Week two consisted of surveying Blacktail Plateau, Fern Cascade and Gull Point. There were spotted frogs, chorus frogs and lots of salamanders seen and enjoyed. Severe storms just missed us on several occasions until our luck ran out yesterday when we had to postpone our surveys due to rain. I think that worked out for the best though because the place we were headed has at least ten grizzlies hanging around and the rangers were concerned. This coming week we’ll have more helpers to hike in with us–safety in numbers.
Blacktail Plateau was beautiful and I remembered most of the sites from 2006, which astounded my field partner. I told her that I have the memory of a turtle: I see and remember things in terms of the micro-landscape. I easily forget where I put my keys yet I remember the smallest backcountry puddle from several years ago. I had one very close call when I was walking around the perimeter of a wetland and slipped on some logs. I contorted my body in such a way that I managed to miss landing on all of the pointed stakes sticking out from the mass of dead trees. I seriously have no idea how I made it out unharmed. My field partner and I were both freaked. The last lake-sized wetland we surveyed at Blacktail was full of sallies (I counted around 300+ during my survey) and loads of animal carcasses. And there was a lone bull bison nearby that had three birds perching on his back and they’d fly around his head sometimes when he moved about. The whole scenario was rather adorable, right out of a cartoon. Sometimes I feel sad for those lone bulls but clearly this guy had more company than he probably bargained for. On the harrowing drive over Dunraven Pass to and from Blacktail we were lucky enough to see a mother black bear with two cubs by the road. I felt for her. She clearly had spent the entire day being harassed by people doing completely unsafe, stupid things just to get a photo of her and her cubs. By the time we saw her on the way home she looked completely exhausted from trying to keep her babies safe. People can be so thoughtless sometimes.