Thursday, April 3, 2008

Bear Condos

After my back aching day at the fancy farm, I had a very full day ahead of looking for salamanders and frogs along the big powerline job. My back was still aching bad enough that I was concerned that my full work day outside would do more harm than good. But I figured it would be better to be walking around rather than sitting at my desk all day. Most of the sites we hit were relatively easy walking distance from our vehicle. But come lunch time, my coworker suggested we hit one of the epic journey sites. I didn't want to be a big baby and had curiousity to experience it. I popped a couple advil just to be safe and stuffed my face with some snacks since we'd be heading into real bear country. We are talking no roads, treacherous terrain, poor cell phone reception, and minimal trails that will require a chainsaw to drive up farther. Looking at a map, I see that our trip was about 3 to 4 miles round trip. Speaking of bears, here's a bear scratching post. Note the three claw marks.
After we visited the pool and found the frog eggs, we headed across a broad wetland and a protected stream. I said that I'd like pee in it and made it safely across the first time. It was deep enough that you had to find a good spot to cross as to not overtop your knee boots. I did remark that the underwater rocks were quite slippery with algae. On the way back I was less fortunate and I slipped on a rock and fell in. My left boot took a full drink, my right foot took a small sip, and my left arm got wet. Thankfully, my cell phone, camera, field note books, and maps made it out dry. I only have one small bruise and my back survived in one piece.
Our next stop was a talus slope, which is a collection of large boulders at the base of a cliff. To me, it was bear condos. There were so many good spots for hibernation dens. I'm not part mountain goat, so scrambling over small car sized boulders proved to be a challenge. I will say it's far easy to go up. Our mission was top secret, but I will say I got to see porcupine quills. I've never seen a porcupine in NJ or anywhere except a zoo. I was really happy our mission was over real quick because I kept thinking about how one of these boulders might shift and start tumbling down or a boulder will fall off the cliff. There was even still some ice left in some bear condos! Crazy.
This epic journey may have to repeated several more times. Turns out that broad wetland we crossed could be habitat for some of super rare turtles. I was laughing the first time we crossed out saying "I'm real glad we don't have to survey for turtles out here. The walk in and out would be insane."


Stacey Huston said...

Looks like you had a great time despite the back problems. Hope your much better today.. Thanks for sharing

Lioux said...


Next time you should pack a [Yogi Bear Voice] Pic-In-Ic Basket.

Jules said...

" I'm not part mountain goat, so scrambling over small car sized boulders proved to be a challenge."


Colleen said...

Nice. You did it team! Now you get to do it a few more times.

Kartek said...

My back is feeling better but still not 100%. I did some soil augering today, which I shouldn't have and can feel it. My left boot is still drying out and it's been 4 days! Still waiting to hear if I'm going back to this spot.