L&L’s Final Days of Biogeography

By JULIA GOODHART

With a brief and celebrated respite from the steady barrage of October rain, L&L students headed into the woods for the final days of Biogeography! With classes culminating and final papers and projects approaching, it seemed like two days using our hands constructively, and tromping through the wet vegetation to identify our trees and animal sign were sincerely appreciated.

We began with a day learning practical fire-starting skills. By the end of the afternoon, every student was able to split rounds with only a knife, and start and maintain a fire despite extremely wet conditions! We made a little camp, sheltered from the drizzling rain under thick spruce branches. It was pretty empowering to learn a skill we can use on any future trip in the woods.

Kristen, Sophie, and Evan working on splitting rounds with a wedge they cut from the log

Kristen, Sophie, and Evan working on splitting rounds with a wedge they cut from the log

Lydia working on a feather stick, trying to carve thin curls of wood from the log that will help a fire catch

Lydia working on a feather stick, trying to carve thin curls of wood from the log that will help a fire catch

Aspen working on feather sticks

Aspen working on feather sticks

Tea from cedar leaves, douglas fir and subalpine fir needles. Delicious!

Tea from cedar leaves, douglas fir and subalpine fir needles. Delicious!

Henry working on lighting his twig bundle, where the thinnest branches and other dry material are concentrated in the middle

Henry working on lighting his twig bundle, where the thinnest branches and other dry material are concentrated in the middle

Cory and I were pretty psyched to get our twig bundle and fire going.  The fire skills we learned as students in 2015 have come in handy several times during the past year!

Cory and I were pretty psyched to get our twig bundle and fire going.  The fire skills we learned as students in 2015 have come in handy several times during the past year!

Success! Twig bundle, kindling, and feather sticks all his.

Success! Twig bundle, kindling, and feather sticks all his.

Adam and Hailey with her twig bundle

Adam and Hailey with her twig bundle

Students even constructed a homemade saw that Adam designed!  You can take ‘em apart and stow them easily. They’re primarily made from alder branches, and twine was used to tension them.

Just in case you were curious what the Swans have been looking like lately!!! We are so happy for this stunning view!

Just in case you were curious what the Swans have been looking like lately!!! We are so happy for this stunning view!

Students completed their Biogeography field practicum a few days after fire-building.  They’re responsible for identifying trees and shrubs and their habitat characteristics, interpreting animal tracks and sign, and completing several tricky map-and-compass exercises.

The tracking portion of the practicum!

The tracking portion of the practicum!

Front left grizzly track

Front left grizzly track

Lydia checking the compass bearing of Holland Peak in the distance. Students were asked to shoot a bearing of an unknown peak in the field, and then use their map and compass to identify that peak.

Lydia checking the compass bearing of Holland Peak in the distance. Students were asked to shoot a bearing of an unknown peak in the field, and then use their map and compass to identify that peak.

Riley Charles Burke. Bondurant, Iowa. Really happy for an afternoon of sunshine, and to have finished the practicum!

Riley Charles Burke. Bondurant, Iowa. Really happy for an afternoon of sunshine, and to have finished the practicum!

Life is grand and forever busy over here at the homestead! Students are in the throes of their individual projects, interviewing community members, and considering their results before presentations on Sunday. Hardest working students we know!