Mile 15 Camp, 3:48 PM
It took almost three hours of cutting and clearing and pulling and yanking, but we collected that Plectocomia. It had about 20 ripe infructescences. We took a lot of pictures and made lots of collections. After it was finally down, everybody was happy-botanists, ecologists, orchidologists, field crew, kitchen staff, everybody. By the time we had finished with all of the notes and photos it was about 12:15, so we had lunch on the side of the road before heading back toward camp to look for a transect camp.
About a mile down the road we found a beautiful piece of forest. Huge, tall, straight trees and an understory of Pinanga palms. Never been logged. It was pretty steep in pots, but then leveled off and was easy going. There were a lot of palms, but we finished the 2,000 m² in about and hour and a half. The transect crew is really getting good. Today was our fifth transect, giving us a total sample so far of 10,400 m². I'd like to do as many more as I can. These are great data.
On the walk back to camp it started that slow, sprinkling rain like yesterday. The rain complicates things a little because we have to press the plants under the tarp in the kitchen and the space is a little cramped. There's also the issue of the smoke...
The elephants finally made it to Mile 15 camp today from Namyun and now we have all of our stuff. We were especially relieved to see the two bundles of pickled specimens that we had left in the town hall of Namyun, because it was too much for the elephants to carry. We will have to move the stuff to the next camp, Mile 8, in two trips as well.
If I ever write a book about this adventure, I think "Leeches on the Tent" would be a good title. After a night of rain, I found several leeches crawling on the walls of my tent looking for a way to get in. Pretty much says it all. As far as I know, I'm leech free today, which is surprising given how dripping wet the forest was today. Several others had to pick off leeches, but somehow I managed to escape being a blood donor.
Tomorrow will pretty much be a repeat of today if the weather permits. We'll head south on the road until we drop about 100 m in elevation and then look for an appropriate transect site. Just hope the rain holds off. It's a real challenge to keep the tent from getting yucky under these conditions. Right now it's about 30% yucky, but still not to the grunge stage. Very sleepable.
7:48 PM (con't)
Had a nice talk with the guys tonight after dinner. Andrew had already gone to bed, but I wanted to let everyone know what a great job they were doing, and how important all of the data were. Everyone was pleased and flattered at the compliment, and the conversation eased into a discussion of ecology, conservation, and how these relate to the patterns that we had been seeing in the field with rattan. This type of teaching I enjoy...