Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Reality TV 2.0

For those of you tuned in to watch the Decorah, Iowa eagles last year, here's another chance to enjoy them.

Reality TV's got nothing on these two.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Winter is nature's way of saying, 'Up yours."- Robert Byrne, American author and billiard instructor

Monday, December 12, 2011

Give the Gift of Adventure!

Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, White River Nat'l Forest (CO) 2008

It's gift-giving season.

This year, instead of giving something that will be used up or easily forgotten, give a gift that will be anticipated for several months, one that will create memories that will last a lifetime. A gift that will be experienced by engaging all the senses in the natural world. An adventure in a beautiful setting.

Give a Wilderness Volunteers Gift Certificate.

The gift certificate is good for the project of their choice, with 50 to choose from from Minnesota to New Hampshire, West Virginia to Montana, Vermont to Alaska, Hawaii to Arizona. They'll be able to look over the projects, decide which is best for them, and send in their application. Over the next months, they'll get ready for the project by working on being in shape and collecting their gear. When the project starts, they'll meet some great people and work together on a project, share meals and soak up the majesty of America's public lands. They'll return home with pictures and stories to be shared and remembered for a lifetime.

Joseph Campbell, the mythologist and chronicler of how stories bring meaning to life, wrote, "I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” "The Power of Myth", Anchor Press, 1991.

Buy a Wilderness Volunteers Gift Certificate at this link.

Questions? Contact us at info@wildernessvolunteers.org or call (928) 556-0038.

We wish you a wonderful holiday and adventurous New Year!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Breaking News You Can Be Excited About!

Glacier Nat'l Park, MT (2010)

The 2012 Trips are on the Website!

All 51 of them! From Minnesota to New Hampshire, West Virginia to Montana, Vermont to Alaska, Hawaii to Arizona and everywhere in between, there's a trip for anyone and everyone. Check them out today.

Considering taking a trip for the first time, or trying to convince a friend or relative to join you? Check out the 2011 Fall Newsletter for some great volunteer and agency testimonials. Thanks to Nancy, John, Katy, Karen, Peter and Rick for sharing their thoughts and experiences.

And thanks, as always, to all of you for "Giving Something Back."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Sawtooth Wilderness, ID (2007)

With Thanksgiving just a day away, it seems as appropriate a time as any to give thanks to all of the hard-working volunteers for all their important work this past year!

The 2011 projects were responsible for an incredible amount of work. The results are still being tallied, but we've maintained and built over 70 miles of trail, installed nearly 400 waterbars, cleared more than 90 trees from trails, moved over 70 tons of rock, removed 5 miles of fencing and more than 150 fire rings, naturalized more than 100 campsites, planted more than 13,000 plants, and removed thousands of invasive weeds, for a grand total of more than 15,000 hours of work - valued at more than $400K - on public land!

Thanks to all of you for "Giving Something Back" in 2011!

No thanks is complete without an extra special thanks to long-time volunteer, leader, board member, and top chef Gayle Marechal, who is stepping down after nine years on the WV Board and eleven years as a trip leader. Many of you have shared a trail, a pulaski, and, if you're lucky, a backcountry blueberry pancake with Gayle, who has led nearly 30 trips over the last decade.

"The Master at Work"

From Oregon to Montana to Colorado, Texas, Idaho, and beyond, Gayle has shared not only his trail-work skills but also his culinary prowess, leaving all of us well fed and wondering when he'll publish his very own backcountry cookbook. From Turkish rice and vegetarian curry to hash browns and scrambled eggs, Gayle, simply put, has the knack when it comes to cooking in the woods. The average trip requires 17 meals be served, and Gayle has cooked on all but 3 of the 29 trips he's led since 2000. My rough math tells me that's more than 400 group meals served; with an average of 7 (hungry!) participants per trip, that's more than 3,000 mouths fed. And that's not even counting seconds!

So what's Gayle's favorite backcountry meal? Native American Stew with quesadillas. Get the full recipe here.

Gayle - we thank you. For your hard work, your selfless commitment, your wonderful cooking, and your superb leadership and friendship. You'll be missed!

Happy Trails, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's Called a "Murmaration"

And it's awesome! For all you nature lovers, sit back and enjoy one of nature's most extraordinary sights.

The folks at Wired offer some insights - and more questions - about the how, what, and why behind this spectacular display.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Wilderness Reading List

I am a huge fan of The Guardian book review and think this list will interest many of you. Phillip Connor (author of Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout) has listed his top 10 wilderness books.

I've read Gary Snyder, John Fowles and Edward Abbey, but this list introduces me to new authors to explore. I place Annie Dillard, Terry Tempest Williams and Rachel Carson at the top of my natural history/outdoor reading list. But I'm always looking for more...

I would love to hear about your favorite wilderness reading. Please share your favorites in a comment.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Building Bridges...Literally!

Check out the work done by Wilderness Volunteers in the Wind River Mountains, located in Wyoming's Shoshone National Forest.

Nice work!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Spring 2012 Trips Are Up!

Cranberry Wilderness, WV (2011)

From Utah to Oregon to New Hampshire to New Mexico, check 'em out here - all 14 of them!

Summer and fall trips to follow in early December. Stay tuned to the WV homepage and the blog for more details.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Quote of the Day

Cranberry Wilderness, WV (2011)

"Trees give peace to the souls of men." - Nora Waln, best-selling author and journalist

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Solar Decathlon has Begun!

For those of you interested in exploring some of the brightest ideas in clean energy living, check out the 2011 Solar Decathlon taking place this week in Washington, DC. Featuring 19 energy-efficient homes designed and built by teams of university students from across the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Belgium, and China, the solar decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.

Houses are ranked across ten categories (hence, the decathlon) ranging from affordability and energy balance to architecture and engineering. And you don't have to live near the nation's capital to see what it's all about: take a virtual tour of each of the homes here.

The event runs all week through October 2, and photos, video, and live updates are posted on the homepage daily. Here's a quick video describing what it's all about:

Wondering what you can do in your own home? Click here to learn more about creative ways to make your daily life more energy efficient.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Guy Walks into a Bar, Moose Walks into an Apple Tree...

Haven't heard the one about the drunken moose? Well, here it is. Apparently fermenting apples are as irresistible as they are intoxicating. Read on.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Results Are In...

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 3rd Annual Wilderness Volunteers Photo Contest! Here are your winning photos:

1st Place: Peter Hoffman

"Ten Gals and a Geezer"
Escalante Grand Staircase, UT (2009)

2nd Place: WV's very own, Program Manager Dave Pacheco

Glen Canyon Nat'l Recreation Area, UT (2011)

3rd place: Eric Mak (last year's winner)

Maroon Bells, CO (2010)

Congratulations! 1st place wins a WV hooded sweatshirt, 2nd place a WV Klean Kanteen, and 3rd place a WV baseball cap. Please email your mailing address to Mike and we'll get your prize in the mail.

Thanks again to all our participants!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quote of the Day

Courtesy of John Muir and the US Forest Service, Monongahela National Forest. (Thanks!)

Stay tuned for a full report on our adventure in "Wild and Wonderful" West Virginia.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Update on 2010 Hawksbill Nesting Season
guest post by Ashely Northcutt

In March of 2010, I was lucky enough to co-lead a Wilderness Volunteers trip to Halape beach in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We backpacked about 8 miles in over some fantastic lava down to the coast line and spent a week removing invasive vines and trees. These trees/vines have been creeping in further every year and are significantly reducing the available real estate on the beach for the mother turtles to nest (not to mention keeping the tiny babies from reaching the ocean after they hatch).
The Hawaii Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project reports that the last nest of the 2010 season hatched in mid-January 2011. Between April and January, 40 nests from 13 turtles at six different beaches (including Halape!) were documented on the southern coast of Hawaii.

They are estimating that 4000 baby turtles made it to the ocean.

Hooray!!!! :)

I'm proud to have been a part of this fantastic work project and greatful that Wilderness Volunteers made it possible.

Ashely Northcutt

Friday, July 22, 2011

More Apps for Your iPhone

From knots to navigation, birdwatching to bicycling, camping to cameras and more, the iPhone seemingly has it covered when it comes to exploring the great outdoors. And so do the guys over at Adventure Journal. After testing more than 600 outdoor apps, they've come up with the top 107 . For a shorter list of the most useful ones, check out the author's and editor's picks.

And, in other news, here's a pitch for the most important iPhone accessory yet.

Monday, July 18, 2011

WV in WV!

Dolly Sods, Monongahela National Forest, WV

In less than two weeks, Wilderness Volunteers heads to "Wild and Wonderful" West Virginia for our first ever service trip in "The Mountain State." That's right: WV in WV!

We'll spend the week ditchin' and turnpikin' - that's trail slang for cleaning up soggy, washed out trail - in the Cranberry Wilderness, which some have called "the crown jewel" of the 919,000-acre Monongahela National Forest. Home to scenic red spruce, rhododendron groves, and mossy, fern-covered forest floors, the wilderness is a designated black-bear sanctuary and boasts some of the best trout fishing in the east.

We've got a good project, a good hike, good meals, and a good group - all key ingredients for a successful trip. One could say "It's Almost Heaven..."

Stay tuned for a full report in August.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Quote of the Day

Grand Canyon Nat'l Park, AZ (2008)

"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
"- Ralph Waldo EmersonLink

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Two Weeks and Counting...

"Cruisin" - Inyo National Forest, CA (2006)

The 3rd annual Wilderness Volunteers photo contest is winding down with just two weeks left for you to send in your photos of WV'ers working, hiking, hanging out, and "giving something back!"

Submit up to four photos by June 30th and include the name and date of the project, as well as a brief caption describing the photo (humor appreciated :). Email your entries to Mike Leonard.

First place wins a limited edition Wilderness Volunteers hooded sweatshirt, second place a 27 oz. WV Klean Kanteen, and third place a WV baseball cap.

All pictures will be posted to the Wilderness Volunteers Photo Gallery, and winning pictures will be posted on the blog in July. (Check out past winners here and here.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A chance to give something back to the land

Dave Peters is fascinated by volunteering and by his favorite place to visit, southern Utah. Like most participants on Wilderness Volunteers service projects, he spends a lot of time deciding where he's going to go on his next journey and he gets the most out of "giving something back." Unlike most though, Dave has a unique voice and acumen for the written word -- he's a former staff writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and currently writes web content for Minnesota Public Radio.

After recently participating in the Wilderness Volunteers Beef Basin service project in southeastern Utah, Dave wrote some choice commentary for MPR about his adventure, some of which is posted below. Click here to read the entire piece at MPR.

"It wasn't the broiling desert scene I had envisioned when I headed to the Southwest after a long Minnesota winter.... My group was on a break from trail maintenance in a remote place called Beef Basin in southeast Utah, south of Canyonlands National Park. The nearest pavement was 50 miles of high-clearance dirt, sand and rock roads away. In the words of Wilderness Volunteers, the group that had organized us, we were there to "give something back." And we were working at it. Under the guidance of a Bureau of Land Management ranger, we cleared trails, blocked paths cut by cattle and hikers, tore down illegal fire rings (sometimes built with the hand-hewn rock of former ruins), hauled out old beer cans (in itself an interesting archeological study), fixed barbed-wire gates to keep out cows, and more....I find the place fascinating so I go there as often as I can. You can find your own way to give back, all over the country. Wilderness Volunteers, a nonprofit based in Flagstaff, Ariz., runs trips from Mount Rainier to Maine to the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. It's pretty cheap, it gets you into the wilderness and it lets you become part of a constituency of quiet, something the land desperately needs."

Monday, June 06, 2011

First Aid for your iPhone

Okay, first aid on your iPhone...for you!

The Emergency First Aid & Treatment Guide app, which is based on the 2011 American Red Cross guidelines, offers quick instructions on how to deal with a variety of emergencies, including CPR, burns, fractures, bites and stings, and more. Simply click on a specific emergency and the app provides a list of step-by-step instructions on how to deal with the issue. It even offers offline access, which is particularly useful in the backcountry - or anywhere else you can't get internet access.

Here's a quick sample of topics:

1. Emergencies: What to Do
2. Fear and Panic
3. Choking - Adult/Child/Infant
4. CPR - Unresponsive Adult/Child/Infant
5. Defibrillators / AED
6. Bleeding, Bruises, Internal Bleeding
7. Heart Attack / Stroke
8. Asthma Attack
9. Burns – First, Second & Third Degree/Chemical/Electrical
10. Shock – incl. Anaphylactic (Allergies)
11. Fractures & Sprains
12. Splinting
13. Back/Neck/Head/Eye Injuries
14. Poisoning
15. Convulsions/Seizures
16. Diabetic Emergencies
17. Fainting
18. Heat Cramp/Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke
19. Cold Emergencies/Frostbite
20. Bites & Stings - Insects/Bees/Spider/Marine/Snake/Animal
21. Dental Injuries
22. Drowning
23. Emergency Births
24. First Aid Kit - Essential Items
25. USA, Canada & International Emergency Numbers

Hopefully you'll never have to use it, but if you do it may be the best 99 cents you'll ever spend.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Wanted: Your Photos!

There's just under one month left in the 3rd annual Wilderness Volunteers photo contest and we want your photos! That's plenty of time to sift through your albums and send us your best shots of folks working, hiking, hanging out - you name it.

Submit up to four photos from any WV trips you've participated in, and include the name and date of the project, as well as a brief caption describing the photo (humor appreciated :). Email your entries to Mike Leonard.

"Ten Gals and a Geezer" - Escalante Grand Staircase, UT (2009)

Prizes will be awarded for the top three submissions (maximum of one prize per entrant). First place wins a newly-issued WV hooded sweatshirt, second place a 27 oz. WV Klean Kanteen, and third place a WV baseball cap. The contest runs until June 30th.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Great Outdoors Month

June is a special time to celebrate America’s Great Outdoors. Presidential recognition of Great Outdoors Week was begun in 1998 by then-President Clinton and has continued ever since. Since 2004, Presidential proclamation of Great Outdoors Month has come annually, celebrating a variety of important events and actions that occur during the month. Great Outdoors Month highlights the benefits of active fun outdoors and our magnificent shared resources of forests, parks, refuges, and other public lands and waters. Media attention to the proclamation triggers actions by millions of households and prompts public discussion of important issues linked to outdoor recreation, including volunteerism, health, and outdoor ethics.

The Presidential Proclamation

A great way to get outside and dig in is to participate in a Wilderness Volunteers Project. Check out the possibilities at this link.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Quote of the Day

“Camping: nature’s way of promoting the motel industry.” — Dave Barry, Pulitzer-Prize winning author, comedian, and author of Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You’ll Ever Need

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More Reality TV

For those of you who have enjoyed following the Decorah, Iowa eaglets, which were featured on this blog last month and are rapidly growing up, here's another healthy dose of "reality TV" straight from the Big Apple - and with plenty of drama to spare: a pair of red tail hawks (Violet and Bobby) nesting outside the 12th floor of a New York University building have been sitting on three eggs.

Just last week, local wildlife experts announced that the eggs had missed their window to hatch and there would be no baby hawks - known as eyasses - this spring.

Alas, on Friday, just shy of Mother's Day, one of the eggs hatched and a healthy baby hawk was born - much to the experts' surprise. Nature, apparently, does'nt listen to the experts!

The joy has been tempered, however, by news that Violet's right leg is swollen two to three times its normal size. An ill-fitting wildlife band is suspected, and there are growing concerns that she might lose her leg - and her life - if the band is not removed soon. Experts have been discussing possible interventions to capture Violet and remove the band, but are increasingly concerned about the impact that Violet's momentary absence might have on the young eyass and the remaining two eggs. Officials are monitoring the situation carefully and calls for intervention are growing.

Stay tuned to the New York Times Hawk Cam for updates.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance

Wilderness Volunteers recently attended a national conference for a new organization. The National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance (NWSA) was formed to develop a growing network of volunteer-based organizations to provide stewardship for America's enduring resource of wilderness. It is a coming together of public land managers with those groups on the ground with missions to steward existing wilderness, and is importantly not an advocacy group lobbying for new wilderness.

While Wilderness Volunteers has, and will continue to operate independently of other groups, and directly with agency land managers, we occasionally find ourselves partnering with local "friends" groups to identify volunteer needs and to sometimes help with logistics.

We believe that working with the national stewardship alliance will help spread the good word about our program, will allow us to identify more volunteer needs, and will also give us added visibility and face-to-face interaction with higher level managers of the land agencies themselves.

One exciting and interesting result of the first conference was a brainstorming session about potential opportunities for national stewardship in the near future. Being that 2014 represents the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, there might be an effort to celebrate a National Wilderness Stewardship Day, or something similar. Just an idea at this point, but it's the kind of idea made possible when a bunch of wilderness do-gooders get together in the same room!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Calling All Photographers!

"These Things Are Really Heaaaavvvvyyy!" - Denali Nat'l Park, AK (2008)

It's time again for the 3rd annual Wilderness Volunteers Photo Contest!

As was the case in this event's first two years, which, among other things, have featured hard work, extreme hikers, a snowman, great views and "deep thoughts," we're looking for your photos of folks doing whatever you feel demonstrates the best of Wilderness Volunteers.

Submit up to four photos from any WV trips you've participated in, and include the name and date of the project, as well as a brief caption describing the photo. Humor is appreciated :). Email your entries to Mike Leonard.

Prizes will be awarded for the top three submissions (maximum of one prize per entrant): 1st place wins a WV hooded sweatshirt, 2nd place wins a 27 oz. WV Klean Kanteen, and 3rd place wins a WV baseball cap. All pictures will be posted to the Wilderness Volunteers Photo Gallery, and winning pictures will be posted on the blog in July. (Check out past winners here and here.)

The contest runs until June 30th. Click away!

Monday, April 18, 2011

"The Mountain"

Norwegian photographer Terje Sorgjerd spent a week atop Spain's highest mountain in early April taking time-lapsed film that he put together for a stunning piece called, "The Mountain." Enjoy!

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Endangered California Condors

We often see California Condors on the North Kaibab service trips, lazily soaring in thermals or perched on snags in the areas above Kanab Creek. They are huge, very distinctive looking birds with large numbers on their wings (this is a picture of number 33).

I recently learned that the singer Johnny Cash caused a forest fire in 1965 that burned 508 acres including 49 of the 53 condors being raised at a sanctuary in the Los Padres National Forest. Cash, who reportedly said, "I don't care about your damn yellow buzzards" at the time, was sued by the federal government and settled, bragging for years that he was the only person sued for starting a forest fire.

According to this report, there are currently 369 California condors remaining in the world, and in northern Arizona, several are pulled out of the wild every year to undergo chelation therapy for lead poisoning due to eating lead shot used by hunters. There is a program to give free safe ammunition to hunters and to teach them to clean up the entrails and shot left when they hunt in the North Kaibab, which has been somewhat successful although at least two condors died due to lead poisoning in 2010, and three are unaccounted for.

Spend a week on the North Rim with Wilderness Volunteers for an opportunity to see this rare, magnificent condor and marvel at the 9 - 10-ft wingspan as they take flight.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Quote of the Day

North Fork John Day Wilderness, OR (2009)

“If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees.” - Hal Borland, 20th century American writer and journalist

Monday, April 04, 2011

Reality TV

A live webcam trained on a nesting pair of Bald Eagles has been very popular lately. The eagles have been sitting on three eggs, two of which hatched over the past two days.
Video streaming by Ustream
The male and female adults take turns on the nest, and bring food frequently. Who needs fake "reality tv" when you can watch nature?

Monday, March 28, 2011

"I've Always Wanted to Do Something Like This!"

"Can I bring a friend?"..."Do you have any trips out East?"..."Do you go to Alaska?"..."I had no idea something like this even existed."..."How do I sign up?"...Our national parks need more groups like you."..."Can I bring my five year-old?"..."We appreciate the work you're doing"..."Thank you."

Those are just a few of the comments and questions Wilderness Volunteers fielded this weekend at the 2011 Calvary Outdoors Expo, held in Souderton, Pennsylvania just 30 miles north of Philadelphia. We handed out rack cards, showed pictures and video, and shared stories and laughter with a good number of the nearly 10,000 people in attendance. Folks of all ages and backgrounds - even a real-life owner of a chocolate factory who is section hiking the AT - stopped by to learn about WV and express their interest in "Giving Something Back."

Special thanks to Rick and Marge Volpe for organizing the event, as well as Howard Dupee, Joe Maglaty, Ron Eydelloth, and Jen Leonard for enthusiastically representing Wilderness Volunteers.

We'll see you all again next year!

P.S. Interested in doing a Wilderness Volunteers event near you - whether at your local outdoor store, an expo, or anywhere else? Let us know at info@wildernessvolunteers.org.

Monday, March 21, 2011

WV in PA on Saturday March 26th

Saguaro Nat'l Park, AZ (2007)

For the second year in a row, Wilderness Volunteers will be out and about at the 2011 Calvary Outdoors Expo this Saturday March 26th in Souderton, PA - just 30 miles north of Philadelphia. Last year's event attracted nearly 10,000 attendees and an even bigger turnout is expected this year. The event runs from 10am-6pm. Special thanks to WV'ers Marge and Rick Volpe for organizing the WV exhibit.

So if you're in the area, stop by and see us.

P.S. And in case you missed the recap of last year's expo, here's one of the highlights: volunteers Joe Maglaty, Ron Eydelloth, and Howard Dupee - who worked last year's event along with Rick and Marge - shared with me their awe-inspiring vision of a little something they call "the trail zamboni." Read about it here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Take Advantage of the Wilderness Volunteers Online Auction

Looking for a great way to help out Wilderness Volunteers, beyond participating in that special service trip? Wanna get in on some unbelievably dirt cheap deals on new outdoor gear, art, photography, apparel, and trips to fantastic destinations?

The Wilderness Volunteers online auction is just what you're looking for! The countdown is underway, with just a little over six days left as of this post, so get in now and place your bids.

Participating in an online auction is just plain fun; watching items you've bid on, and outbidding others to get that special item you just can't do without...all at prices well below what you'll find at your local retail outlet.

Proceeds from the auction will be used to keep our program strong and in particular, help us field our first intern this summer. Remember, you aren't just bidding on some cool gear/activities, you are supporting Wilderness Volunteers. The Auction will run until next Tuesday, March 15th.

And don't forget to join us on a service project this year; there are still openings on 2011 service projects across the country. Get outside, have an adventure and Give Something Back to our beautiful wild lands.

We wish to extend a very special THANK YOU to our auction donors for their generosity in support of Wilderness Volunteers!