The Carnivorous Plant FAQ Field Trip Report -

Massachusetts and Vermont in 2006

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A tangle:
No, not really. It was hell. It was worse than I expected. Forcing my way upslope meant stumbling, twisting, pushing through branches, scaling piles of rocks, sliding down slimy slopes, kersplashing in hidden mud holes. All while carrying a heavy backpack. It was just horrible.

I was ascending a slope reticulated with little streamlets, descending from (I presumed) the bog above me. Each streamlet was bound by dense, clawing vegetation, and crossing each filled me with desperation. But clambering along a small stretch of mucky streamside I spotted clumps of green, vibrant Sphagnum, and this gave me new energy.

The landscape was so disorienting I decided to try an experiment. My GPS told me exactly where I was, and also indicated the acidic pond that I wanted to reach. So I figured that I could navigate only using my GPS. I'd fly blind, so to speak. I would walk a short distance, correct my bearing using the GPS, and continue. Repeat this over and over, and soon enough I should be at the pond. It seemed feasible.

I shall never try this again. Oh, it may work fine if you can easily travel 10 meters, then look at the GPS and correct your course, but when you are fighting for every step through tangled brush, it is useless. You need a magnetic compass--either one built into the GPS (which mine does not have), or a normal compass (like the one I kept in my pocket for the duration of this experiment). In all, I estimate I walked at least twice as far as I had to, and the experiment easily cost me 90 minutes. On the other hand, while off-course I did see some excellent fungi.

In time the terrain leveled and Sphagnum grew in thick beds over deep, squelching mud that offered yet new navigational challenges. I saw several piles of scat from bear and moose, which reminded me that I was in remote wilderness.

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Revised: February 2008
©Barry Rice, 2005