As you could probably gather from our other blogs, this trail has been a bit challenging for us. But do not get us wrong, it is so worth it. There is nothing like being completely alone, except for a wide eyed loon laughing at you, on a mountain lined lake as the morning fog is lifting up to make you realize how lucky you are. Watching a beaver swim with all its might to bring a fresh green twig back to its den, or a momma duck showing her ducklings how to swim away from a weary canoe, or water rushing down an ancient boulder field, or any of the other countless breathtaking sites we have encountered inspires a hope in you to keep the wild alive. On this trip, we each have our own niche with the goal of igniting our same love for nature into others and doing our part to conserve these majestic environments.

 I have partnered with Plymouth State University to collect water chemistry data and diatom samples along the way. Every seven miles or so I go to the shore dip my meter in the water and scrape different substrates like sand, rocks, logs, and so on that I then preserve and mail back to Plymouth. Collecting parameters like dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and temperature gives one an idea of what the quality of the physical environment is like on the water way. Diatoms are a single celled alga that exist in basically all waters. They play a huge role in carbon fixation and primary production. These things that we cannot see are the start of a healthy waterway. If these are not doing well, the bigger stuff will not stand a chance. After we finish the trip, I will then go to Plymouth and process these samples in the lab. By doing so, I will be able to gain an understanding of how all these things interact on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and asses the health of these aquatic ecosystems.

Every single celled diatom plays a crucial role in the health of a water way. Every single one counts. Just like these teeny tiny creatures, that you cannot even see are detrimental to its habitat, so are we. Experiencing this trail and all its beauty it has to offer, makes you feel so small. Compared to this planet, we are microscopic, but just like diatoms each one of us has a chance to make a serious impact on it.

-Mallory Hirschler

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