Beating the Backcountry Heat – DEVA #1

Beating the Backcountry Heat – DEVA #1

Hi all! My name is Caitlyn Klemm and I am the biotech natural resources intern at Death Valley National Park. I graduated from UC Merced in 2022 with a degree in English, but I was always drawn to the natural sciences since childhood. This pull was only strengthened after taking my first internship with the National Park Service last summer as an outreach intern for the Yosemite Field Station. The experience was life changing and set into motion my latter interpretation internship in Capitol Reef National Park then finally to the present!

Despite my educational background, I loved helping with field work in Yosemite and Capitol Reef, as well as teaching volunteers how to participate in conservation practices. I am more than ecstatic to be helping with data collection and digitization at Death Valley, more so knowing how critical my aid will be to the protection of the western bristlecone pine trees.

Having been raised in California and then moving to Texas, I felt I had a good grasp on what a hot day was like, but nothing can quite compare to the 100+ degrees Fahrenheit weather of Death Valley. I’m told this is cool for the beginning of June—wow!

Warm weather and dry sandstorms won’t do much to deter me from my fieldwork, and I hardly feel a thing in the beautiful, varying backcountry of the desert valley. I’ve only spent two days here getting to know the wonderful people and seeing more isolated parts of the valley, but I’m really looking forward to exploring the rest! Death Valley has a rich and fascinating history from the Timbisha Shoshone Indians to Gold Rush miners, both of which have left traces of their history all throughout the park in the form of arrowheads, abandoned mine shafts, old prospector cabins, and more. Aside from human history, Death Valley is also one of the lowest (and hottest) places in the entire world, with the lowest “peak” being 200 feet below sea level. There is much more to this park than a simple desert, and I can’t wait to learn about all the different facets that makes this place so special.

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