Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Whistle Pig

Animal of the Week: Le Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata).

What you should know:

- Hoary refers to the silvery gray fur which decorates their shoulders, not their promiscuous social lives. Although males do keep harems, so I guess it is kind of a double-meaning.

- They eat grasses and seeds and such. They whistle while they work.

- They're uber-lazy, hibernating eight months of the year, sunning on rocks for the other four. Although sometimes the "wrestle with each other for hours." If I was so fat and furry that is what I would do too.

- They are camera whores.

I'm ready for my close-up.

Friday, September 23, 2011

4 days, 46 miles, 17 crossings, 114 rub trees: Scenes from the Nyack Loop

Home is wherever I'm with you

A procession of professionals

Walking the wreath around Stimson

None but shining hours
After the flood, the flow is steady
Strange flowers smell of nothing

Backcountry kingdom
Raised by racoons

Enjoy your worries, you may never have them again


Short steps, long horns

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm Your Huckleberry

Fact! Huckleberries have never been successfully
domesticated. Knowing that you have to get out
 into the wild to gather them makes them all the
more special and delicious.

1. the dark-blue, purple, or black edible berry of any of the various shrubs belonging to the genuses Gaylussacia and Vaccinium. A most tasty delicacy for blue-tongued bears and humans alike.

2. a shrub bearing such fruit.

3. as in "I'm your huckleberry": old-timey smack-talking slang for both "I'm the man for the job" and "I'm the man who is about to hand your ass to you."

4. a rube, bumpkin, or amateur.

5. a blue, bow-tie wearing Southern dawg.

6. a frequently-used excuse for late-summer tardiness while hiking trails in Montana. As in "sorry I'm late, there were huckleberries."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Little Orange Dog

Last week I had the pleasure of hiking with a new field partner, the little orange Monroe T. Scarr, a soft, smelly, and snickering golden retriever extraordinaire. Our stroll up Essex creek on the eastern forest service side of the park turned memorable within the first few hundered meters when we realized the barely-used trail had fallen into a wild disarray of jungle-growth proportions. If your average jungle was largely made up of frosty six-foot-high nettles, thick thimbleberry bushes, and those nasty burr-plants with the greasy black needles.

Still, Monroe is a consumate scientist and stimulating conversationalist, so, slipping, tripping, soaking from morning frost, and explicative hurling aside, it was a banner day.

Here is a random transcript from our walk:

M: Hey, what are you doing? Why are we stopping again?
K: Look, thimbleberries.
M: Yeah, so?
K: They are perfectly ripe and delicious. Here, have one.
M: Meh. I really don't see the appeal.
K: Well, think of how you would walk through a forest if there were little meat baubles dangling over the trail.
M: Hmm. What's a bauble?
K: Alright, a packet--little juicy packets of meat hanging from every branch.
M: That sounds amazing.
K: Yeah, I know. So your meat packets are my thimbleberries.
M: Whatever you say.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering Jake

Jacob RigbyWe had some very sad news in Glacier last week.
Jake Rigby, a neighbor and fellow seasonal science technician fell to his death during a solo, multi-peak, off-trail traverse. The Park had over fifty people out for several days, searching basins and ridges, calling his name. Most of those people are my friends. Most of them knew Jake. It is a heavy, heavy thing.

I didn't really know Jake, but I had seen him around the neighborhood during the summers. By all accounts he was a very good, very kind man--a house teeming with interesting books, an adventurous spirit, a love of strange music, and of big mountains. We are all of us here kindred spirits, bound by a love for this place, by a certain lifestyle. This could have happened to any one of us. I don't know how to think about these things... what to do or say or feel to give or receive any small comfort--beyond to think that his heart must have been filled to bursting with the beauty of the day, and to hope that death is but another wondrous journey. And, more than that, to know that he will be remembered. And that he will be missed.