Friday, August 8, 2014

The Masters

Ohhh la la. Spent the last few days at Great Basin National Park and managed to get to all the bristlecone pine groves. (Two of them are uh, pretty damn difficult to get to). If you know me at all, you know that I basically worship bristlecones. I go all weak in the knees over these gods....

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ramblin' (Wo)man

Got some time to kill in a coffee shop in Elko becacuse...well, let's be frank, guys. I've got nowhere to go, okay? Let's just say it like it is. Last day of work was yesterday and well, now I wander/squat. Squat and wander. And mm, probably wonder, also. Car-less and homeless. Yeehaw! (Above: mountain bluebird nestlings near Blue Mountain, CA and a rubber boa near Steen's Mountain, OR- one of only 2?? snakes I saw all season. Weird. Below: Pretty gnarly- watched a crazy lightening bolt start this wildfire, less than a freaking mile where I was. What? It spread pretty quickly, but BLM was on top of it within 30 minutes (we called it in, somehow had service) with ground and air crews. Note that this is the second wildfire I've seen start because of lightening; Johnny Nutcase on top of one of the point count mountains, somewhere in Utah)
The field season gets two thumbs up! Lots of beautiful sites all over Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, one in California. Lots of pronghorn, elk, mule deer, coyotes (I watched one chase a jack rabbit - they ran right past me and didn't even realize I was there), lots and lots of nests (and I wasn't even nest searching for work). Snow, freezing weather, wildfires, sun poisoning, yellow jackets in the tent, waking up at 1 a.m surrounded by 600 sheep..You get the point. Lots of weird happenings in the last few months.  The pop-up tent got a little old after a while though. It stopped being waterproof (and dust proof) so there was a lot of wet sleeping bag nights. The door zipper also stopped working, so I was always expecting to come back to the tent and find a baby cow or a colony of rodents hanging out on one of the beds or something. Oddly, that never happened. Tons of golden eagles, prairie falcons, and other raptors! So here's some crappy photos of field stuffs. And here's the link again in case anyone missed what happened to my car recently:  Sad face. 

(Above: benefits of waking up before sunrise; lots of snow during May at the high elevation sites; me with the dreaded ATV. Luckily, only needed this thing for one field site. I think I got up to a whopping 9 miles an hour. Hey! Don't laugh- driving at 3:30 am over crazy two tracks totally freaks me out!; a huge pack rat midden! These were all over the place at the California field site. Pretty cool!) * Sorry again to all my blog friends who I have neglected the last few months. Not really sure when I'll have real-people internet again, but when I do, I sure have a lot of catching up to do!*

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Daily Dose of Cute

I went backpacking in the Ruby Mountains the last 5 days and had some much needed quality time with PIKAS!! I don't get to see them often enough so I was ridiculously excited to find a quite a few of them. They aren't really easy to find, see (but easy to hear with their adorable squeaks) or photograph- and they are surprisingly fast little buggers!  I finally saw a baby pika - yes, a baby pika, guys! Holy cute factor. (The one above is an adult) I got a handful of photos I was happy with, but mainly I was happy to just hang with pikas for a while. More to come!

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!