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Emily and I successfully survived our first day of Continental N sampling! We spent last night with my parents in Hutchinson to knock off at least a couple hours of today’s long haul. Mom and Phaffs sent us off this morning at the crisp hour of 5 am with hugs and home-baked blueberry muffins 🙂
Site 1: Davy Crockett National Forest, Texas
We made it to DCNF in a little over 8 hours, thanks to Google Maps not accurately estimating the strength of my lead foot. We also made it to the Texas border with a quarter tank of gas, which bodes well for our gas efficiency. After a small kerfuffle with finding the area in which we were allowed to sample, we got ten good trees fairly easily. All were Pinus taeda (loblolly pine), which core fairly easily and smell *wonderful*. The site was recently burned, of which I was unaware – that’s not necessarily a problem, but this site will now be classified as one of our disturbance-impacted sites and not a strict natural abundance record.
Site 2: Kisatchie National Forest, Louisiana
Though we’d already spent a significant amount of time in the car, the Louisiana site is only three hours away from the Texas site, so I tacked it on to today. Vicky (my Garmin) started making some interesting choices with directions, culminating in what I will generously call a road that was kind of paved, in some places…. It’s not totally her fault – when you’re in the boonies of one state and want to get to the boonies of the neighboring state, there’s generally not a major highway between the two. Regardless, I may need to take a more active management role in Vicky’s decision-making. This stand was more diverse than the Texas stand, though still including Pinus taeda. We took some of those, as well as some Quercus velutina (black oak) and a couple of an as-yet unidentified tree. It’s not 100% clear what this tree is, and we were running out of daylight for field ID, so I took some photos and a couple litter samples and we’ll do some more in-depth identifying when we have time later. In the meantime, feel free to leave some suggestions on what species you think it is!
Incidentally, we almost lost the corer in this tree as well. It was not actually due to lackadaisical removal of the corer, which is usually how that happens (the tree can seal wounds so quickly that it can ‘trap’ the corer in place if you don’t remove it fast enough). Once inside the tree, the core somehow lost traction and was just spinning in the hole instead of twisting out. So long as you can keep it moving, you always have hope, so we just kept tugging and twisting, and with our combined upper body strength (and perhaps a foot braced against the tree trunk), we managed to yank it back to where the threads could gain traction and twist it all the way out. But whew – it was close 🙂
We finished at Kisatchie with a bit of daylight left, so we decided to make it an extra hour up to Shreveport, LA to spend the night. This means we are technically AHEAD OF SCHEDULE. I am nowhere near naive enough to believe this trend will continue, but it’s nice to have our first day (which was also one of the longest) not set us behind.
We’re now holed up in a Comfort Inn. We are showered (smelling *much* better than we did an hour ago) and looking forward to a hot breakfast in the morning! The plan for tomorrow is to head up to Simonson Biological Field Station near Bismark, AR and then over to the UMiss Field Station near Abbeville, MS. Total driving time should be closer to 7 or 8 hours compared to today’s 12+, so we get to sleep in till SEVEN am!! Look out for some well-rested, well-fed, possibly butt- and bicep-sore, tree-coring MACHINES tomorrow!