Again, I apologize for the lack of blog uploads on here! I've been so busy with hiking and working with my projects (which you can see the results of said projects in diversityinconservation.org) that I have been spending less and less time on the internet. It doesn't help that I only really have one place in headquarters that I have open access to the internet, but hey at least i'm spending more time with myself and have been drawing and reading, both of those things I haven't done in a good while. 

But today, for this blog, I want to take you guys hiking with me. At least, experience the same feelings I had when I walk through Lassen. Just for a quick distraction from everything that has been happening in the world. So, come with me as we hike together.

 

When you start on in the trailhead, you would find people that are like us. Many visitors are congregated around the entrance, reading how long the trail will be. Some will be in full hiking gear, while others are in simple t-shirts and leggings. We’ll pass them, for this is just the start.

It might be difficult for some to start on the trail, but I will stop and wait for you to catch up. Hiking is all about pacing yourself, knowing when to start and stop. Take your time, so you can also take in the sweet scenery around us. The trees are tall, the lichen bright and hanging down from the branches. The dirt path is dusty, both of us leaving little clouds of dust as we keep going. With one turn, we arrive upon a little meadow.

The meadow has many blossoms, with Lupines and Mule’s ears blooming among the tall grass. We stop by for a water break there, enjoying the chatter of Steller’s Jays and the chipping of several sparrows. Our breaths are heavy, but our hearts aren’t. Before we know it, we continue past a creek and up some hills. What were a lot of people now has just narrowed down to just the both of us. But still, we do see the occasional hiker pass through us. Sometimes we stop to let them pass, other times they stop for us. But we always make sure to say a gentle hello or a thank you. We continue walking, our eyes looking through the swathes of Manzanita bush and the beautiful Lassen Peak that seems to be always present as we continue our path.

I know I don’t talk much as we walk through, but our shared silence isn’t due to awkwardness. We both are silent as we let the Wilderness do the talking for us, the song of the wind passing through the trees and the various chirps of birds and bugs scattering about. We stop for a moment, taking in the sharp mountain air. Again, another water break. We both stray from the path for a bit, sitting on smooth rocks as we watch various warblers around us hop from branch to branch, their curious eyes watching our movement. Our eyes meet each other, and we smile, starting a simple conversation as we take out our lunches and eat. But soon, it is time to move on.

As we move on into the trail, the Wilderness is still just as beautiful as we first met. We are now on top of a hill, seeing the trail wind down through the gentle hills. It is only a few more minutes until we arrive at our destination. I ask of you to keep going, as we continue our path down. As we walk more, the solitude of the wild takes us in. We are far away from the comfort of our own homes, in our own technology. Yet, the serenity of the woods and the soft sunshine made us feel at home. One more stop, its me this time as I take a break and set my backpack down, allowing my muscles to relax. You can relax too.

Soon enough, we keep going until we arrive at the lake. It is Sifford Lake, I explain. While it is small, the water is crystal blue and clear, showing the bottom of the lake. Thankfully, we are the only ones here. We take our time wading through the cold waters, laughing at some joke we shared on our way to the lake. While we are still close to civilization, it still feels so far away. But I don’t mind it at all. Our time here in the wilderness is important, as we appreciate what the earth offers. So we continue on, enjoying the afternoon in the lake and finish up our lunch. But soon, it seems that it would be time to leave.

So we get up, packing up our lunches and our trash together, still talking about whatever topic we have stumbled into. As we return back to the trailhead, time feels a lot shorter. But that’s okay, as we still made time to stop and take several photos of the landscape and of Lassen peak. Before you know it, we’re back at the trailhead, back to reality. Even though it’s late afternoon, there are still people who are hiking and going through the trails. But that’s isn’t our problem now. But it was fun. We say our goodbyes and depart, walking to different cars. Hopefully, we can once again hike together, when our paths cross again.

Published in EFTA intern blog

As of now, it has been over a month since my first day at the park. And WOW, there are a lot of things that are on my mind. 

First things first, I have been absolutely enjoying every single moment here in Lassen. It's great to go out in the field and explore the park, going through the various trails and seeing every sight that the park has to offer. I never was excited to look forward to work before, but the thought of exploring a part of the park I haven't seen makes me so eager to get my boots and seeing its sights made me excited for the next day. I am so grateful to spend most of my work days out in the park and I am so sorry for my fellow interns that can't be at their own respective parks. I hope everything is well with you guys! 

The projects that I am working with supervisor have also been a lot of fun, since they're the reason I am able to get to the park so much over these weeks. And I am learning too with these projects, as they have allowed me to look at wilderness in a different way than before. Before, I thought wilderness was a "pure" place of nature where it's untouched by humans. But now, I know that there isn't a thing just as "pure wilderness" as wilderness itself can have people who used to live there in the past. Another thing is that wilderness is ever changing, it's dynamics between its ecosystems always changing and shouldn't be stagnant. But still, it should still be protected and if it's degrading. We should do something to stop or at least minimize the degradation. All of these lessons have been important to me as I grow and continue on my path in the Wildlife/Wilderness/Natural Resources field. 

The people here have been amazing. Every coworker i've met so far has been nothing but kind and happy to work with me. They have become less of co-workers and more of a group of people I can trust and depend on. It's now common for us to talk with each other soon as we're done with work, talking on what we've done last week. I never knew how much I would connect with these people and form such strong bonds. Even now, i've developed a circle of friends were we would watch movies together and play games every week. At this point, I would consider this as a second home, with everyone being so close together and getting along so well. 

It's crazy to think that still, this is just the start of my internship here. I still have about over a month left until I return to Minnesota where i'll finish up school. This internship has made me feel so happy and so proud of what I am doing this summer. I cannot thank LHIP enough of what they have done so far to put me here on this park. Thank you so much. 

In regards on what i'll still be doing, i'm still working on the various wilderness projects that both me and my supervisor are working through. I am also helping out in other areas as well, helping out on various wildlife surveys and other things that would interest me here. But for now, with everything in mind, I feel so happy with this internship happening so far. Again, big thank to LHIP and Dalia for making this summer be one of the best summers I have had so far. Thank you!! 

Published in EFTA intern blog

Hello everyone! I apologize for the large span of time between this post and the previous blog. Things have been busy over here! 

Over the several weeks that I have been here so far, I have been working out in the field on a near daily basis, working with Wilderness and help other people in the Resource management department here. Most of my days involve me going to the park and hike, regardless if it is up a hill or by a mountain. Now for someone who has been used having relatively flat lands for hiking, this is a challenging but rewarding experience so far. It is not easy hiking up with the elevation changing and your legs yelling at you for putting too much stress. But with every step, I find myself indulging with the beautiful views of this park. Thankfully, my body has been adjusting to these changes and with each trail I hike, the labor becomes less and less painful. 

What is great about this park so far have been the accessibility of these trails running throughout the entire park. Since the park is smaller, it means that you can reach from one side of the park to another roundtrip in about a day. This allows a lot of the visitors to use the trails to go through the park and potentially find good areas to camp in the Wilderness of the park. While that is something that is normal in most National Parks, this is important for Lassen. Outside of the highway that runs through the park, the trails are the main way to travel and see all the places Lassen has to offer. And since it is protected Wilderness, it's important to know what trails have been used the most due to the potential degradation of the wilderness.. 

This leads to my internship focus, what i am working on and what I have been doing these past few weeks. The thing that my supervisor and I have been working on, so far, is to protect solitude in wilderness. Solitude is one of the main characteristics of Wilderness, as people can leave civilization and go into a wilderness area and be by themselves and with nature. This is important to protect because solitude can be easily degraded if there are many people using the trails or are leaving trash/waste behind. This seems a very difficult task, as you need to balance the interests of the visitors and the wilderness. However, after few weeks in surveying and helping my supervisor, I have learned that balance is important, and this difficulty can be overcome through study and understanding what the public is doing in the park. 

Currently, I've been doing several projects that observes solitude in the wilderness of the park. One of them is condensing wilderness permits (a permit you need if you want to camp overnight at the park) into a single database to look at what places have been visited the most and have been used for camping. Another one, the biggest one i'm focusing, is to go through the park and collect information on what areas have been the most used for campsites. These projects aren't easy. But with help from the Resource department and with my supervisor, it's become more fun and easier to do. My work day has now become to check my email early in the morning at the office, drive out to the park and hike, eat lunch in the middle of the wilderness and hike more before coming back to the office to clock out. While the hikes might be long and the weather can be hot and muggy, I still am motivated to do my tasks and also enjoy the park and the beautiful views that I get to see everyday. 

 

Published in EFTA intern blog
Monday, 15 June 2020 01:49

Blessed Beginnings At Lassen

As I am writing this, I will have finished my very first week being an LHIP intern at Lassen Volcanic National Park. It's dark outside, and I am the only one who's here at the employee lounge but I never have felt so content in my life. 

The road to Lassen was quite...interesting. With the pandemic, I had a fear that I might not arrive at the park and not work in the outdoors of Northern California and instead work from my home back at Minnesota. Thankfully, due to my internship being focused on the wilderness of Lassen Volcanic National Park, I was able to travel. I left my home state at 7am, then took a 3 hour flight to Phoenix, Arizona. Then from Arizona, I flew and landed in Reno at around 11am. Once at Reno, I finally met up with my supervisor, Michael. Upon meeting Michael, I felt an instant sense of relief. During my time flying, I was plagued with anxiety and fear about my internship and how much things will change due to COVID-19. Not only that, I was anxious about the new people I would come to meet and if they were at all friendly. But as he welcomed me and helped me with my bags, I felt less of an employee arriving at a job and more of a family member coming back home. From there, it took almost 3 hours to arrive at the park with an additional stop at a grocery store. Along the trip he exchanged stories about his workplace, the people I would meet and the wilderness that would become my second office. I also saw the landscapes changing and forming from hilly, plain deserts to high mountains with trees that seemed to reach the skies. As a person who have only lived in the bustling city Cancun and lived in the flat-ish lands of Minnesota, I was blown away by the beautiful scenery. 

Upon arriving to the headquarters, I realized that this place wasn't a high strung area with guards. But rather, a small welcoming community of park workers and rangers that accepted a new person into their home. I even got a bag of fresh, garden grown vegetables as a form of welcome. Settling in was going to be a lot easier than I thought it would be. 

With the first few days, I was welcomed into the Resource Management office and its workers, which all of them were very nice and welcoming. I even met other interns, all of them coming from different states to work here at Lassen. I also got treated to tour the park via the park highway that runs through Lassen. Words cannot describe the sheer beauty of the park. Seeing the various mountain peaks and its accompanying valleys is something that you must see for yourself. The park has many different geographical features, to a cinder cone volcano to crystal clear lakes, this park is unparalleled  in its diversity and beauty. I am absolutely blessed that I have this opportunity to work with the wilderness of this park and see all of these features with my own eyes. 

 

Near the end of the week, I was helping out with the vegetation crew to pull out cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) in Terminal Geyser at the park. To reach there, we hiked through Warner Valley and up by the side of a mountain in order to reach the geyser where I was out of breath, but happy. Though it was just a trip to pull out some invasive plants, it quickly became a bonding experience where we ate lunch and laughed at jokes and talked about our favorite foods. And at that moment where we were sitting and talking, I looked over the wooded area and the geyser and took in everything that surrounded me. The fact that I was here at Lassen Volcanic National Park, the fact that I have already made friends and the fact that I will spend the rest of my summer with the beautiful outdoors made me feel at peace. I am so grateful to be given this opportunity by LHIP and having this chance to work with amazing people at an amazing place. I am looking forward for the upcoming weeks and work with Michael on his wilderness projects. 

Published in EFTA intern blog
Friday, 24 April 2020 00:09

Lisset Olvera Chan

My name is Lisset Olvera Chan, but I usually go by Liz. I am currently a Senior studying at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. This fall, I will finish my major in Wildlife Biology and this summer I will be a Wilderness intern at Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. I was born in Cancun, Mexico and moved to Minnesota when I was 6 years old, where I became a US citizen, Since I was a young girl, I have always had a love for the outdoors and the animals that live there. Over the years, my passion for wildlife only grew stronger as I learned more about conservation and protecting endangered and at-risk species from extinction. I have always wanted to expand my understanding of wildlife and I had always thought that working with the National Park Service would help me learn more about how the United States approaches wildlife conservation. As a Latina, I had always been the black sheep of my classmates. But being in this program, it can connect me to Latinos who are passionate about wildlife and environmental conservation and help me further my passion for wildlife. I feel this program can also help me in my career in the long term, as one of my big career goals is to work for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and work in non-game Wildlife where I can help others understand the importance of wildlife and help protect birds and other non-game animals. I also aspire to become an ornithologist, so I can study and interact with wild birds in their habitats and help educate others about bird conservation and protection. I am highly thankful for the Latino Heritage Foundation Program for giving me this opportunity, as it gives me a pathway that can take me closer to my dreams and it will immerse me in an experience that I will never forget. Thank you!

Published in Intern Bios