Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Took a little trip to the coast.
 Different world down by sea level.

A different climate zone, still lush and just a few leaves turning.

                             Salmon by the dozens headed upstream. 
 Only a few hundred will make it this far inland to Idaho.

And by contrast, here is a video shot today, just out my back door.
        click this                         Who Gives A Dam ?


Friday, October 7, 2011

Sheep Shearing

  I was lucky enough to watch a crew of sheep shearers in action the other day.  Having not a clue, I visited the pens, across  highway 75 from Smiley Creek Lodge, on the headwaters of the Salmon River.
  The crew is mobile, heading out to locations across the Northwest to shear sheep for the ranchers.

 Some shear, some count and brand, and others gather the wool to sort it and bale it for transport.

 And it's dirty,demanding, and , physical work. 

Paid by the sheep, they can make some decent money for a day.
Then home for bit and off to the next job.

   Click on any photo to go to the Flickr gallery of large, better looking photos.

  (The flock of sheep here were supposed to be in The trailing of the sheep festival in Ketchum tomorrow, but it looks like it will be staged by a different flock.)

Monday, August 1, 2011

44 Cabin Heritage Project 2011

PIT Project Challis / Salmon USFS  2011

  The continuation of the 44 cabin in the Pistol Creek drainage, Frank Church Wilderness, Idaho.  July 20th through the 28th, 2011.
Last year the project was to rebuild the roof, this year it was the removal and replacement of the bottom rotten logs.
 Meeting in Stanley, Idaho, we endured hours and miles of endless Idaho stunning scenic back country roads.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 We arrived at Snowshoe Summit,  late Wednesday afternoon.
 Evidence of the Cascade Complex fire  was evident everywhere, but the forest was making a comeback.   
        After an overnight in the mosquito infested meadows, the new day dawned and the packing  began.          
The hikers departed down the trail.
Flowers are abundant this year, shooting stars wishing us a pleasant journey in the morning.
8 miles on the trail, 2000 foot elevation drop. 
Pistol Creek is the main drainage, and all the tributaries are named after guns. Luger, Marlin, 38, and of course, 44.
                            A Fading Scarlet Waxy Cap I do believe

Lots of windfall over the trail, nobody cutting and clearing like the Youth Corps were doing last year.
Large amounts of wolf scat along the trail, pretty old,
but really unusual was a spot  by the trail, dusted off in a perfect circle, with a pile of wolf scat next to it.  ??
No tracks in the dust?    Quite intriguing.

          Massive burn, as far as you can see, but flora is on the                               rebound,  cycle of life.
 After a couple hours the cabin was reached, and the last stream, 44 Creek, was forded
and the project site was reached.
Work started immediately, digging out the foundation, locating and cutting new logs for replacements.

               That was prep for the next day,    measurements and logs picked, sorted.
 In the morning it was up early and back at he project, digging out for jacks, cutting pads for jacks, and of course, major physical effort.

Mornings were chilly, but warmed up fast, the elevation intensifying the sun. Only one day was brutal, otherwise the weather was quite accommodating.

A bit dusty at times, but the day started with a hearty breakfast provided by the Back Country Riders association, Boise Chapter.

The sections cut from the existing log wall showed amazing amounts of stable structure just a fraction of an inch in from the outside of the log.  After 80 years, the logs are still in good condition.
The corners were fitted with the uhralt "V"notch.

From there out it was , jack, dig, cut with hand saws and bucksaws, (no electrical tools in the wilderness, remember), carry logs and finish up notches with a slick and chisel.

With a new foundation under the cabin, our work for this year was finished.      Leave No Trace principals were applied to the camp and surroundings.

Tools packed up, rocks picked up, camp broken down, loaded on the pack animals, and we were out of here for another year.

The crew was 75% volunteer effort, and everybody gave 110 %
And for myself, John Rose, the Regional Archaeologist presented me with a certificate of Appreciation from the USDA for work on Heritage projects. 
  I'm now a Heritage Hero.

I got a cool new travel mug too!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sheep move up the valley.

 The weather went on to hot for a few days, 88f.
 Mornings have been to die for,
before the traffic starts on the highway, it heats up and dries out.
 A little rainstorm this evening, probably undoing most of the knapweed spraying I did today.  Yesterday morning, I was out in the field and saw a dust cloud high on the hill on the East side of the valley.  Sheep had arrived, moving up the valley.

They will head up valley all Summer, foraging and fertilizing.  That's why it's generally not safe to drink the water from any mountain stream. In the Fall the sheep will turn down valley  ending up in the South valley, and loaded on trucks.
 Ketchum used to be the sheep capital of the West. The train shipyard and holding pens were where the new YMCA stands today.
   That's the "Last Chance Ranch", owned by the late Steve Mc Queen.
 The hillsides have been terraced by the CCC, or civilian conservation corps, back in the 1930s.  The terracing was to prevent erosion due to the number of sheep traveling through.

 With the adorable nickname of "mountain maggots", more of Idaho's Summer visitors have arrived. 
  All attended by the shepherds and sheep dogs, 
  some will make it into the Sawtooth Valley, beneath the awesome Sawtooth Range.