My eyes pop open, my heart thumping with adrenaline: I overslept. I sit bolt upright and pop out of bed to rush over to my cursed phone that had stabbed me in the back when I needed it most. 2:12 a.m. Holy shit! I had not overslept... "Yes," I said to myself, "three more glorious hours of sleep." But did I listen to my wise inner monologue? No, I woke up every 30 minutes thinking I was going to oversleep. Glorious. I was almost glad when my alarm finally did go off. It ended the cycle of sleep, then adrenaline, then sleep again. The morning was pretty nondescript, but it did take me longer than I thought it would to pack up all my stuff.
The drive up was uneventful and beautiful. I saw the sun rise over the Klamath and waking elk shrouded in thick wisps of lifting fog. Once I hit the Applegate valley, the drive really started to get nice (probably because I had never driven these roads before). The roads here mostly followed the Applegate River and were hemmed in by far reaching pastures and "hobby ranches." The grass is incredibly green mostly because I think there are no strict limitations on pulling water from the river to keep everything lush.
I arrived at 9:30 and though my "mentor" was expecting me, he was in some safety meeting and I had to go wait outside. I read for about an hour and Ian (my boss and previous senior thesis mentor) came out to greet me. He said that he wanted me to come inside to the conference and sit in on the safety talk that the local Forest Service Law Enforcement guys were giving. Excellent. I was further intrigued and excited when I noticed his PowerPoint slides detailing exciting subjects such as safe office layouts and escape plans number 156. I sat and tried to look remain attentive. We took a five minute break after about 45 minutes and Ian gave me a brief tour of the office and told me that there was a potluck later for lunch. Things were starting to look up. After 50 more minutes of discussing safe counter height for the reception desk and how remarkably similar the panic alarm and the door chime sounded, we broke for lunch. This is when I really started to like these people. On the table before me was a cornucopia of deliciousness. My new housemate (Terry; a silviculturist) had barbecued an excessive amount of ribs and chicken (I believe the leftovers come to our house). There were baked beans with both pieces of bacon in them and slices of bacon laid on top. There was tortellini salad with pieces of salami mixed in, potato salad, the most delicious fruit salad I've ever had with yogurt, homemade cheesecake, homemade smoked steelhead with cheese and crackers, and more. After that, they decided to continue the rest of the never ending safety meeting next month. I went on to do some paperwork and then Ian took me on a tour of the district.
Some notable moments from the tour: first, we went to check on a tributary of the Applegate which often goes subterranean in the summer during low flows (due to the effects of some weird mining practice). This needs to be monitored because right now is the time when steelhead smolts migrate downstream. Low and behold there was a huge section of stream that was completely dry and I even found some dead, dessicated smolts that had not made it out of the pools they had been trapped in. Ian went to fetch his digital camera to record the dead fish we had found and the extent of the dry stream bed. On his way back downstream, he yelled for me to come check something out. I ran up and he was trying to catch a 12 inch cutthroat that had just launched itself out of a pool right above the dry bed onto the bank. He caught it and we put it (or part of it) in a 32 oz. cup that was lying nearby. I carried the fish downstream of the dry area and released it into a large pool. A weird coincidence of timing. The second notable moment was when we went to look at the river right below Applegate Dam where a proposed project may take place. Right there, 100 meters below the dam, over fifty summer run steelhead were spawning right in front of us. We went down to take a closer look; the fish were putting on quite a show. I even saw a muskrat on the far bank. Sweet.
That's it for now. I will post more when I feel inspired (maybe not everyday). I think if you become a "follower" of this blog, you will be updated when I post something new. I'm not really sure. No pictures for now; I, of course, forgot the cable for my digital camera. I also forgot swim trunks because I am stupid.