We’ve entered the busiest stretch of the field schedule. All the cameras have been deployed once, and we are in the midst of collecting them from their current tree, downloading and reviewing the photos, and deploying them in a different tree the following day. Most days we have to climb two trees and a few unfortunate days we have to do three, which is as much a mental challenge as it is physical. I realize I haven’t gotten too much into the details of how the climbing is done, but just to give you a basic idea, here is a video that Owen took of me the other day of one of the more taxing parts of a climb.
Going up and down in the tree is actually reasonably simple and while time consuming, it is not by any means the most challenging part of the climb. Moving laterally once you get into the tree is far more difficult and, as you can see in the video, incredibly slow!
I’ve gotten a lot of messages from people wishing me well and reminding me to stay safe, which is clearly always a priority. We do a pretty good job of staying rested when we’re not in the forest because every part of this work takes its toll on you. Still, in the middle of these couple weeks of intense work, the signs of exhaustion are starting to set in. I am aware of the fact that in the grand scheme of “exhaustion” mine is pretty tame, as I have never raised a child, held down a normal person job, battled severe illness or done anything else that constitutes true exhaustion in the real world.
The problem with exhaustion or fatigue when you are doing things that require such intense concentration is that it is an open invitation for mistakes, which can sometime be costly when you are swinging in a tree 100 feet in the air, an hour from the field station, and miles from medical attention. We’ve been lucky that the problems we’ve run into so far have been pretty tame and we are remaining vigilant to ensure that this pattern continues. Here are a few of the setbacks we’ve hit thus far:
There are probably dozens of other examples to choose from, I do stupid things all the time, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Time for some much-needed rest, we’ve got another big day coming up.