I started working in my current position at the end of January, right after it dumped snow in North Kitsap. (My little Echo handled the snow pretty well with snow tires… although I can’t quite say the same for my nerves.)
Right from the start my colleague/supervisor planned on taking me out into the field to get acquainted with the areas that I’d be making maps of, areas that our tribes had projects going, and to meet some of the people that I might be working with at some point.
That was about seven months ago.
Then on Thursday I FINALLY got to go out into the field to “help” one of the tribe’s biologists collect steam flow data, or so I thought. We actually ended up collecting HOBO pendant data loggers from some of the rivers in the area. I didn’t do much but tag along, so it was more of a “field trip” than actual “field work.” I thought we were only going to be gone for about 2 hours, so I didn’t take my lunch… it took a bit longer than that.
At the last site of the day, two from our little team got on their chest waders and took off upstream to search for the HOBO while I and my colleague/supervisor went without waders to walk along the side of the river… As it turned out, there wasn’t much river bank that wasn’t covered in stink currants, devil’s club, salmonberry, and other prickly bushes. Any area that happened to be clear of bushes consisted mostly of large rocks covered in wet moss and algae. I quickly gave up any attempt to stay dry after slipping multiple times while trying to move from rock to rock. After catching myself from nearly slamming my face into a small boulder, I threw my hands up and just started walking in the river in my hiking boots. Unfortunately my willingness to get wet did not prevent me from slipping (surprised? I thought not) and on the way back to the jeep I slipped one too many times and hit my knee on a rock. It hurt a bit, but I was up almost as fast as I went down and quickly made sure they knew I was ok. About five minutes later I noticed the golf-ball-sized lump on my knee and a small bit of blood. AWESOME. It also happened to be the same knee that I injured about 2.5 years ago ice skating… figures. Thankfully I am not afraid to laugh at myself.
I scrambled back up to the forest service road where we parked the jeep and waited for the rest of our team to pile in. We slowly began to make our way back to the “main” road while Hans did his best to avoid the larger potholes. He got really good at missing them and saving us from being bounced around a lot, but he wasn’t quite so good at avoiding the edge of the road at the same time. It is amazing how quickly the joking, laughing, and chatter stops once people realize that they might be in a bit of a situation. In trying to avoid what looked like a large pothole (turned out to be a wide but shallow puddle) both of the wheels on the passenger side of the jeep went off of the compacted dirt road. That side of the service road was a bit steep… not a cliff by any means, but steep enough that it was possible that the jeep could have tipped and rolled if we weren’t careful. It wouldn’t have gone far, but it would have definitely made our situation much worse, and less funny. We made one attempt to maneuver the jeep to get it unstuck, but decided that was a bad idea as the back driver’s side wheel started to move upward and the jeep began to lean more towards the downhill slope. Thankfully Hans ended up making a few phone calls and found some guys that were in the area that were able to come help us with a couple of big trucks… so we walked back to the main road to wait for them (me with my now painful knee, Hans with a bad back).
We made it back to our office at about 630pm, an hour and a half after the office closed. I left the office as soon as I could… and went to a dog club meeting. At least I was finally able to eat my pb + j sandwich.
All in all, I would say that my first time in the field was a success. I could have been hurt much worse and could have been even more wet instead of only up to my knees. We managed to collect some HOBOs. I got to interact with a new staff member and see some of the rivers in the area.
Next time I will have my chest waders (I bought some on Saturday!) and my little camera… for laughs and because we went to some really pretty areas. Maybe a water-proof bag or something for my camera, just in case…