Summer on a Shoestring

2014 Shoestring Crew Summer Awards
August 14, 2014, 12:24 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

 By: Adam Wild – Crew Leader

      As the summer came to an end for the Shoestring crew it was my responsibility and honor as crew leader to hand out the 2014 Shoestring crew awards. The awards this year were chosen by a panel of experts well known for choosing slightly ridiculous awards. Panelist had tough decisions to make as there were many outstanding participants competing for each category. The awards were presented at the first annual Shoestring Ball held at the White House (of course). Black tie attire was required for the grand event. Those in attendance came dressed in their finest evening gowns and could be seen walking down the blue linoleum tile in the laundry room as they entered the grand ball room of the White House which was decorated with 1960’s wood paneling. Ladies in attendance came dressed in elegant gowns made of garbage bags, twister mats, or bath towels. The men were seen in oak leaf ties, bow-ties, and even a bolo-tie made from tree flagging and a beer cap.  There was also a surprise appearance by Gunny, Lisa’s not-so-excited dog who slept through the awards ceremony.


Shoestring Scientific Achievement Awards 2014:

For being the best one pan chef: Justin T. Turlip – Justin has a cook book called “Two Dudes, One Pan”

For being the most midwesterner – Hannah Babel – Ways of the northeast were very unique for Hannah’s midwestern roots 

For being technical supports best friend: Jerome C. Barner – Jerome spent countless hours talking with LI-COR technical support

As the best finger piercer: Sophie L. Harrison – Sophie managed to put a sapflow sensor through one finger and into another finger on the opposite hand- and showed no pain  

For being the best boat-in-a-bottle builder: Stephanie Suttenberg – Inspired by a large jug of wine Stephanie spent her off hours whittling a boat from a native Bartlett tree to build a boat in a bottle – she will finish it and send a picture to us all  

Listening to the most jazz music: Raymond Lee – Ray loved listening to smooth jazz as he worked on the SAStop in the White House 

For packing the best bear lunch:  Dominic Forlini – Dom had his lunch stolen from a bear (see earlier post)

For being patient zero: Eli Egan-Anderson – Eli was the first to get the plague (a 24 hour stomach bug) which quickly spread through the rest of the camp and wiped out all but a couple tough field crew members  

For being the soil pH queen: Lisa Carper – Lisa, our local high school student, tirelessly measured soil pH of soil samples from our Ca addition plots and was our youngest member to ever present at the Hubbard Brook meeting     

The crew with their awards after the ceremony

The crew with their awards after the ceremony

Thanks to all  who participated in the award ceremony and a huge thanks to everyone on the Shoestring crew this summer. They did a great job and had a lot of fun along the way. It was sad to leave at the end of the summer. 

~Their Glorious Leader



Summer Memories
August 13, 2014, 5:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

By: Eli Egan-Anderson – REU, Cornell 

         It’s the last day of the field season (at least for us REUs) and I’m sitting in the white house dining room watching Adam pack up his bags for (probably) the last time he’ll be living and working here, so it’s pretty easy to be nostalgic about what had to be one of the greatest summers of my life. It’s funny what reminds you of something fun, in fact as I was shoving shelves on shelves of leaf litter into bags I was already reminiscing about collecting from the stands and the sad feeling that I won’t ever go eat lunch on the big rock in C8 or visit the spot where I chased a bear away from Dom’s lunch (though I was too late) in C7. Admittedly I won’t miss it all: the hike to C3 with 50 lbs of fertilizer in a frame backpack or the horrifying sounds of my cars axle complaining about the drive over to Jeffers brook, but the days without great memories are few and far between.

Paradise Swimming Hole

Paradise Swimming Hole

                That being said what I’ll remember most about the summer is not the great field work opportunities (how many people get to shoot branches off trees with a shotgun….for science?) or even the wise life lessons we heard every day from Our Glorious Leader (“Who needs coffee when we have each other!?”) but it’s the people who made up this amazing crew who make the summer unforgettable. Our permanent allstar REU lineup included Justin Turlip (aka J Baby, twopan, our glorious chef) the soil moisture guy who at one point was under the impression he could actually get me in shape if he could only get us to run more (I showed him!); Sophie Harrison (more often Soapy or the big ole sausage) the sappy sap flow leader who managed to not only make a million sensors, but also stick one through her finger; Stephanie Suttenberg (exclusively called  Stephy-baby) who knew more about snails than anyone despite hardly ever actually seeing them; Hannah Babel (herbal) who could be convinced of anything, including but not limited to Teddy Roosevelt riding a moose and/or a velociraptor; and Dom Forlini who I’m still fairly convinced is actually an Italian chef masquerading as an REU student. We can’t forget the older folk (Bearome, Dawny, and Ray Ray), BU Crew (Danny Boy, Riot, Princess and Troll), the other residents of the compound (Bird God, Bird Scout, Small Mammals, Michelle, Joe and the rest), the Ohio crew (Ginny, Shan, Mike, Chelsea, and Owen), the local teachers who managed to make middle school somehow seem appealing (Sean and Rick), the occasional volunteers (Lisa, Griffin, Abbey, and Nora) and last but not least Our Glorious Leader who taught us everything we know and love about New Hampshire and the White Mountains.


                With a crew like this it’s impossible for anything not to be a great time. Everything we’ve done has been great, from the big things from our near death climb of Huntington’s, floating the Saco in a tube through ‘class 5’ rapids, playing stump on the Fourth of July, hitting up the clubs, countless trips to Bart’s for sandwiches and Cabin Fever for pie, to even the little things like every day work and jumping off the rocks in Paradise were some of the most fun I’ve ever had. Thanks to the shoecrew for the memories and the best summer I’ve ever had!

Jerome Really Enjoying a Hike

Jerome Really Enjoying a Hike

~ Eli 

Root Identification – It’s Messy!
August 13, 2014, 4:24 pm
Filed under: Roots

By: Michael Grentzer – REU Miami University, Oxford OH

White Ash Roots

White Ash Roots

    So you want to know how to identify roots do ya?  It’s a messy business.  No, literally!  Prepare to get your hand caked in soil and to strain your eyes squinting at root cross-sections.  Identifying the roots out here in NH is not an easy task.  There are around seven species of trees and gob loads of herbaceous plants.  For the scientists out there, it only makes it more interesting and painstaking.  The roots come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, tastes, and smells.  You might be asking yourself about the last two adjectives, and you read that right.  Some the plants out here are distinguished best by their smell or taste.  This involves sinking you teeth deep into the root or scratching and sniffing the surface of the root.  You are rewarded with a sweet wintergreen taste/smell, a bitter smell/taste of bad medicine, or just plain ole’ nothing.  The tree and herb roots, while virtually the same and insignificant to the average person, are a treasure trove of information about the forest.  At the moment we are trying to distinguish the differences between the soil just millimeters away from the root, what we call rhizosphere, and the rest of the soil.  We’re testing for differences in microbial activity, nitrogen mineralization or the transformation of the nitrogen in the air to soluble compounds used for many life functions, and not but least moisture content. 

Red Maple Roots

Red Maple Roots

     Before we could do all this though, we needed to identify what root belonged to which species and this involved looking at the tips of the itty bity fine roots, the root’s curviness, the cross-section, color, smell, and taste.  Maple roots were predominantly loaded with these small beaded fine root tips.  Pin cherries tended to give off a sour smell and medicine-like taste.  The birch roots smelled and sometimes tasted like wintergreen, and the beech roots looked wiry and had a white star-shaped cross-section.  Sadly, determining the exact species could be done in areas that had only one species of a genus.  The roots tended to look too similar in most cases within a genus and made it nearly impossible to determine species without molecular data.  It’s tough and time-consuming, but in the end, we were able to accomplish this tough task. 

American Beech Roots

American Beech Roots

Pin Cherry Roots

Pin Cherry Roots

White Birch Roots

White Birch Roots

~ Michael 

August 2, 2014, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Cooking in the white house, Recreation

By: Hannah Babel, Miami University

Since the summer is coming to a close and my family is visiting this upcoming weekend, the past weekend was my last with the shoestring crew. This summer here has been an amazing one, filled with simply splendid people and spectacular sights. And to start to wrap things up, I could not have asked for a better week/weekend.

After a very long couple of weeks in the field and lab sampling and processing our soil samples, the hustle and bustle finally slowed down just in time for our science night to learn all about the up and coming NEON project in Bartlett. NEON stands for the National Ecological Observatory Network. The corporation is still in the construction phase, but we had two speakers (including a former shoestringer) that are part of the Bartlett Experimental Forest site come to share with us what they are all about.

The following morning we all woke ourselves up at the crack of dawn so we could leave Bartlett by 6:45 and head to Hubbard Brook for a tour that the one and only Don Buso was going to give us on the experimental watersheds. It was a wonderful day to hike around Hubbard Brook, but despite seeing all there was there, the most exciting part of the day was having Don share a bit of his knowledge with us. That man captured us all with his stories of history and science and most of all his enthusiasm about the work that has been done there and what we are learning.

Don Buso

      The man himself, Don Buso.

The weekend finally rolled around and Friday night everyone seemed a bit tired so we all took naps. Some of us were out for the night, but then some of us woke back up and played some board games. Shinjini and Adam had their hand at Uno while Eli and I picked up some ice cream, played Pirateers with Donny, and took a stroll down the tracks to the Saco. If I had known what was going to be in store for me for the next day, I would not have gotten back up and slept through the night; but then again, sometimes you have to sacrifice a little sleep to make the most of every minute in a place like this. (So I guess it was worth it).

Saturday morning I woke up with a text from Soph asking if I was up for hiking Washington that day (they were planning on hiking it Sunday since Eli hadn’t summited it yet). I said “Let’s do it!” And off we were. Since Justin and I had hiked up Tuckerman’s earlier in the summer, a different path up the mountain sounded more exciting to us. Soph suggested Huntington’s Ravine since it seemed to be just a little steeper and we heard it had spectacular views. Immediately the trail was much more fun, and a quite a bit steeper. Crossing and following the rivers up to the ravine was stunning and an adventure. We reached the ravine, stopped for lunch, and up the steep part we went. This was no hike, this was rock climbing. My slight fear of heights was tested to the maximum, and Soph and Justin took the courageous spots of safely guiding me and Eli up the dodgy path (if you can call yellow arrows painted on rock faces a path).


Huntington Ravine

      Terrifying, yet so incredibly thrilling.

The views were worth it. This time climbing Washington I could see out and I was breathless, possibly both by fear and the beauty of the view each time we reached a flat spot or that I would glance over my shoulder. It wasn’t until I got home and did some quick reading that I found out what I had done that day was the steepest, most challenging, and most dangerous hike in all of the White Mountains. I am awfully proud of myself, but owe a lot of that to the amazing climbing buddies I had to get me through it.

Mt. Washington View

      (photo cred to Justin for this one, as well as the previous two.)

After we climbed down the mountain and got back to the White House, we realized how hungry we were, but lacked much energy to do any cooking and we jumped in the car. We headed for Moat mountain (a townie bar it seemed). And found the family style BBQ on the menu. All you can eat BBQ. It was too good, we all ate past the point of being full and Justin ate abou 3 times his weight in brisket.


     With a good amount of reorganization, we were able to fit all the plates on our table.


Sunday morning: Soph and Justin must’ve gotten up early because when I reached the White House they had already stared cooking up a perfect mountain breakfast. As if we didn’t eat enough the night before, we had a lovely assortment of berry and banana pancakes, eggs, toast, bacon, and fresh berries.


       Breakfast of champions (the Huntington’s Ravine champions that is)

Later on, we went out berry picking for eating or jam making. The day had started out rainy, but we were happy to see it clear up since the little time we have left here should not be spent cooped up indoors. We went along the tracks until we got just past the slab and closed our weekend with a swim in the Saco and some swings off the rope. I am not ready for this summer to end and this Midwestern girl is not ready to say goodbye to these magnificent mountains.


RR Tracks

It’s going to be a very hard goodbye


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.

image (7)

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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!

image (9)


…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.





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