Issue 39 has been released! Read online or download your own high definition copy with a Premium Membership.



Aaron

Becoming a Trail Naturalist

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Aaron

When I first started hiking, I knew the names of only a few wild denizens of the forest: ponderosa pine, gray jay, Colorado columbine. Over the years, as I learned to identify more trees, birds, and wildflowers, I also began to see more. As I hiked down a trail, greeting familiar plants like old friends, I realized they grew among a leafy ground cover whose name I did not know. I became more attuned to small movements that drew my attention to an insect, bird, or mammal. I noticed the way vegetation varied as the trail curved around different faces of a hillside, climbed higher or lower in altitude, and moved closer to or farther away from a stream. I also began to recognize patterns – the way certain species tend to grow together in communities, that different geologic substrates support particular types of vegetation, the way the timing of a flower's bloom coincides with an influx of its pollinators – that suggest natural processes and ecological systems. Hikers head to the wilds for many reasons, from a love of nature to a desire to challenge themselves physically or mentally to a need to escape civilization. But I believe, whatever a hiker's reason for hitting the trail, the experience can be enhanced by greater understanding of the natural world. Natural history knowledge...

@AndreaL details ways we can become more aware of the nature that surrounds us in wilderness, check out the full article at the link below in Issue 38:

Becoming a Trail Naturalist

Tips for Becoming a Trail Naturalist.JPG

Issue 38 Page 1

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Numbers

Every walker interested in being a trail naturalist should join and contribute to iNaturalist.

https://www.inaturalist.org/

This is the best global citizen science naturalist site. On the trail, you can provide significant information showing new locations for plants and animals. World-wide experts quickly help you identify items shown in your photos, and you can preview what others saw on the trail.

iNaturalist started in 2008 by UC Berkley. In 2014 iNaturalist became an initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and a joint initiative with National Geographic Society in 2017.

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AndreaL

iNaturalist is a great resource. Thanks, Numbers!

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RogerMoore

Great article. Long ago I spent many a weekend learning to track. That extra knowledge has made all of my hikes better.

I’ve found lion tracks all through California, identified birds and animals that I have never seen and even tracked deer to their bed on occasion.

I’m looking to become a better birder now. Thanks!

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AndreaL

Thanks, RogerMoore. Lion tracks are definitely an exciting addition to a hike! Good luck with the birding. 

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ppine

Being a "naturalist" is what makes being out there so rewarding.  There is actually more to see off the trail. 

The term is left over from the NPS days when they had people in ranger suits giving talks to people at campgrounds.  Now they mostly have law enforcement agents instead. 

I am always looking for plant ecologists, foresters, range people and wildlife biologists to talk with in the wild. 

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