Welcome back, kids!
It's good to see you all again. I hope you had a wonderful summer and spent lots of time outside with friends and family. (Smile) Now, how about we share what we all got up to?
Let's start with... well, why not Andy, since he's clearly not paying attention. He looks like he had an interesting summer. Tell us how you got those freaky tan lines. Or maybe that thousand-yard stare? Is that bug spray I smell?
Don't be shy. Come up to the front of the class. What'd you get up to this summer, Andy?
I pushed the limits of all-terrain vehicles
Until last year, I had never even touched a quad bike. I thought I had a decent handle over the basics of riding, but I would get pretty squirrely at the sight of most water and dicey terrain. Now I've witnessed their true power. Seriously. I'm constantly amazed by what bikes can achieve — and by what they can't. I can float across beaver dams, slash, and mud on the bush roads, then find myself pulling out the winch because I got a little too cocky in four-wheel drive. Either way, I can now say the bike is my trusty steed.
I camped overnight while flagging road line
Since the Prince Albert Forest Management Area is about 33,000 square kilometers, I spent a lot of time on the road getting to where I needed to be each day. In fact it would have been more practical to stay and camp at work most days. One of my favourite memories this year was getting to camp overnight near the road line my co-worker Rylan and I were flagging. We got eaten alive by mosquitoes, but the sunset was nice and we even caught a couple northern pike.
I witnessed trees of otherworldly dimensions
Rylan and I were ribboning a buffer zone around a lake when we came upon what I can only describe as the Platonic ideal form of trembling aspen. It was over 20 metres tall, about an extra-large pizza in diameter, and apparently flawless in every conceivable way. On the other side of the coin, we found many more trees with some wilder personalities. Noteworthy was a balsam fir with a branch I can only assume had a thirty-year identity crisis over whether to be a limb or a main stem, then settled somewhere in between.
I slogged through a spatter of spittlebugs
Have you ever seen a shrub or plant with what looks like spit hanging off of it? Chances are that's our old friend, spittlebugs, of the order Hemiptera, a.k.a. the "true bugs." Well these bugs truly bugged me. Getting through dense hazel and thorny rose bushes on a sweltering hot day in June is hard enough without feeling like you're walking through a loogie.
I got to ride in a chopper (again)
I never want to get to a point life where riding in a helicopter isn't still at least somewhat exciting. It's flying freaking metal, man!
I found some old log cabins
One of the best parts about working on the planning side of forestry was getting to learn about past land uses. On a few occasions we encountered decayed log cabins. Some were the abandoned homesteads of a remote northern village called Timberlost where displaced depression-era settlers came there to trade southern hardships for northern hardships. They survived nonetheless, thrived, and managed to evade a wildfire that swept through the area. That's tough.
I met some inspirational people
I went into my work term with Tolko wanting to build my field skills and clear some of the mystique that surrounds harvest operations planning. The bonus prize was getting to meet some very memorable personalities. My co-worker Rylan Thiessen, with whom I spent many days swatting flies in the rain, has the patience of a saint and is exactly the kind of guy you want to be with if you get stuck in the bush (thank for helping change my tire, buddy.) I also want to thank our mentors in the field, Rod Pshebnicki and Chad Wilkinson, for their wisdom and faith in us to do well. Lastly I want to thank my supervisor, Michelle Young, and everyone at the Tolko offices in Meadow Lake and Prince Albert. It has been a blast working with you all.
It has been a pleasure writing for the Green Dream program again this summer. Thanks for reading!