Catching up on life

I've neglected my blog responsibilities, and reflecting back on the past few weeks of my life is giving me a headache!

Let's see... where do I start?

I'll start with the first week of July, and the predicament I had been put in at work. Because summer classes decrease so much during the 2nd session, my hours at work were cut from 40-12. I was definitely upset and worried about how I could off a meager... but was soon presented with an alternative: go backpacking in the tetons, and be reimbursed for my pack-mule abilities. YES! Of course, I chose the adventure, and quit my job. Here's an excerpt from bragablog.

"You want jealousy! Take this!

I'm here at AMK Ranch in the tetons, we got back last night from four days of hiking. I just wanted to give you guys an update of my amazing week. I'll do all of my reading once I'm back home with high speed internet connection.

So, I'm here sitting in a room overlooking the teton lake. It's amazing! I wish you all could be here to see and experience the things that I am, but I've taken plenty of pictures to share once I get home and upload them to my laptop.

We drove into the Tetons on Sunday and loaded up our backpacks- and holy crap!-our packs ended up weighing around 80-85 pounds, and we had a long trek ahead of us. Monday morning we got up at 6:30, were out of the cabin by 8, and drove to Lizard Creek to unload our canoes. We canoed a mile or two across the lake, docked them, and then hiked up, and up, and up (a total of about 11 miles to our destination). We stayed in a ranger patrol cabin near Moose Basin for the next 3 nights. Near the cabin (10 square feet of space for 5 people) there was a fresh spring that bubbled up out of the ground, from which we drank water that didn't have to be filtered. The wildflowers were as high as my chest in some places, and the array of colors was nearly blinding. Tuesday and Wednesday mornings we woke up and hiked another 1.5 miles to our work site, took soil core samples, did flora surveys, etc. We also hiked an extra couple of miles one day to reach the Moose Basin Divide- an incredible view! We were standing at the 9,700 ft elevation, looking eye to eye with glacier snow (and throwing snowballs at each other!), and WOW! I just can't even describe it.

The air was thin while at such a high elevation, but my body adjusted fairly quickly. We were lucky enough to witness a couple of lightning storms, and on the nights that weren't cloudy, the stars were brighter than you can imagine. Cold rivers, waterfalls, trees, plants, wildlife. The smells were so sweet! The sights so awesome!

In all we hiked around 35 miles in 4 days, and with heavy backpacks. I feel much stronger now! :) Other things I want to mention: The spring and early summer has been very dry, and all the bears in Teton and Yellowstone are being pushed to lower elevations to find food. The rangers alerted us that the long, narrow canyon we'd be hiking through had a new female grizzly move down with her 3 cubs (in addition to another grizzly and few black bears that already live there), so we were on high alert. We took bear spray with us, and didn't ever see bears, but did see LOTS of signs they were there. We saw fresh bear scat (feces), and trees that had just been ripped to shreds. On our way up we counted quite a few trees that had their bark ripped off, some so recently that the sap hadn't even changed colors yet. And on our way back down yesterday we saw more trees marked that weren't that way 3 days before. Amazing!

For now I am at the Univeristy of Wyoming's research station, AMK Ranch-- that is where the graduate student doing research is based at. This is kind of our base camp, and we took today as a day of rest. Tomorrow we will be going to Rendezvous to cram two days of work into one day-- we just couldn't bear to get up at 6:00 this morning. The arches of my feet are so sore that I can't walk around bare footed- I have to wear my hiking boots because they have arch support. I'm exhausted from all the work and hiking, but haven't felt this alive and rejuvenated in months.

So, we'll work hard tomorrow, and depending on what time we finish, might drove home that same night, or maybe on Sunday morning. By the way, this might be a new full time job for me! I have an interview with the Soils research lab on Monday morning, and if all goes well I'll be hired. :) AND, if I'm hired, I'll be back here in the Tetons on Wednesday for more field work.

Anyway, this might not sound like a vacation to all of you, but I can't believe I'm getting paid to do this. I would pay my own money to experience it."

Monday morning came around, the interview went well, and I was hired! Wait, it gets better. I came home, checked the mail, and WHAM! AmeriCorps acceptance! I'm going to Perry Point, Maryland in January. Wait, still going! That same night, Tanya, Britney and myself drove down to SLC to see Rusted Root in concert. The music was groovy, and my body swayed to the beats. I was entranced by my happy feelings, the beautiful music, and wonderful friends.

The next day I had a LONG field day, followed by some quick packing. I left Wednesday morning to go backpacking in the Tetons again, but this time up Paintbrush canyon.

I was in awe at the beauty of the views. Many, many, many lakes, snow capped mountains, a grizzly, a moose, etc. I'm too tired to write any more, but rest assured my friends, my life rocks. mostly. Except the part where I cried tonight because my ferret is missing.


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