14 October 2018

A Hike and Foraging

I used fall break as an opportunity to catch up on sleep, do a bit of work, and go explore Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.  Despite being only about 25 minutes from campus, I had never been there before.  They have one main trail, about a mile long in one direction.  It meanders through a variety of habitats including oak forest, fields, forested streams, a river, and a swamp.  I went towards the end of the day and the weather was beautiful.  It was surprisingly sunny out so the walk was warm and the light helped all the fall colors stand out.  The wildlife refuge is particularly known for its bird life and, though I went at a slower time, I still saw some herons, crows, sparrows, and a gorgeous red-tailed hawk.  The refuge is really lovely and the hike is rather easy so I highly recommend it if you want to get out into nature without going too far from the school.

While at home I got to some projects I have been meaning to do.  In my front yard is a huge chestnut tree and I figured it was time to learn how to roast chestnuts.  If you’re not familiar with them, they’re a smooth brown nut slightly larger than a gumball.  Their outer husk is a ball of thorns that can get as big as a baseball.  They’re not fun at all to step on and I doubt they’d be fun to husk, but luckily they’ve been hitting our driveway with enough force that they sometimes eject the nuts from the husk without any work on our part.  I’ve had a bowl of them sitting on the table for about two weeks, but I finally got around to roasting them in the oven over break.  Admittedly, they’re a little weird.  The texture isn’t like that of a normal nut, they’re supposed to be soft instead of crunchy.  They were pretty good, but I’m going to experiment more with how to prepare them because it is kind of disorienting to have a nut with a texture like a potato. 


Have questions about life at L&C? Feel free to ask me at ameliaberle@lclark.edu

I found these at work this week

Happy Fall Break!

Fall Break in the Canyonlands

Campsite #1, Whychus Creek/Deschutes River
Hello everyone!

This week has been both busy and beautiful. The beginning of the week was a rushed three days of school, tests, and sports. I was extremely ready and in need of fall break. It's really nice to have four days of no school in the middle of the semester to recalibrate and take a moment to just breathe. For fall break I went on a three-day backpacking trip in Oregon's canyonlands with College Outdoors. We headed out early Thursday morning towards central Oregon.

Whychus Creek/Deschutes
I had gone to this same area just a month before on a shorter weekend trip to the canyonlands with some of my friends. It was really cool to go back to an area and already be a little familiar with the scenery and route. The first day we did the same hike I had done before - about 5-6 miles from where we left the van down to our first campsite. The views were AMAZING. The fall foliage mixed with the golden sun was so serene. The landscape is so interesting because it just looks like miles of buttes and rocks. We would hike up and down the steep hills and had a few slips and falls along the way. On our first night, we made delicious trail tacos and then told scary stories once it got dark. Since the sun has been setting earlier we were going to be pretty early partly because we were tired from the hike but mostly because it just got to be too cold to stay outside once the sun went away.

The next day we had a shorter hike and did a river crossing which was sooo cold. We hiked on top of the ridge and followed the river to our next campsite. On our way we met some cute dogs who were hiking with their owners. Once we got to camp we had a very chill afternoon. It was spent reading, soaking up the sun, and playing frisbee. We had some people on one side of the river and a few on the other and we would throw the frisbee back and forth across the river. Dinner that night was pesto pasta with veggies and chicken which was so good. Any food you have on trail always tastes way better for some reason. 

Roland and I at the beginning of the trip
Overall the trip was a huge success. We did a lot of great hiking, bonded as a group, and had a wonderful time in nature. It is so cool how friendships can be made in such a short amount of time. I went on the trip knowing a couple people pretty well but came out of the trip with even more friends. Going to a college that offers affordable outdoor trips has been awesome. I am getting outside more and more. In the future, I hope to become a trip leader and lead backpacking trips for College Outdoors. 

Have a wonderful day!


08 October 2018

Too much!

Hi friends!

It feels like I haven't spoken to y'all in forever! Well, life has been suuuuuuuuuuupper hectic! I have back to back assignments, quizzes, and tests. It's really hard for me to find a chance to just catch my breath, relax, and remind myself that I'll get through it!

On the topic of relaxation, I am soooo looking forward to fall break! Our fall break this year is from October 11 - 15! I have never needed a break so badly in my life! I am so excited! Being able to catch up on some sleep and just spend time with my friends is going to be awesome! I also have someone from home coming up to visit and we are gonna go to places around Portland so make sure to keep an eye out for my post next week! Luckily, the rain and gloominess of the past couple days will be going away and Portland will be welcoming in some sunshine (and maybe warmth but we shall see)!

On another note, before the funs of fall break starts, I gotta make sure I get all my work done! The last last last last last last last thing I even want to do is have to catch up on work over fall break! I sometimes wish there were more hours in the day but I remember that rest is important so sleeping is a priority above all!

I apologize that this is a very short post but I just wanted to catch up with y'all before the break starts! Okay, I'm now gonna go back to doing my calc III homework!


Homecoming and Coming Home

Hey friends!

Rose Garden
It’s homecoming this weekend! Which - for me, means about nothing… I haven’t gone to a single football game at LC in my 4 years…which I should … but…. probably won’t happen. 

(To be fair, I went to every single football game in high school because I was in marching band, but it was never for the football haha; We used to joke that the field was the marching band field because we won more than the football team did) 

However my mom came down for the parent’s weekend :) 
My mom just spent a few weeks back East for her work but flew in Thursday and came to visit on Friday. Over the weekend I had a lot of work, but we still were able to go see the Portland Rose Gardens! I've never been before and it's really beautiful! Something you should for sure check out if you're in the area visiting LC or if you end up becoming a student at LC.   
Measuring embryos after imaging with florescence microscopy 

This last week was another busy one in the books and this coming week (bless) is a shortened week with FALL BREAK!!!! 

Not much new besides just being busy. 

We're finishing imaging and measuring our embryos from the mutant strain and comparing them to the parent strain. 

Dance is coming along really well to! Our first showing is coming up the Sunday after fall break and we just finished a whole song and we have a lot of fragments from the other 3 songs. 

Speaking of, Fall Break is THIS WEEK! Starts on Thursday and then we have off until Monday :) I'm so ready, but I still have to get over the next midterm hump; I still have a structural exam this Wednesday. This fall break I'm staying on campus, I have a lot of work to get done, but I also have a great friend who graduated last year coming up from CA. 

Not a whole lot thats interesting right now, but hopefully I'll have more to report in the coming weeks ... especially after the dance showing!! The dance showing is our only time we actually see the other pieces. All the dances come together and show each other what they've been working on so far and then we get feedback. We also get the first round of photos!!! (If you don't know, I am obsessed with dance photos) Anyways, I'll hopefully have a more exciting week with Fall Break and then I'll have a better blog :0 haha sorry you guys!


07 October 2018


This weekend I went on a field trip to the Bonneville Dam.  It was for marine biology, so instead of focusing on generating power, we focused on how they engineered it to have less impact on the salmon populations.  Fish ladders are more complicated than creating a series of pools that salmon can jump between.  The fish also need areas where they can rest.  If the water flow is too turbulent or fast the fish won’t be able to rest enough to finish their journey.  Their solution is basically to make a maze to slow down the water and allow for resting areas partway up the fish ladder.

A steelhead taking a break
If you’re interested in seeing migrating salmon (or steelheads or lampreys), take a trip to Bonneville Dam during September-October.  We were at the latter end of the migration and on a slow day because of the weather, but we still saw dozens of salmon.  The visitor center has underwater viewing stations so you can see the fish as they rest in the “maze” after moving up the ladder.  

An angry salmon wanting to go in a closed gate
To try to increase salmon numbers, there’s also a fish hatchery.  I was amazed at the number of fish they had, but salmon mortality rates are very high so having thousands of baby fish makes sense because so many will be eaten before they grow up.  In addition to the salmon, they also have some really huge white sturgeon and a few trout ponds where you can feed the fish. It was a really cool trip and it was fun to do some learning outside of the classroom.  I recommend it as a weekend activity if you have any interest in learning about salmon or the local biology

A huge sturgeon
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at ameliaberle@lclark.edu

How I Became an "Outdoorsy" Person

Hello everyone!!

The fifth week of classes has wrapped up and there are fun things I am looking forward to! Next week is fall break so I’ll be heading to the Oregon Canyonlands for a three-day backpacking and camping trip. I went to the Canyonlands a few weeks ago for a weekend College Outdoors (CO) trip and I am stoked to be going back to the desert. The fall weather is upon us which means it’s time for cozy sweaters, warm drinks and of course the rain.

I’m gonna throw it back right now to the weeks before school even started and talk about my New Student Trip (NST)  where I spent a week backpacking in the Cascade Mountain Range. Before heading out to Oregon I had done a three-day canoe trip in the BWCA (Boundary Waters)  in Minnesota senior year, but I had never really done any backpacking trips so this was all new to me. On my NST there were two other people from Minnesota so that was really awesome to have that immediate connection with them. When I arrived on campus the day of my NST I was soooo nervous but all the CO students were welcoming and helpful which made everything more chill. Looking back now, it seems like my NST happened ages ago.

We piled into this coach bus and headed for the mountains Wednesday afternoon. The ride there was filled with laughter and stories as we all got to know each other more. Since we were on a longer backpacking trip and moving greater distances we didn’t pack tents with us to sleep in. Instead, we had these things called bivy sacks (or just "bivys") which are like sleeping bag covering/shells. So you’re really just sleeping out in the open without much protection from wind, rain, and anything else. Backpacking was really hard at first. The packs felt like a million pounds on my back but as the days progressed I got more used to carrying my backpack and I found better, more efficient ways to pack gear and wear my pack. The second day of our trip was the hardest. We did about 6 miles mostly uphill and it was very hot that day too. But after that day the hiking got better and we cruised through the miles with ease.
One morning we hiked to the very top of Battle Ax mountain which was such a neat experience. I had never summited a mountain until then. It was surreal to have a 360-degree view of the landscape around you from such a high elevation. Some other interesting things that happened to us were: one night we thought there was a mountain lion watching us but it was actually just a deer, we got absolutely soaked one night because it just rained and rained and rained, we met a cute orange cat at the lodge site we walked through, and we all bonded so hard and became a very close-knit group of friends.

I could go on and on about my time in the mountains. I would 10/10 recommend to any incoming student that you should try to do a New Student Trip! They really are a great way to start college because you get to know other people in a non-school setting and go outside and experience nature. There are trips for all sorts of people: lodge trips, rafting, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, surfing, backpacking, research, and social justice trips. Before coming to Lewis & Clark I wouldn’t have considered myself super “outdoorsy” but I’ve caught the outdoor adventure bug and it’s all I want to do now - get outside and hike all over.

Thanks for reading & have a lovely day!