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Field trips in detail, as told by Kay Erchiling

Posted by: | February 25, 2015 | 2 Comments |

Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta Excursion

The National Park

“Thursday of the first week of class, we all piled into vans as a class and headed south to Angol, Chile and Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta to see the monkey puzzle trees (Araucaria araucana) and hopefully wildlife. It seemed like a long trip, about 2 hours, but compared to getting anywhere else in this country it was quick. Angol is a medium sized town nestled on the valley floor against the foothills of the Chilean coast range, Cordillera de la Costa in the Cordillera de Nahuelbuta. So, part of the Nahuelbuta mountains within the coast range.”

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“We started our hike in the hot of the afternoon and as per usual I lagged behind. Equipped with my journal, my camera and an ID book I found keeping pace difficult. I did catch up at the oldest monkey puzzle tree, which is good as that was when we had our class discussion about population genetics and the status of different monkey puzzle populations on the list of endangered species.“The oldest monkey puzzle tree in the park

Jake, Sam, Galen and Mitch evaluating the oldest tree

Jake, Sam, Galen and Mitch evaluating the oldest tree

A close up of the leaf pattern of the monkey puzzle tree

A close up of the bark on a monkey puzzle tree, no wonder the monkeys were puzzled

A close up of the bark on a monkey puzzle tree, no wonder the monkeys were puzzled

“For those of you interested in an interactive learning opportunity about plants and animals (not just these trees) that are currently protected go here. http://www.iucnredlist.org/. It really is informative and I highly recommend checking it out.”

“We hiked up this hill and I was so behind that at one point our prof, Renee, came back to make sure I was not lost or dead. I had stopped to listen to a woodpecker and was greeted by a black-throated huet huet (Pteroptochos tarnii). He (or she) had hopped up on a nurse log to holler at me for disturbing the peace. After that I sped up some but as each step took me higher in altitude, so too did I have to stop and take a picture of and look in the species ID book for a new species I hadn’t yet seen! It was a good time, for sure!“

“We ate lunch on a rock face looking east over the valley and off toward the Andes. It was hazy though, and we couldn’t see much of the other mountain range. However, there were giant, beautiful cumulous clouds. “

Jake basking in the glory and taking in the view

Jake basking in the glory and taking in the view

Jenna taking a well deserved break after (almost) reaching the top

Jenna taking a well deserved break after (almost) reaching the top

“I gazed through the binoculars and watched my classmates chase lizards before we headed up some more, as apparently that wasn’t the cool viewpoint!  We came to a point where the trail wound down and around immense boulders. Two-story house sized boulders (with winding steps beside them?) and we went up, of course. “

“From up here though, you could see the ocean expanding for miles and the sun was beginning to sink in the western sky, glinting off of the water just so you couldn’t tell exactly where the horizon was. To our right was an endangered woodpecker dining on some insects on a monkey-puzzle tree. As the sun began to glow red-orange it reflected off the rocks, the trees and us, creating amazing silhouettes and glowing on the canopy top across the mountain range. Despite the birds in the distance screaming like toddlers, the scene was quite serene.”

Hanna and Travis waiting patiently for the sunset

Hanna and Travis waiting patiently for the sunset

Mitch enlightening Sarah and Tessa on the importance of…monkey puzzle trees(??)

Mitch enlightening Sarah and Tessa on the importance of…monkey puzzle trees(??)

The sunset just starting, from our view at the top

The sunset just starting, from our view at the top

Sunset over the ocean

Sunset over the ocean

On the way home from Angol we stopped at a waterfall, to contrast differences in species diversity in pristine parks vs human recreation areas. It was quite a contrast!The falls

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