Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Savoy Mountain April 25

My day was off to a good start. I mapped out the 5 pools I wanted to visit in the morning and the six pools I wanted to visit in the afternoon. On the map I could see that all the pools I needed to visit in the morning were really close to the road so I figured I could get through the site in a few hours which was a huge miscalculation on my part. Apparently the road that I needed to go down was unmaintained and as I got farther and farther down the road I realized more and more that I made a great miscalculation in thinking I could drive down this road in a front wheel drive chevy cavalier. The road ended up being steep, muddy and rocky so eventually I got my car stuck in the mud just when the road looked like it was about to improve just around the next bend. Now I had a dilemma, I was stuck on a mountain pass road with no cell phone service in the middle of nowhere. I spent the next 20 minutes trying to jam rocks and sticks under the front tires to get traction under the wheels to no avail. A few hundred feet behind me was a fork in the road. I happened to look behind me and see a truck drive down the other road where it forked so I kept working at freeing my car. 5 minutes later the truck returns and parks 100 feet behind and the two guys come and ask if I had been stuck there all night. Turns out I was found by the DCR seasonal wildfire fighter crew in charge of the entire Berkshire county park system (covering hundreds of miles of access roads). They had shovels in their truck so we tried digging out some of the front end of the car and then I floored it with the two guys pushing the back of the car. No luck. Next I ended up jacking up my car with a small car jack enough to put rocks under the front wheels of the car. Two hours later my car is free. The fire crew guys helped me get my car turned around and back to a safe spot to park. I attempted to give them $20 bucks for beer money but they declined saying they are not allowed to accept donations from the public. (At the end of the day I texted one of the guys saying I survived the day and made it out of the woods alive.)

Now that it is almost noon I am ready to start walking to my first vernal pool site and walked back down the road past where I got stuck and down to the first pool. I found the first pool within minutes and was done surveying it in 5 minutes. The next four pools took almost an hour to walk between each one up and down some steep terrain mostly off trail so it turned out to be a full day of hiking with 10-15 minutes surveying and note taking at each pool. All five pools turned out to be a bust for Jefferson salamanders. They were however pools filled with lots of amphibian activity. 

Once I got back to Lenox I took a shower and relaxed until I had to pick up my friend Ben at the bus station who came up from Brooklyn to get some field experience while applying to grad schools in biology.

Later that night we were hungry and drove to Pittsfield to and found only a pizza joint was open. We parked and across the street we heard some live music coming from a bar and veered straight for the door. We walked in and found an entire bar full of people smiling, singing and dancing along to a cover of 'Friend of the Devil' by the Grateful Dead. We got to the bar, ordered some burgers and beers and I had the perfect end to a crazy day. 
the evening before this happened I decided to get an oil change and car wash. in doing this I also ended up wrecking one of the front end wheel bearings which cost $250 to fix (It caused the steering wheel to shake like crazy over 60mph). 

newts mating in a sea of wood frog eggs

spotted salamander eggs
wood frog eggs

vernal pool 

wood frog eggs partially eaten by newts

giant raft of wood frog eggs 

another giant raft of wood frog eggs 

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