Saturday, December 15, 2007

UNR Mother Quad closed during winter months

The main quad of the University of Nevada in Reno (UNR) is closed. All around the green quad you find signs: Sorry for the inconvenience. Mother Quad is sleeping & Baby Seedlings are hatching during these winter months. Thank you for allowing her to rest.

So let this place rest until spring when you may want to rest and relax on the green quad again or join any other activity happening there. For now, keep yourself warm by walking or running around it. A self-guided historic walk around the Mother Quad is always worth it. The UNR campus features many little paved trails. Don't miss the interesting architecture and the mineral displays in some of the buildings nearby. Also, visit the John William Mackay statue. It looks quite colorful right now, as you can see on the picture. The students are leaving donations there and are asking "Good Old Mackay" for good luck on their finals.

Good luck students and good luck baby seedlings!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Marmots at Squaw Valley High Camp

Marmots also known as woodchucks or groundhogs can be seen in the higher parts of the Sierra Nevada. The High Camp at Squaw Valley is an easily accessible place to look for them or to listen to their high-pitched squeaks. I have seen plenty of marmots there this August. My favorite trail is Emigrant Peak Trail that leads you into a westward direction away from the ski lift spaghetti towards the Pacific Rim Trail. This is marmot territory. I saw them chasing around or sun-bathing on rocks. If you are getting too close, they may hide under a rock pile. If you are quiet and patient, they eventually may carefully raise their head above their protective rock to see what is going on.

Getting there. From the Olympic Village in Squaw Valley you can either take the cable car or hike uphill (about 2 hours, some steep parts) to High Camp. Once there, take the High Camp Loop Trail that continues as Siberia Basin Trail which turns into Emigrant Peak Trail. Emigrant Peak (about 2,900m high) offers a panoramic view. And the marmots shouldn't be far away.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

400 Million Years Old Fish Trails

On your usual hiking trail you may find a lot of animal tracks but trackways of fish would be very unusual. Fish belong in water anyway. And fish trails in water are short-lived unless they are left in the sediment by animals swimming close to the sediment surface. Then, the fish fin can leave a sinusoidal wave like a snake on land would do. Can you imagine that such wavy patterns at the bottom of a river could be preserved for over 400 million years? That's what scientists think they have found in a sandstone formation in Southwest Wales.

This discovery of Devonian trails include trackways of fish and arthropods. Did the fish fed on those arthropods? A Devonian ecosystem is coming alive!

Source of details and suggestions for further reading:
Geology Today, Vol.22 (No.2), March-April 2006.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Trails - then and now

Trails co-evolved with animals and humans. History can be read about in books, but it happened on and along trails and all the places they connect(ed). Many trails disappeared over time. Others grew bigger. So did many places; and now there are big cities connected by multi-lane highways and roads leading to large parking lots. Where are the trails now? "Trailing Ahead" (www. is searching for trails, exploring them and telling their stories.

Today, in many countries of the world old trails are revived and new trails are designed. "Green" urban development includes pedestrian walkways, underpasses, bridges, and bike lanes. In our fun-loving, adventure-seeking, and health-oriented society we commonly think of trails as tracks for challenging exercises or leisurely walks: hiking, jogging, biking, horse riding, and during the snow season snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing. Trails are found in open space, parks, urban areas, around lakes and along rivers and beaches. Many cities feature well-marked historic walking tours. Some nearby biotope may have an educational nature walk. Trails gain territory. Just think of the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) or the Bay Area Rim Trail (B.A.R.T.).

Hopefully, future development and land management preserves open space and remaining spots of wilderness and keeps trail connectivity in mind since easily accessible trails in our backyards are a service to both us and nature - reminding us that we are part of nature.