As I’m nearing the end of my internship, I expected the season to slow down significantly. However, my co-intern and I are still finding ripe seeds (with the help of our mentor of course!). Since my last blog post, we have finished a collection of Astragalus bisulcatus (twogrooved milkvetch), which accumulates selenium in its tissues. Although the selenium did not harm us at all while collecting, it emits a terrible odor which made the collection process slightly less enjoyable than most of the others. Luckily, we had found an area with so many plants that the collection was relatively quick. South of our field office at a higher elevation is a site called Green Mountain, which has proven to be a wealth of later season fruits. Some of the species that we have recently collected there have included Mimulus guttatus (seep monkeyflower), Penstemon procerus var. procerus (pincushion beardtongue), and what we believe to be Juncus confusus (Colorado rush), Thermopsis rhombifolia (prairie thermopsis), and Juncus ensifolius (swordleaf rush). The Mimulus guttatus and Juncus ensifolius were especially interesting because they were found in a pocket of fen or bog on the side of Green Mountain. I would have never expected that we would be able to collect those species this season, and even less so near the top of a mountain. I was so excited that I forgot to test each step before putting my full weight down and ended up getting one entire leg stuck (see picture). My co-intern and I laughed until tears ran down our faces as she helped me scrape the mud off of my pant leg.
Green Mountain also stands out in my mind this past month because we got to see about 15 wild horses in three different groups. One of these three groups consisted of a mare with her colt who was probably only a year or so old. The mother allowed us to get within only 5 or 6 feet of her, and didn’t seem to mind us at all. Our presence made her foal very nervous, however, and he ran and hid behind his mom more than a couple of times. But after a short time, his curiosity got the best of him and he too got close to us. Having had two horses in the past, I consider this to be one of the most exciting days of my internship, and I hope to see more horses at Green Mountain before leaving.
I have also enjoyed having the opportunity to show visitors some of the areas I find most beautiful. This past weekend, my mom came to Lander to spend some time with me and we hiked through Sinks Canyon, soaking up the sun and lounging in one of the falls. I’m truly going to miss this country and I look forward to coming back sometime in the future.