Week two began with an overnight field trip to the CC Cabin. After departing from campus, we headed to Mueller State Park in Divide. We finally broke out the snowshoes and trekking poles to do a 2.6 mile loop around the park to observe different species. We also explored the visitor center and presented on the geologic, natural flora and fauna, and human history of the park. We drove in from very nice weather in the springs to some white out conditions and snow squalls, but the weather let up by the time we were out in the field. After lunch, we engaged in some more zen ecology, noting how the sun affected different aspects and seeing new birds such as the grey jay and crows. After the park, we made our way to the CC Cabin where we got unpacked and got settled before cooking a (mostly) vegan meal. We finished off the night with a discussion on how Climate Change is affecting the Pika, some adorable high altitude mammals that occupy harsh high altitude climates.
With field trips, especially in the winter, its important to be flexible. Our original plan for Tuesday was to collect data for a project in Manitou Experimental Forest, however the winds and snow were very heavy and we opted to head back to school to work on some other assignments like a bird identification from the day before. Back in the classroom the following days, we learned some more on snow science like how to dig pits, monitor the temperature gradients in the pit, do hardness and compression tests, and learn how factors such as temperature, sun, aspect, and wind affect the snowpack. We presented on different groups from around the world to learn about human adaptations to winter environments, with myself and my partner researching the Inca. While the Inca of Peru didn’t necessarily have many winter specific behaviors due to their proximity to the equator, they did need many high altitude adaptations due to their location in the Andes. The Inca are known for their impressive terracing and aqueducts which helped support high altitude farming. They were also the creators of Jerky, dried, preserved, and stored in large quantities and possible from the large temperature swings from day to night. We also learned more on animal physiology and evolution, and prepared for our trip to Gothic by watching the second place Film4Climate video about Billy Barr and his impressive collection of snow data. The link is listed below and definitely worth the click!