Take a hike! (with me?) Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens National Monument

It’s pretty amazing to see the impact the explosion of Mt. St. Helens had on the surrounding landscape, completely deleting whole sections of forests, and revealing new features and topography. This lava canyon is one of the “new” features the eruption revealed, and it’s pretty fascinating! I would say this is a challenging hike if you hike to the end, mainly because of difficult footing and some steep climbs. But it’s not very long (maybe 4.6 mi/7.4 km round trip).

Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava formations
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
There were signs everywhere warning not to get off the path as many people have died in this fast moving water
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Some scrambling required
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Person with a death wish, apparently
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Sea of horsetail (Equisetum) looks so soft!
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Nice, tall trees ❤
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
I like this photo for two reasons: 1) my hiking buddy gives you a sense of scale (she's small but not that tiny) 2) that little tree is lit up by a sunbeam like a Christmas tree
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
This path pleases me
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Felt compelled to photograph this pile of boulders
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Big trees! Hiking buddy for scale
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
At one point, you get to climb down this fun ladder ~30 ft
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
A fun suspension bridge!
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Coastal Hedgenettle (Stachys camissonis)
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Gotta love these ferny forest understoreys
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Pretty idyllic
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Blue
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Big old pile of lava (I'm sure there's a technical name for this…lava ridge?)
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Views!
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
It looks super dangerous
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Water carving through the lava
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
Shadow selfies!
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens
A much deserved rest on the log couch!
Lava Canyon, Mt. St. Helens

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We need nature and nature needs us: People and nature need each other

An interesting article on flooding in Houston, and it has an interactive* map, which is a bonus in my book: Boomtown, Flood Town

Related. Photos of current flooding in Houston. Some tough folk live in Texas! PHOTOS: Houston Flood Caused By Harvey Sends Residents Scrambling For Safety

I ❤ trees, especially old trees. Here's some interesting infrared photography of old trees. Gotta love those big old baobabs: Ancient Trees: Woman Spends 14 Years Photographing World’s Oldest Trees

I have very mixed feelings about this article that claims that honeybees are driving wild bees out of San Juan. On the one hand, I trust the experience of this scientist who is living with the bees on the island. On the other, this has not been conclusively shown in the literature, and unless the author publishes a scientific study demonstrating a real relationship (not just a correlation), I won’t be truly convinced. The declarative title is too much for me at this time. (It has been shown that honeybee abundances are confounded with human disturbance in other studies (link to David Roubik’s work here).): Honeybees can displace native bees

I really enjoyed this post on Dynamic Ecology about crises in scientific fields: What kind of scientific crisis is the field of ecology having?

Unattractive moths benefit from having attractive moths nearby. I feel like there’s some analogy to humans here…ah, wait they explicitly make an analogy with humans here: “That result also parallels what’s been found in humans: that an attractive woman in a crowd of less attractive women also seems to attract more attention. But pinning down exactly why this happens should be much easier in moths than people, she notes.” Sexy females help “Plain Jane” moths snag their mates

*Interactive in the sense that the map interacts with the article, not that you can click on. Not sure if there’s a different word for that

Airplane photos

Photos from airplanes are always fun, but I don’t usually take them because a) I always take an aisle seat if I have a choice and b) flying makes me really nauseated, so I don’t usually do much of anything on a plane. It’s true…in spite of the frequency with which I fly, I still get air sick! My dad does too…it’s in my DNA.

Anyway, I did get stuck with a window or middle seat every leg of my recent flights, so here are some photos.

Airplane photos
Flying west across the US, toward Portland. I always wish there was some way to know what you’re flying over (this particular flight didn’t have video screens)
Airplane photos
Rockies?
Airplane photos
Airplane photos
Airplane photos
Cool crater thing, I wonder what that is…anyone recognize it?
Airplane photos
Airplane photos
Leaving Portland, I saw BB8! Woo!
Airplane photos
Nighttime Portland from above
Airplane photos
Mt. Hood (getting this photo was a feat…it was actually dark enough that I couldn’t see the mountain with my naked eyes, so I just focused on infinity and pointed it in the general direction)
Airplane photos

An interesting response to an article on ragwort

A few weeks ago, the Irish Wildlife Trust (a facebook group), posted an article about the value of ragwort for pollinators in Ireland (link here). The affection of pollinators for weeds has been demonstrated before (e.g. bees love thistles), and in fact they may be an important component of how some invasive plants* are able to invade new areas. In other words, in order to establish, such a plant has to attract resident pollinators, and sometimes they are very good at it.

Some other popular examples of non-native species highly attractive to resident pollinators:
Luxembourg insects
Impatiens glandulifera
IMG_4042
Carduus nutans
Male Agapostemon
Carduus acanthoides

The mechanisms behind how a non-native species attracts resident pollinators are not clear, though it’s likely that they’re coopting general methods of attraction used by many plant species: chemical and visual attractants.

Anyway, the reason I’m bringing this up is not because I’m fascinated about the way that invasive species integrate into pollination networks (though I am). It’s because I was totally shocked by the reaction of the group’s followers on facebook. Especially because, despite being considered a noxious weed, ragwort is native to Ireland. Here are some examples of their rather extreme (in my opinion) reactions to the article:

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Not sure how saying ragwort is good for pollinators is living in a fantasy land…

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I particularly like the skull emojis…

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I especially like this one…stupid scientists!

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Of course, there were plenty of more reasonable (to my eye) folk…

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And of course the many requisite requests for identification…

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The point of all this is it can be hard to stay in touch with public opinion when you’re a scientist. I have some grounding** in the noxious weeds and the opinon of farmers, as I often work with farmers. I baled hay for a couple of seasons with one farmer, so I’m particularly sensitive to the weeds that are toxic to livestock as they would ruin the hay. But it still surprises me that non-farmer types react in this passionate way. I think part of it is, as some commenters mentioned, when they were young, one could be fined for having noxious weeds like this one on their property.

From what I understand, attitudes toward “weeds” in Ireland are changing. Part of this may be widespread declines in pollinators…as I’ve mentioned before, fully a third of the bee species of Ireland are threatened (here’s that link again if you missed it last week).

The fact is that part of providing habitat for pollinators and other wildlife means keeping it a bit messy, letting weeds flower, and leaving patches of dead wood and bare earth. Perfectly manicured lawns are a desert for pollinators. Yes, it’s important to minimize the weeds that are toxic in forage hay for livestock, but it’s a weird notion to want to eradicate an entire plant species just because you don’t want horses eating it in pasture (when they’ll avoid it on their own unless they’re starving).

Sometimes I think it is the illusion of perfect control that makes humans unhappy. Agricultural landscapes are among the most managed ecosystems on Earth…we control nutrient inputs, which plant and animal species are allowed to thrive, and the output in the form of crop yield. We control all of this by applying huge amounts of chemical fertilizer and pesticide, by genetically modifying cultivars to be resistant to pesticides and to produce ever higher yields…or at least we think we control it. In reality, we ignore the free services provided by nature until we start to lose them. Weeds evolve resistance to our chemicals, pathogens wipe out our monocultures because they lack genetic diversity that would foster resistance. And we suffer greater and greater catastrophes as a consequence of depending on unsustainable and unstable production systems.

Instead of trying to exert perfect control on these incredibly complex systems, maybe we should seek to understand them and integrate with them…just as non-native plants integrate with resident communities of plants and pollinators.

*Those that depend on insect pollinators

**Pun intended

More photos from camping/hiking at June Lake (Mt. St. Helens National Monument)

This is almost a Take a Hike! post because there is hiking involved in getting to June Lake. But it’s pretty minor hiking so…
June Lake camping
The start of the trail up
June Lake camping
I ❤ trail photos…I hope there's at least one other person out there in the world who enjoys trail photos as much as I do haha
June Lake camping
June Lake camping
June Lake camping
Fortunately for me, my camping buddy is supa strong! Also, our strength is fueled by the many many hours of huckleberry picking (well, eating) that we did
June Lake camping
Oooooo…
June Lake camping
Plenty of views of the infamous…
June Lake camping
Beautiful lighting in the forest
June Lake camping
A giant boulder field from the blast…still plenty of dead wood from trees knocked down by Mt. St. Helens' eruption 37 years ago.
June Lake camping
Which is very handy for making many campfires! as my camping buddy and I did. We enjoyed our campfire creations very much and so did these random kiddos on the first night.
June Lake camping
Waking up to a misty, cool morning on the first day
June Lake camping
We were up at the wee hours of a rainy morning on the second day

The cheeky chipmunks of Washington and Oregon

Chipmunk
My favourite chipmunk photo of the trip.
I had to have a separate post for these obnoxious chipmunks. They were everywhere and they seem to know that campers/hikers are easy targets for their big brown eyes and begging. They did a good job of sneaking up on us and trying to steal our lunch. Some were *quite* fat. I figure you guys don’t mind a post full of cute mammal photos, right? Expect a similar squirrel post in the near future.
Chipmunk
Chipmunk
Chipmunk
Oregon and Washington have 5 species of chipmunk and I honestly have no idea which species this is (or if it’s multiple species). I scratched my head over it for a while, then shrugged and gave up. If you’re a mammalogist and the answer is obvious to you, comment below and enlighten us all!
Chipmunk
Chipmunk
I’m ready!
Chipmunk
Chipmunk
Chipmunk
Chipmunk
Chipmunk
Full cheek pouches, but he ain’t stoppin!
Chipmunk
Sunnin’

June Lake, Mt. St. Helens National Monument

June Lake
My friend and I spent two nights camping at this site. You have to carry your gear in about a mile, but it’s pretty easy to access and was popular with other campers both nights. The water is COLD, even for me (I love swimming almost more than anything and have swum in Lake Michigan in March), and it’s probably snow melt right off the mountain.
June Lake
June Lake
I got in and splashed around a bit, went in over my head, and then immediately rushed out muttering, “Cold, cold, cold!” A gang of male campers was loitering nearby watching, and one came over and said, “Well, I bet it’s not colder than where I was swimming earlier.”
June Lake
June Lake
“Yeah, man, go ahead and show me up!” I said, encouragingly. So he left for his suit. When he came back, he waded in up to his knees*, crossed his arms, and proclaimed that the water was absolutely “not cold”, then he immediately waded back out again. By this time, I was distracted by the dipper, but I could hear him telling his mates loudly that it wasn’t cold at all, but that it looked a bit mucky so he wouldn’t get in all the way.

June Lake
My friend and I were both quite enamored with this little verdant island.
June Lake
No one else dared to get in at all, aside from my camping companion, who washed carefully but did not deign to go in over her head.

June Lake
My beautiful (and tolerant) camping partner. Goodness only knows who else could tolerate me for five days.
June Lake
June Lake
Here she is in the water, the brave soul.

Anyway, maybe I’m weak, but by my account, the water is COLD! Nice, but cold. Like bone-hurting cold if you stay in for more than a few moments (at my size, anyway). Go and camp there and see if you can prove me wrong!

June Lake
It’s a challenge! Next time I visit, I’m gonna swim like a fish!
June Lake
It almost spells “bling”

*I was thinking, “Whatever dude, you didn’t go in past the ‘point of no return’.” Which is a thing another male friend had explained to me.