Thursday and a Thursday

I’m secretly hoping that something like this will happen on our trip… —Originally published in “The Mission Called 66: Today in Our National Parks,” National Geographic magazine, July 1966

Since my procrastination (and forgetfulness) got the best of best of me last week, I’ll begin by recapping last Thursday’s happenings:
Our morning started early in a meeting with the Team SPAW’s ecology guru, Pat Hurley. In the hour that we spent with her most of us were able to ask her questions regarding our individual projects and gain a better idea of what our next steps should be in analyzing the collected data. Afterwards, we migrated across the hallway to where the weekly video conference was held and learned a little more about what our Minnesota counterparts were up to in their research. Happily full from the post-conference lunch at Tony’s house, Ashley, Brandon, and I spent the rest of the afternoon working in the lab on the handful of soil sample tests that remained.

Fast forward to this week:
After sleeping in a little, the team convened in room 102 for another weekly conference followed by lunch at Tony’s. Today was largely spent relaxing and packing for our Yellowstone trip this weekend. For a number of us (including myself) it will be the first time visiting this iconic national park. Can’t wait to report back with photos of what we all see!

Coffee Shop Blues: Team SPAW 7/4/14

With the SCK campus closed since Tuesday, Tony and his family away at their cabin, and very little planned this week, there have been wonderful opportunities to creatively get work done. Take today for example: after sleeping in a little longer than usual, Minnie and I headed up to Kalispell for the day to do a little exploring and studying at Colter Coffee Roasting. It’s been a lovely break from the city limits of Pablo and Polson and it’s nice to do some academic readings in a cozy coffee shop environment once again! Before heading home we grabbed some ice cream and stopped in at a weekly music and arts festival to end our day out.

Arts & Music festival in Kalispell.

Arts & Music festival in Kalispell.



Soil Samples Abound: 6/26/14

Soil samples from Kicking Horse.

Soil samples from Kicking Horse.

Thursday of week three here in Pablo, MT began with our regular conference meeting followed by a wonderful lunch of split pea soup prepared by Shawna Berthelote. Once we all parted ways after our post-lunch group meeting, Ashely and I headed down to the lab to continue our work testing the chemical composition of the soil samples we had gathered earlier in the week. With a total now of 36 samples from our four sites, each one taking at least 2 hours to test, we have our fair share of work cut out for us in the upcoming weeks. Once we finished up our soil tests, the remained of the day was spent running errands and getting some much needed groceries.

A Lovely Day for a Hike: Team SPAW 6/19/14


After days and days of rainy weather and overcast skies, the clouds finally broke apart to reveal blue, sunny skies as we began our second Thursday of the program. The weekly conference with our Minnesota counterparts went well and we all had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the other research projects being conducted this summer.

Once we were done, we headed over to Tony’s house for lunch (consisting of a delectable homemade fish chowder and rolls) and conversed as a group for an hour. Feeling a little run down and eager to enjoy the beautiful day, we collectively decided to spend the afternoon on a hike through the Mission Mountains.

After looking up to them in curiosity from the foothills for the past two weeks, it was wonderful to finally have the chance to wander up the mountain side and explore the creeks and waterfalls hidden by the trees. Our group hike lasted the afternoon and by the end I felt a bit more refreshed and clear-headed, if not a little sore.

The remainder of the day (and night) was spent working on the small list of assignments due this coming weekend. All and all, it was a lovely day!

Site-seeing: Team SPAW 6/12/14

Day four into the SPAW internship and time is already flying by. After battling with my snooze button for 45 minutes, I eventually crawled out of bed and into what slowly are becoming my Montana morning rituals: breakfast and a debate of whether or not to wear my hiking shoes and a jacket (Montana summers = Florida winters). This morning we had the opportunity to briefly meet with Team Stream and Team Zaaga’igan, both stationed in Minnesota for the summer via video conference. With minimal technical difficulties introductions went wonderfully and we all learned a little about what each team’s research was to focus on. After the conference and a wonderful lunch prepared by Shawna, Tony’s wife, we all piled into two vehicles and headed out to take a first look at our study sites this summer. The first site was Kicking horse, an expansive grassland dotted with ponds carved out by the last glacial period. The camas had lost most all of its tell-tale blue/purple pedals and left behind only the seed pods to identify them by. Following a few backcountry roads into the foothills we found our second site at Jocko River. Here the landscape was still abundant in deep indigo camas flowers amongst stands of pines. Our last site, Camas Prairie, didn’t fare as well. Trampled and chewed on by cattle that shared the prairie, the remaining erect camas was found far and few between while most lay strewn about on the ground. Apparently cows have an appetite for camas seed pods. At each site we dug out a single camas plant, bulb and all, to take back and take measurements. Between each site, there was considerable difference between stalk height, bulb size, and seed pod size. It will be interesting to see if the data we collect in the upcoming weeks will shed light upon the variation of characteristics we found in the field today.