|The scanning electron microscope. I put many hours into fine focusing. Farewell SEM, hello Kiavah!|
Naomi Fraga was my field companion this round. We planned to go on an overnight backpacking trip into the heart of the wilderness. Since Naomi knew of a safe route to access one of the most remote portions of the wilderness, she prepared the maps in her GPS and I gathered the collecting supplies. On Friday, we drove to Ridgecrest and stayed the night at the "oh so fancy" Motel 6. This was a great idea, because I needed time to sort though my gear and pack my backpack.
At 7:00 a.m. on Saturday morning we bolted from our cozy motel and drove straight to the wilderness. We parked on the side of the highway, left a note on the dashboard, letting the authorities know the car was not stollen and that we would return for the vehicle on a certain date. Then Naomi led the way into the Kiavah Wilderness. We had to cross-country hike the entire way.
|Naomi geared-up and hiking hard|
|First major ascent up the hillsides, over 1,000 ft. climb. Facing west|
|Up and over these humps, we would eventually reach the dry meadow|
|The dry meadow|
|Naomi holding our prize|
|We named this area the "badlands"|
|Naomi heading towards the west side of the wildneress|
|Black oak grove at the end of our hike, 6,600 ft.|
|Pressing and sorting under headlamp light|
|Site near Nemacladus population|
|Naomi collecting Penstemon|
After four hours of descending the mountain side we reached the car. It was then that I found out that the car was unlocked! I left the car unlocked. Fortunately, nobody tampered with it. Next time, I will be sure to check all doors before heading into the wilderness. I think I got so excited to collect I forgot to check.
Overall, it was a productive and exciting backpacking adventure. The solitude in the wilderness is unbelievable. I am really grateful to Naomi for aiding me in this trip. Her botany skills are out of this world. I really learned a lot from her. I hope that one day I too can spot and identify plants like her. To celebrate, we did some "carb-loading" at John's Pizza and Homemade Ice Cream in Ridgecrest. Then we headed home.