Hey, wait...what did that title say? Week 8? No way!
Shocking though it is, we really are 8/9ths of the way through the program. Not being the sort of people to let a little exhaustion get in the way of a good time, week 8 shaped up to be one of our best ever.
Monday: The day started early with a rendevous at Pearl Street Beverage and Liqour store, the usual meeting place for our early morning drives. Everyone was wide awake and jumping at the bit at 7:30 in the morning. We headed south to Rochester to the US Forest Service station. There, we met with several members of the service, whose duties ranged from archaeology to soil to non-native invasive species. After learning a ton about safety and liability (and how to use radios the size of your head) we split up into three teams: archaeology, heading to Rob Ford; soils, going out to an area above Rob Ford; and the invasive species/vista crew, who hiked along the long trail searching for views and nasty little plants.
After a long day of mucking around in the wet forest, we met back at our camp at Moosaloo for a gourmet dinner of pasta and cheese. Following a nice campfire, everyone turned in, getting lots of sleep for the day ahead.
Tuesday and Wednesday: A bright and early start finds two teams of trail hikers ready to set out for an overnight on the Long Trail, again hunting for invasives and vistas. One team headed north while the other set out south, spending the night at Cooley Glen and Emily Proctor shelters fending off the elusive - yet dangerous - wild Long Trail mouse.
Over three days of hiking and many miles covered, only two invasive plants were found: a stray honeysuckle and an aquatic plant in a high ridge pond. Old vista information was updated and a handful of new ones were added to the vista directory.
The next morning each team hiked down from the ridge to meet the van. Unfortunately, the hike was much shorter than anticipated, and the six crew members waited for a few hours in torrential downpour for the van to arrive. Forutnately, spirits wre high and food was plenty, so an experiment began to create the best stew we possibly could, given the conditions. The winner was a deliciously awful peanut butter-veggie-tortilla soup, which held over until the van arrived to rescue the rain soaked crew.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the soils crew spent one more day testing soils to find out the drainage properties of the soil, to determine the suitability for harvests during the winter as a part of the NEPA processes. On Wednesday, with soil work completed, the crew joined the archaeology group at Rob Ford.
Both Tuesday and Wednesday, mapping was the name of the game at Rob Ford. The site of an old homesteading community in the mid 1800's, old cellar holes, walls, fields and cemetaries are being mapped for new GIS based maps.
Enjoying the company of Dave from the Forest Service, and a few members of the Rainbow Family (Google it, it's kind of a long story!) , the crew toiled endlessly for three days to map the extensive area. Dexter claims he felt like Indiana Jones, journeying across the wild for signs of "anceint civilizations" - minus the hat and the whip.
After a long three days, the wet rats of the LANDS crew piled back into the van for the long drive home. Two hours later, we all emerged from the van, still wet, to pile and sort the gear. Everyone exhausted, we all stumbled home, took our showers, and were in bed by 6.
Thursday and Friday: Being careful not to have too much fun, or to let our computers become dusty, we spent the end of the week wrapping up our Stowe Land Trust projects, finalized Burlington Parks and Rec, and began to put the finishing touches on the Tunbridge project. With our final presentation on the horizon, we are speeding up on the end of the program!