And so ends my second year with the CLM internship program. Having been through once before, I feel that this year’s internship built on what I gained from last year, as well as added some new, unique experiences.
Some of the most memorable times were the excursions to some of the remoter areas of the Ridgecest district. In particular, the time I, my mentor Shelley, and my supervisor Glenn did an overnight backpacking trip along the Pacific Crest Trail to examine some of our rarest plant populations, which up until this year, was known to contain only a single individual. This proved to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the year, because when we reached the site, we discovered not only the original plant, but 13 new ones, including seedlings and one which was in fruit. Beyond the exhilaration of the rare plant find, I got to spend some time with my mentor and supervisor, and really got to pick their brains. Not only that, but the scenery up on the mountains was simply marvelous. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the views were breathtaking, because when I was up there, I got to see some landscapes that I had only ever viewed at eye level. Being able to see the whole of the valley basin from so high up was an experience that I would not give for the world. On the practical side of things, it gave me something of considerable value: experience in backpacking. While I have done my fair share of camping, this was my first time really backpacking. Having true firsthand experience with that mode of camping was a real treat, and stressed to me the importance of knowing what I was going to need. After all, unlike most of the camping I’ve done, I didn’t have the option of getting into the car, and driving for supplies when I needed them. Having to really be prepared made me appreciate just how much we take for granted.
At the office, I was thoroughly introduced (read: thrust into) the world of GIS for the latter part of my internship by performing effectiveness monitoring on restored OHV trails. Though infuriatingly tedious and more than a little obnoxious at times, the experience was valuable. It also stressed to me some of the difficulties of the federal computer system. Case and point, after I completed the effectiveness monitoring, I couldn’t actually off load the data I had gathered, due to permission issues on the system. Thus, I had to find a way to circumvent the system. Though it eventually worked out, there was a significant amount of frustration to be had.
Overall, I felt that the year was a good one, and that I’ve not only learned many new things, but that I’ve found out a lot more about my personal limits and strengths. It makes me feel good that I have completed yet another year, and that I’m going away from it with valuable experience, and new prospects for the future.