I'm back and fully recovered from my four day trip around British Columbia. It was a great experience and an excellent addition to my masters program. Even though classes haven't started yet, I've had the opportunity to meet my cohort and make new friends.
Each day of the trip meant waking up excruciatingly early, driving for hours in a van filled with 14 other students, and stopping off throughout the province to meet with officials working in natural resource management. Even after a long day, our evenings were filled with more lessons and chances to drink and socialize. Safe to say, I've been catching up on sleep for the past few days.
Only a few of the stop-offs particularly applied to my research interests, but I still found it was a great opportunity to learn more about the province. Having never had the opportunity to travel here before, I really enjoyed seeing the different climates and landscapes. The mountains here are a treat for me; nothing comes as close in size in Ontario.
Here are some pictures from the trip, along with some noteworthy moments.
We spent our first night sleeping in cabins at a resort called Lac le Jeune. This was the view from our front porch. It looks relaxing, but I actually found it terribly cold. It was around 10 degrees that night, and I've definitely not aclimated to cooler temperatures yet.
My favorite visit was to a small woodlot in Savona that was on the ancestral land of a First Nation band. The forester who runs the woodlot met with us to discuss his method of selectively harvesting wood. He works closely with the First Nation community to preserve the natural diversity in the area. Instead of clear cutting the whole area of trees, he'll only cut down one or two trees from an area. As well, he also leaves any fallen wood to decompose knowing that it'll eventually return nutrients to the soil.
My level of respect for this practice is quite high, especially since it goes against the norm and isn't seen as profitable in our fast-paced and short-term economy. However, this forest will last for generations, just as ancestral First Nations had maintained it for thousands of years. Just walking through the area gave you a sense of how well managed it was. There were several raptors flying around, the forest was lush, and we even found hundreds of young toads that were an endangered species.
At the end of our visit, we stopped by a nearby forest that had just been clear-cut. The difference was remarkable.
When we first arrived, we all made the safe assumption that all the wood lying around in piles still had to be collected. Nope. Apparently, these trunks were deemed not cost-effective enough to collect. They were too small or thin to be worth the cost in gas to transport them to a mill. Instead, they are left in piles and are usually burned. Burned or not, leaving them this way does little to help the give back nutrients to the soil.
The next part of the trip took us through Lillooet, BC. While Vancouver gets days upon days of rain due to the mountains, Lillooet gets very little. Being in the interior of BC, very little rain clouds make it past the mountains. This makes for dry, scrubland habitat.
On the third day of the trip we drove to Whistler, BC. Whistler is a popular resort town with some impeccable ski hills, which is where some of the 2010 Winter Olympics were held. There we got to ride several chairlifts to the top of the mountain where we learnt all about Whister's sustainability practices.
It is absolutely beautiful at that elevation. The chairlifts took us through clouds as we were brought up the snow-capped mountain.
We had a bit of spare time afterwards at the top of the mountain. We took the time to go for a short hike and admire the beautiful alpine environment. We also met a few cheeky marmot that were very friendly as well as fat. I suspect they are fed by tourists and have learned to pose for food.
Isn't he cute?
Anyways, that's my update for now. Hopefully this isn't too much rambling, but I really wanted to share my photos. Thankfully I feel a lot less homesick and nervous now that I've made friends in my program and I know a bit more of what to expect. I think I said it in my previous post, but this was a really great start to my studies.
Labels: Friends, Life in Pictures, Nature, School