This is “Max 3” reporting for blog duty. You’ve already heard from “Max 2” (Max Plichta), and “Max 1” is exempt on account of being 7 years old. I am headed into my sophomore year at CU, studying biology and anything else I can cram into my schedule. It’s certainly been an exciting and busy summer for me working both at the Mountain Research Station and maintaining trails in Jefferson County.
I’m from Wyoming, and anyone who is familiar with that state has encountered hurricane-force winds on a biweekly basis. I really thought I could relax and enjoy the mild Colorado weather I had escaped to…until today. With winds clocked at 50 mph, on several occasions we were nearly kited off the West Knoll by the tarps we were carrying. But while dodging flying clipboards and crouching low to the ground, we managed to get a whole lot done. I used a GPS unit to map out about a dozen pika haypiles, when I wasn’t checking traps. Here you see me and an old pika haypile site on Niwot Ridge.
Pika survival was poor last winter, and wind keeps the pikas under cover, so we found a lot of empty traps today. The only pikas we trapped today were the ones trapped yesterday, and those pikas were pretty irritated. Patience was running thin, until the end of the day when. . .we caught a new pika! Unlike Pikachu, the pika is sensitive and must be handled with great care. It takes a whole team to anesthetize, tag, sample blood, tissue and hair, weigh and then release a pika. Fortunately we have been working together for this first half of the summer and the capture, sampling and liberation of this pika went very smoothly, resulting in exciting new experiences for me and Jasmine. Jasmine (another member of #teamPika15) named him Poncho Libre. Here I am communing with Poncho.
For Poncho, the experience might have been exciting but it was probably not so fun. I’ll ponder that while I take this next week to backpack through Rocky Mountain National Park. Thanks for reading.