Rugged roads, river crossings, and unusual summer weather
Last night's dinner was terrific, viewing the ABC's 'Australia's Wild Odyssey' was impressive, and our base camp was a most comfortable place to stay. What more could a researcher or a teacher ask for? Well, lots actually. (^_^)
After a hearty breakfast, we headed out of Jindabyne and headed up! That is further into the Kosciusko National Park, past Thredbo and up to higher elevations. We finally reached the Cascade Trail, which is named after the Cascade Hut. We entered a narrow four-wheel-drive (4WD) track.
The temperature had dropped by about 10 degrees, and the rain began falling. We had permission from NSW National Parks to drive along this track, otherwise we would have to walk just like most people do. We were in search of new plant species, beetle species, and spider species. There were two teams, the entomology team and the botany team. I was with Sabrina Trocini and Sandra McCullough, of Earthwatch, in the entomology team. Our team leaders were Dr Chris Reid and Dr Frank Koehler from the Australian Museum.
Driving along the Cascade Trail we had to cross several river crossings, with the rain the rivers were rising posing some challenge.
On reaching the halfway point of the trail, we stopped and got out to look for beetles, snails, and spiders. Everyone was enthusiastic, but there was a problem the temperature and the snow! It was only 2 degrees and there was snow everywhere! This was the 4th February 2023, summer, and the temperature and the snow seemed to indicate that it was far from summer.
Trying to look for subterranean beetles and snails proved hazardous as our hands were turning purple and frostbite was imminent. So we turned the vehicles around and began heading back.
I learnt that all living creatures do their utmost to avoid the cold. Beetles and snails will try gather inside clumps of grass, or to go under the soil. Plants respond to cold temperatures by protecting their cells from cold and freezing conditions. One protection strategy is to accumulate sugars, which decreases the temperature at which ice forms.
When in the mountains, always be prepared for sudden changes of weather just like plants, beetles, and snails.