Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Leader Training Trip on the Wild and Scenic Salmon River

Wilderness Volunteers has returned from their annual Leader Training Trip to train a gaggle of new volunteer leaders. This year the project was located on the Wild and Scenic Salmon River in Idaho. The project ended up being a total adventure - perfect for WV leaders in training!

The Story

The original plan for our project was to backpack in to Horse Creek campground along the Salmon River to preform trail maintenance on the regional trails. We began our excursion towards our basecamp only to find after 3 miles of backpacking that the river had taken over expansive sections of the trail! The crew and pack string were forced to turn around and head back to the trailhead. After setting up camp at the trailhead for the night, the group huddled under blue tarps to stay out of a major rainstorm.

The following morning the crew started from the trailhead and worked out reconstructing a upslope rock retaining wall. The hope was that the water level would drop over the course of the day. To the crews' surprise the water level continued to rise, due to warming weather resulting in increased snow melt. The entire group was evacuated to a location up river as the increasing water level threatened to flood the road.
After driving to safety, the group of leaders in training set up a base camp for the third time in three days (outstanding training, if you ask us). For three of the next four day they worked to reconstruct the disintegrating China Gulch trail bordering the roaring Salmon River. They re-tread the trail, trundled large boulders obstructing the path, crosscut down logs and removed overgrown brush from the trail corridor. 
The week of work ended up being a major success, completing approximately two miles of involved trail maintenance! 

Time for Relaxation

The exciting start to the project resulted in the volunteers being thoroughly ready for some R n' R. On the off day, the crew explored Panther Hot Springs, not far from the weeks work location. Comparable to a miniature Yellowstone, Panther Hot Springs spout 199 degree waters which cascade over a rock face, building up mounds of reprecipitated rock! This results in unique and captivating rock formations. As the scalding water flows downhill, it meets up with a small creek which mixes and cools the water to a perfect soaking temperature in cascading pools. Not a bad way to kick back after the challenging work project!

 Leader Training

Aside from the work project, much of the week was dedicated to training the volunteers to become new leaders. Components of the training included Leave No Trace training, back country menu planning, cross cut training, first aid basics, project preparation, and much more!

Keep an eye out for projects with this new group of outstanding leaders! Many will begin leading in the 2018 season. Thank you for your hard work, new leaders!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Coming this August: A Total Solar Eclipse Travels the US

This August 21st a large number of Americans are in for a treat. A total solar eclipse will occur as the moon's shadow travels across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. 

"Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA/GSFC Emeritus"

WHAT IS A SOLAR ECLIPSE?A solar eclipse happens when the moon travels between the Earth and the Sun. The Moon partially or completely covers the Sun casting its shadow on the earth. In areas where the shadow falls and a partial eclipse is visible the shadow is called a prenumbra. In the area where the moon entirely covers the sun and a total eclipse is visible this shadow is called the umbra. A total solar eclipse is visible from somewhere on earth about every year and a half. The last time a total solar eclipse traveled across the US was way back in 1918.

NASA visualization of a solar eclipse
Remember that the Sun is a giant ball of hot plasma that emits infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light. Looking at it even for only a second can sunburn your eye and cause permanent damage. 

Never look directly at the Sun (even when it is in total eclipse) without appropriate protective eye-wear. 

Doing so can cause both short term and long term damage to your eyes and your vision. Use welding goggles, specially designed solar viewing glasses or create a pinhole camera to watch the eclipse safely.

How to make an easy pinhole camera:

NASA images of the moon's shadow moving across earth during a solar eclipse
As luck would have it our Jedediah Smith Wilderness project in Wyoming's beautiful Caribou-Targhee National Forest is in prime solar eclipse viewing territory.  Total eclipse duration estimates for the area are over 2 minutes. Come meet new people and watch a total solar eclipse while giving something back to our nation's public lands.

"Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA/GSFC Emeritus"