Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tracking Wolverines

 A beautiful sunset on Mt. Helena last Friday

Me and Lauren spent this past weekend snowshoeing in the woods near Lincoln Montana, looking for wolverine tracks with a group called Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. This group has found an interesting niche. Their idea is to find adventurers who regularly spend large amounts of time in the wilderness and match them with scientists who need data from a particular area. The nonprofit has been running for about a year and has done some amazing things.
   This was the second weekend which I had spent with the group. The first was spent tracking Grizzly Bear populations in southwestern Montana in October. Both trips have been great success. Walking around with the founder of the non-profit is always like getting a free ecology lesson.

                                            This weekend we found wolverine tracks!

          For about a year I have been infatuated with the species Gullo gullo. To actually find some prints and know that they actually travel through my backyard is amazing. The goal of this project is to find where the wolverines regularly travel, the information would then be passed on to the managers of the different areas and should affect the way which lands are managed, with wolverines in mind.
       This summer while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, I will be gathering data on Pika for Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. Although me and Pikas have not always gotten along, I think our brief encounters this summer will be easy enough for both of us to deal with. When I was 17, doing trail work in the Sangre De Cristo mountains of Colorado, I had a pika steal a glove of mine. It made a lasting impression, every time I hear one of those loud squeeks, I cringe.
    Adventurers and Scientists for Conservations website is http://www.adventureandscience.org . If you look hard enough on the website, you can find Lauren starring in a film about the Grizzly Tracking Project! I encourage anyone who has an interest in science and recreation to visit the website, they may have a project that gets you excited.
  5 more weeks of work... Counting the days!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

30 days of work left!!!

  The days at work are numbered. About 30, after today. I turned in my resignation a few weeks ago. It wasn't easy to do, KEMA has been very good to me and I could not ask for better coworkers. I had planned on going hiking this Summer, but not the entire Summer. In fact, I was thinking more like 3-4 months, as me and my girlfriend of nearly 2 years were planning on hiking 1600 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, from June-October.
   That all changed around New Years. My good friend and roommate d=rt started talking about hiking the Hayduke Trail this Spring. Haven't heard of it? Your not alone. Its not really a trail, more of a route that these 2 guys down in Moab, Utah created to explore the great American southwest. The route starts in Arches National Park and weaves its way in and out of several National Parks in the area, Canyonlands, Zion, Grand Canyon, Bryce, and several other public lands like the Escalante National Monument. Its a total of close to 800 miles, if you don't get lost or off course. We are thinking more like 900 miles. The route will take us through hundreds of miles of rarely seen canyons and deserts. We will trek through waterless sections of up to 40 miles (one guy had a 75 mile stretch in a really dry year). At one point we have to hitch a ride across the Colorado River! We will also trek through a 160 mile section without resupply (9 days). We are going to try to average 18 miles a day, which will prove extremely challenging in some areas where the guidebook suggests a 1 MPH speed. For more information on the Hayduke Trail, please visit www.hayduketrail.org.
    This is not my first long hike, I started this long distance hiking thing when I was 18 on the Appalachian Trail. After that I was infatuated with it. I hiked half of the Pacific Crest Trail when I was 20, then the whole Continental Divide Trail in 2007. Since then, I've been living in Montana. Really living the dream. I've been hiking a ton, biking, fishing, boating, hunting, backpacking, and learning how to deal with -10 degree daytime temps!
   D=rt is also a long distance hiker. Nearly every year he is out hiking one, if not 2 long trails. He is a strong and fast hiker, most of the time. His good friend Zach will also be accompanying us for the Hayduke Trail. Zach has done some long distance hiking, also has a lot of wilderness experience. He works in Alaska most Summers studying insects.
    It seems the older I get though, the harder it is to leave for a Summer. I don't have family in Montana, so now it requires renting a storage unit and finding a place to store my truck. Luckily I have a couple friends whom I have housesat for who live in the country and will let me park my truck for the Summer. There is also the health insurance and auto insurance and all of that wonderful stuff to deal with as well.
   April 1st we plan to start the hike, leaving from Arches National Park. We are thinking 6 weeks will put us in Zion. There is a 50 mile ultramarathon that the 3 of us would like to run in mid-May just outside of Zion National Park. After that we will rent a car and drive back to Montana.
   I will then most likely be jobless and homeless for about a month, and I could not be more excited! I plan to see a lot of Montana that I have not been able to before. I am going to hike, bike, fish, repeat. I have put in for a permit to float the Smith River, a remote (and popular) river in mid-western Montana. In addition to this, I am hoping to volunteer for the Montana State Park system and work with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
  On June 15th, me and Lauren are going to set off from Kennedy Meadows for a 2000 mile adventure to Canada. This will prove to be a challenge. Yes, the hiking will be tough, there will be blood, sweat... and tears? Being together for 4 months straight is going to be a real challenge. We are up for it though. We spent a week in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana last year hiking over 110 miles. Whats another 1900 miles? I think that with open communication and a good sense of humor, we have a chance.
     I will keep this blog updated, and try to add some pictures from time to time. As much as I HATE to admit it, I will be carrying a Nook, which will allow me to type and send messages when I get to town. Hate to use technology, love what it can do though. We will see how long it lasts... Also going to buy a nicer digital camera to try and take some great pictures of the places that very little eyes get to see.
   Please posts comments of encouragement, sympathy, jealously, or whatever else is on your mind. It is always good to hear from others while hiking. I will also post a list of places which I will be sending packages. If you'd like to send a package, or note, or anything, please do so! Just let me know ahead of time so that I know its there.
   Wow, this has been a long "blog". If you've made it this far, you may be the first. Thank you! Have a wonderful summer, and again, do keep in touch!