After 10 days of traveling across the country, again, I am finally in Prineville, Oregon, where I will call home for the next 5 months. The trip from New Jersey was outstanding just like it was last year but this time I got to bring a friend, Ryan, to explore with me. Ryan had never been in the west so I thought “What a great time to see it!” We got to spend 10 days driving, camping, and exploring new places as we made our way to Oregon. I got to bring him to one of my favorite places in the US and that was Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. We spent three nights camping on the Estes Park side, where we got to do some pretty awesome hikes, including Cub Lake. Most of the park was closed off due to winter snow that had not receded yet, but that didn’t stop us. From there I got to reconnect with some friends in Casper, Wyoming, where I called home last summer through my CLM internship. It was wonderful to see familiar faces and hangout at the local watering holes again. From there we hit Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Grand Teton National Park. Luckily, the time we got to Jackson Hole was the same time the World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb was going on. The Hill Climb was an awesome experience, it was something I had never seen or heard about before and I am so glad I got to experience it on my way. After Wyoming we finished the route and ended up in Prineville!
My first couple weeks in Prineville have been amazing so far. I started out my season with Greater Sage-grouse lek Surveys, which were incredible because that was the one thing I missed out on in Wyoming last year. In order to do a lek survey one must get up around 2 or 3 AM and start heading out to the lek locations to make sure you arrive at the lek before the sun rises. Once you are there you get to see male Sage-grouse strutting and calling to the females to get them to mate with them. Getting up at 2 AM had never been worth it before until those days I got to see Sage-grouse strutting across a lek just as the sun rose. After lek survey days I got to go out and do Golden Eagle nest surveys, which included seeing a Golden Eagle sitting low in its nest incubating eggs. With all of these surveys comes hiking, which was incredible, any excuse to hike is good enough for me. These first couple weeks of exploring the ecosystem I will be working in this summer have been amazing so far with some spectacular views.
At the end of my first month I got to travel up to Cheney, Washington with the AIM crew, I will be working with, and attend the National AIM Training which was a blast! This was a very hands on training that I believe anyone who needs to do AIM plots for the BLM should absolutely attend. It was very informative and the trainers were wonderful to work with. It also was a wonderful time to get to know the crew that I will be working with for the remainder of my time here in Oregon.
Overall I believe my time here in Oregon will be spectacular and I cannot wait to explore the cascades and high desert areas!