Today we continued to help John and Jim on their new project monitoring vegetation on fox dens. The majority of the group stayed with Jim and John and worked on identification of vegetation, while four students continued the trek to different dens with Chloe, a graduate student of Jim’s.
Mahey: After our groups branched off, the group I was a part of continued the work we had been doing, and conducted microanalysis on several quadrats near the fox dens. It was similar to what we had been doing before, so the work went swimmingly. It’s cool to become familiar with the plants to the extent that ID’ing them is simple. My favorite plant is the Draba Alpina because of how unique and rare it is. The hikes between each site were tough, but it was a nice feeling of accomplishment to get through them and embark on the few kilometers back. It was difficult to wade through the ridge and mud, but once we got back we went for a swim to get clean. Though I was nursing a few blisters, I was excited to see my friends get back from their expedition with Chloe.
Lexi: I had no idea what to expect for the long hike with Chloe. The day itself was a nice change from the large group hikes. The hike consisted of walking in mud that went past our thighs, spotting wild animals (bald eagles, foxes, caribou, voles), adding new plant species to our duo-tangs, and bad puns. Once at the dens, we split up into pairs and got to work. While we identified plants, Chloe changed the cameras at each den. After our work for the day was finished we decided to take a swim at a nearby lake. We burst out into laughter as we dunked ourselves into the cold water. We also found a small island of sand in the lake and named it “Squad Island.” By the end of the day my feet were aching and I was extremely tired. I was excited to be reunited with the rest of the group and share our stories of the day at dinner. Today was definitely one of the best days out on the tundra.
Mahey Gheis and Lexi Mantilla