During our fourth and fifth weeks of surveying, we became comfortable with our performance overall and began to relax into our roles here. Doing so allowed us to get outside more when not surveying and enjoy sites the region has to offer. Oklahoma is a surprising place, with some areas living up to their stereotypes while others would never be expected from how media portrays the state. It’s been both educational and rewarding to find such great places when hunting for off-time activities. In addition to wonderful places, we’ve also seen a lot of wildlife this summer. So far, we’ve seen (in order) a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, a Bald Eagle, a Yellow-Bellied Watersnake, a crawdad crawling through the grass in our backyard (really weird), a few Brown Recluse spiders, a Timber Rattlesnake, a Black Widow spider, a King Snake, several turtles, several tarantulas, a few scorpions, fish, deer, a bison, and lots of biting insects. Rains bring out the wildlife.
6/23/2013 to 6/24/2013 – Surveying
We started off as normal, all of us surveying during the weekend. But, with only two of us surveying the next day, the others took a daytrip to Robber’s Cave State Park. Hiking, rock hopping, and exploring ensued.
6/25/2013 – Fort Gibson Lake’s Overlook Trail
Today we were able to return to the trail at Fort Gibson Lake that the team working here last year helped resurrect after it was abandoned for over a decade. A short, ¾ mile loop from an overlook of the dam to a campground near the dam and back, it is the lake’s only hiking trail. While not yet complete enough to be used by hikers, it’s getting close. Focusing on a more complete section that connects the overlook and the campground, we brushed the trail between trailheads. We also cleared the tread and made improvements where we could. We installed 20+ stepping stones in a section prone to waterlog and installed five rock steps slightly up the trail from that point. Installing a few more rock steps and removing two downed trees is all that remains before that section of the trail is ready for use.
6/26/2013 to 7/2/2013 – Here, There, and Everywhere
While surveying continued (and our success rates remained high), everyone used off time wisely, getting out into the town and surrounding areas. Activities included museum tours, herb plantings, and lake visits. We’re at the lakes frequently for surveying, so it seems appropriate to enjoy the setting while we are out there. Chad and Hailey especially enjoy fishing, with Hailey leading in catches. This Monday, we rotated partners and sites again, giving everyone something new to enjoy.
7/3/2013 to 7/5/2013 – Road Trip!
With the July 4th holiday immediately before a conservation project day, no agency we spoke with was interested in completing a project. As luck would have it, all of us were off on the 3rd, and only two of us surveyed on the 4th. So, we took advantage in the lull afforded by Independence Day. Several of us took a trip to the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge to do some camping, hiking, and bouldering. It was a lovely place, and the weather was perfect for the trip.
7/6/2013 – The Holiday Weekend
Now that Independence Day had officially passed, it was time for us to head back out to the lakes and survey the surge of people visiting for the holiday weekend. The summer season is a busy time for all of the recreation areas around the lakes, but holiday weekends are especially busy. Although a bit hot out, the water and the wind drew people to the lakes as they tried to get outside, stay cool, and enjoy every bit of free time they had. It kept us busy, but it was a great time to be out.