Week 1 (June 17-June 22, 2016)
Sunday, June 16, 2016. Interns Carol, Victoria, Shoe (Jena) and Kelsey arrived Sunday afternoon along with Dan and Carrie. We set up tents at sites 1 and 3 at Clark Lake Campground and headed over to the Day Use Building after getting parking permits. We had a lunch get together with Carol and David Sherrill, and Cheryl P., who are longtime volunteers and local residents. We met briefly with some Forest Service Personnel -Tory and Tony. Dan gave canoe instruction on dry land, which included a handout of canoe stroke details and canoe safety. We then we proceed to Clark Lake beach to put in and work on our paddling skills. Shoe and Kelsey intentionally swamped their canoe and Dan demonstrated a T rescue, hauling their canoe onto his in the shape of a T, to dump the water out and right their vessel. He anchored their canoe to his as they pulled themselves back into their upright canoe.
We had discussion and practiced using the Garmin 62s GPS to navigate and to locate the known invasives waypoints already entered. We were briefed onto the excel spreadsheets that contain data from previous years and learned how our new data would be entered.
We watched a presentation about the Friends of Sylvania and we (the interns) were given materials to read including the 2016 Intern Handbook, Proposed 2016 FoS Work Schedule, Communication chart, extra notes about using the GPS, and instructions for the blog and excel tables. We also received and read the summary Agreement between the USFS and FoS. We read and acknowledged agreeing to the safety and personal conduct procedures by signing a form. We discussed gear and invasives also.
We were also were given enlarged topo maps of Whitefish and Clark Lakes which included gps waypoints generated from previous years and discussed the work we were going to do.
Monday, June 17, 2016. Had breakfast, made lunches for ourselves, had discussion about our day’s plan. We split into two groups after driving to the trailhead on Forest Road 535, AKA Thousand Island Lake Road, just west of Whitefish Lake. We portaged the canoes and gear 0.75 miles down to the water. The North Team was comprised of Victoria, Carrie, Kelsey, and Wally in one canoe. Their mission was to head north along the shoreline and search out the waypoints, identify, pull and count invasives encountered, and mark as new previously unknown patches of invasives, according to the system that had been discussed the day before. The South Team consisted of Dan, Shoe, and Carol and would sweep the south shore and inland waypoints of the swampy area in the SW section of the shore, in the same manner as the North Team. Eventually, the entire shoreline would be covered in this way.
We then moved onto Clark Lake with the same intensity as we became more familiar with using the gps to locate invasive waypoints and mark new infestations. We started getting acquainted with the excel spreadsheet and how to enter the day’s work based on our handwritten logs and gps data. Each of us has to enter our own data, but we help each other navigate the specifics when there is a question. Victoria has by far the most expertise with the gps itself and the excel spreadsheet to which we enter waypoint data from that day and upload new sites. Wally has been updating the spreadsheets for years, and knows the waypoints intimately and helps us make sense of sometimes-conflicting data. Some wildlife encountered includes Gartner snakes, toads, chickadees, mergansers, and loons. Mosquitos are prevalent at the campground and day use building.
Week 2 (June 27- June 30, 2016)
The most noteworthy work that occurred during week 2 was conquering the so-called “dismal swamp” off the Southwestern portion of Clark Lake and adjoining outlet rivulets. Mosquitos are thick in this area and the footing is treacherous due to tangles of alders, soft boggy ground, running water and fallen logs. The European Marsh thistles have taken up a preferred home site here and anchor themselves around rocks and logs as well as in the muck. They express themselves with great variety, as some are tall and multibranched, having stems as thick as my wrist, with buds at every node, and some are scraggly looking. Some thistles have been knocked down to the ground, presumably by wildlife, but still have flowering still heads lifting upwards.
It is very apparent that crews from other years have worked here, based on the telltale manner in which we hang pulled marsh thistles with roots up from trees, rocks, and fallen logs. We snap the end near the root and along several more places along the stem and hang them upside down after we have stripped off the buds to dry and discourage them from taking root again. We collect the flowering parts in plastic 5-gallon containers and take them out of the forest for disposal. We have found that old removed plants can take root again if allowed to have contact with the soil. It is disconcerting to see uprooted plants re-anchor themselves. It is very important to strip all the budding parts off and keep the roots from contacting the soil again. Wally cleared Hay Lake.
The last day was a very rainy day. Wally and I worked very hard getting thistle population pulled from the north end of crooked lake near the dam, near the boat landing on Clark Lake and the especially nasty conditions at the sewage lagoon near the day use building. A number of new invasives came to our attention this week including purple foxglove and nightshade.
Week 3 (July 5- July 11, 2016)
We began where work ended in week 2 on Glimmerglass Lake. There are significant patches of Cirsium palustre, or European Swamp Thistle, in fuzz stage on this small pristine lake. We were joined by a new intern, Sean, on the last day working the western shore and associated swampy area. We then paddled and portaged to Crooked Lake to take care of the invasives there. Shoe, Carol and Victoria found the large patch of hundreds of European Swamp thistle using the gps on the southern end of the lake, and worked north. Dan and Sean did other sites and we met up at the boat landing.
This work session we had two separate base camps: the Sylvania drive-in campsite and day use building for the first four days, and then the wilderness campsites Mallard 1 and 2 on Loon Lake for the last half of the work session. To get to Loon Lake, we paddled the entire length of Clark Lake and portaged over a hill to incredibly clear Loon Lake. Our campsite was closest to the portage. Campers occupied all the campsites on Loon Lake during our visit. We encountered wolf scat on the portage trail between Clark and Loon Lakes. Quite heavy rains occurred during our wilderness portion.
The old growth forest is remarkable in that the many trees are the biggest of their kind, to my knowledge. The old growth does not have limbs near the ground, so it was a scavenger hunt to find a suitable tree to hang our fresh food coolers out of bear’s reach. We cleared the thistle patches on Loon Lake, and then portaged over to Deer Island Lake to do the same. Wildlife included beaver, deer, and leopard frog and toads. The portage trail to Deer Island had a large tree fall across, and we dismantled that over 2 days. In addition, a fallen tree blocked the portage trail to Florence Lake. We removed both obstructions with handsaws. Florence Lake is a small Lake with a floating bog island. Pitcher plants were reported. High winds from a variety of directions and rains were sporadic over the days spent on Deer Island Lake. With a spotter in the canoe and a person walking the shore, we managed to finish the perimeter shoreline on Deer Island Lake.
We found Canada thistle, Bull thistle, European Marsh thistle, and tansy on Deer Island Lake shores. Some previous waypoints were underwater, as the water depth is estimated about 12 inches higher than last year at this time. Other wildlife included barred owl, wood thrush, and salamander. We believe a black bear may have entered the area where our canoes were parked on shore of our wilderness campsites during the night based on sounds heard and a footprint on the shore.