Thursday, March 20, 2008

You call that "Work?!"

After working for many years as a field biologist, where I was outside every day, tromping around through the woods in any kind of condition: 95 degree heat with smokey air; -20 degree frosty mornings; 40 degree rainy days where you're soaked to the core, etc.

These days I'm much more office-bound, and for the most part that's okay. I honestly don't miss those nasty days, of which in Montana there seem to be more of than anything else. Having a mostly office-based job keeps me inside where it's always 70 degrees. And I can plan my schedule around my job very easily (e.g. this afternoon I'll get out of here at 4pm, go for a 45 min run, then make it to yoga by 5:30).

But I do miss those rare stunningly gorgeous days in the field. The days where the temperature is just right (which, in the winter is about 20-25 degrees, 65-70 in the summer). The days where everything works right-- snowmobiles start easily and don't break down; I see cool animals, or at least their track in the snow; the folks I'm working with are in a jovial mood and laughter makes its way into our work-related conversations.

I had one of those days yesterday. It was fantastic. I toured a potential timber sale area on the Stillwater State Forest, about 20 miles NW of Whitefish, MT, with two foresters from the Stillwater Unit and our two hydrologists from my office here in Kalispell. It was a beautiful day-- warm enough that I was never cold (maybe I got lucky and layered up just right), intermittent sun and snow flurries, no wind, good snowmobiling as there was a firm base with about 8 inches of new powder, and everyone was in a good, fun-natured mood.

We got in about 2 hours of snowshoeing in all, walking around a couple different areas to look at the trees and potential for a timber sale. So a good bit of exercise with that, plus snowmobiling got me a good little workout since I haven't used some of those muscles very much this winter.

All in all it was a terrific day, and I thought I'd share some pictures:

standing on a steep slope, overlooking Upper Whitefish Lake (the little while spot above my head)

sign at Upper Whitefish Lake-- the bottom of the No Fireworks sign is at eye-level during the summer!

forest stand with a lot of bug-killed trees-- a potential for logging

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