I have the best job. Ever!!!
We rolled out around 8 AM this morning to go to the kipuka. Devin picked Jake and I up in the blue Ranger (as yet unnamed, but we’re working on it), and we drove about one hour to get to the site. The first 40 minutes were paved road, no big deal, but the last 20-25 minutes was BRUTAL. The road was jagged lava rocks and we bottomed out about 5 times even though we never surpassed about 2 miles per hour. Suuuper slow going. We were mainly hiking on pahoehoe (Chris, ring any bells?) which was pretty easy since it wasn’t too broken up.
We finally made it to the first set of kipuka and learned how to set up our litterfall traps on the center and edge of the kipuka (it’s slightly different based on location). We also had to mark trees for climbing so we can sample the canopy, which involved a sweet slingshot. I wasn’t half bad! Although, to be fair, I wasn’t half good either. Devin just sat back and watched Jake and I fail miserably for awhile before he ended our misery and set up the last few trees. It works by slingshotting large metal nut over a tree branch using fishing wire and the slingshot, lowering the nut, and then replacing it with a thicker climbing rope and pulling the whole mess back over the branch and tying that down.
I learned how to program sites into the GPS, which is critical because all the lava rock looks the same when you leave a kipuka and all the trees look the same when you enter. We mark each litterfall location and the different edge locations on the GPS so we can search later to get back to them. We visited 4 kipuka today, which is pretty good, and tomorrow we’re going to set up 3 more. There are some tasty berry plants in the kipuka and Jake and I nibbled as we worked. Apparently they taste like Huckleberry, although I’m not a good judge of that since I haven’t actually had Huckleberry before.
The weather was WONDERFUL up the mountain – we were at about 7,000 ft and the air wasn’t muggy at all. It got pretty warm around 2, but there was a cool breeze and the kipuka were nicely shaded. It’s definitely pretty wild in there though, and we had to fight with a number of trees, shrubs, and branches to get where we needed to be. We also avoided rain because clouds usually don’t make it that far up the mountain. Granted, I’m sure we’ll have to deal with our fair share before the summer is over, but it was a pretty perfect first day. The locations were so nice!
And Julia, thank you for the hand sanitizer – I’m not usually a big fan, but apparently there are number of rat diseases that can cause discomfort, fevers, and neurological damage (no big deal, right?), so disinfecting hands before eating is recommended. Devin didn’t seem too concerned, but I think I’m going to make use of the Purell since I have it!
After work I biked to the café and as soon as I left it started misting. It was probably the nicest bike ride ever!! The mist here isn’t warm, but the air is still so warm that it feels great.
I've taken tons of photos and I hope you like the ones I've uploaded!