As I dive deeper into my career path, I am finding that I love being around the water and am very interested in the Hydrology field. Today I had the opportunity to go into the field with Andrew Valdez, who is the hydrologist for the Great Sand Dunes National Park. In the morning we hiked up to Little Medano Creek to check the water gauges and we built a water break around the sensor. After that we went to the Medano Creek and took velocity measurements using a pygmy meter and made sure the flume was in good condition. After lunch he took us around Zapata ranch, which is just below the Sand Dunes. We learned how to measure the depths of wells and we sampled 24 wells today. Most of the work was just wandering around trying to find the small PVC pipes that marked where the wells were. To measure the wells, we lowered a cable that had increments on it into the pipe until the water sensor beeped.

Checking water gauges

Checking water gauges

The hydrologic work today was fascinating and I learned so much! But I think the cherry on top was that while we were sampling a well, I noticed that three Boreal Toads had got caught in a whirl pool next to the flume so I had to rescue them. They must have been tired because they let me reach in and gently pick them up without much of a fight. I put them on the waters edge just enough away from the flume that they wouldn’t get caught up in the current again. While driving through the ranch , we ran across a herd of buffalo that were grazing right next to the road. I have never seen one that up close! They are huge! They stayed still long enough for me to snap some great pictures and then they were on their way. Getting to play in the water plus be around awesome wildlife? That definitely sounds like a dream job to me!

Boreal Toad



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