Sunday, July 20, 2014

3-2-1- Thank you!

I owe a lot of people a whole lot of thanks right now because of  this. While I will slowly and surely thank all of you (you know who you are) individually, I just want to throw a massive (and mass) thank you out there. All of your help, generosity, donations, pep talks, and good luck wishes are so incredibly helpful and I am totally blown away by the goodness of all of you, many of you strangers. It's very humbling and it is so wonderful and reassuring to witness the inherent goodwill of people. I noticed when I got online this afternoon that my story about Vladimir had gone (sorta) viral, so a huge thank you to all who have shared my story on facebook, blogs, twitter, etc. It has helped tremendously and I'm well on my way to Vladimir's successor because of all of you extremely generous and incredible people! Thank you!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Too tired to be clever

Let's talk about Frank Church Wilderness again for a minute, shall we? It was a 6 day backpacking trip, 60 miles. Heaviest pack I've ever carried, about 50 pounds.  Was planning on significantly less miles than that, ya know, sort of a take-it-easy-relax-at camp kinda trip. No sirs, no ma'ams, this was not the case since 3 of the trails we wanted did not exist at all and 30 out of those 60 miles were spent bushwhacking through some pretty grotesque stuff. There was a fire 2 years ago and a lot of those trees had come crumbling down, blocking or obliterating any trails. Also ran into some avalanche areas that were pretty dangerous to get around, especially when they were on top of those weird marsh areas that have hidden underground springs and stuff. Oh man. I had a few, um, "moments."  It was obvious that no one had been that far back in the backcountry this season (or, considering the trail conditions, for a few years). There were about 30 creek crossings, some of which were pretty sketchy. The snow melt was still in full force and the creeks and streams were all whitewater-y.  (Above: Middle Fork Salmon River; below: last night out there, at our best camp spot)
Oh, but creeks and streams, no big deal right? Let's try fording the freaking Middle Fork Salmon River, guys!?! Not recommended. Truly terrifying, really. Totally nerve wracking. Try to avoid doing this if you can. Also, avoid Soldier Creek trail and Fall Creek trail. They are not there, you will not find them,  and you will bushwhack for days and get very angry.  (Below: mountain lake reflections; what the trail looked like about half the time)
Okay, hey. Internet time is just about up, sleep beckons me. So we'll have to continue the Frank Church shenanigans a little later. Side note, if you need new hiking shoes? Salomans rock. I had to get a new pair before this trip. 60 miles off the bat, without breaking them in? No problems. This is the third pair I've had where I've done this. Good shoes.
Also, one more thing: Burned out. So burned out! I don't want to admit it, but it's true. I need about a week to lounge in a real bed, preferably in a dark room with lots of electrolytes available.  I've had a migraine type headache for more than a week now, and I'm pretty sure it's from 10 hour field days in 103 degrees, in the open sagebrush with no shade or cloud cover. I've had a fever off/on and some creepy chills and body aches. Hopefully it's not west nile? I'm only functioning at about 40 percent lately. (below: where the trail first disappeared )

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Frank Church Wants Me Dead

Hello there, my blog friends. Hello. I've got the old, goofy  internets at this field site (which is totally weird), but I am completely mentally and physically wiped out right now, so this will be brief. It's been a brutal week. Had a long stretch of days off and went backpacking in Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness (central Idaho) for 6 days. Hardest backpacking trip (mentally and physically, holy sheeeet) I've ever done and I'm still recovering. Unfortunately, after this 60 mile hike (about 30 of which were bushwhacking - more on this later), I was slapped in the face. Real hard. A freaking all out jaw breaker, really.   A healthy, live tree had completely crushed my beloved Vladimir (my car), that was parked at the trailhead.
This blows, guys. It would suck fiercely either way, but I have literally been living out of my car since April. Got a backpacking tent and a tent for work, but no home. Vladimir was it. I can't afford a new (old) car at this point and the field season is just about over so I'm just maybe, just maybe, having a few minor panic attacks about some stuff. More on the backpacking trip later (gnarly stuff, really). I set up this website in case anyone is feeling generous. I've already got some people I want/need to squeeze with serious hugs. Man, inherently good people just crush me emotionally - in a good way. Thanks, guys! Seriously, you all freaking rock more than you'll ever know. And thank you to Mark at the FS for everything. I would have still been stranded and depressed outside of Stanley, Idaho if if weren't for you! (Last photos: Hayduke and Gafunkel loved Vladimir too.We went on lots of cross country road trips together.  Last photo is from a couple months ago, in the good old days. South Ruby Mountains, Nevada)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Daily Dose of Cute

Golden-mantled ground squirrels have no idea how cute they are. They just don't even know. It's hard to deal with, really. The Winds got scratched, in case you were paying attention. Off to Frank Church Wilderness for a week!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sheep zombies, wildfires, and monster winds.

It's been a weird week, blog friends.  I woke up (even with earplugs) at 1:03 am earlier this week to a totally creepy noise that sounded, I think, not unlike a disgruntled gang of zombies. These alleged zombies were getting closer and were soon surrounding the tent (the pop-up tent, we were at a field site).  Not to be too anti-climatic, but they weren't zombies. Instead, it was ~600 FREAKING SHEEP! Sheep. Close your eyes for a moment and think about how loud 600 baaa-baa'ing sheep in the middle of the night might sound. ? No, it's louder than you're thinking, trust me. This sucked because we had to get up 3:30 am,  and having to run around in your underwear in the dark chasing after a sheep army should not have been a priority. 

They never really vacated the area and in the field the next day, I witnessed the damage they had already done. Good luck, ground nesters, you're screwed. Seriously, don't get my started on grazing on public land. That many sheep is way too damn many and they crushed the vegetation in less than 4 hours. Hey guys, not cool. I found a vesper's sparrow nest and a mourning dove nest (both on the ground) that morning that I'm sure got trampled.
I spent my days off at Great Basin National Park (one of my favorites). Hiked up to Wheeler Peak (just over 13,000 feet) and got annihilated by 60-70 mph winds. Some fantastic views from the top and I got physically knocked over by the wind 12 times. I said 12 times. That's some gnarly wind. I recommend the hike but make sure you have appropriate gear. Oh yeah, we saw a pair of black rosy finches up there (nice), but apparently, there are no longer pikas in the park. Huge bummer. I was terrified for the finches. When they flew, it was like they were getting launched out of a canon. It was violent and made me cringe. I know they can handle it but geez, guys!
The next day, we had planned a badass 15 mile hike to a little visited bristlecone pine grove. If you weren't aware, I worship bristlcones. They're my gods. Our efforts were thwarted at 11,000 feet when we stopped at a lake to snarf our tofurkey sandwiches. A nice mid-June snowstorm laughed in our face and I quickly lost feeling in my digits. We were going to hike on a ridge with no trail but the visibility was 0% so we decided we'd be smart and headed back down the mountain. It was still a cool hike, but next time I will chat with the weather gods first, because I will get to that b-cone grove. I will!
At our field site a couple days ago (I move around all the time: Utah-Nevada-Oregon-California-Idaho), the rancher leasing the national forest land decided to let his cattle completely demolish the surrounding areas. Again, god bless you ground nesters. May you're 3rd or 4th nesting attempt be successful. So instead of sheep this time around, we had a bunch of cows (remember, I'm vegan and like sheep and cows, but #*!!!^#@ graaazzzing, dammit!) checking out our campsite. Are you aware that cattle often sound like dinosaurs giving birth, or maybe dinosaurs having sex? It's an impressive noise.

Yesterday in the field, I had to soak my bandanna in water and wear it around my face because I was getting all hacky and choke-y from a nearby wildfire. Later we drove around until we barely got internet and were able to find out the fire was less than 20 miles away. (Oh shit). We also found out it had started the night before, had  already burned close to 1,000 acres and was ZERO PERCENT CONTAINED. Lovely.  Given these comforting facts, I did not sleep well last night because I was paranoid we were going to have to pack stuff up at lightening speed and book it the hell out of there. (just an fyi, it was 2 hours to the closest town)

Anyway, that was what happened this week. Fairly entertaining, I think. I've got 6? 7? more days of work and then we've got 8 days off. Thinking a little Wind Rivers backpacking trip sounds real nice, eh? Oh yes! These sky photos aren't from the fire, just your typical fantastic middle of nowhere Nevada sky. And wild horses, too.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

You should all know that I love ground squirrels. It just is what it is. 
Things are good over here (where is here!?). Recently spent 5 days backpacking Grand Gulch Primitive Area in Southeastern Utah. Rock art and ruins and canyons and ruins and rock art! Beautiful spot. Spent the last few days in the Ruby Mountains in Northern Nevada. Not able to backpack though since there is still a healthy 3-10 feet of snow and the lakes are still pretty much frozen. Real pretty though! But no pikas! About to start a 9 day work stretch all over central and northern Nevada, so I'll see you on the flip side.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Funky Nomad

Oh hey there. Just another quick minute in the internet world land. I've been officially homeless since April 17th, but hey hey! It's okay because I get to live/dwell/slumber in these badass places. I live in the pop-up tent while I'm working and the backpacking tent on my days off. Occasionally there's a cheap motel involved that offers a hot shower, don't worry.