Monday, July 26, 2010

A Better Way to Get to Work...

Tired of the same old commute to work each morning? Need to liven up your work week? Take a cue from the 2009 Denali National Park Wilderness Volunteer's work crew.

And for some great music about working in Alaska, check out David Walburn's "Cabin Song," featured on this blog last winter.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer Reading List

Sawtooth Nat'l Forest, ID (2007)

For those of you looking for a good outdoor adventure read, try something off this list:

1) The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind - and Almost Found Myself - on the Pacific Crest Trail by Dan White

2) Indian Creek Chronicles: A Winter Alone in the Bitterroot Wilderness by Pete Fromm

3) Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales

4) Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

5) Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat

6) Undaunted Courage: Lewis and Clark and the American West by Stephen Ambrose

7) River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard

8) Rocket Boys by Homer Hickham

9) Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

10) Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

11) A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

What books do you recommend?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wild Montana Sky

Bob Marshall Wilderness, MT (2005)

Thoreau took to the woods for inspiration, peace of mind, and creative expression. Bill Bryson took a "walk in the woods" and wrote all about it. So did Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, and countless others.

And so do some of our volunteers.

Here's some poetry from one of them, which recounts an experience in Montana's Bob Marshall Wilderness a few years ago.

Montana’s dusk burns slow.
Light climbs the mountain’s pines

On needle tip toes.

Over trees that sip from storms

That help spring chase summer

Across fall’s leafy floor.

Winter has its snow cap on.

Tents pop up

Like grizzly humps.

The propane tanks hiss.

Montana’s nights cool quick.

'His mother took him to her breast...'

The black flies hummed along,

And flitted like ash fleeing

Up towards promises of dawn.

Been inspired? Have something to share? Send it in.

(Bonus points to anyone that can name that tune - the one referenced in the title and the second to last stanza.)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Invasive Species...and Kitchen Corner

Every region of the country has invasive plants that present their own particular problems. When my wife and I moved to a state in the Deep South shortly after we married, we encountered Kudzu for the first time. Kudzu was introduced from Japan into the United States in the nineteenth century and was promoted as a forage crop and an ornamental plant. In the 1930s, farmers in the southeastern United States were encouraged to plant Kudzu to reduce soil erosion. The plant wasn’t considered a pest weed until 1953, and now this invasive swallows up houses if not kept in check. Tumbleweed, the plant so associated with desolate Western landscapes in movies, is an invasive as well, probably having arrived in the United States in seed shipments. Other invasive plants such as Russian Olive and Tamarisk (salt cedar) were purposely introduced to the United States and have become severe problems along many waterways in the western part of the country. In the Northwest, we have English Ivy as well as Scotch Broom to contend with. It is probably not news that no section of the country is free from invasive plants.

Given the pervasiveness of invasives, why even discuss them here? Although most invasives will never be eradicated from environments where they can thrive and crowd out native plants, we can do things to lessen their spread to sensitive areas. Wilderness Volunteers participants join our 50 or so trips each year and come from all over the country to do so. Unwittingly, many of these well-meaning participants may be helping spread invasives or introducing plants from their region of the country into regions where these plants are unknown. The most common way this happens is through seed dispersal, and we humans often become the vehicles for this dispersal.

What can you do as an individual? The simplest thing you can do is check your boots before leaving home for that camping or backpacking trip and make sure the soles are clean. Do the same just prior to leaving your camping/backpacking location to return home. Check your clothing as well. Many seeds can easily attach themselves to clothing or even get into pockets. If you can’t effectively clean your boots and clothing prior to heading home after a trip and have to wait until you get home to do so, there are still ways to prevent seeds from potentially germinating in a new environment. Clean boots and clothing somewhere where the soil and plant matter can be contained; then soak the plant matter in bleach before disposing of it. As volunteers who often enter sensitive wilderness areas, we don’t want to be unsuspecting agents who introduce non-native plants to an area whether it be that wilderness area or our own home territory. Below are some links to sites with more detailed information.

Olive oil
2 cups crushed tomatoes with added puree
4 garlic cloves
3-4 tablespoons fresh or dried rosemary
8 cups vegetable broth (use 4 Knorr Vegetarian Bouillon cubes in water)
4 15-16 oz. cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
12 oz. Fettuccine in one inch pieces
Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in large pan. Add tomatoes, garlic, and rosemary. Simmer 5 minutes. Add broth and garbanzo beans and stir to blend. Bring to boil and add the fettuccine. Simmer until pasta is tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add parmesan separately.