Tuesday, July 19, 2011

STUCK!!! And more...

WARNING! Long post with lots of pictures.

First I would like to share with you the story of how I got stuck in some mud for nearly 45 MINUTES!!!  Yep, stuck good.  I was out doing one of my beaver/otter surveys where I walk 500 meters along the banks of rivers.  I had just finished one side of a bridge and was going to cross under the bridge to survey the other side.  Right before I got to the bridge I noticed this little drainage ditch (probably 6 inches wide or so) but water was flowing through it so I figured I would 'hop' across it as to not get my boots wet by the water....

That didn't quit work out.  As you might be able to see in some of these pictures I managed one foot across the drainage ditch and felt it sinking into the mud.  (Mind you, before you accuse me of being an idiot for jumping into mud!,  I have crossed under dozens of bridges like this this summer and they pretty much all looked like this.  The mud that you see is typically a hard dirt/ground and not mud so I wasn't expecting anything different)  Right as I felt my one foot going under I tried to 'quick step' my way out of a muddy situation (pun attended =) but as my next 2 steps hit I sank all the way down, right up to my knees.   This was the worst mud I have ever experienced.  It WAS INSANE.  I honestly could not move.  I could feel the weight of the mud pressing down on top of my feet.  I tried and I tried to pull my legs out but they just were not moving.  I eventually had to radio Jesse over from the other side of the river to come help me out.  He found some flood debris laying under the bridge (the big log I am holding) and threw that to me to try to work myself out.  I felt like the zebra from 'The Swiss Family Robinson' movie.  Remember that scene?  :}

He also tossed some bigger rocks over for me to balance on once I got a limb out.  He also tested the mud around me to see how close he could get to help.  Wouldn't you know I landed in probably the ONLY spot under the bridge that sent you right under...

Even when my foot was almost out, it was extremely hard to get it out.  That mud was insane.  It is really hard for me to try to explain how bad it was.


So after about 30-45 minutes of struggling, tiring myself out I managed to free myself!!  I was SOOO exhausted when I got out.  I also was extremely muddy as I'm sure you could imagine =] so I pretty much ended up sitting in the river to wash the mud off.  Good times!!

Yesterday the four of us out here headed down to Mount Rushmore and Devils Tower for a little vacation.  It was BEAUTIFUL!!  The Black Hills are amazing.  I almost didn't want to come back to North Dakota after seeing eastern Wyoming and eastern South Dakota.  But here I am.  Back in ND...
This is Devils Tower (in Wyoming).  I guess the tower you see is the lava from the inside of an old volcano.  The volcano part has since eroded away and just left the lava that hardened in the tub.  There are several native american stories as to how it was formed but the most 'accepted' was that of a bear clawing at the sides leaving the streaky look.

A little prairie dog.  The girls called it 'cute and squishy', Jesse and I called it 'target practice' =}

Just a bunch more pictures of DT

These next few are from Mount Rushmore (in South Dakota)





I get carried away with digital cameras so there are a lot of pictures.  These are just a fraction of what I took.

This last one is from the program they do at night when they light up the faces.  Couldn't get a good picture with the lighting and in all reality, they were not as lit up as I thought they would be.

These last few are of a snake I found (almost stepped on) while doing one of our surveys.

Jesse and the snake.  Size comparison.

 I am pretty sure that it is a King Snake.  If there are any experts out there feel free to correct me if I am wrong...

Just a couple bird pictures.  As it turns out, flying birds are really hard to get a good picture of :] 

Oh, one more thing.  If your still reading this!  I had 2 firsts in the eating world today.  I ate moose (moose burger) for the first time and I also ate road kill for the first time!  The moose was the road kill.  One of the game wardens out here got the meat off of the road killed moose (not sure how long it was road kill for before he slaughtered it.  Not sure I want to know...  =]  But it really was good.  I haven't had many wild game meats but moose is my favorite thus far.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pictures From ND

Here are some random pictures..

This is a beaver that we saw while doing one of our surveys.  I snuck up on him while walking on the shore (he was probably 10 yards in front of me).  He smacked the water with his tail, as beavers often do, to try to scare me, which he did because I was looking down at the ground.  He then starting swimming in the water right in front of me for 15 minutes.

This was probably the biggest bird I have ever seen.  We think it is a juvenile bald eagle.  It was bigger than any bald eagle I have ever seen.  We also thought maybe it was a golden eagle.  I'm no bird expert...

This was a big storm I could see from the trailer.  Just thought the cloud was neat looking.

Some pictures of the trailer I live in when I am not in a hotel.  It is very messy because we have a lot of stuff/gear and as you can see, very little room :}

View from the kitchen to the bedroom.

Where I have been sleeping.

The bathroom where the toilet doesn't flush the shower has no curtain and no hot water works (anywhere in the trailer)...

The kitchen.

The trailer.

A pelican that was gliding down the river with us as we were canoeing.

These next two are some pictures of the obstructions we have been facing as we are canoeing down the rivers.  (for all of you who might be thinking "oh, he gets to CANOE for his work.  How fun and relaxing!!"  FALSE.  These have been some of the most tiring and exhausting days.  We spent 9 hours on the river yesterday.  We have to keep getting out to survey sites on the bank and the banks are pure mud so we are constantly slipping and falling and getting covered in mud...  You've heard of 'quick sand' well here it is 'quick mud')

Anyways, back to the pictures.  We are constantly coming across these fallen trees (mainly from the bank eroding away and them falling into the river) and then the trees are collecting flood debris as it flows down the river so it is no fun for a canoer.

As you can see from this picture we have had to cut our way through several times.  Other times we have had to stand on the big tree trunks and pull the canoe over.  Well, today we had a little adventure.  We were in the process of pulling the canoe over a big log and Jesse started to lose his balance so I tried to grab hold of him to keep him from going in but as I'm sure you can guess, that didn't quite work out as planning.  We both ended going into the river, however, in the process we did manage to finish pulling the canoe over the big log :}  But yes, we were completely soaked along with all of the gear.  My forms got soaked and the gps (which holds all of data points fell to the bottom of the river.  Luckily the river was only waist high so after about 15 minutes of feeling around with my feet I found it!!  I found this whole experience to be extremely funny because just last night I had a conversation with mom about not wearing a life jacket (its in the canoe just not on)  =]  I also am still very bitter because these low trees murdered my sunglasses.  I bought a nice new pair of field sunglasses before I came out because I knew I would be spending HOURS by or on the river and I wanted my eyes to be protected.  I had one goal when I came out here NOT TO LOSE MY SUNGLASSES.  Well these trouble trees ripped them off of my head yesterday as we were canoeing and they sunk to the bottom of the river.  Oh well.  Summer goal = failure.

This is a picture of some otter scat that I am looking for.  I get so excited when I find this in the field.  Its like christmas!!

This is a picture of one of my study sites.  See the bridge a couple power-lines ahead in the picture?  No?  Neither do I.  In the past week the flooding came and completely covered the bridge.  That is not suppose to be a lake.  The river was a hundred yards or so down the road.  This kind of put a damper in my research. I now have to find a new study site.  Hopefully it will all work out!