Snow in June

Snow in June

Songs of the Week: “Hometown Dream” by Helado Negro and “Dangerous Woman” by Weiland

Hi, hello! I am reporting from the beautiful mountains of the Rockies and am happy to report that I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of having such amazing views to wake up to. It’s been about 3 weeks since I moved to Estes Park and I am finally getting into a rhythm here. Everybody I have had the opportunity to talk to and work alongside has been so cool and welcoming! I’m really happy to be here and even more excited to get my project started.

This summer, I will be identifying and quantifying visitor impacts on social trails in the tundra. Recognizing the impacts visitors have on the tundra is an important step to protecting and preserving these important natural resources. The alpine tundra is an important and fragile ecosystem that is unique to Rocky Mountain National Park. Visitors can have negative impacts on the tundra by trampling on native vegetation which can introduce non-native species to the ecosystem. Social trailing also leads to an increase in soil erosion and can hinder vegetation growth. There are unique flora and fauna that have existed in the tundra for generations; it is important to take preventative measures now. Damage to these resources is irreversible and can take decades, if not hundreds of years, to recover from. 

I had the opportunity to go out with my mentors Paige and Steven to get a feel for what my summer is going to be like. We decided to do some social trail mapping over at Deer Mountain. Currently, the tundra isn’t melted over enough to where I can safely and effectively identify social trails so for the time being I will be working on Deer Mountain. It was really cool and exciting to go out in the field and get some training with the tools I will be using this summer! Surprisingly, there were still a lot of social trails on Deer Mountain. This just goes to show that social trails not only affect the tundra but also affect other important ecosystems in the park. It was really interesting to get an understanding of the different types of social trails, the degradation levels, and the waste I will see in the field. It was really great practice and now I am even more excited to go out into the tundra!


A picture of the Tundra
Steven and I mapping social trails in Deer Mountain
Paige and I identifying social trails

I also had the opportunity to put up some traffic counters with my coworkers. We went to different areas of the park but I was looking forward to going to the west side the most. I haven’t been to the west side so I was really interested to see what the landscape was like and if there were any differences and similarities. We were able to go on a hike around Grand Lake where we put up a traffic counter at the junction of the hike. The views were amazing and it was nice to be able to hike with my coworkers and be able to explore this area a little bit more. We got the opportunity to drive through the tundra and it was like a different world! I still can’t wrap my mind around such an otherwordly ecosystem existing in the Rockies. 

Overall, I’ve been settling in pretty well here at the Rockies! I’ve already met such amazing people and am even more excited to hit the ground running once the tundra is safe enough to traverse! Hopefully, you guys enjoyed my little summary of my time here at the Rockies and are just as excited as I am about my project this summer. I’ll keep you guys posted about my progress and my experiences at the park. Talk to you later! 

A view of the Grand Lake trail
Me looking cool while mapping social trails
The team setting up a traffic counter at Moraine Park
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