I was about to say that we’re moving on to Plan B, but realistically, it’s more like Plan R or S at this point. Regardless, our outline for the rest of our time here is as follows: Tomorrow, we hope to hear from the Yellowstone biologist concerning mid-elevation white bark pine stands. Ideally, he would be able to take us out to such stands tomorrow (though we recognize this is super short notice) and we could at least GPS the locations of some stands, and perhaps obtain some samples through the biologist without having to go through the official permitting process. I should note here that I’m not sure this is possible, as we are unfamiliar with the stringency of Yellowstone’s sampling permits, but in other places, the park biologists can have some leeway to collect themselves and then ‘share’ with researchers without formal permitting. We will see what our options are on that regard tomorrow.
In addition, we have determined not to attempt to hike up to the lake again. We talked with Hank (the head of the research station) and he agreed that it was too risky for us to attempt the hike again. We were hoping extra time may provide a little extra advantage with snow melt, but Hank argued that melting snow can be even more dangerous for hiking as it is prone to give way at inopportune times. Kyleen has identified a few days in July where there is space at the research station for her to return, so she’s working on outlining a return trip during that time. Fortunately, our GTNP permit is active until the end of the calendar year, so she could return to supplement our current sampling (at a time when snow would be less problematic) without having to redo the permitting process. She may also be able to set up Yellowstone sampling for that time, if the Yellowstone biologist is unable to meet with us tomorrow.
And last, but not least, we may be aiding our cabin-mate Kim (from Iowa State) who is here tracking butterflies. Normally, the butterflies emerge in mid- to late-July, and she was out here early to get her equipment ready and do preliminary site checks, etc before her undergrad assistant arrives next week. Unfortunately, her butterflies didn’t get the memo and began emerging today, so she’s on the hot seat for data collection, with no field assistant. I offered to go with her, though I’m not totally sure what my duties will be… fortunately, her sites are near the roadway, so there will be little hiking 🙂
In the meantime, I’ve been taking the opportunity to learn some of the sub-alpine flowers that are in bloom around the park, which are displayed here for your viewing pleasure 🙂
So, due to a windstorm which came up quite suddenly this evening, the entire field station lost power. My cabin mates and I decided to start a puzzle (found on the shelf in the living room) to pass the time, but as the sun set, seeing the pieces became increasingly difficult. Not to worry! We simply proceeded on the puzzle using our head lamps 🙂