.

We found some potential sites to survey and even some spotted frog tadpoles to assure us that we were on the right track. Then we continued up the wet meadow for another 200 meters to see if we found any other potential sites.  Basically the entire meadow was either a stream, a wet meadow or a thermal seep. It would take several teams to even come close to completing this survey in a day. Andrew and I met up at the stream and headed back to find Deb. We chatted for a second and then in one fell swoop Andrew scooped up an adult female boreal toad that was hanging out by his feet. He proudly displayed his catch without even skipping a beat in the conversation.  I thought that seeing an adult boreal toad near all of these warm seeps that they love to breed in would be a great indicator of habitat suitability but Deb didn’t seem to think it meant much because they’re known for being impressive travelers. They can cover distances you’d never expect them to. They’re rather Olympic in that respect!

The way out was equally hellacious but Andrew’s quirky conversational abilities and chosen topics kept things light. I ran out of water but luckily Andrew’s steri-pen saved the day. That thing’s magical! Just before the car, I managed to fall into the river while trying to gracefully pounce over some logs. The cool water felt good though, especially on my torn-up feet (I wore the wrong shoes) so there were no complaints from me, just some embarrassment. Enough with the bad though. I will bookend this Gibbon Meadows experience by saying another nice thing: there were relatively few blood-sucking insects. Thank goodness! It may seem like a small thing (pun intended) but a lack of bugs is a major relief after being constantly devoured by them for the past few weeks.

2013-07-18 17.51.35
This is where I fell on the way back.
2013-07-18 17.51.56
He clearly has no problem getting across–unlike me.
2013-07-18 15.20.38
Deb & Andrew happily heading back to the car.
2013-07-18 15.30.03
The trees dying from the beaver inundation.
2013-07-18 14.30.53
Look at that physique!
2013-07-18 14.30.37
An adult boreal toad.

My last night in Yellowstone was spent eating, drinking, and swapping stories in the employee pub with Janine, Scot, Deb and Andrew. This was our last big hurrah of the season. We signed our names on the wall under those of previous amphibian field crew members. This is our lasting legacy…at least until the place is torn down or painted over. Oh, and we played pool and I actually did okay. I love it when I pretend like I can do something well and then the fates align so it looks like I actually know what I’m doing. That rarely happens so I definitely sit up and take notice when it does.  I will miss this place so much. I already do.

Travel, yellowstone national park

Yellowstone: July 15th, 2013

2013-07-15 12.38.56
Adult spotted frog.

The hike into the Grebe Lake took one blazing hot hour. My stomach was already killing me from last nights pizza, not to mention the lack of sleep so I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I should have been. Don’t worry, I gave myself hell for my bad attitude the entire walk in. I haven’t forgotten how extremely lucky I am to be here, not for a second, and a bad day working in Yellowstone is equal to a good day anywhere else. Sadly, my time here is quickly nearing an end and I only have two more days in the field after this one. My body will be thankful for the rest but my heart will miss this place immensely. The surrounding forest was burnt and the ground was covered with fallen deadwood but luckily we had a well-groomed path to follow. I have to give Yellowstone trail crews some major props for clearing hiking paths. It’s a lot of work and that‘s putting it very, very mildly. What would take us several agonizing hours to hike off-trail only takes us one thanks to them. Just last week we got to see an aerial view of Grebe Lake during our hike to Observation Point so it was kind of cool to finally see it from the ground. Most of the wetlands we had to survey around the lake were completely dry this year with the exception of a tiny pool of water in the middle of what was once a wet meadow. The pool was absolutely filled to the brim with large spotted frog tadpoles. I’m crossing my fingers that the little guys fully metamorphose before the pool dries up. It’s definitely going to be a tight race. Surveying the lake took each of us 100 minutes. Previous years took over 200 minutes so we were super speedy by comparison. Most of it wasn’t even close to being amphibian breeding habitat though. Each of us saw about ten adult spotted frogs along the shoreline (the largest, fattest spotteds we’ve ever seen!) but they were just hanging out. Most of the breeding would have been done in the–now dry–nearby wetlands. We weren’t able to survey the entire perimeter of the lake because of a beaver lodge being in the way and a precarious area of downed trees. There were white pelicans along the shoreline and I collected some feathers while they enjoyed a swim. Let me tell you, their scat looks just like bear poop. It’s enormous! Andrew is convinced it was bear poop but I stand by the fact that what we saw littered along the shore, among a whole lotta white feathers, was indeed pelican poop. I’m certain. I thought goose poop was large but it doesn’t even hold a stinky candle to a pelican’s. Along the way I stopped to photograph a skeleton in the water, which I presume belonged to an ungulate of some sort. Submerged in water is an unusual place to find the skeleton of a land-mammal so I just had to spend some time examining it and seeing if I could find all of the pieces scattered about the bottom. Perhaps it got stuck in the muck and just died…we’ll never know. I also netted a fish head and a dead bird but alas, no tadpoles. And speaking of fish, they were jumping near me during the entire survey. Jerks! Every few seconds either a view of one jumping or a splash taunted me. All day I had to jealously maneuver around anglers catching mostly rainbow trout. Oh how I wish I had brought my pole with me. We stopped to watch two loons dive under the water and catch fish right in front of where we were sitting. Every once in a while they would call to one another. I love the beautifully haunting noises they make. Throughout the day, a bald eagle circled overhead and on the way out, we saw an osprey dive down and catch its dinner. How cool!

2013-07-15 15.17.132013-07-15 13.20.312013-07-15 13.31.352013-07-15 13.31.442013-07-15 13.32.112013-07-15 13.32.25

2013-07-15 13.44.57
A buffle head mother with many babies behind her.

2013-07-15 12.38.07


Travel, yellowstone national park

Yellowstone: July 11th, 2013

2013-07-11 14.09.222013-07-11 14.09.462013-07-11 14.09.532013-07-11 14.10.35Oh Craig Pass…why? WHY!? Once again, we had another doozie of a catchment. Previous teams had set up seven navigation points to get us, the easiest way possible, to the wetlands. Well, Andrew and I both want to tell those people off. The navigation points led us through the worst forest known to man. Painful hours later, when we finally made it to our first site, it was a large lake. The entire day was one large lake after the next with a few dried up wet meadows containing a few adult frog hot tubs thrown in there for good measure. Surveys of that size are a lot of work but we hustled. This has been a two-day catchment in all years but one but Andrew and I both agreed that there is no way in heck we were doing this another day. So we blazed through as best we could. Overall, the breeding habitat was actually pretty spectacular and we found chorus frog tadpoles, one spotted frog tadpole and by glorious god we saw lots of neotenic spotted salamanders. Yes! They’re so cool! Their gills look like big frilly clown collars and they swim so fast. The way out was much easier because we completely ignored the terribly misleading navigation points and instead chose to follow the stream bed. It was relatively smooth sailing once we decided to buck the trend. I fell a few times, of course; I was poked so hard by a fallen log that it split my skin; surefooted Andrew even fell; he split his walking stick right up the middle; Andrew’s forehead was so badly eaten by mosquitoes (even through his hat) that it was inflamed and lumpy for the rest of the night; and both my hips and knees were shot. Basically, it was the status quo for the week. On the bright side, it was much cooler and not as sunny so we weren’t desiccated husks (we often net the desiccated husks of damselflies and dragonflies and wonder how cool it would be if humans left behind perfect little husks like that). As fate would have it, that was the only day that Andrew carried enough water with him. Now he probably doesn’t think he’ll need to carry as much next time since he still had some leftover this time. Ahh…I see a vicious circle forming. While we were still in the forest, I exclaimed that I could see the road peeking through the trees. Andrew all of a sudden sings “Let’s go there. Let’s make our escape.” like Scott Stapp of Creed so we entertained each other by doing our best Scott Stapp impressions until we reached the car. Then it was no-holds-barred Creed’s greatest hits on full blast. If our neck’s weren’t hurting before, they certainly were after our one-hour extravaganza of head banging, dashboard drumming and air-guitaring. I’m so glad he’s my field partner. He’s funny and happy even during our worst moments out in the field. Our styles are perfectly balanced: in the mornings he has a positive outlook on the day whereas I’m poo-pooing everything and by the end of the day he’s wanting to die and I’m telling him that things are looking up. Hah! When things get tough, we both turn inwards and get quiet but eventually the jokes always start back up. Even better, he’s equally out of shape so I never feel like I’m lagging behind. I don’t think the gal who was supposed to be with me would be anywhere near as much fun. Sometimes we try to imagine what she would be like. She would be a snobby, extremely fit aerobics teacher and she would make me survey every wet meadow, even if it was dry that year.

Travel, yellowstone national park

Yellowstone: July 9th, 2013

Day two of the Shoshone catchment. This is the day we surveyed the rest of the sites in this wetland complex. Site 13 was way too remote from the rest of the wetlands to survey all in one fell swoop so it was broken up into two days and two vastly different experiences. It’s been three or four days since Andrew and I surveyed this site and I’ve already blocked it out. I can’t really even give you the details of this experience other than…

* it was extremely low-quality amphibian habitat
* it took about 2.5 to 3 hours (each way) to get from the wetlands to the car
* the terrain was brutal: non-stop mountainous terrain with steep valleys, plus mature downed trees with thick re-growth that will gladly stab and puncture you with every painful step
*Andrew ran out of water near the end and was near insanity
* it was blazing hot (95 degrees)
* the insects were awful
* my left hip was completely rubbing and nearly out of socket–bone on bone
* my left knee was strained so I had a badass limp happening

It was basically twelve hours of climbing mountains, climbing over or under logs, getting stabbed and sliced, being devoured by insects, sweating profusely, getting fried to a crisp by the sun, and being completely unprepared for extreme thirst…all to find a handful of tadpoles with no decent breeding habitat to speak of. It was a stark contrast from the day before. We returned back to the dorm near death. Instead of washing our gear and prepping for the next day, we both made a B-line towards any physical relief we could find. I laid on the couch and Andrew sat next to me in the chair and we immediately passed out. We only woke up because my snoring scared the crap out of the both of us. Eventually, I was able to scrape myself off the couch to call Deb and tell her we made it back in semi one piece. Her day of surveying was equally trying with the exception of seeing two white wolves. One of the wolves was so surprised to see Deb that it dropped what it had in its mouth and ran away. Upon inspection, the item dropped was a deer head. How freakin cool is that?! Andrew and I never see cool crap! I almost didn’t have the heart to tell Andrew about it because he’s been dying to see a wolf. Yellowstone will be a letdown if he doesn’t see at least one. Hopefully, we can make it back in time tomorrow to go out to Hayden Valley with the wolf men. Since they’re studying the Lamar and Hayden Valley wolf packs, they’re the guys to go with for a guaranteed visual and they’ve invited us along. When my broken body finally laid down to sleep that night, I couldn’t find any relief, despite the copious amounts of Advil in my system. I kept dreaming I was stuck in Shoshone and couldn’t find my way out. I literally only slept for four hours that night and I haven’t slept well since.

Travel, yellowstone national park

Yellowstone: July 8th, 2013

DSCF2151I woke up and got right down to the business of catching up on my journal entries from the past week. I was so engrossed in writing that Andrew busted in and lit a fire under my ass. It was noon and I hadn’t even gotten out of bed and here he was, having just driven 5.5 hours from Casper, ready to survey site 13 of the Shoshone catchment with me. Yup, only one survey today because the hike in and out is going to be tricky. I hustled and we were on the road in no time. The off-trail hike was moderately strenuous and took about two hours each way. The wetland was well worth it. We found tons (okay, not literally tons…but close) of chorus frog tadpoles. And you know how I love them! My only complaint was the sheer number of mosquitoes and biting flies. Holy gawd! As soon as we got to the pond we were absolutely devoured. These blood thirsty suckers completely laugh at you when you frantically try to apply repellant. They laugh…you can hear them chuckling in your ear if you listen hard enough. Overall, it was a high-quality site to survey, despite the blood loss. After work I treated myself to a black bean burger with fries and a scoop of ice cream at the Fishing Bridge soda fountain. Yum! Sometimes running out of food can be a tasty dilemma. Then it was back to the dorm to goof off with my other dorm-mates for the rest of the night. All is well in my world.