Monday, September 28, 2009

18 elk

If you look closely, you will see 18 elk. I saw 6 at this spot a few days before and thought I would go there again. I parked the truck a long way back and walked in. A cow elk peeked her head over the hill and saw me. As soon as she saw me, they took off. There was one BIG BULL with the herd. He followed behind the herd. It was an awesome sight. They sure are pretty animals, and big too.

I walked down to where they had spent the night and there is water and trees. It looks like they are there at night and leave during the day. A fellow told me he saw 100 elk in this creek basin. He also showed me a picture of a wolf around here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dumb People

I saw a man and a boy on a motorcyle along with a mom and 2 year old on a ATV (4 wheeler) I was on a different road so I waved and thought they are camping and having a nice weekend. I figured I would see them at some camp site.

Two archeologists came into the Ranger Station a couple of hours later and asked me if I saw the people on the 4 wheeler and motorcycles. They talked to them and they have traveled 50 miles without extra gas or even food. They said they were heading back to the road when the archeologists last saw them.

What were they thinking.

(I will admit to having taken my daughter up a logging road and had snow past the bumper. I did not have snow gear for her or chains or even a shovel - that happened one time.) I am not totally innocent on the stupid meter.

I almost had a search crew sent out to find me because I was not at the Ranger Station when 2 people showed up. I was told they might show up but if they didn't, they would stay 40 miles from where I am stationed. At 5:30, I went to check out elk and let the station. I was hiking, reading and listening and looking for elk - saw nothing. I went back to the ranger station at 8 PM and they had called dispatch. A ranger was called and a lot of phone calls made. I drove up a few minutes after the phone calls started. The fellows got to the station at 9 PM. i think they just wanted to have the generator on and I was the only person who could do that so they called. It was no big deal really - just another thing to think about. Next time, I will do a better sign out so people will know that I am just goofing off but OK.

I thought about camping out at the elk site actually. Had I done that, then it would have been a mess. I might camp out there next week but I am told that snow may come next week. If I do, I will sign out saying where I am and how to find me.


I saw this sunrise as I was going to a place to see elk. I saw 18 elk too. There was one bull and 17 cows. I almost was able to sneak up on them but a cow saw me and signalled that I was coming. They left fast. I saw a lot of elk bones and almost walked onto a dead and decaying elk. The walking on the dead elk woke me up real quick.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sage hen Pictures - elk

Elk Season: Elk hunters are out. 2 elk were seen last week but they have left our area. A fellow brought up 3 horses and was elk hunting. This AM, ATV folks were asking where the elk are. They were abundant here 3 weeks ago but not now. They are bugling in a canyon 15 miles away, I am told. (I will head over there one of these days. I am looking forward to seeing some elk.

Here are pictures from the Sage Hen study done last week. By looking at the bird, it is an adult male - the wing being spread determined it is an adult.

We were looking for 3 Sage Grouse and we got 4. 3 were given radio collars and all four were banded.

Log Cabin - 7 miles from me

Last week archeologists said they found a log house. They gave me directions but I could not find it. They came back Monday and took me out to it this AM. It is very well built. A pack rat has taken it over though. On the front porch there is only one pillar holding the porch up. I will try to take a couple of poles in to help the log cabin last through the winter. (There is like 10 feet of snow here in the winter.)

I saw it yesterday from a ridge overlooking the cabin but they took me in today. It is a great find.

Weekly drive/ My next home

It got down to 27 degrees one night. When it is freezing consistantly, I have to winterize Pole and move down to this place, called Mahoney.

I drive here weekly to clean toilets at camp grounds and to check on the place. It is currently being lived in by a crew. I also have rat duty. We are trying to catch a pack rat that is in the rafters. Driving: The rocks are spectacular. There is 18 miles of one lane dirt road to get to Mahoney. It is a total of 55 miles to get from Pole to Mahoney. 8 miles are paved.

I like Pole better than I like Mahoney. Mahoney is in a small town with about 50 residents. It also has a restaurant. I like Pole because it is so remote and I hear the coyotes howling all the time. I also see lots of antelope.

The Sheepherder

I met a basque sheepherder this week, He is from Spain. He lives in the wagon and has two dogs and a horse. He moves to a new location every 5 days. I was asked to make contact because Law Enforcement went there and noticed he did not have no weed/toxins certified hay. Law Enforcement left and asked me to make contact. I did and he said his boss would be back on Tues. I missed the boss on Tues. Law Enforcement is looking up the permitee to tell him to have wee free hay and feed.

He has to have one of the lonliest jobs in the world. He speaks Spanish and is way up in the hills with sheep, 2 dogs and a horse. The horse is not tied up either. To talk to him, he gave me a Spanish/English dictionary. He was a nice fellow about 20 years old or so. I saw him riding on the road above the Ranger Station once.

Home at the Ranger Station

Here is the Ranger Station. It is actually nicer than the place I had in the village in Alaska. No electricity unless I crank on the generator, which I do for 2 to 3 hours per night.
Today two groups left the Station and then I found out another crew is coming tomorrow so I ran to Twin Falls to resupply so I can get back tonight.

The picture in the window is the picture I wake up to in the morning.
The one pictures shows 70 vultures over the trees. Most are gone now. I assume they fly south for the winter. The vultures just started congregating here last year I am told.

Friday, September 18, 2009

70 Vultures & 4 ducks

There were about 70 vultures just outside the compound waiting for me to die. The previous folks said last year was the first time they had the vultures congregate. They stayed for two days and then took off - south?

The ducks are on a pond about 2/3 of a mile from the compound. I had just repaired the barbed wire fence across the street from them. The ducks are new additons - the previous folks said they rarely saw ducks. These look like young guys.

A fellow said he heard an elk bugle but I did not hear it - I will be listening though.
There are 30 antelope just off the ranger station. I was just told that by the survey crew who saw them. Now I know where to look.

I turn on the generator for 2 to 3 hours a night depending on how long the crews need power to charge batteries, etc. It goes from a regular house type situation to TOTAL DARKNESS as soon as I turn off the generator. The skies are so clear and the stars are amazing after the generator is out.

My Life - 50 miles from people

PEE: I am so remote, I can see a car/truck coming when it is 5 miles away. That means, I can stop the truck and pee whenever and wherever the feeling hits. I see more antelope and deer on the 50 miles to and from 'home' then I see people.

Monday: Twin Falls for supplies: When I got back to camp, a truck with a trailer was set up inside the compound. (I had locked the gate into the compound so someone had the key.) They were in a bunkhouse which was also locked and I went to find out what was up. They were surveyors going to survey Robertson Hole. (Infamous place - you get in but good luck getting out.) They ATV's in and would leave Friday. **They left Thursday because they got beat up so bad getting in and out of The Hole. (I want to hike in to see just how bad this place is.)

Tuesday: I fenced - patching up broken barbed wire and then did my rounds of checking out camp grounds. I get back and there is a big camper set up on the compound. I went to find out who they were and they are a road crew. We had a 70,000 acre fire here last year and they are to work on the roads. They ask me to set up the water so I got to work but got skunked. I call the old caretaker twice before we were able to figure out how to get it going. That was 2 hours. As I am working on that the Archeologist shows up anbd I need to get the two women set up in the bunk house. The archeologists get set up and take off to do their job. I finished getting the water hooked up and working. (That particular pipe had not been on for 6 years or more so it had lots of rust and crap in it.) Tbe water is tested monthly by the way. I had gone to the campgrounds 40 miles away and met some rock hounds who invited me to their 50,000 acre ranch that overlooks the Grand Canyon. (I will make it after this experience - I hope. More later about this,)

Wednesday: I have to fill up the Archeologist with gas and they take off to explore.
By the way, all of the people tell me where the animals are as well as interesting sights for me to check out. I have to stick around the compound during the day but I get to sneak away for an hour or two at the end of the day or in the AM. Got some fencing done.
CATCHING SAGE GROUSE: The bird wild life biologists show up in the afternoon and they prepare to catch and tag Sage Grouse. I ask if I can go and they say yes. ( The sage grouse is decreasing in numbers because we have much less sage now than ever before. With farmers putting in crops and housing developments mowing down sage, there is less habitat. WE HAD THE BIG FIRE LAST YEAR: The biologists want to know about the number of grouse as well as wintering habits. How have they been impacted by the fire? - curious minds want to know.)

I joined them late because I had to run the generator for 2 hours to charge the surveyors batteries for the next day. When I finally got out, I found 1 group and they had just caught a Sage Hen. They needed 2 more and they needed one more person to help - that was what I wanted to hear. I spent from 10:00 PM until 3 AM, driving around on dusty, bumpy road looking for sage hens. We would to a place walk around with a huge spot light, with 2 people with nets and a cassette with chain saw noise.
At 1 AM - we found a sage hen and I helped to catch him and band him - interesting stuff. The weather was great 45 degrees, stars everywhere - beautiful. We went and found the other grousers and they had not caught any. They saw some but the high sage made them difficult to catch.

I saw a couple of deer and the other group saw deer and a couple of elk. The other group even heard an elk bugle. (Dang, I wish that was me. It is an awesome (and scary) sound.)

Both groups then got together and went to various places to find the last sage hen.
No luck until 2:30 AM. The other group got 2 sage hens, a male and a female. The put a radio collar on the female and banded both of them. By the way, a radioed sage hen went from Northern Nevada to Canada a couple of years ago.

Thursday: Archeologists have a flat tire in the AM. I change a tire and fill them up with gas. They have 2 spares to they go out for the day. They have a Jeep Cherokee which is kind of a light duty vehicle for this country. I am driving a big Ford F250 with enormous tires and it is dragging ground in places. I have had to go low 4 Wheel Drive in a couple of places.

Everyone was off the compound, I went to fence but piled brush and chopped wood instead. I got tired and took a nap to awaken to someone kncoking on the door. It was the archeologists. They were driving on the roads and got another leak in a tire. We fixed their time, we called dispatch and they were told to get back to Wells to get new tires. They load up and leave.

The road crew pulls in and they had 2 flat tires so they had been in Wells but could not get 4 tires for the truck. They get a pickup and came back to the compound. I had to fill them up with diesel. They need 4 tires on the road truck and they only had 2 tires in Wells.

I spent the night, loaded up and left for Twin, where I am writing this. It is 85 degrees outside. I have to wash clothes and get a tire puncture kit.

That is my week in a nutshell. I have to get back this evening to start the generator and greet campers/hunters that come up on the weekend.

Horse Story - True

A friend of mine had to pack in some fish biologists into a wilderness area. She took 4 horses with packs loaded with equipment and supplies. On the 8 mile run, it started to snow and then one horse fell to the ground and was foaming at the moutn. He started flopping around - it was scary. She took the pack off the horse. The horse would not eat or drink. This had not happened before. They made camp on the trail and she spent the night lying next to the horse hoping to get him to eat or drink. The horse tossed and turned all night but finally ate and drank. The next day, they went back down. They will have to try to pack up again with another horse.

The horse was taken to the vet and I have not heard the result. I think no news means that he is recovering. the sick horse was always the most dependable and had a mellow personality.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Alone but not lonely - Pole Creek, NV

I am in charge of Pole Creek Ranger Station until the freezes for me out. We don't want pipes to burst so it is closed up for the winter. I got their by traveling over 50 miles or so of dirt road - beautiful! I saw 3 vehicles along the route and got lost once. The sign had burned up so I went the wrong way. There was a 70,000 acre burn last fall. The views were unbelievable.

This morning, Tom and Judy left for the year, so it is just me at the compound. Tomorrow archeologists show up and Wed there is a wildlife biologist, so I had to go to Twin Falls, ID today to get supplies. I am in Twin and even got a hair cut while here. I have been bike riding daily - what a way to exercise.

I got up at 1 AM this past morning and went outside to a clear sky full of stars. It was 50 degrees out and the coyotes were howling. It was like a dream. There were no lights around the compound - just moon lit mountains. I went for a little hike and almost went for a bike ride but Tom and Judy were still there so I figured they would think I am crazy. I went back and went back to sleep.

It was sad to see Tom and Judy go. Pole Creek RS is beautiful because of them. They have spent 1/2 year for 6 years fixing it up. It looks as it did in 1930. I will get pictures up in time. They have medical appointments and my hope is that they can return and take care of the place next summer. Pole Creek is a tribute to these two wonderful people. I feel funny in closing out the year for them. They were sad to leave.

I have a friendly doe mule deer hanging around. People have told me they saw elk but I have not seen them. I saw about 100 buzzards on the trees overlooking the compound - maybe they think I am dieing. I got a picture but it is not downloaded onto the computer yet.

I will be off the computer until Thursday, Friday or Monday, depending on when I can get back to Twin falls, ID. I dropped off a chain saw and have to come back to pick it up all tuned up.

I feel like I am on top of the world. 8300 feet in altitude. I see over many mountains and valleys and it is just me - alone, most of the time. The alone part is kind of weird because as a teacher, I am/was constantly around people. This isolation is a new experience. Overall, I am pinching myself that I am off doing this adventure.

One last thing, my Chevy truck is perfect for these back roads. Traveling to Pole, I was on roads where 35 was fast. Much of the trip was at 5 to 10 MPH because of washouts, narrow roads and super big hills. The scenery was amazing though. I now have a Ford Truck to drive around and it sure rides stiff. I can let my pickup take a break and the Chev is a much smoother ride.

Hot Springs: 7 miles down a ravine, which you cannot even 4 wheel drive to, there is a hot springs with a tub. My plan is to hike down to it and fill it up and take a bath in the tub. There are also some great hikes into the wilderness area which is 1 mile away. I also have fence mending, painting, weed whacking and then shut down of Pole Creek. I then move to another location which is at a lower elevation and stay there to eventually close it up. Then I will look for a real job - until June 2010.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Outhouse Tree, my arch enemy - down

I spent two days last week at Ruby Guard Station and put up barbed wire and intended to knock down a dead tree about to fall on the outhouse. Fencing went OK but the tree dropped on another tree and just hung there, like before. I went back today to finish the job and tighten the barbed wire. The fencing went well because I had a great stretcher - easy. Then I sawed on the tree. Stupid thing did not want to fall.
I used a ladder and used a buck saw but it would not fall. I finally took a sledge hammer up and started beating on the arm - IT FELL!!!! It did not blast through the outhouse either. Success!
Bye Ruby Guard! I head off to Pole Creek tomorrow for two weeks to a month.

I had been told I could stay at Ruby Guard but then Pole Creek came up so a change of plans. There is running water at Pole too and a generator too.


I bike ride in the morning or the evening and this is what I see. It is too hot to ride during the day here in Wells. It is usually 80 or higher, so I hit the mornings.

At the remote sites, it is cooler because I am at 8000 feet. At remote sites, since the air is thinner, it is more work to run or ride. The first time I rode the bike at Pole Creek, I thought I was sick. I just did not have the energy. Then it was explained to me that I was at 8000 feet and the air is thinner. It made me feel better. The problem with biking remote is there has been no rain and the road is dusty with lots of loose rock. I fell twice on my last ride because of the loose rock.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Remote Ranger Station - just me and isolation

This is pretty weird. 2 days from now, I will travel to a remote ranger station and take it over. I will take care 7 historical buildings and mountain bike and hike.

I will also help any hunters or campers that happen by. Last weekend, there were about 5 people that dropped by the compound. I might also have some Forest Service Employees drop by to work. They can even spend the night in the bunk house. I sleep in either the Ranger House or the Office house or camp. I have been there 5 nights this summer and have always tented. It is now getting colder, so I will probably stay in a house. I do hope to get up in the middle of the night to see the stars because it is such a wide open sky. We have few clouds so there are an amazing amount of stars. I was shown a path last weekend that goes right through an Aspen Grove. The changing of seasons should be spectacular with the leaves changing colors.

I am quite thrilled at the opportunity but it is really weird. Even when I was in the Yupik Village at 20 below zero, I was at school and had people around most of the time.

I will decide what I work on each day and decide if and when I take a hike or bike ride. I am at 8000 feet so exercise is more work than normal. It is also very dry and I find the roads are slippery for a mountain bike. I fell on the bike 2 times last weekend. The tire got stuck in loose rock and I lost control and fell - ouch.

I will have no internet so I will only post once or twice a week. It will be whenever I get to Twin Falls, Idaho (grocery store) Jackpot, NV or Wells, NV when I can get on the internet. I am hoping I can get internet in Jackpot - that is the closest place.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

10 Tons of Hay! Buck Away! Ruby Station

I was splitting the wood we pulled out of the mountain today. I then get a call saying help is needed to unload hay for the horses. I went over, new hay was there so I figured the job was done. I get another call saying, we need help with the hay. I go over and no one is there. Then the pickup and trailer are coming around the corner - full. We unloaded that trailer. I went to the ranch to load the trailer up again and unload it. Then we went to the ranch and loaded it up again. The last trailer is still sitting by the barn - unload tomorrow. I was supposed to go to the Ruby Station to do some work but that will be on hold now.

There were 8 or so people helping to unload the trailer so we had help. In unloading the trailer fast, we put some hay on the ground, which we later had to put onto pallets. Lesson learned - put pallets down first.

We had 80 degrees today so it was a bit warm for bucking hay which weighed 85 pounds. I survived though.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My new home for a month or so

This is Pole Creek, NV and I will be living here starting 9/20/09. I have been here 3 times, 2 for firewood. This weekend, the two people, (now friends) told me they needed to leave 9/21/09 and they asked me to finish out their stay. This Ranger Station is open until the snow and freeze happens. It usually closes in Sept or Oct. I was told how to winterize the place and what it means to close it down. I will be there to help firewood folks, hunters and just those who get lost. I have a list of chores which I can do but I must also take time to enjoy the country.

The couple who are leaving have been at Pole Creek for 5 or 6 months yearly for 4 years. They may not be able to return next year. They asked me to take it over if they could not come back. (Medical Issues) I am trying to work out a deal where they return, I could take the remote station 45 miles away and they could call me to help with work they cannot do.

I will be here in a week and stay for at least a month. The views are spectacular! It is 70 miles off a highway. 15 miles of that 70 is on a dirt road. I see wilderness areas in Nevada and Idaho. The house is at 8000 feet so when I travel, on bike or in truck, I see mountain tops - spectacular. There is no internet and just emergency phone service. I have a diesel generator which I can start up to have electricity for the whole village. There are about 7 buildings.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ruby Guard Station - coyotes

I spent two nights in a remote Guard Station this past week. It happens to be a historical site but it has not been lived in much for the past few years. Every now and again, someone stays there to do work on it, which is what I was doing. I mowed a lot of hay sized grass, fixed barb wire fences to keep cattle out. There were a lot of cow chips on the property and the fence was down in 4 or 5 places. I need to do more fence work when I return next week.

The house itself was hot because we had 85 degree days so I slept outside in the bed of my pickup truck. The first night was a full moon and it was hard to sleep. I finally got to sleep to be awakened by coyotes. I realized that coyotes are communicating. One would howl and then another would howl. Each one had a very distinct howl, growl, groan and bark. The sounds they made were fascinating.

The sky was clear which made it spectacular with the full moon. I even saw a shooting start that looked like it landed in the Ruby Mountains. The night was warm until about 4 in the morning and I started to get cold.

I went for a midnight hike, without much flashlight because I could not sleep too well.
I was thinking of my choices. Should I stay in Wells, NV and work on remote sites or go back to Portland and sub or should I seriously look for another teaching job. I thought of the uniqueness of the Alaskan Villages. Maybe I should go freeze again in a village. I decided to check out jobs - It is so very weird for me not to be teaching at this time of year. If I get offered a contract, I will probably take it.
I do plan of a wilderness station next summer though. I fell asleep after my walk and concert by the coyotes.

I worked my butt off the next day. That monster mower did the job but I had to jump it with my truck every time and I had to muscle it to turn, which was often. It gets me into shape. Ruby Guard Station is great! I am so very lucky to have gotten this opportunity.

The second night, I slept outside but zipped up the sleeping bag and even put on more clothes so I would not get cold. The coyotes were back but seemed to be right near the guard station. One howled near the house and it woke me up. Another loud howl came from up around the mountain. The chattering back and forth of the animals was so very fascinating. It quieted and I fell asleep.

The second night was cloudy but the full moon lit up the land. I woke up when I started getting wet - rain. I looked up at the sky and saw a dark cloud. The other clouds were lighter. I figured it was just a singular cloud burst and fell back asleep. When I awoke, I was not soaked so I made the right call.