Monday, May 28, 2012

Fairy Slippers

In the subconsciousness of the ancients when mythology was born, when the most lasting constructions of the mind were built, everyone believed that plants and flowers were the 
embodiment of the Gods as they wanted to appear to men.  

--Jean de Bosschere, from La Fleur et son Parfum

I guess some Gods just want to look like a fancy pair of shoes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sleeps With The Fishes

Early this week, in an attempt to both be useful and begin the process of getting back into field shape, I volunteered to schelp a bunch of heavy, awkwardly-shaped gear into the backcountry for the USGS Fish Crew. Once loaded down with net panels, new rubber grundels, about two dozen pairs of gloves, three tents, and various odd-shaped tools, our six-person pack string set out for one inevitable destination: Quartz Lake. If you're looking to get a hold of the fish squeezers during the months of June or October, this North Fork lake and adjacent small, stuffy cabin (sometimes decorated with hanging fish carcasses) is the place you'll find them.

In Bighorn (Ram) Creek, in the Wigwam River drainage of British Columbia, the Threatened bull trout complete their 50-mile cross-border International spawning migration from Lake Koocanusa in the Kootenai River drainage in Montana. Photo courtesy of Joel Sartore/National Geographic Stock with Wade Fredenberg.
Beautiful Bullies
For the last three years the USGS Fisheries project in Glacier National Park has been waging a three-man, one-boat war against the abundant invasive lake trout population of Quartz Lake. You see, lake trout punk on the federally threatened native bull trout by out-competing them on their own turf. The situation is becoming grave, and a lot of the park's west side lakes are beyond saving. Thus, the sort of last stand at Quartz. But it isn't always easy removing one species of fish while steering clear of another... and so the fish crew spends long, long cold and wet hours dropping long, paneled nets into deep water, often  at night--catching, radio-tagging, and tracking any large breeding lake trout they can get their hands on, and humanely whacking the rest. All while being careful to avoid the diva bull trout. During their limited down-time, the guys do the things you'd expect three to four guys might do when isolated in a remote cabin for a month, reeking of mildew, sweat, and fish guts: namely, they hit rocks with sticks, practice throwing knives, play cards, bicker, heckle, laugh, and invent a string of changing (manly, of course) nicknames for each other. To date: Chopper, Bonesaw, Farmcart, Tea Cup, Big Man, Partyboy, Tomahawk, and "The Don" have been in steady rotation.

So you can see, that although I am quite used to being outnumbered by men in this line of work, it did feel like I was stepping behind the veil on this outing. And this was just the pre-game warm-up of dropping off supplies and getting the boat into the water and the engine fixed up. Roll up to the Quartz cabin on a rainy mid-October day and you'll grasp the true dank meaning behind the term "man cave". But anyway, I'm always happy to help out friends with a good cause and start pounding my winter body back into fighting shape. Keep up the good work, guys.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Your Sweetness Is My Weakness

With the new summer field season creeping in on us, I've been thinking about our bear friends again. You know we tramp all over the place collecting the hair they leave behind when they rub on tree trunks, power poles, sign posts, and wooden bridges. You know we do this to get genetic samples to monitor population and distribution and such. But why do they do it? Why do the bears rub? Well, we still aren't totally sure, but here is a little evidence that may bode well for the because it feels awesome camp.

Last year my co-worker Brad put up a remote camera near an old bridge positively fuzzy with bear fur. He collected the gear several weeks later, and we were all pretty impressed by the images it caught. The following video is just one sequence. This one is of an adult male, with a, well, with a kind of bare ass. We also caught a mama and two little cubs rubbing, and a black bear, and some other animals sniffing around.

If I were a technological wizard, I'd find a way to sync up this visual with some sweet, sensual tunes. And when you're talking about a big, sexy bear, in the privacy of this own forest, expressing himself to the object of his love and affection, no one gets it done* like The Barry White (RIP). Dude had a voice. Unfortunately, you'll have to settle for playing this ditty in the background while you watch.

Disclaimer: It's all night-vision up in here. You may feel pretty voyeuristic. The footage is dark and fuzzy. There are glowing eyes. Sometimes it is hard to see exactly what is happening. One thing is for damn sure though--that bear is really, really enjoying himself. If he could talk, I am quite certain his voice would sound exactly like the deep smoove groove of Mr. White.

The man knew what he was he was doing.
Just look at some of the best slow jams from his epic roster:

- I'm Qualified To Satisfy You
- It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me
- Beware
- Passion
- Sho' You Right
- Never, Never Gonna Give You Up
- You're My First, My Last, My Everything
- I'll Do For You Anything You Want Me To
- Love Makin' Music
- Super Lover
- I Wanna Do It Good To Ya
- I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby