Summer is coming a little slowly this year to Reflection Lakes Trail. The trail starts out with patches of snow, and the higher you climb, the harder it is to find the trail. We hiked as high as Plot 8, and all of the MeadoWatch sites were covered in snow. As of June 28th, we have placed none of the plot markers because all plots are still covered by snow! If you do decide to brave the snow, the creek crossing right after Plot 2 is covered with a snow bridge. It is relatively safe for now, but watch out as melting conditions will make it deteriorate. However, things appear to be melting quickly. Based on Meera’s intuition, we expect many of the plots to melt out and things to start to grow in the next couple of weeks. As of now though, finding the trail is difficult and we relied heavily on our GPS to keep us on track. For those of you uncomfortable hiking over snow, we suggest you wait a few weeks to enjoy this hike.
Outside of the plots, especially at lower elevations, Avalanche Lily is abundant. This early season bloomer can be seen right off the trail and in some cases, peeking through the snow. Sitka Valerian is also starting to come up, with vegetation at the sides of the trail. If you are lucky, you may also see some wildlife (see picture below)!
This week’s blog was written by two Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program interns, Jose Esparza and Bailey Hussung. This summer we are working with the Hille Ris Lambers lab and conducting our own conservation related projects.
Jose is working to increase the diversity of the MeadoWatch citizen science program in order to create a more inclusive community of volunteers. Hopefully in the coming weeks, if you catch him around, please feel free to introduce yourself. He will be trying to get in contact with some of you through surveys and some questions. Your help will be most appreciated. >:} Bailey is studying the characteristics of the insect community as they relate to the habitat type and elevation of the meadows. If you see someone with a bug net and vials full of insects, come say hello!