By Jonathan Cain
The landscape around Chimborazo resembles the high desert in parts of the western United States. The terrain approaching Chimborazo is arid and rocky in appearance, with mostly small grassy and shrub-like vegetation growing on it. Finding trees large enough to sample above 4000 meters was, needless to say, a bit of a challenge, but they do exist.
We’re looking for a grove of Polylepis trees that we spotted from the road yesterday, but instead happened upon an even more ideal site at a slightly higher elevation. The trees are not tightly clustered and they spread to the far end of a ridge.
The wide-area gives us better sample variability—in all sixteen trees in about two hours—and despite the wet weather it’s a great day in the field. And, who knew that trees growing in sandy soil would be this saturated with water on the inside? There’s doubt that these trees can tell us much about the past climate of Chimborazo, but we’re hopeful.
The people that helped make this possible could not have been more supportive. And, the final outcome of this project I have to say is a dream come true. Thank you to Pablo and our guides, my new Irish friends (Stephen, Eugene, Des, and Albert), and to Jinny, Kevin, and Laia.