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.