Yellowstone: June 25th, 2013

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The second day of the Tanager Lake catchment was not quite from hell but it sure wasn’t a good time either. It was filled with several nightmare worthy wet meadows, which are my absolute least favorite wetland to survey. I have perfected a technique to deal with wet meadows as swiftly as possible so you can get out of there fast and forget you ever had to contend with one. I like to call it the rowing method or the walking net scoop. You walk a few steps, row or net scoop and look at what you’ve caught as you simultaneous walk a few more steps and prep yourself for another scoop. This is all one continuous movement that gets you the heck out of there fast. I’ve also invented the BAZZ method or the Big Ass Zig-Zag. Technically, we’re supposed to survey the perimeter of a wetland and perhaps do a transect if it isn’t too deep. Since many wet meadows don’t have really defined perimeters, I just do one big ass zig-zag across the entire meadow and call it a day. That way I’m surveying  a  portion of the perimeter while simultaneously surveying many various water depths and little kettle holes that are hidden throughout the meadow. I , of course, managed to fill my waders very early on in the day. All was fine and dandy until I found the one hole in the meadow that led to the center of the earth. One moment I was on solid ground and the next I was up to my waist in muck. I made it out before Andrew had to throw me a rope and pull me out (I think he kinda wants that to happen so he can use the rope). So I did the rest of the wetland surveys in my sneakers, which I actually prefer. Wet sneakers weigh far less than wet waders and my hips have been killing me from all the intense hiking, hurdling over dead trees, and constant lifting of mucky waders. And the idea of sticking my feet and legs into mucky wetland soils where a ferocious damsel fly larvae could nip my leg off at any second doesn’t bother me at all. Plus, I’m delighted to know that my two dollar, second-hand, North Face field pants dry in about two to five minutes depending on the temperature outside. That fabric is amazing! Never will I fear peeing my pants again…just kidding!

Andrew and I arrived back at the dorm and I immediately headed out to the Fishing Bridge general store to purchase some sweat pants and more delicious Bitch Creek beer. I finally broke down and bought some sweats because I had apparently packed for a trip to Florida or the tropics or somewhere hot. I brought very few pants and most were lightweight and gross from field work. No, I needed some thick, cozy sweats to keep me warm because I’ve been freezing since I got here and my wader-filling day just made things worse. So beer and pants it was. The beer situation has been great. I’m a huge fan of Grand Teton Brewing Company’s Bitch Creek beer and Yellowstone has been the only place I’ve been able to find it. In fact, the first thing I did when I arrived in Yellowstone was to park my car at the dorm, walk to the Fishing Bridge Store and purchase a 6-pack of Bitch Creek. When the cashier looked at my New York id, I told him that I came a long way for this beer and he was certainly impressed. I wasn’t lying either. That beer is a large reason I came back to Yellowstone for a second round. I happily trotted past the bison and tourists with Bitch Creek under my arm, all the way back to the dorm feeling finally complete again. I’m going to have to stockpile the stuff for my trip back home. However, Alex (one of the three German hydro geochemists) discovered a beer I like even better at the Canyon general store so I may have to re-prioritize my love for Bitch Creek.

After the pants-purchasing, I arrived back at the dorm to a homemade enchilada casserole made by Patsy, our mother/sociologist studying bear jams. Andrew doesn’t eat real food and we all jump at every chance to rag on him about it. His wife makes him eat better when he’s at home but his field diet consists of hot dogs, ramen noodles, cookies, doughnuts, chips, packaged cheese and crackers, soda, coffee, and his favorite, ginger beer.  I’m not sure what this casserole of real non-processed food did to his plumbing–and I don‘t really dare venture a guess–but I’m sure his body was perplexed with what to do with things like vitamins and minerals and such. The entire crew, sans the Wisconsinites who were still car camping north of Yellowstone, sat around the table and enjoyed Patsy’s delicious cooking and good company. I’ve been really hungry for hearty food lately but we’re hours away from the nearest restaurant (the norovirus is going around Yellowstone so I’m avoiding eating in the Park). It doesn’t help that my cooking is inedible and I’m living on PB&J’s. I’m ravenous but I have no appetite for anything that I have in the fridge so it’s kind of like slow torture.

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