|Damn do these Eucalypts get huge!|
|holding up the Dicksonia antarctica|
|Bob and Scott in the act of marveling|
|Me being upset that I couldn't pick the tree up|
|Look! Gabe's standing on the mushroom!|
|This place reminded me of something out of a Doctor Seuss book|
|Sooooooo much texture|
|Look-a-that butt! Oh yeah, and Bob Barker in the background.|
Our gamble paid off, because Shefield did have a grocery store after all, and a bottle shop as well, so we were able to get everything we needed without having to turn around. I also came across a really cool trend I've picked up on since my arrival here in Tassie. There are these really cool murals painted on the buildings, public and private. They either depict the history of the town/area, or tell some kind of story. A few don't seem to have any relevance at all. But who said murals have to be relevant anyway?
|Richea pandanifolia with sprinkles on top|
We ate some breaky and drank our coffee, then headed into the storm. Our plan was to sample a dense Athrotaxis selagenoides (King Billy Pine) stand, so our prediction was that the snow wasn't going to be very bad. It actually made for some very beautiful scenery once we got there. Matt lead us to where Kathy Allen's 2000 year old tree was located, and this became our first plot of the day. We did the usual, laid out tapes to 11.3 meters, measured trees, sub-plots, and logs... then something extraordinary happened, the sun came out. It shined through the trees like an angel singing down from the sky, illuminating a patch of forest about thirty meters away from where we were sampling. I didn't have my camera though, so there's no pictures, just the ones in my head, and are they marvelous. This area of forest was open, so had accumulated snow, and with the sun shining through the trees, we could only revel in the awe inspiring beauty. I'm glad we got to get out and do some field work in the snow.
|This was cool, my panoramic shot got this guy in the orange coat twice|
On the left here, you have Mr. Gabriel Yospin, grinning with overwhelming delight. Matt and Bob must of seen a paddymelon. Then here on the right, you have Cradle Mountain, epically shrouded in water vapor, and covered in the white stuff.
|This was the only duck bill we saw|
While we were finishing our meal, I noticed this contraption on the wall. I was delighted to see it was a breathalyzer that required coinage like a vending machine or arcade game would. I thought it was kind of amusing to think of a drunken patron stumbling up to this thing, and, after several missed attempts, shoving a round piece of metal into the slot, only to be informed that they could not drive safely. I like this though, we should have these things in America. I wonder if people would just play with them, but never heed their mechanical advice.
Bob was anxious to see the ocean some more, and Penguin seemed like the logical 'next stop', so we pointed our unlit headlights in the general direction of the town that was named for its famous wildlife. The tourist guide said there should be penguins in Penguin, but not just any penguins, the smallest penguins on the planet. This place was a must see, for we were only just down the road from this place, and I know my penguin-bone had not been tickled as of yet.
When we got to Penguin, the first stop was the beach. Our eyes searched, and our feet carried us through the sand, but again we saw no wildlife. The only penguin we saw here was an over-sized sculpture that resembled an Emperor Penguin, which ironically doesn't even frequent these shores. I was kind of upset at this, so I sought out the answer to this perplexing situation. I figured we were basically just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and this is exactly the case. I was informed by the local informist (if that's even a word) that they were pretty much all gone at this time of the year. He said there were some resident colonies on the East coast, but we were kind of out-of-luck at this junction. Again though, it was nice to stop and walk around a new place. I took some excellent pictures of a cormorant and also of a butterfly that just happened to stop right in front of me, posing with open wings, like any good fashion model would do with her smaller-than-practical angel wings that had been sewn onto a skimpy dress of silk and polyester.
|This cormorant posed for me, until it noticed I was taking pictures|
|Not the appreciating kind of look|
I also got some really cool photos of this tree and a rubbish receptacle, guilt tripping me into "doing the right thing".
Oh man, did we have a good day today. We finally got out and did a little bit of hiking, and even got a record-breaking seven plots done. Our day started with a walk down “Pencil Pine Falls” trail. The goal was to find a mature Nothofagus cunninghamii stand to sample from, which I'm proud to say that we were successful in locating. Actually, we got three plots done while down this trail, even the Poaceae vegetation type that had been evading our keen senses until today. I felt pretty good about getting three plots in before lunch. Unfortunately though, I didn't have the foresight to bring my camera down into this place. Too bad too, it was a highly philosophical and metaphysically insightful sight to behold.
Matt had forgotten his rain coat, and our next area of sampling was going to be up a mountainside, so we had to turn around and go back to the cabin. We'd locked the key in this morning as well, so we also had to go ask for another, which we had to return when done using it. This took a little more time than anticipated, so put us in the time frame of lunch. We made our way down to the Ronney Creek car park, and sat there for lunch before heading down the trail that meandered up the moorlands to the West.
|Just after I tried to play it cool about sitting on the ant hill... I yelped in a not-to-flattering manner|
|Such a purdy being of the light|
|These moss beds are sooo cool!|
Crater Peak is such a beautiful place, it's hard to compare with anything I've ever experienced before. I'm glad to have come here to this grand island of mystery, now becoming well known to my spirit. I am gaining more confidence with the landscape and the flora every day, and I feel that by the time I leave here I will be well on my way to understanding the deep connections the plants hold with the land and people. I can feel already, this knowledge will forever affect my life in an astronomically profound way. It is my deep desire to return to this place some day, if not for research, but only to visit again this sacred land.
On the way back we sampled two more plots, a thick stand of Eucalyptus subcrenulata, which proved to be a challenge due to the dense undergrowth, and then another that represented a type of heathland we were in need of sampling. Aside from being "shrubbed", as Bob so eloquently put it, our second plot on the way down wen very quickly, only taking us about ten or fifteen minutes. I think we (Matt and I) might be getting the hang of this veg survey stuff.
Ok... here's 6000 words for ya.
|I feel like this bird is saying, "Hey! What the [expletive deleted] are you looking at?"|
Bob and Gabe are so fun-loving and have such a great attitude about field work, it's hard not to laugh constantly. It amazes me how smart these guys are though, because they take things so lightly, but are serious when it matters. I feel like this is a good way to stay in good spirits. A healthy balance of laughter and serious expression is always good for effective data collection whilst in the field... especially under harsh conditions or when in rugged terrain. I miss my research family though, the hearts of these people are changing my perception of humanity, for the better. I'm not looking forward to dealing with assholes back in the city, especially in American cities.
|I asked them to be, "SERIOUS"|
|Then I asked them to be, "NOT SERIOUS"|
|I love me some fungus... so shapely|
These are good examples of the data-sheets we had to fill out for each plot we surveyed. I think we did something on the order of twenty plots, probably more. The one on the left is for tree data, and the right picture shows the subplot data that I filled out.
|We named this shila Loretta, you can't see it, but she has a cute baby under her belly|
We ate our food at this point, since it hadn't been stolen by a clever raven. Then, it was hearts.
We've been playing a game of hearts every night so far, except for one maybe. I took first place on night one, then second place on night two, and third the following evening. This was an odd one, because I'd predicted that I would achieve third place, I just didn't think this prediction would come to fruition. I was feeling a bit confident in my hearts skills at this point, and it was nice to get first place one more time. Sadly, Matt wasn't able to win one game this whole trip, but he's a trooper and takes things with a smile on his face very time... mostly anyway. Tonight I was hoping to take Matt's position of fourth, but don't think I can honestly claim this title, because we pretty much lost at the exact same time, leaving both of us in third. So, I have gotten first, second, third, first, and then third again... no fourth place for me. I was a little bummed that I couldn't get all positions in relatively good order, but these are the sacrifices one must make in order to be in such an ancient and great landscape with such fun people. As a certain turtley character I know of would say... I'm totally havin an awesome time squirt!!!
After dinner and hearts, Matt and I took a walk down to "Wombat Field", which is just down the road from the visitor center, and has all sorts of critters grazing the grass at night. Our first encounter was this seemingly evil wombat named Larry. He really didn't want his picture taken, but I can understand that, I don't really like mine taken either. Then we saw this mamma and her cute little baby wombat. As a collective, we have dubbed all female wombats Loretta, and all males Larry. Loretta didn't have quite as scary of an expression on her face here.
The view was so spectacular from up top. We could see the Tasmanian landscape like never before, peering far into the distance, even with cloudy visibility. I imagined what the place would look like with a kilometer of ice covering all but the peak we were standing on, it's truly awe inspiring stuff. I had taken the tribal flag of the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend Oreille people up to the summit with me, and flew it high as Gabe took some pictures of me, smiling the cheesiest smile I could muster. We spoke with some folks who were also up there eating their lunch, and another man who'd left his wife below for similar reasons Matt had stayed behind. There was this nice plaque at the top that gave directions to many other land features across the island, which was a pretty cool perspective to grasp while elevated above the rest of the landscape. We ate a small snack, and then felt energized enough to make the nervous trek back down the dolerite boulders.
|This is where we stopped for coffee|
And with that, I'm now at the end of this blog entry, and a long ass one to boot. I will be sure to post the remainder of my journeys here in Tassie in due time, but probably in a much more condensed form, as it will be about a month's worth of stuff to talk about. So, I will most likely skip days here an there. Take care--whoever reads this--and live life well.