Showing posts with label hiking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hiking. Show all posts

October 04, 2018

"Dogs will be attracted to foot-hold traps . . . "

You may not like trapping.  Or you may have no problem with trapping as long as trappers follow the rules.

Regardless, these videos contain information that you can use — especially the second one, on releasing your dog from traps.  They were made by Idaho Fish & Game, but everything in them pertains to other states as well, except maybe the wolf part.


Basic rule: Compress the springs, don't pry the jaws. If nothing else, learn the Conibear trap, which starts at about 3:40 in the video. "Your dog is most likely to be trapped by its head or neck, so it's critical you learn how to act quickly to save your dog."



If you have any actual experience with dogs in traps, I would like to hear it. But if you just want to talk about how you want to put some trapper's head in a large-size Conibear, well, I have heard that before.

November 13, 2017

In Response to Pain, a Change of Gait


I developed a foot problem this summer, and it has me thinking more about gait than at anytime since my brief foray into track-and-field as a 14-year-old.  (Working with a chiropractor-kinesthesiologist now too.)

It's been upsetting, since hiking through rough country was always something that I was good at, and now I am having  to retrain one foot, which produces certain protests from the tendons.

Shoes and boots are part of the problem, that's the irony. It was probably wearing the wrong ones in younger years that created the problem, on top of some slightly malformed toes that I was born with. Over the past couple of years I have discarded about a third of the shoes and boots that I owned — getting to be pretty fussy about what I will put on my feet. I even consider shoelaces: would round or flat be better?

You have probably read old descriptions of American Indians "gliding" through the forest in their moccasins, but as medieval reenactor Cornelius Berthold — who apparently is also into Historic European Martial Arts, going by the broadsword on his hip and some remarks about fencing— points out in this video, that is how Europeans walked too, prior to about 1500 and the widespread development of harder-soled shoes with built-up heels. (Stiffer shoes maybe encouraged the toes-out gait.)

Not like this:
Quick Time . . . . At the command Forward, shift the weight of the body to the right leg without perceptible movements. At the command March, step off smartly with the left foot and continue the march with 30-inch steps taken straight forward without stiffness or exaggeration of movements.

United States Army, The New Infantry Drill Regulations, 1943.
So during this hunting season I sometimes pretend that I wearing moccasins — or medieval shoes like Cornelius Berthold. When the "new" pain starts — the tendons protesting their new stretching — I just slow down, stepping on the balls of my feet. That helps. One day, it will have to be better.

July 28, 2017

Links Taller than Your Head

It's a good year for wild sunflowers.
Links. Do I have links. They sprout like sunflowers on the prairie.

How to improve your outdoor photography. 10-2-4 is not about Dr. Pepper — 2 p.m. is when you are traveling to the place that you wish to photograph after 4 p.m. And "Zoom with your feet" does not apply to buffalo.

Predatory ducks. It's Romania, so maybe they suck blood as well.

• How older elk survive to a ripe old age (for elk).  They learn the difference between bowhunters and rifle hunters.

A poacher goes down hard. If only this happened more often.

• From Colorado Outdoors: "Five Tips to Catch More Fish This Summer."

Another article on bold, aggressive urban coyotes. Denver, this time.

• High country trails don't just happen. It takes people like this.

January 02, 2017

Hiking Makes You Smarter — Or at Least Less Depressed

So there is your New Year's resolution,  if you follow this line of thought:
To conduct this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through either an urban or a natural environment. They found those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and they also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through the urban environment, however, did not report decreased rumination.
 So there it is: 2017: The Year of Decreased Rumination

October 30, 2016

Smoked Links with Seal Meat

This is "good" smoke, coming from a fire-line burnout
on the Junkins Fire three days ago.
I am still catching up after the evacuation, the firefighting, the meetings, and the general nervousness of having Chinook and Skycrane helicopters thumping over the house hour after hour.  So here are some quick nature-blogging links.

¶ Talk about going against the narrative an Inuit filmmaker creates a pro-seal hunt video.
Alethea Arnaquq-Baril: I'm Inuit, so I grew up in the Arctic. I grew up hunting and eating seal meat with my family, and as an Inuk, you just grow up hearing people complain [about] and criticize seal hunters. It's just kind of always been an issue for me, and I knew that when I became a filmmaker that I was eventually going to have to cover this issue. 
¶  When trekking poles became popular a few years ago, I had a sort of snobbish reaction. "Who needs two poles?" I thought. "They turn you into a beast of burden. Maybe if you are carrying a very heavy pack on rocky ground . . . "

Other people put a positive spin on "beast," saying that the poles make them feel like a sure-footed quadruped.

I am all for sparing your knees on long downhill trails, but I hate to have two hands occupied with poles. When I broke one of my old bamboo x-c ski poles a few years back, I cut them both down to walking-stick length and added rubber tips. But usually I carry only one, because the other hands needs to be free for a tool, a leashed dog, or whatever.

But here is Randy Newberg, one of the few makers of hunting videos that I can stand to watch, making the case for them — with a video too.
“You can laugh at me all you want,” says Newberg. ” But there’s a reason why this 51-year-old, gray haired fart, who drives a desk for a living a good portion of the year, can go and hunt the mountains: trekking poles.”
Another video: Put a camera on bears in Yellowstone and let them wander — and see what happens when they encounters wolves.

December 28, 2015

Massive 2015 Year-End Link Dump! Something for Everyone!

Chef Jess Noy. See squirrel item.
I too often save a link to blog about it but them am too busy to do so. So here they are! All free!

Aspens in western Oregon could be "refugees" from Ice Age floods.

An article on Outdoor Wire wondered if the movie Wild would give a boost to backpacking or if The Hunger Games would increase the sale of archery gear. Well, did they?

• Not sure how this turned out: a Jewish kind-of-guru and a land-use battle in the Huerfano Valley of southern Colorado.

• What is the best survival knife? I would say that it's the knife you have with you. But, gear heads, read this article.

• When I was in the 6th grade at Kullerstrand Elementary School in Wheat Ridge, Colo., my teacher, Miss Carter, became engaged to the son of a carnation-raising family. She took us on a class trip through the commercial greenhouses — there used to be operations like that all over the area. Then, boom! no more. All the cut flowers came from Colombia, thanks to the War on Drugs ("We will pay them to grow roses instead of coca.") Now, "Colorado farmers, florists seek renaissance for local flower scene."

• Cañon City commercial herb and flower grower Tammy Hartung blogs on "Protecting Wildlife in the Garden & Farm Landscape."

• BoingBoing offers "The Best Adventure Stories for Kids from 1965." Is having adventures retro-cool? Elidar was actually one of Alan Garner's weaker books, I thought.

• Counting roadkill is depressing: "Our Highways' Toll on Wildlife." A game warden in Fremont County, Colo., once told me that he figured a deer or elk was killed every night of the year by a motor vehicle. No doubt some of those drivers think that hunting is cruel.

The English discover that squirrels are tasty. Also, redheads rule.

The Salton Sea was an accident, but birds love it. I finally saw it this past March.

• It's cold this week. Are you at risk for "the frozen five"?

The "locavore movement" boosts deer hunting, in case you did not know.

• What southern Colorado needs is a good "guntry club." But I expect that northern Colorado will get (or has gotten) one sooner, since that is where the money is. Still, I can fantasize.

• Are you feeding the birds this winter? Some thoughts on where to put your feeders. And keep them clean.  And if you want birds, you have to tolerate some insects.

• What happens when a professional wedding photographer goes elk hunting.

Don't make these dumb moves when you go to a gun shop.

• I have heard some of these: "Female Hunters Share Tales of Sexism."

How to shoot down a drone. Hint: they are more like pigeons than geese.

• It kind of amazes me that Bishop's Castle is the must-see tourist attraction in the Wet Mountains. But almost everyone who rents our cabin goes there.

• When I worked at the Cañon City Daily Record, part of my job was visiting the local humane society and photographing the adoptable pet of the week. I learned some these things by trial and error, but I wish that I had had this article to read.

July 05, 2015

Is a Off-the-Shelf Survival Kit the Best Approach?

I saw this "5-Day Survival Backpack" on sale in the grocery store in Westcliffe, and my first thought was that someone would buy and it and figure they were ready for an overnight in the Sange de Cristo range, if you count a Mylar blanket as "warmth."

Not enough water though.

Reconsidering, I thought it more likely to be the sort of kit you toss behind the seat of your truck for emergency use. The maker promotes as an "emergency survival kit" as well. It lists at $79.99 but is available online for $50–70.

Could you make someething better for less than $50?

March 08, 2015

Women Going Feral — And Then Writing

Last fall, during a layover at Sea-Tac airport, I was checking email on my laptop when this young woman walked up and asked if she could share the table (there were too few of them).

She had two books with her — one of them was Cheryl Strayed's Wild, while the other was a novel. "I can't decide which one to read," she said.

"Read Wild," I said. "My wife loved it — I've read parts of it — it's good."

Later, M. and I saw the movie, which was overlooked in the Oscars — too odd for the judges, too many trees? — fairly faithful to the book, but with Extra Hollywood Stereotyping.*

Meanwhile, having read her former blog and her book on the cultural history of falcons, and corresponded a little, I was awaiting Helen Macdonald's memoir H is for Hawk

 I knew she could write. There had been the blog post where she described a goshawk flying through trees: ". . . the gos spooled away through the trees. He looked like a coin falling through water, flashing silver and grey. Some kind of metal. A very fierce one. Potassium, Sodium, Goshawk."

(We hates her, preciousss.)

H is for Hawk picked up a bucket of literary prizes in Britain, and reviewers on this side of the pond have been equally laudatory.  

The New Yorker gave it four pages (!!), reviewer Kathryn Schulz writing, "Books about nature, like the category 'animal,' sometimes suffer from a sin of omission: in both cases, people belong inside them but are often left out. Books about grief run the opposite risk; too much of the person can be left in, too much of the world omitted. Macdonald, who is writing both kinds of book at once, makes neither mistake."

Painted with a very, very broad structuralist brush, both books tell the same story. The writer loses a dear parent (Strayed her mother, Macdonald her father.) Both have been been drifting — both have self-destructive streaks (Strayed's more developed, perhaps) — both struggle with loneliness.

Photograph by Christina McLeish 
Both seek the wild, Strayed in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges, Macdonald, the falconer and academic historian of science, in more domesticated England, in the yellow eyes and murderous flights of Mabel, a newly acquired goshawk.

Strayed, backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail, tells one of the female solo hikers whom she meets, "Honestly? I'm lonelier in my real life than I am out here. I miss my friends, of course, but it's not as if I have anybody waiting for me at home. How about you?"

Macdonald, looking at her life alone in the woods with her goshawk, feels numb: "My heart is salt."

Both must enter the woods and then follow the thread of their stories out — but how far, and for how long? 

* Strayed meets a farmer who is "working," which seems to consist of driving a tractor up and down a dirt road in the desert, no cropland in sight and nothing attached to the tractor.

December 09, 2013

Looking for Cameras in the Snow

That scout camera is near here somewhere.
Hardly anyone climbs this ridge. In fact, until last November 1st, I had not been up it in years, although it is quite close to home.

That day, working my way up through the thick trees and rocks, I found myself looking at cut stumps from spindly north-slope Douglas fir. I had wandered into the edge of the burn, and here, at my feet, was the ragged "scratch line" dug through the rocks by the San Juan Hotshots on July 3, 2011. Theirs were probably the last boots on this part of the mountain.

I remember the day of the fire, hearing their chainsaws whining way up the slope. I was with our department's water tender on the Forest Service road lower down. It was our job to refill our brush truck's tank, emptied as its crew chased hot spots up and down the road — the fire kept wanting to jump over it.

Sure, it would have been more fun to be in the thick of things, but my assignment meant that I could literally run 200 yards home and warn M. if the fire changed direction and headed for our house. That it did not do. A fast initial response with federal hand crews, two or three volunteer departments' engines, and air assets stopped its run, and we slept in our own bed that night.

And the ridge was given back to the deer, the bears, and the foxes. 

Even before the fire, I had been placing a scout camera on a certain game trail low on the ridge, where the bears in particular follow their own parallel way to the road.

Finally late this autumn, I got more ambitious. I put one camera, call it #2, midway up the slope, and on November 1st, I revisited the ridge's crest and placed another, #3,  at what seemed a likely pinch point.

Two days ago, with snow on the ground and temperatures well below freezing, I figured that all the camera batteries were probably dead and that I really ought to get the cameras down off the mountain.

The trail to camera #1 is easy, a walk in the park. I pass it and keep climbing. Where was #2. It's so confusing — the thick woods, the shallow ravines. Which is which? I should have brought my GPS receiver, since I waymarked it back in October.

Now I know that I have climbed above it. I might as well keep going for the crest, look for #2 later.

It's cold, maybe 15° F. I need to pee, so I face downhill, and realize that the tree trunks are all scorched on the uphill side. I have wandered east into the burn.

I move fifty yard west, detour around some fallen trunks, and I think that I am on the right path, more or less. There are deer tracks going up, and I follow them. Will they crest the ridge at the right point? Underfoot are tumbled rocks, a sort of lightly forested talus slope, covered with snow. Maybe the deer know the best way up and over.

Following the deer tracks, I climb to the top — and I am staring right at camera #3. It was well-placed!

I unstrap it from the tree, sling in my shoulder, and start down, following the 2011 fireline (I think). The snow has covered my little marker cairns, most of them.

I am making good progress going down — and not falling! — until I look out through the trees, spot a neighbor's house, and realize that I have now drifted too far west. So it is time to contour to the east until I intersect my upward-bound footprints.

Still no camera #2. I will just have to come back with the GPS receiver and find it. I make my excuses: everything looks different in the snow.

And then I see it. And I see my tracks not six feet from it. I had walked right past it while looking off to the other side. Some woodsman I am!

I sling #2 on my other shoulder, continue on down, sure of the way now, collect #1, and walk down the snow-packed road to home.

Photos to follow. I need to learn that piece of country better.

April 21, 2013

Blog Stew: Cook it for a Merit Badge

"Pimp My Walk" — an article on the glory days of walking canes, with comparison to today's hiking apparatus: "I’ve noticed an inverse correlation between the use of paired aluminum walking sticks and eye contact — they’re often like car drivers who don’t like to make eye contact with pedestrians.

• Being a locavore is fine, the writer says, but, contra Michael Pollan, is it a good idea for government to require locavorism?

Were Boy Scouts of 1911 tougher than today's or merely living in a "just do it" society?
One way to illuminate these changes is by comparing the original BSA handbook, published in 1911, with the modern version – the 12th edition was introduced in 2009. In an incisive book review for the Claremont Institute, Kathleen Arnn conducts this type of side-by-side analysis. She points out that while the modern version contains many of the same skills as the original, “its discussions of these things have been pared down and lack the verve, punch, and adventurous spirit—the manliness—of the original handbook.”
• • •
Modern badge requirements also diverge from the old in their more abstract, mental nature. While the 1911 badge requirements are all direct actions, often of the physical, hands-on variety, the modern badge requirements emphasize more thinking than doing. The hands-on tasks are now tucked into long lists of requirements that ask the scout to thoroughly Review/Describe/Explain/Illustrate/Demonstrate the underlying principles and context of the badge’s subject matter before trying their hand at it.

February 06, 2013

Blog Stew — You Pack It Yourself

• The evolution of the external-frame backpack, starting with Ötzi. Some fascinating archaeological and historical examples.

• I was pleased when I got this "trophy" photo. But this one, on the other hand, is somewhere between "very interesting" and Paleolithic nightmare territory.

• Colorado wineries and farmers stall BLM energy leases in the North Fork Valley. The New West wins again.

January 30, 2013

Fayhee on Destroying Other People's Cairns

Mountain Gazette editor M. John Fayhee on the benefits of going off-route, getting lost, and not marking your path.
Then, one day, I saw some orange peels, eggshells and a candy bar wrapper next to one of the glacial tarns. And I lashed out: I destroyed every single one of those goddamned cairns. I mean to say, I obliterated the motherfuckers. This was no subtle carnage. I made no effort to aesthetically replace the rocks used to construct those cairns to their natural environment. As I kicked those cairns, I cursed the people who had built them.

With regards to Pilgrim Gulch, I was likely too late. I ought to have disassembled the very first cairns I saw. I vowed then and there to never again make such a mistake.

And thus began what to this day remains a love/hate relationship with cairns and all they represent, both literally and figuratively.
Is this where I admit to building an occasional cairn—never more than two or three rocks stacked—the way I learned in Boy Scouts? There is one in the photo, two rocks stacked on a boulder, that used to guide me to Camera Trap Spring before the forest fire made everything visible.

June 03, 2012

Clearing Trails in the Sangres

I mentioned concern in the Wet Mountain Valley that blocked trails in the Sangre de Cristo Range from last winter's windstorm would discourage visitors.

The Forest Service has been working clearing trails, but the job is not yet finished.

M. and I took a walk on the Rainbow Trail in late May between Venable and Hermit creeks.

We could hear chainsaws running further up the slopes, and the Comanche Creek trail was closed completely, as was Alvarado Campground.

On the Rainbow, some blockages had been removed, but there were still a number that looked like this.

At one creek crossing, falling trees had smashed the handrail of the footbridge.

May 22, 2010

Under the Jet Stream

Today's Jet Stream flow, courtesy of Accuweather.com
The purple arrow is pointed right at us,* and the wind is howling. Nevertheless, M. and I hiked to Camera Trap Spring today and placed two scout cameras in different locations, one at the spring and one on a well-traveled game trail.

It's on BLM land but legal public access is topographically challenging. We can cross a neighbor's property, gain 500 feet in elevation, and then descend almost that much, all in 2/3 mile.

Since it's not hunting season, I really do not expect anyone to come by on two feet—that's the plan.


Our other fear is a more primal one, of walking through the forest when the trees are swaying in a high wind, hoping one does not drop on our heads.

*Well, actually it appears to be pointed more at Colorado Springs.

February 01, 2010

From where the sun now stands, I will hike no more forever

A mysterious single hiking boot jammed into a trailhead sign on the San Isabel National Forest, spotted while M. and I were skiing one of our favorite trails today.

How do you lose one boot?

Sadly, it put me in mind of this bit of news about there being  fewer hardcore backpackers and hikers out there.

December 12, 2009

What Every Hiker, Hunter, Etc. Fears

The leader of a gang that broke into cars parked at trailheads in the Denver-Boulder area gets a 20-year prison sentence.

Interesting comments.

But really, who leaves their wallet in their vehicle?