Kyleen and I had an uneventful drive from Fort Collins CO to Grand Teton National Park (GTNP), and arrived by 3:30 pm because Google Maps drastically over-estimated the time it would take…. We got settled at the AMK (no idea what that stands for) research station at GTNP operated by University of Wyoming and the National Park Service. Right now, we have our cabin to ourselves, but during the two weeks we are here, two other groups will arrive to share the same facility. We have our own bedroom, but will share bathroom, kitchen, and living area. For anyone who has done national park fieldwork, it’s pretty much the same set up as everywhere else. And the view out the back of our cabin is phenomenal.
We met with Hank Harlow who runs the field station and is a professor at UW. He gave us lots of good advice on the hike itself and avoiding bears. Apparently, the field site has already had three bear ‘visits’ so they are quite strict on food and trash handling in the area. He’s also going to loan us some bear spray to use while hiking, and had already planned a mini bear safety session for all current residents of the field station.
Our other major concern has been snow and ice on the trail up to our field site. Hank assured us that there was minimal to no snow at all along our hike, though he recommended we take crampons just in case. He also gave us some advice on hiking across snowy or icy patches, so we’re well equipped to handle what little snow we should come across.
We also hiked down to the trailhead we’ll be using to access our fieldsite. There are two trailheads from which we can reach the lake, but the closer of the two is closed because a bridge was washed out. This will add about a half mile to our hike, but it’s in a flat area, so shouldn’t be too strenuous.
Hank also told us about a couple events going on at the field station. This week, there’s a group of artists (not sure where from) using the park as inspiration for a series of paintings. Wednesday evening, they’re holding an art show at the Berol Lodge (the main building at the field station). Also, all summer long, the Berol Lodge holds Thursday seminars with invited speakers whose research is relevant to the area. This week is a professor from Yale who researches elk migration patterns. The seminars are open to the public as well, and Hank says there can be as many as 150 people in attendance!
Anyhow, so far the prognosis seems solid. We are prepared for bears, no longer really concerned about snow, and my only concern now is the length of the hike. So long as the hike itself doesn’t take the bulk of the day, we’ll be able to get our sampling done really quickly. We shall see tomorrow!