Wednesday, January 27, 2010

American Bison

Check out more of Steve Hinch's work at Travels in Bear Country

Undoubtedly, one of the most majestic animals at Yellowstone is the American Bison. Every winter they travel some 200 miles west to avoid the park's deepest snow.  Their migration takes them along the Firehole River, into Madison Valley and various other geothermal areas where the snow is shallow making it easier to search for food.  Unfortunately, this migratory pattern lead bison outside of Yellowstone where they are no longer protected.  This creates a conflict with local ranchers due to the small risk of transmitting brucellosis disease to their cattle.  (Note: Yellowstone's bison are the sole truly free-ranging population.

In the early 1800's, an estimated 65 million bison roamed throughout the continent of North America.  Presently, the herd is about 3,500 strong.  In 1987, Drs. Frank and Deborah Popper, introduced the Buffalo Commons proposal.  This initiative suggests we restore the drier parts of the Great Plains (argued to be unsustainable) to native prairie, by reintroducing the American Bison, which once grazed the shortgrass prairie.  The Poppers envisioned an area of native grassland roughly 10-20 millian acres in size, affecting ten Western U.S. states.

Here are some more groups fighting for the American Bison:

Monday, January 25, 2010


The 2010 census kicks off in Noorvik, AK, in a remote Inupiat Eskimo village.  Here residents have prepared a huge reception of traditional dancing and dining for Census Bureau officials.  The first to be counted is Noorvik's oldest resident, Clifton Jackson, a World War II veteran.

Read more

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Montana gray wolves killed livestock at a rate of one animal per day for 2009, up 50% from 2008 (this does not include wildlife losses, i.e. elk calves).  Inaugural wolf hunts were started in September of last year, 6 months after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took wolves off the federal endangered species list.  It is unknown if the hunts will take place this year, since a pending lawsuit might get the wolves placed back on the list. If the environmentalists lose, the wolf hunting quota will most likely rise (Note: It was 75 for 2009).


Not only are ranchers losing livestock, but Montana's compensation fund is all but dried up.  The ranchers have been paid $139,000 for their losses, leaving about $25,000 left in the fund.

Read more here.

Friday, January 22, 2010


The other night I went to bed to find my wife reading with a clip-on book light.  I instantly yearned to hit the trail.  This reminded me of nights spent reading by headlamp.  Lined up in the lean-to reading the shelter log.  Discussing the trail book with fellow hikers, figuring out how far I should travel the next day.  Stretched out in my sleeping bag, tent lit up like a firefly, reading Kerouac before passing out.

Monday, January 18, 2010


The balsam fir, which is native to my neck of the woods (New England), is an evergreen conifer.  These trees can provide fire burning materials, shelter, as well as food.  But most importantly they are famous for their resin filled blisters.  The balsam fir pitch is clear, runny, and very sticky.  It is commonly used as a salve for burns and various other wounds.  In fact, balsam fir pitch is so sticky it can be used to glue cuts together, which helps accelerate the healing process and keep the area clean from debris.  You can inhale the resin in steam or smoke when you have a headache.  Or simply consume the resin to treat a cold or soothe a sore throat.  The list of medicinal uses goes on and on.

Here's a recipe for balsam fir syrup I plan on trying out:

2 cups (500 ml) water
8 oz (250 g) balsam shoots
1 cup (250 ml) creamy honey
1 tinted glass bottle

In an enamel and stainless-steel covered saucepan, simmer the balsam shoots for 15 minutes. Let stand for 1 hour. Strain. Add the honey and cook at low heat for 15 minutes. Let cool and bottle. Store in the refrigerator. Consume pure or diluted in water, within 3 months, at a rate of 1 T (15 mI) daily, before each meal. Excellent for coughs, and for clearing the lungs and intestines.
Note: When made with sugar, the syrup will keep for 9 months.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

“It is tedious to live; it is tedious to die; it is tedious to crap in deep snow.”

-Old Norwegian Observation

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar are immense.  It has been known to help with:
  • Arthritis
  • Weight loss
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Body metabolism
  • Detoxification
  • Diabetes control
  • Skin Care
  • Hair Care
  • Diarrhea
    Here is a simple drink recipe using ACV:
    • 8 oz. hot water
    • 1 tsp. ACV
    • Honey to taste (roughly 1 tbsp.)
    If made correctly, it should taste almost like hot apple cider.

    May 12 - Snowing, Breeze dn. & 35°

         Visibility was low and the ground was white when I looked out at five. A strong breeze down the lake. I was glad to see it. The chore I had to do today would be much easier because of it.

         Fried Spuds for breakfast along with the usual bacon, egg, and oatmeal.  My hot water, vinegar, and honey which I find the best drink of all.

         Chores out of the way I made ready to write letters. Add to what I and write more. The snow stopped but the wind continued down the lake. First get a fresh kettle of beans to simmering. Make the fire do double duty today. My two birds came for a hand out and were gone for...

    -Excerpt from "More Readings From One Man's Wilderness: The Journals of Richard L. Proenneke, 1974-1980"

    Friday, January 8, 2010


    When walking on ice, use the old BSA rule for ice safety:

    1 inch, keep off.
    2 inches, one may.
    3 inches, small groups.
    4 inches, O.K.

    Some additional safety and rescue tips:

    • For the backcountry hiker who must cross that river with one inch of ice, get down flat on your belly and crawl across the ice. The more distributed your body weight is, the less chance you have of breaking through.
    • Ice on lakes and rivers is completely different. River ice has many more variations in thickness due to current.
    • Beware of ice near mouths of inflowing streams, streams flowing out of lakes, or near springs.
    If you can't read the text on the images, click them to view full-size.


    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    4:14 p.m.

    Ansel Adams was known for keeping unreliable dates for some of his best photographs.  Adams once said, "my unfortunate disregard for the dates of my negatives I have caused considerable dismay among photographic historians."

    An honors physics class from Texas State University-San Marcos, titled "Astronomy in Art, History, and Literature," determined the exact moment (to the minute) Ansel Adams captured the famous "Moon and Half Dome."  December 28, 1960 at 4:14 PM.  Their work was published in the December 1994 Sky & Telescope magazine.  The PDF of this article can be found here

    "Moon and Half Dome"

    There was an "encore" on December 13, 1994 4:05 PM, which the Texas State students predicted.

    This past November, on the 28th at 4:04 PM, there was another "celestial encore" for "Moon and Half Dome" in the sky east of Ahwahnee Meadow, Yosemite National Park.

    Monday, January 4, 2010


    Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area in Burlington, CT is a great area to bring the family. Kate (my lovely wife) and I enjoyed the blinds the most. We were equipped with my binoculars (not a shotgun), so the view was great. We spotted upwards of 30 ducks in a 20 minute span.  Our favorite duck was by far the Hooded Merganser.



    Once spring returns little Angelo (aka 'Lino') will be old enough for a hike at Sessions Woods.  I can't wait to see what his favorite duck will be.