Category Archives: Science Adventure of the Month

Science Adventure of the Month: Camping on Ashokan High Point (part 1)

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I’ve been haunted by a mountain. I can see it on the way to town. I can see it when I walk at the reservoir. And when the leaves are off the trees, I can see it from my back yard. I learned its name is Ashokan High Point, and I had been meaning to hike to its summit for years.

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I finally did it! The last Sunday of September I gathered my camping gear and drove out to the Kanape Brook Parking Area. About 4 PM, after locking my car up for the night and hauling my 35 lb pack onto my shoulders, I crossed Rout 42 to find the trail head. I’d read the Catskill Mountaineers overview of this hike so I knew that I was looking for a bridge in the woods that spanned the Kanape Brook.

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The registration book on the other side of the brook briefed me on the travels of recent hikers. I added my name, address, and phone number to the list, and indicated that I’d be camping over at the top of Ashokan High Point. According to the registration book, the only other people who I might encounter were day hikers coming back down.Image

Skimming through earlier entries, I noted endearing comments about the beauty of the Kanape Brook.  As I hiked along the brook, I was also enchanted, stopping to take (many) pictures and to notice how the sound of its water changed from place to place.

Around 6:45 PM, I reached the summit. Since it was dusk, I set up camp right away. My plan was to fall asleep as early as possible and start hiking again just after sunrise.

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While I could have camped in a field further along the trail and been a bit warmer, I decide to sleep at the absolute peak of Ashokan High Point…right next to its Geodetic Survey Marker. At home, I was able to get the current data for this marker through the National Geodetic Survey Data Explorer. If you scroll down on the data page for this marker, you can read logged station description narratives as well as information about its recovery in 1970. (TO BE CONTINUED)

Science Adventure of the Month: Bell Museum, Minneapolis MN

River OtterThis river otter greeted us to the mammal diorama section of the Bell Museum on the University of Minnesota Campus. peregrine falconThe Bell Museum of Natural History contains over 50 dioramas, most of which depict animals of Minnesota in their natural habitat.
I later learned that the painted scenes within many of the dioramas were created by the same artist who painted for the NY City Museum of Natural History, Francis Lee Jaques. After checking out the animals on the lower floor, it was time for a bog walk. big walkThe squishy lumps under the “bog grass” rug brought back childhood memories of navigating across mounds of grass through wetlands in Dutchess County, NY. On the upper floor, we passed over a variety of live fig plants. These plants were part of an exhibit showcasing the ongoing tropical rainforest flora research at the Bell Museum. The collection of live fig plants are not the only organisms being researched in collaboration with this University of Minnesota museum. During our August 2013 visit, the results of the following research project were a highlighted museum presentation: Birds & DNA: Biodiversity and Mountain Islands.

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Beyond the fig trees, we entered the Touch and See Room and played for over half an hour. We pet beaver, hugged a moose, and scolded a grizzly…’All stuffed, of course! Real skulls, mammal teeth, leg bones, antlers, and rocks were available for all to touch, arrange, identify an draw. We didn’t get a chance to hold a live snake or pet the turtle, but it seemed that every one enjoyed their experience in the “Biosphere for Two.” Everyone should have one of these terrariums so they can pop their head in for mini tropical vacation break.biosphere