First stop was Cathedral Grove where we saw a series of gorgeous, tall, and towering cedars and hemlocks. Certainly not to be missed if you ever find yourself on Vancouver Island. We then made our way down to the Pacific Rim National Park and Tofino for some pre-fieldwork fun, including hiking, fishing, yoga, and sea kayaking, There were also a fair number of fish tacos consumed, to properly fuel up for the long hikes.
Traveling to the field sites afforded us a quintessential British Columbia experience: traveling behind logging trucks filled with trees, on a series of logging roads with great vistas. Access to the field sites was somewhat restricted in places, with new saplings having sprouted up since the last sampling. There was one particular grouse that kept aiming for our front tires. I finally just jumped out of the truck and ran towards it- I think the orange trousers really worked to scare him off much more than a loud truck engine apparently. Field work went really smoothly. I won't complain about the mozzies because it was beautiful weather and we did manage to locate all of the plots.
At this stage in the research project I am still working on analyzing some soil samples for various components of the microbial community, which means I am still spending most of my waking hours in the lab. However, when I do have free time, I have been learning a great deal from my discussions with fellow BEG lab-mates, topics ranging form soil microbial communities and the nitrogen cycle in forests, to the best bike routes around Vancouver. Gotta run- It is time for me to check on the soil extractions (see below for an example of what the extraction set-up looks like).