I don’t even know where to begin. Today the crew was bumped, bruised, drenched, pooped on, stung, pinched, panicked, parched, sweaty, and driven to extreme mental frustration. We visited a new hellbender site that was near a timber rattlesnake den that JD was monitoring. Lauren was ecstatic at the thought of seeing one in the wild, so first thing in the morning we scaled the side of a rocky mountain. There were no paths, so we plodded through a forest of poisoin ivy with the morning sun growing ever hotter. Just as we were about to give up the search, JD spotted a timber rattlesnake basking under a rock! It hung out for a while and gave us ample opportunity to oogle. It was totally worth the trip.
By the time we made it back down the mountain, we were wiped out. But after a quick break for water and granola bars, we were re-energized and ready to jump into the stream. Good thing too – within 10 minutes of searching we had caught 2 hellbenders! As Joey from the TV show Blossom would say, “Whoa!” Things were going great until we started searching for a third bender. Just as we were about to lift a rock, Brad ran up to tell me that the centrifuge wasn’t working. “Is it plugged in?” I asked. Turned out it was plugged in and getting power, but some part of its mysterious inner workings was totally kaput. This was a disaster! Without the centrifuge I couldn’t spin the blood, which meant I wouldn’t be able to get a usable sample and there was no point in continuing the survey. We might as well pack up and head home, and just when things had really started rolling. It was hot, we were tired, we had blood samples that needed to be spun and everything was hinged on fixing this piece of junk centrifuge… To be continued.