Horns and Cranberry

Today Sarah, Murphy and I visited both Cranberry and Horns pond in the Bigelow region. We arrived at the trailhead early in the morning and immediately ran into a problem in the form of a hornet’s nest right next to the trail sign. After our run in with the nest, we set off deciding that our luck could only improve. We started up the trail towards Horns pond and were greeted by gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and terrain. Although the hike was a bit strenuous and long, we made it to Horns pond in good time. Whilst Murphy and I relaxed on the shore and chatted with a couple of hikers, Sarah paddled out to retrieve the logger string. The loggers were easily found and the data was downloaded without incident.

We then packed up and made our way to Cranberry pond.The trail to Cranberry was perhaps the highlight of the day, it was a couple of miles of nice easy hiking along a ridge with many beautiful views. All of our legs were grateful for the change in slope in the trail.

We reached Cranberry by late afternoon and were greeted by a sign stating that giardia has been found in the pond. Nobody wanted to get in boat to go get the loggers for fear of contracting beaver fever. So I was the unlucky one who got to out on the pond. I worked as quickly as I could and found the logger string. We quickly downloaded the data and packed up and left to head back to the car. On the way down we came across a beaver dam that had created a marshy, muddy swamp. We finally made it back to the car around 7:30 PM. It had been a long, successful and awesome day; Sarah never had a bad reaction to the hornet’s sting, I never contracted giardia and we had a good set of data from each of the ponds.

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Saddleback Mountain

Sara pulling the loggers at Eddy.

Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley is the home of two of our research ponds from previous years: Ledge and Eddy, as well and Midway Pond which we added this year.  Today we visted all three ponds to download the summer’s data from our loggers and take the usual secchi and dissolved oxygen readings, as well as do some maintenance on the string at Ledge.

Ledge and Eddy are two ponds that have been of special interest to our research over the past two summers.  They are located close to each other at similair elevations and even have very similair volumes.  The main difference between these two ponds is their shape.  Last year we made depth maps of both ponds, which revealed that while Eddy Pond has a greater surface area than Ledge, most of that area is only a few feet deep, while Ledge has a much more traditional, gradual slope as well as a more elongated shape.

Eddy and Ledge contour maps

As a result of these differences, we see very different warming and mixing patterns at the two ponds.  For example, the bottom temperature at Ledge barely gets above 6 degrees C all summer with the bottom layer of water not participating in any mixing events.  At Eddy, the bottom layer does participate in mixing, but the surface and 2m temperatures do not mix regularly the way we see at Ledge.

Comparison of Ledge and Eddy Pond temperatures, summer 2010.

With more years of data and the addition of nearby Midway Pond, we will be better able to understand the causes of these different temperature regimes – whether it be fetch, slope, water clarity, water residence time, springs, or any number of factors.

SCIENCE!

Canoes make secchi measurements much easier.

The "trail" to Ledge claims another victim.

Sara, Sarah, Amie, and Rob at Eddy Pond.

Photos courtesy of Caitlin Abrams Photography

Nature’s Waterbed with the 5 Best Friends That Anyone Could Have!

This week we journeyed up to “The County” work on our ponds, Galilee and Gardner, in the region of the beautiful Red River Camps. We decided to pull the logger string from Gardner because it is too different from the rest of our ponds. It is rather large and deep which gives us some really cool data that we can “geek out” to but is less useful in the area of our research.  Our campsite was just on the edge of the pond and the four of us working for Julia this summer had the privilege of hopping into the sturdy, leak-free canoe provided to us and going for an evening paddle to collect the string and watch the moon rise over the mountains from surface of the calm pond. There must have been a very excited fisherman when he caught his line on our cinder block weighted string, but the disappointment when they found that there was no way of reeling in a fish that size. We poked ourselves with the abandoned hook a couple of times, yikes!

The next day, following a delicious breakfast which is the usual when we have Amie along on our camping trips, we chose to divide and conquer to accomplish our two new tasks for the day. Rob and Sara scampered off to place new loggers into North Little Black Pond. Amie, Julia and I got to hang back and go off trail to play in one of the coolest naturally formed playgrounds I have ever experienced.

Since we are such generous people, we volunteered to take cores of a bog in the area for one of Julia’s colleagues, Andrea Nurse, who is doing work with the Climate Change Institute in Orono. Now, this was no ordinary bog. It was what Julia referred to as a quaking bog. And boy did it quake. The sensation was similar to walking on an old school water bed. At first glance, it appeared as simply a grassy and flowery opening in the woods just off the trail.  We found some cool pitcher plants too! (We avoided those for fear of being eaten of course.)

We used a Russian Corer in the areas where we seemed least likely to get overly wet. The coring process was definitely a learning experience for Amie and me and the cores even turned out really well! I really look forward to helping out more with this project and Andrea Nurse.

Old Speck

Speck    7/13/2010

Long day at Old Speck Mountain

Surplus Road is closed for the time being so we did a longer hike than usual.

It took about 4 hours to get to the pond, which was very challenging! However, we did stop and see a few Canada Jays, and I got to feed one of the birds dried cranberries right out of my hand : )

Amie_jay

We also spent a little longer at the pond than usual because it started to downpour! But it was a quick shower nonetheless (except Rob got rained on while in the kayak).

Although it was a long hike (Julia likes to call them character-building hikes) we got a lot accomplished and had pizza afterwards : )

Amie

How to hike to a cloud…

The crew in action.

So yesterday was the first day that all four of us got to hike together (we divided and conquered Rangeley last week) and it was nothing short of a fantastic day. The weather was clear and co-operative which has been sort of a trend this summer but we will cross our fingers/knock on wood/glare at anyone we see doing a rain dancein hopes that it stays this way through the rest of the summer. The pond we were headed for was a new addition last summer and was just reaching its first birthday. We now have a full year of data for cloud and it looks fantastic so far! 

As you can see in the chart above, in the fall and spring the pond mixes before stratifying either with the coldest water on the bottom (summer) or with the warmest water on the bottom (winter). Currently some of our investigations are covering the stratification duration among the ponds.

Amie and I paddling on cloud.

The hike was a beautiful one despite the heat, and the many views of the surrounding 100-Mile Wilderness make it obvious why this stretch of forest os one of the favorites among AT hikers. Last night the rest of the crew camped out and today they are headed for the Borestone Audubon Sanctuary to download the data from Sunset. It will be interesting to see the data come back. Next week the project begins branching into coring some of our more significant ponds (more info on that later) which will be a new experience for all of us. This is shaping up to be quite the summer!

Fab Four

Four on Barren Mtn

I’m really excited about this summer’s crew!  Sara, Sarah, Amie, and Rob are gearing up to hike in to our existing hikes and download the winter data.  We’re also going to be adding several new monitoring sites – it looks like we’ll be collecting data in over 20 lakes before the field season ends.  By adding new sites, we can get a more complete picture of the variability we can expect between ponds and between years.

The Fab Four are pictured above on Barren Mtn after our hike in to Cloud Pond.  It should be a great summer of hiking – send us good weather!