Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Unusual Suspects

Before Phil and I moved to Flagstaff we heard that there were places in the state that have ferns on the forest floor. My first thought was 'I gotta see it to believe it.' And, well, sure enough, I've seen it now with my very own eyes.
Here are a few photos that I collected while working for ACE at the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. We are currently working with the USFS to help preserve some of the last bits of prime Mexican Spotted Owl habitat.
After the 2011 Wallow fire, some 550,000 ares of forest were burnt. Its our goal to protect select fir and spruce trees from the bark beetles that will fly sometime in late June/early July.
For a little more information, basically the male beetle releases a pheromone that says to other beetles "NO VACANCY!" Then those other beetles keep flying to find trees that are vacant and thus great hosts for their little baby beetles.
Now back in the 70's they created a synthetic version of the pheromone called MCH (methloy..cerlo, helium blah blah blah?). And it's our duty to hang those little MCH capsules on trees, basically. It sounds easy enough, but I promise it's a little more complex then that.
So in between trees, we walk 40 paces before hanging another cap, I have stumbled upon lots of beautiful wildflowers, some wildlife and well, in short, a few unusual suspects. Here they are.
Not something you would think to find in a desert, right?
And the best find of the WHOLE trip....... A couple ivory elk teeth, oooooooweeeee!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Crushing the Grand Canyon

Hi, Hello, How'cha Do? Wow, its been a long time since I've written anything. Thankfully my Maze Overlook post, Wanna Get Tatoos post, and the scandalous photo of Amy, are enough to bring about 4 people to my blog a day. Proving I still have a presence in the Blogosphere. Yay!
Mormon Flats

Anyway, what a crazy, crazy past few weeks! Four weeks ago I was getting sneezed in the face by 4 year olds at the Montessori Preschool of Flagstaff. 3 weeks ago, I was climbing in Colorado. 2 weeks ago I was back in Huntington Beach. Last week I was in the Grand Canyon. Yesterday I was falling ponderosa pines at Fort Tuthill. Today I'm playing catch-up and tomorrow I'm leaving for the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. Phew!

What's that saying, no rest for the awesome? Yeah, that's it. I'm tired. But awesome. So everything is pretty ok.

Still managing to find time to blow bubbles with Phil, you know, the important stuff.

Crushing the Grand Canyon, Huh? I love this title. You know, most blogs start with a good title. Like a paper, book, article... whatever, once you have a title, everything seems to fall in place around it. And this one is exceptionally good because it makes complete sense, and no sense at all.

Now that I'm working for the American Conservation Experience, ACE, great name, I get to do a variety of jobs. My first one being trail work at the Grand Canyon.
Now, being a climber of course my ears perked up when our crew leader Sabine said "We will be crushing all day today, tomorrow and the next day."

Crushing??????! HUH!? I went from standing at our morning safety circle to traveling back in time 3 weeks back at Shelf Road. Crushing limestone, ahhhh sweet sweet-ness.

Here is a photo from that lovely week in Heaven: Dead Tree Crack 10c

And a Shelf classic, Dihedrus 10b

But as you can guess, Sabine was thinking nothing of rock climbing in the Grand Canyon... ALTHOUGH I was informed that there IS climbing in the Canyon, if you were wondering.

Sabine's "crushing" the canyon was something a little different.

Our morning hike down the South Kaibab Trail, I guess it's something like, 95% of the visitors that go below the canyons rim use this trail.
So, the best way I can describe crushing to you is this: take a big rock, one that doesn't appear to be able to be broken in to many smaller rock, and the proceed to mindlessly hit it with a small sledgehammer until it DOES in fact break into smaller bits and pieces.

I say "mindlessly" because you can imagine how quickly you could get side tracked and begin wondering about ANYTHING but the task at hand. Hum, I wonder how any miles we hiked today? Did I remember to pack my toenail clipper? I wonder if anyone opened the Oreos yet?

BUT it must be said, when you focus on crushing a rock, if you were into Taekwondo, a KEY-OPP! if you will, you would be amazed at the power of intention and focus of energy. Here is a photo of a volunteer demonstrating how to crush

This is the pile of presumably "uncrushable" crush that managed to dwindle its way down
This isn't the final product, but you can see whats happening here, the crush is a great resource that promotes better water drainage off the trail. Especially in this specific location at Mormon flats, with all the human traffic and mules combined, it make for one big mud puddle.

The crush will eventually be reinforced with logs every 10 or so feet and covered completely with dirt, making a nice gradual down slope. Fun stuff.
So I didn't get to "crush" the Grand Canyon as I would have defined it, but we made a small dent in the efforts of the South Kiabab trail and hey most importantly, yay! I'm inspired to blog again! I'm gunna make you a star!