Teammates Katie Auer and Michael Vasquez led team Alpha on an exciting 5,000 mile journey to 19 wildlife refuges within 7 states stretching from Idaho to North Dakota, and Kansas to Wyoming. This incredible excursion took the team members to many new places and a few that were familiar. The first leg of the journey took the team through the beautiful mountains of northern Idaho and western Montana, a part of the country rich with Native American history. Spending only a couple of days in the area, team Alpha left the dramatic mountainous landscape and quickly headed east into “Big Sky Country”. Here the group took inventory at refuges that were home to large groups of pelicans, a sight that neither team member expected. Making their way farther east, Katie and Mike spent the weekend at Medicine Lake National Wildlife refuge near the border with North Dakota. The crew was excited to watch incredible thunderstorms that each night in the endless night sky.
The second leg of the hitch proved to be the most demanding as team Alpha took inventory at 8 refuges within a five day span that covered ground from northern North Dakota to southern Kansas. Sweeping through four refuges within 2 days the group took a side trip on Wednesday of this week to see Mt. Rushmore and to camp at Badlands National Park. The hard work put in during the first two days paid themselves off through the incredible sights that the Badlands had to offer. Katie and Mike were amazed at the unique landscape. Spending only a night at the Badlands, the group quickly finished their tour of South Dakota and made their way south to Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas. After completing this, the group spent the weekend with another SCA crew stationed in Lawrence, Kansas. After a trying week the generous hospitality of this crew rejuvenated Katie and Mike’s spirits. The best part of the hitch was still to come.