We (my fellow grad student Heidi, our field assistant, my husband, and I) made it to our field station at Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, CO on Wednesday June 15. It was a lovely trip out here from North Carolina. We camped along the way and had great weather the whole way. It was a really interesting experience to see how the habitats changed as we continued west. I was a fan of the prairie in Kansas.I have never really seen anything like that and it was so pretty, especially as we passed the windmills and the many fields of wheat!
We camped because it’s cheaper than staying at a hotel and it gave us a chance to use and practice with our camping equipment.
Finally, we arrived here at RMBL to this.
This was quite a shock. We knew that it was a really late spring this year in the Rockies, but we had no idea how much snow there still was. After checking in and driving up the mountain, we finally moved into our cabin (which has its own little snow patch behind it) and got all of our equipment set up. We didn’t do much yesterday other than that as we were still getting acclimated to the high altitude (this field station is at 9500ft). It was a chilly night with the low around 30°F, but the days here are lovely with highs near the mid 60’s. This morning we woke up and we knew that there would be no butterflies flying at any of our field sites above 8000ft, but we wanted to see if we could find any butterflies in Olathe, CO, which is at around 6800ft. We drove the two hours down the mountains and into the desert, but alas there were no butterflies flying!
This was a bit of a blow, but we are going to be flexible. At first we were freaking out a little bit, but the butterflies can’t be expected to operate on our schedule, we must operate on theirs. Our research projects will be ok and everything will work out fine. This delay in the start of our butterfly catching adventure gives Heidi and I more time to construct her butterfly cages, set up weather stations, and of course to go hiking to enjoy the beautiful scenery here in Gothic, CO.
So that’s what our plan is, to enjoy our time out here and not worry about our butterflies for now. Spring/summer will finally come to the Rocky Mountains and when it does we’ll be ready and armed with our butterfly nets, but until then I’m going on a hike!