September 11, 2019

Day 3: Snow on the Mountain


By James Wesdock

We knew it was coming, but wow what a difference a day makes! Snow greeted us upon awakening today, but the expedition must go forward. The sheer challenge of climbing up the mountain in slushy, wet conditions to change out wildlife camera batteries and data cards reinforced to us that doing good science is hard work; two steps forward, one back, fall down, get up again, push on. Wet clothes, cold hands, wind-whipped face. But job accomplished! And for those in our group who had never experienced snow before, a double dose of adventure today. The relative ease of doing the exact same task only one day earlier – in sunny warm weather – now seems (in retrospect) like a literal walk in the park, even in remote mountain terrain.

What’s fascinating to me is that these little cameras, a mere piece of hardware and technology, are out there among the elements just doing their job. And oh, what a grand job it is when the pictures start to appear, one by one, and the magic of the mountain reveals itself. What would we have seen on this very same mountain 5, 10, 25, 50 years ago? What will our successors see 5, 10, 25 or 50 years from now? Should we be concerned with what we are (or are not) now seeing? I’ll leave it to the professionals to sort it all out and share their observations. Whatever the findings, it’s all becoming clearer to me that ecosystems are complex and fragile.  

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