Coming Soon

In just a few short weeks I will reintroduce the Microbe Series and discuss two of the worlds best things: bacteria and BEER!!!! Just as a reminder, the goal of this series is to learn a bit about the natural history of various aquatic microbes. These organism can either be picked from my current research data or they could be an interesting organism I heard about at a conference/talk. So stay tuned to learn more.

Sampling Day 4 (kinda)

Well today wasn’t a science day. I threw in a few floater days in case things happened with the weather or logistics. I also needed the extra days on some lakes where I am moving sondes between lakes. So what to do with my free time? Well I started off by sleeping in! That was amazing. Then a shower, shave, and large breakfast to really solidify things. I planned this floater day to be on a Saturday on purpose – I wanted to experience the Big Bay farmers market, so I did. One table of local produce. I’ll take those peppers. That was a good morning!!!

For the afternoon I decided to do some exploring. I hear there is a dolmen on top of Huron Mountain. So what is a Dolmen? Well I’m getting mixed answers but it seems to be related to ancient Celtic or Viking civilizations. Yes, apparently both made it to MI!!!! Way before  good old Chris.

The hike was amazing. There were beautiful forests

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Including trees on rock mounds

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The view was amazing

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I even found the USGS marker for the peak

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Ok time to find that Dolmen. It took a bit of searching, but I found it!!!!

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Mission accomplished! Time to enjoy the view

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Oh I guess that storm is really coming. You can see the rain front.Image

So after I did some interesting climbing around to find another treasure (unfound) I had to make an abrupt exit from the mountain. Of course I wasn’t on the path when it started pouring so I had to blaze my way through. What fun. Well to end this journey I found another cool tree

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Yes that tree is almost entirely living off the rock. My take away: “… life will find a way” (John Hammond – The Lost World: Jurassic Park

That was a great day!!!

 

Sampling Day Three

Today was dedicated 100% to Canyon Lake. Turns out that it is also Friday 13th and sampling a creepy lake is suiting – though not planned. Today marked the first day of actual sampling. My plan was to collect three liters of water from the Epi-, Hypo-, and Chemolimnion. Before I could do that I had to figure out the depth of each. Now one problem:  the cable on the hydrolab isn’t long enough. This lake is >20 m deep and the cable is maybe half of that. My solution: collect water at 1 m intervals from bottom to surface and measure the water in the VanDorn sampler. Not the perfect method, but it worked. The spot I found was about 22 m deep so I started at the bottom. Turned out to lead me to an interesting observation – the water in the chemolimnion has much more DOC.

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The two bottles on the left are from the chemo (bottom layer) and the other bottles are successfully closer to the surface. This is going to turn out really really cool!!!!! So the downfall of collecting water and then measuring is that it takes a really long time, especially when you are alone. But I got it done!!!!

Once that was done it was time to sample. So I collected water from each level and a few bottles in between. This meant that I had the entire cooler full of water samples and there was no way I was going to hike that over the hill and back to the van. So plan B – find an area on the other end of the lake (closer to the van) and drop off all the gear. Luckily for me, I had wondered down the wrong path earlier and knew just the spot. Success.

Now to row back to the end of the dock, lock up the boat, and walk to the gear. I hope I don’t lose anything.

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Oh I forgot to mention. It was actually still difficult to carry the gear back. I had to make two trips. Try carrying this through the woods when the cooler is full of 1L sample bottles

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Oh how about over a board walk or two

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That last one sucked.There were a few times when I knew I was about to end up in the swamp. But I didn’t. I made it back to the van and got it all back to the ‘lab’. Processing time.

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Don’t you like my little lab?

Day Three

Well the fun and games are over. Well yesterday was no game. That was hard work. Today is no difference. More sondes, gas sampling, and bacteria traps. The only difference is I’m going to hit more lakes: Howe, Rush, Pony, Upper Pine.

Site: Howe

The hardest thing about Howe is just getting there by car. It is maybe the furthest lake to drive to. Now yes there are roads, but we are talking about single track dirt roads that don’t need a speed limit because you aren’t going to get very fast (bump, bump, bump, sharp turn, steep climb). So once I got there all I had to do was row out and throw in the gear. Well maybe gently throw it in – it is expensive. I have to say, the morning sun on the lake was beautiful

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Site: Rush

Now I don’t actually plan on putting a Sonde in Rush today. I’m going to move the sonde from Howe into Rush later in the week. However, I am going to go ahead to put in the float and do the gas measurements. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention a thing or two about Rush. Well Rush is 91 meters deep (300 feet if you must). To put that into perspective that is about ¼ the max depth of Lake Superior – maybe 1 km away. On top of that, there is apparently a fish species only found in Rush. All cool stuff. Let’s just hope it isn’t windy.

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Site: Pony

So Pony use to be a small mountain stream fed lake. It seems to be turning into smaller ponds and, as I found out today, filling in with peat (maybe it will be a bog one day). The only issue is getting there. My way is to access it by boat. So while I’m on Rush I just keep rowing until I’m in about the right area. Then I can just pull the boat out of the water and hike the rest of the way. I was lucky this time to actually find a site near a trail which lead in the vicinity of Pony (Awesome!!!).

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So that was easy. Now I just have to haul the gear up and get to work. Well that turns out to be more of a challenge. Oh yeah, there isn’t a boat here so I have to wade in, luckily I brought a pair of waders. Soon after I started I had my first surprise due to this:

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Now that is a way to start the afternoon. I’m gonna have some words with people!!! (Not like that will help though) Ok, so now what? Well Pony isn’t really deep and it is hard to find a place to put the sonde. So I resorted to this:

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It is safely out of the mud and just deep enough to work. Well, in the meantime one of the Hobos fell off and decided to take a float across the pond. Great L ! So I guess I’ll try to fetch it. Not because I’m worried about losing it, but I don’t want to litter. So by this time it is on the other side of the pond so I decided to walk across. This is how I figured out the lake/pond is turning into a bog. So much peat. There is also the moment where you realize you are standing on a floating mat which is sinking and wondering how you would get out if you don’t move quickly. I finally made it. I only fell in a few times and luckily my GPS is waterproof because I forgot it was in that pocket. I finally got the Hobo with the help of a stick and some string. You have to be resourceful in this line of work. Now that I’m all done I just have to row back across Rush. How is it that the wind is always working against me?

Site: Upper Pine

Upper Pine is such a beautiful lake. You access it by rowing in from Second Pine via a small, shallow inlet. As you approach there is nothing but water lilies and other aquatic plants. Oh look at all of the fish – I saw a few good size bass. As you clear the inlet you come upon this amazing lake.

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What a delight. I wish I could spend more time back here. It is so peaceful. But I’m just dropping off this sonde and getting home. It is already 5 PM and I’m tired. I’m be sure to get more pictures of this lake when I come back next week.

Day Two

So today was a productive day. I had a 5:00 am wake up (maybe one beer too many beers last night). By 6:00 am I had cooked breakfast and was ready to get to work. First, a few things to prep before I load up and get in the field. The day’s task: deploy sondes, collect gas samples, and bait some bacteria!!!! I was in the van and driving by 7:30.

First Site: Canyon

I’d say that Canyon is my favorite lake here. It is just so interesting and challenging – my trip to the lake is proof of that. As I try to turn onto the road my map says leads to the lake, I find this:

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So being the fearless, determined scientist I am, I grabbed my gear (>50 lbs) and walked the 2 miles to the trail head. Nothing is going to stop me.

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The trail is about another mile and includes some boardwalk through the swamp, some rocky flat terrain, a small mountain, a bit of mixed forest and finally some more swamp with a rotten boardwalk. That about covers the major biomes of the area and I love it. Once you make it to the boat dock you find an old aluminum boat (not one of the fancy Club boats) and a dock blocked up with logs. With some careful maneuvering you can get the logs out of the way and get the boat in the water. As you start to row out you can see how amazing the lake is

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Well time for science, but nothing very interesting yet. I was just deploying a sonde so I can hopefully measure lake metabolism. Fun stuff.

The walk back is much more enjoyable – about 25 lbs lighter too! Time for a few pictures:

The view from the mountain

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(Oh you can see the sonde, well the blue float)

Some pitcher plants growing on floating logs:

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Oh yeah, this is what the trail looks like:

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Can you find it?

So as you can imagine, it is past noon when I leave. Time for lunch, and lots of water.

Second Site: Ann

The after lunch sampling trip is a hike to Ann Lake. So there is a faster way to get to Ann – row across Mountain Lake – but I really wanted to do this hike. The trail goes from the boat house on Mountain Lake and into the woods. After a while you end up on the beach for a nice stroll along the water.

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Ok, back into the woods, but not for long. Quickly the terrain turns rocky and the trail is going straight up that mountain, which is apparently called the Fortress. The walk is a bit steep when you have a ton of gear, but at the top you forget that you are out of breath and sweating bullets.

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Ok, well time to keep going. Time to go up the side of Mt Huron.

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Almost there! Just a short hike down the mountain and threw some more swamp. At least there is a sturdy boardwalk over this stream of duckweed.

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Almost there! Just a little further through the woods and the trail brings you to the boat house

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Now these are the nice boats – hand-made, solid wood. You don’t want to know how much these go for. Well they are sure amazing to boat around in. So more science. Blah blah blah.

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Ok, well it is time to head back. The hike back to the van is over an hour and the drive back home takes 20 – 30 minutes. It’s already 5:30 so I better get going. What a productive day.

Day One

Well I didn’t make it sampling today. I had to work out a few things concerning boats. Somehow I managed to get a boat master key and won’t need to check out one boat key at a time. That will make things much faster than last year. I also set out my weather station. Always fun. (picture to come soon). What else did I do….oh yeah, I calibrated all of those sondes. What a pain in the ass!!! But they are all ready to go. All I have to do is grab one and throw it in a lake. I’d say that this was a productive day. Oh yeah, I met one of the club members today. He apparently wrote the original software for submitting data to GenBank. Crazy.