This is post two of four on our volunteer experience with Conservaçion Patagonica.
In our second week, we were tasked with “invasive species removal” which I’ll admit is a glorified term for “weeding.” [Weeding, which was both punishment and a common chore in my household, is one of my least favorite activities ever]. That being said, it’s a crucial part of maintaining the park as invasive species like hemlock can take over rapidly, choking out native species, and changing the very biodiversity that the park seeks to protect. Invasives particularly like unstable environments, so they tend to collect along the dirt road that cuts through the whole park.
Armed with hoes and pickaxes, we set out each day from our second campsite and tackled hemlock and a few other species. This work was grueling. Hemlock is a bitch to remove (it is a tough species!), we were in the hot Chilean sun, and the job itself seemed futile. You’d wipe out hundreds of hemlock sprouts, or clear a large patch of older hemlock, and then around the corner there would be hundreds more.
The young ones were easy to pull, but seemingly infinite. The adult hemlock was less in number, but far stronger and infuriatingly well-rooted.
On the second day or so, I discovered a MASSIVE patch of baby hemlock and decided it would be my project. For two days or so, I yanked out baby hemlock while contemplating “conservation” and evolutionary theory (I mean – if we’re pure Darwinists here, we’d let the hemlock win), and sang aloud to my iPod (yes I have an iPod still).
So while the work was a grind our second campsite had some serious upgrades. For one, it was significantly warmer, and the weather less fickle. Two, it was on relatively flat ground (unlike the mountain). And three, we had a river (a.k.a. shower)!