Summer on a Shoestring

Hubbard Brook
July 23, 2014, 6:52 pm
Filed under: HB Meetings, Hubbard Brook Meetings

Stephanie Suttenberg: REU ESF

This week the whole crew drove out to Hubbard Brook for the 51st annual Hubbard Brook Cooperators’ Meeting; we arrived the day before the meeting so we could set up tents, practice and make any final adjustments to our presentations.  We brought the 3 bedroom vacation home tent which was everything I didn’t even know I wanted in a tent. It was beautiful (with some minor McGayverying done by Adam to fix a broken piece) and dwarfed all the other tents surrounding it. Truly majestic. Sadly, no such pictures of it exist because a mere few hours after it was put up, it was violently torn down by a huge thunderstorm. Several other smaller, more practical tents were set up that people actually slept in. I’m not sure the 4 or so of us sleeping on the couches and floor was appreciated by the people living there.

The actually meeting was the next morning, and following the shoestring tradition, we were up to present first.  Adam and Lisa went first and gave an overview of the MELNHE project as well as an update on Project Sweeter Sap. Eli presented his findings on tree growth, I presented on my snail population findings, Sophie on sap flow and Justin on soil moisture. It was a relief to finally be freed of the weight of the presentations on our shoulders. With our talks done, we settled in to listen to the rest of the presentations. There were occasional – and much needed –stretch breaks and a lunch break throughout the day.

Dinner was served in the barn that evening, and following it was the annual barn dance. It’s a Hubbard Brook tradition to have a dance in the barn following the first day of presentations.  Luckily, no previous dancing experience was needed; the band would call out what we needed to do as the song progressed. It was a very sweaty but very enjoyable experience.


Before the dance was over, and while it was still light out, Sophie, Eli, Justin, Hannah and I walked over to the actually Hubbard Brook. We went rock hopping and tried to get to the other side of the brook with some success. Eli, Justin and Sophie made it over, but Hannah and I tried taking a different path that didn’t work at all. No one fell in the water and a good time was had by all.


The second day of presentations was similar to the first, but only half a day long. The final presentation that wrapped everything up was done by Don Buso; he gave everyone some parting words on Hubbard Brook, advice for the future and some funny stories about past work and events.

The picnic followed the second day’s presentations, the undergrads went out to buy everything we needed at the grocery store, while everyone else attended a Shoestring meeting. The BBQs were set up by the lake, and after a bit of a struggle, grilling began. There were burgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, chips, hummus, and cookies. It was a pretty impressive spread of food. It was a great BBQ; tons of food, lots of people and a lake a mere 20 feet away to go swimming in.


When we got in the car to drive back to Bartlett, someone spotted a fox in the distance. Justin got out of the car and tried to befriend the fox. I snapped the picture, and shortly after the fox ran back into the woods. It made for a very memorable end to a very interesting trip.

Club 550, and a little Bartlett fashion
July 23, 2014, 6:11 am
Filed under: Recreation, Uncategorized

By: Sophie Harrison, University of Michigan

Last week was a special one for the Shoestring Crew. Monday marked the start of the Bartlett stomach bug outbreak (Eli was the first victim and Hannah and I soon followed), and we had back-to-back birthdays to celebrate! Justin turned 22 on Wednesday, and Eli the big 2-1 on Thursday. By the time Friday rolled around, the birthday boy/patient zero and I had recovered enough to enjoy a night on the town. Naturally, we decided to get out to the famed Club 550 in North Conway.

“The White Mountain’s own Party Spot!”

“It’s an experience.”

-Sean the middle school teacher

“Not a lot of teeth.”

-Adam Wild

Our party posse was Adam, Jerome, Justin, Eli, his girlfriend Lauren, and I. We put on our best flannels (just kidding, kind of) and headed out. Hannah was super kind and drove us there. Club 550 is right off route 16, nestled in the corner of a strip mall next to a Chinese restaurant.

The excitement was palpable! The birthday boys got in free and we were greeted by some outrageous black lights. The place was not hopping, but the night was young!

(Apologies for snapchat photos)

(apologies for snapchat photos)

There was an empty checkerboard dance floor, brought to life by the black light glow. Aw yea. The age demographic was decidedly older than us. Most people looked to be in their thirties or so. Not the most refined folk.  I don’t know. Who knows. We got drinks and played ping pong until it was time to boogie.

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(There was also this spot with some nice lookin’ leather couches where Justin made a friend)

(There was also this spot with some nice lookin’ leather couches where Justin made a friend)

Dancing. What can I say! We danced the night away! Even our glorious leader shook it!  By then a decent amount of people were on the dance floor… a creeper on the prowl, couples, a bachelorette party, and one dude with a killer beard who had all the moves. As much as we love to science, it was nice to put it aside for a bit and just dance.  And when things were winding down, the DJ granted Justin & Eli’s wish (plea) for Akon with the final song.

It was a fun time, and definitely an experience. Thanks Club 550! We will return.

And now for a little Bartlett fashion…

Michael, Justin, Eli and I are the proud owners of hand-knit bear and moose sweaters from Bart’s general store. They are well-made, comfy, warm, and they scream White Mountains New Hampshire.

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I haven’t earned my moose sweater though, because I haven’t seen a moose here. Interestingly, I’ve been having bear-themed dreams so I’m wondering if I might have chosen the wrong sweater animal. Here’s hoping for a moose spotting before we leave!

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…I don’t want to leave!

An Accidental Summit
July 16, 2014, 2:34 am
Filed under: Recreation, Uncategorized

By: Justin Turlip, REU NYU

Adam asked if we wanted to go see the snow in Tuckerman Ravine. Maybe we could sled, he said.

None of us had any idea where or what Tuckerman Ravine was, but there was a resounding “yes!” at the mere mention of snow after sweating profusely while spreading fertilizer up and down hills all day long.

Adam, Stephanie, Chelsea, Hannah, Michael, Riot, Danny and I hopped into two cars around noon on Father’s Day 2014 to hunt for snow. We packed lunches, and Adam and I brought tubes, just in case the snow was begging for some sledding.

We parked at Pinkham Notch and I finally realized–after seeing a bunch of signs–that Tuckerman Ravine was on Mt.Washington. Sweet.

We started up a trail passed the lodge, passing a young couple with a little boy. The little boy was wearing a Superman costume, leaping and bounding from rock to rock, his cape billowing at every jump.

Adam and I like to push ourselves, so we moved up the rocky, wide, hilly trail a bit more quickly than the rest, and before long we were all separated. About a mile up the trail we reached a bridge over a rushing creek and decided to wait for everyone there. About a half hour later everyone caught up to us. After realizing we were still no where near the Ravine and that this wasn’t just an easy hike, Stephanie and Chelsea decided they would rather wait in the lodge. Adam, Riot, Michael, Hannah, Danny and I pushed on, the trail getting narrower, steeper and rockier all the while. The vegetation changed as well, from the hardwoods we were all familiar with in our plots, to conifers living happily in the cooler air of the high elevation. We reached a cabin, where we saw a few intimidating signs for the trail that would take us to Tuckerman. It also let us know there was water nearby.



We hopped on the trail, but stopped at the water spigot to let our Glorious Leader top off our canteens. Then we were on our way again, thirsty only for the sight of snow. All along the trail, we saw signs that warned of us of danger up ahead–much of the trail was in fact closed due to the risk of avalanche.


As we came over the crest of a steep climb, the vegetation had shrank to little more than alpine shrubs and small trees.


Then, at long last, we saw the Ravine. It was filled with dirtying snow, a few fresh ski tracks from those daring skiers who couldn’t bear letting an ounce of snow go to waste, and creeks cutting snow and ice into dangerous crevices.


Adam and I ran up the next little hill, were the first to reach the snow, and had enough time to make a pile of snowballs to hurl at the slowpokes. After a snowball fight that left our bare hands red and numb, we took some pictures.

Hannah is hardcore

Hannah is hardcore











While I was up on a rock doing stupid poses for pictures, I looked down and saw a bright blue stone in a puddle filled with a bunch of less interesting stones. I reached in and pulled it out.


It was a rock painted with the Superman symbol! Clearly, the little boy that we had passed at the beginning of the trail had not been wearing a mere costume–young Superman had flown to the top ahead of us and left his mark at the Ravine.

After I showed everyone the clue Young Superman had left behind, Adam and I decided it was time to tube. We took the tubes out of our backpacks, blew them up, then staggered and slipped our way up the snowy hill a ways. We barreled down the mountain for a short ride, until we had to jam our feet and hands into the snow to try and stop, or we would end up in the rocks or a crevice.


Adam had brought a swimming tube made for a toddler, so after a couple of runs it popped and wasn’t of much use. So, he decided to go skiing. Only, he hadn’t brought and skis. Only running sneakers. He clambered up the hill once more, got a running start and hopped onto both feet as if he were skiing and went whizzing down the mountain for a surprisingly long time. He managed to stop before the rocks and looked up at us with a big stupid smile on his face, “You gotta try that!”

I did, but my hiking boots had a heel that dug into the snow, so I couldn’t reach the speeds that he did and I certainly wasn’t as graceful.


Adam ran up and did it a half a dozen more times, clearly having a blast.

Then we explore the Ravine some more. The rest of the trail up was closed because of the risk of avalanche, but we decided to make our own trail up where we thought it was safe enough. We clambered up some huge boulder and through some bushes, taking care to disturb the delicate alpine vegetation as little as possible. Michael was wearing a pair of skateboard shoes and was struggling on the loose, slippery terrain, so he decided to turn back and wait at the lodge with Stephanie and Chelsea.

When we reached the top of Tuckerman Ravine, we laughed at the sign that told us it was too dangerous to climb.


We also realized that we had made it pretty far up the tallest mountain in the Northeast, to simply turn around and head home seemed like a waste.

Of course, the last mile or so was the hardest. The closer we got to the summit, the colder is got, and the more the wind began to gust. We hadn’t dressed for the place that claimed with pride to have “The worst weather in the world.” And the climb got steeper and rockier still. We didn’t see many people, but the people that we did see had jackets, long pants, hats and hiking poles–clearly more prepared than us.

We took a few short breaks to warm up and catch our breath behind large boulders that kept the wind at bay. Then we made our final push for the summit. We made it up all 6,288ft of Mt.Washington and took a picture to prove it.


Then we went inside to get food at the concession stand. Yes, there is a concession stand at the top of the mountain. And a gift shop. And a museum filled with leather clad  bikers and heavyset mothers who “summited” in minivans packed to the brim with small children. It’s kind of anticlimactic. Oh well. I got a sandwich and a hot coffee on top of a mountain and it really hit the spot. The visibility was pretty awful at the top, and there was a screen that showed us what the weather was.


Then we realized that we had left Stephanie, Chelsea and Michael in the lodge for quite awhile. We had no cell service to call them. Also, Hannah has a bad knee and wouldn’t be able to move down the mountain too quickly. Hitchhiking down the mountain was forbidden and the cog train was too expensive to justify. We decided that Adam and I would run down the mountain as quickly as we could, pick up the three hanging out in the lab and head home in one of the cars, while Hannah, Riot and Danny would take their time so Hannah wouldn’t hurt herself.

Adam and I had a blast running down the mountain, choosing our lines with care and deft, moving as expeditiously as the terrain would allow. We arrived at the lodge around 7:30pm. Chelsea gave us a death glare as we walked in the door and uttered not a single word to us–clearly not happy about how long she had to wait. Michael, however, had picked out a new geology book from the gift shop, and Stephanie was contentedly curled up asleep on a ledge.

We drove back to the White House. Adam drove, I sat in the passenger seat examining Superman’s memento, and we talked about the hike even though the others clearly didn’t want to hear about it.

Hannah, Danny and Riot made it back alive and well about an hour later.

And that is the story of our impromptu hike up Mt.Washington.




A week in Bartlett on the Shoestring Crew
June 22, 2014, 4:17 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By: Chelsea Obrebski – Miami University 

    New Hampshire is a great sightseeing state.  There are bountiful wild flowers, ferns, and tall trees for miles.  As well as, breathe taking mountains, lakes, and ponds.  I was lucky enough to see a bear and female moose with her calf on my trip up north from Ohio this June.  It was a lot of hard work fertilizing the plots with double the fertilizer this year, but hopefully the data collected latter will make up for the effort.  Some of my free time was used in the kitchen.  I busied myself with a few recipes like chocolate almond chip and oatmeal n’ fruit cookie cakes.  I also did some crocheting and read some scientific papers.  We were lucky that the black flies were late this season and did not have to deal with them.  Only the mosquitoes were of a nuisance.  Even if you sprayed yourself with bug repellent, those boogers still tried to get to you or bite through your clothes.  I guess life is pain.  Hope everyone has a good summer and a good time in the field.     


     – Part of the crew enjoying the view on the Kancamagus Highway after a busy day in the field at Hubbard Brook

Me, Myself, and an 882g Bag of Ammonium Nitrate
June 12, 2014, 2:47 am
Filed under: Fertilization

By: Dominic A. Forlini – Miami University (OH)

The Summer of 2014 marks my first hands-on involvement with the MELNHE project…

I had just finished snorkeling through the gorgeous coral reefs followed by sun bathing on the pearly sand beaches of San Salvador, Bahamas during a Tropical Marine Ecology Study Abroad Program, when I suddenly found myself among the White Mountains of New Hampshire measuring a plethora of ammonium nitrate and phosphorus fertilizers for spreading the following week. Twice as much fertilizer was weighed at once this year for us to only do a one time application. We are trying to reduce trampling in the MELNHE plots.



Figure 1: 882 g of ammonium nitrate for a 10×10 m buffer area. Twice the amount of N than normal.


I do not have the physique of a marathon runner, nor am I projected to be selected number one overall in this years’ upcoming NBA draft. I’m stocky, broad-shouldered, built like a Panzer tank, and currently, I am showcasing an ever so scraggly bearded face. If you were to have seen me walking on the side of the road recently, you might have misfired your bear hazing rubber bullets at me on accident. I feel as though I have an inert spiritual connection to the bear species as a whole. My temptations are high. This summer, one of my goals is to catch eyesight with a black bear. Growing up in a suburb of Cleveland, OH, we don’t have many bears; to the date, I have not seen one in person.


Figure 2: Ammonium nitrate on the forest floor after application. It is easier to see now that we applied double the amount

Monday morning, June 9th, our first day of fertilizing. Specifically, I was assigned to the group headed to the C7 plots in Bartlett. We gathered the appropriate bags of fertilizer and rode out to our respective plot. After the process of fertilizing was explained and plot dimensions where observed, the application of N and P became uniform. We finished the P plot. Then, we finished the N:P plot. As we were gathering our tools, in order to move on the the third and final N plot, Eli, an undergraduate from Cornell who had previously gone onto the N plot to start buffer fertilization, cried out with a mixed sense of fear and excitement “Guys there’s a bear in the plot… and he has Dom’s backpack!” Needless to say, Eli is a pretty funny guy, and initially we perceived his antics to be strictly humor driven. Then we saw the bear. We also couldn’t find my backpack. At this point of realization, I had felt vulnerable to the bear’s will. In my backpack, I had my passport, ink stamp still fresh from BahamasAir customs, and my wallet; Wallets are kind of important. I have no explanation as to why I had such personal values stored in my backpack at this time, but now they were in the possession of our friend, Mr. Black Bear. Irrelevant to the mindset of a bear, my passport and wallet were the least of his worries. More than likely, he was on an epic quest to savor over the pepperoni sriracha sandwich, which I had prepared for lunch earlier that day. After Eli’s rallying call was heeded, we rushed to the N plot. As we sought recon on the bear, to our belief, my precious backpack was neither in the jaws nor claws of the furry beast. I could only hope that we would eventually find my belongings, and that they had not been demolished by the bear’s feeding frenzy. We searched, and found nothing. We kept searching, and luckily my olive green, basically camouflaged backpack, was found on a disheveled pile of leaf litter along with a sheared bag of ammonium nitrate, my passport, wallet, and a sriracha stained sandwich bag with no sandwich.


Figure 3: Part of the crew fertilizing. Applying twice as much did not slow us down.

So to sum up, my desires of catching eyesight with my distant cousin the black bear were satisfied, and now, I don’t carry my passport or wallet in my backpack while fertilizing. Thanks for reading!

~ Dominic

Shoestring Crew 2014: Week 1
June 8, 2014, 1:37 pm
Filed under: Recreation, Uncategorized
20140603_193434By Jamal
On June 3rd, Jarred and I joined the Shoestring crew while they prepared for their summer research. After measuring out fertilizer to add to the plots next week, we stepped out of the lab to take a walk to the Saco River. While we were walking down the railroad tracks, I was surprised to see a big, black bear on my first day up at Bartlett. The crew scrambled for their phones to take pictures. While we did not get good quality shots, most of us were excited to see it and scared to get any closer. When we got too close it finally wandered back into the woods. After seeing the black bear, the sunset over the mountains, venison stir fry, rhubarb cake with ice cream, and talking about research I could truly say it was a good first day.


The Man, The Myth, Christian Riese Lassen
November 4, 2013, 12:13 am
Filed under: Recreation

By Eric MacPherson

When someone thinks of forest ecology the logical next thought is puzzles. While thinking about puzzles two names come to mind, the guy who invented the jigsaw, and Christian Riese Lassen.

Adam picked up a box of 12 puzzles from a yard sale for 25 cents, a price that I’m sure Tony would have said is too much. One particular rainy weekend that box was opened and what resulted was a love affair with the spectacular work of Christian “The Dolphin Whisperer” Reise Lassen.

The resulting 12 puzzles created a sort of competition as to who can do the puzzles the fastest, and also how fast all of them can get done. Needless to say the end of the weekend resulted in the completion of all 12, ranging from easy 100 piece ones to hard 500 piece ones.  Our entire tabletop became a shrine to Christian Riese Lassen.  At dinnertime I would look down at my plate of “Tony’s famous chicken legs” and see the head of a sea turtle peaking out from underneath my plate.



After a few weeks of a colorful tabletop, we realized they had to go. The puzzles thought otherwise and some were stuck to the table. After loosening all the pieces we knew we couldn’t destroy them. There’s only one logical thing that can be done. Preserve the puzzles with glue and duct tape for all future Shoe stringers to enjoy. And where does one construct a Christian Riese Lassen shrine? Well in the boring white bathroom of course, because nothing says “good morning, hope that was a good shower” like a unicorn gracefully aside a lake, or a giant tiger head.

Hopefully the shower has a Christian Riese Lassen shower curtain soon, which he makes, or a CRL soap dispenser, or even CRL soap, which I’m almost positive he makes.   The guy has his designs on everything. CRL 2 CRL 3

(Notice the man himself, in the black and white photo in the lower right corner. Yep he is riding a white horse, no biggie)


Now one might expect the Christian Riese Lassen fad to die out with the last of the 12 puzzles was hung on the wall. However, you’d be wrong. Megan could not contain herself and so before long we had a 1000 piece 3 ft wide masterpiece. I only use that word because I can think of a word better than masterpiece. With some help form Hongzhang’s son who is 3 by the way, I finished that puppy in no time.



Nothing says Northern Hardwood Forest like a 3 foot ocean panorama.




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