Friday, September 13
I Love This Land
I Love this Land!!!
Mountains of red and buff and caramel,
Gigantic sand dunes frozen in motion
Swirls and stacks, layer upon layer
Built and rebuilt through countless years
Scrambling across and over rocks and boulders
My hearts sings with happiness.
Toeholds and handholds
Up, up, up, down, down, down
Stretching, reaching carefully over sandstone, sand and stone.
Not always the easy way,
But always the fun way.
I love this land,
Really love this land.
When I look out across this land
My heart swells with appreciation, admiration.
Deep in the canyon
Red soft pudding mud
Sculpted by the rivulets of yesterday’s rain
I can’t resist the urge and so I give in
I touch the supple dirt pudding
Bringing it up, covering one cheek, then the other.
I smile, it feels cool
I am in touch with the land
It is in touch with me.
We go on
The creek, turbidity filled
Cloudy, invites us in
I exchange heavy closed hiking boots for
Light, toes free, water able sandals.
Back pack changed to “head pack”
As the water rises above waist level
I laugh, giggle unrestrained with enchantment
Eddies tickle toes, feet, legs.
Carefully placed footsteps slip and slide
on rocks, boulders, sand, gravel mixture bottom.
Julie and Richard forging ahead.
Jan on ledge taking pictures
To forever freeze this moment of sky, water, earth,
Us, the invading humans on paper, in color to forever remember.
Too soon the stream adventure is over.
We climb, horsetails a floor mat on slippery banks
Laid flat from previous hard rains, flash floods.
Mud, squishy between stalks.
Back onto the waves of sandstone,
Looking to me like dinosaur skin,
A gigantic…. no, too small,
Tremendous…. no, too small
Enormous…..no…oh, you know what I mean
A sleeping dinosaur to crawl over, explore.
An afternoon thunderstorm, blue-gray clouds
Thunder rumbles over head, but only
A few sprinkles,
Cloud shadows keep us cool, thankfully
More scrambling, some walking,
Small puddles and ponds stir in the breeze.
Moqui balls, iron from the sandstone, rounded
From countless, countless years of wind, weather and water
Line up in the waves of crevices
By the thousands as if ready for someone
To play their own game of mini-billiards.
Mysterious sights, samples wanted
They would not be here
if others had taken them to lay on shelves to collect dust
Our public lands, preserve conserve for the future
For the legacy.
Down, down, down,
We walk in waist deep lavender miniature daisy cousins,
Golden centers brilliant against the sand colored ground layer.
Others like fairy wings
Pines, sage, bright healthy green grasses.
I love this land.
Friday, September 13
Friday, September 13. 5:30 p.m., still in KOA Campground, Teton Village.
Remember Heckel and Jeckyl, the mischievous cartoon magpies? They were audacious characters, always squabbling and scheming, and they got into everything. Some kind of trouble was always brewing when they were around. I haven’t looked lately, but I don’t think they’re on Saturday morning cartoon shows anymore. I remember seeing them years ago when my kids were small, when the roadrunner always outsmarted Wily Coyote and cats chased mice to the accompaniment of classical music. Cartoon morning was usually a noisy affair, and the fast-talking Heckel and Jeckyl were right in the middle of the action. Now I’m beginning to see how real magpies were inspirations to the creator of the cartoon characters.
Magpies (Pica hudsonia, formerly Pica pica) are residents of our campground. I just counted six of them, checking out some newly arrived campers. They strut around, or hop if in a hurry, looking for insects in the grass or morsels of food that campers have left. Occasionally I see them leaving the large National Geographic canopies-our group cooking, dining, and storage area-just as I arrive. Of course, they project a look of nonchalance, as though they just happened to wander into the canopy by mistake or they were taking a short cut to the creek. One morning, one of the birds was standing on a table under the canopy, the keys to one of the Honda Pilots in his beak. Another time I walked into the canopy and surprised a magpie (and myself) that was looking into the silverware bag. “Hey!” I said. “Drop it!”
“Yek?” the bird replied. “Who, me?” He cocked his head slightly, eyeing me as though I was rude to interrupt his activity. He hopped onto the bench beside the table, then to the ground, and strutted out. “Yek!” he said again. I suspect they work together. While one hops around in the open and struts his stuff, I think the other does surveillance work behind the canopy wall. So far, I’ve not noticed anything significant being carried away, but their actions remind me of the crafty Heckel and Jeckyl each time I see them.
Actually, magpies are attractive birds and are reputed to be pretty smart. They are relatively large (about 20” long), black with white belly and shoulders. The black is an iridescent blue-green on the wings and long tail. When they fly, the white patches on their wings make the wings look like pinwheels. They are members of the corvidae family (crows, jays, ravens) and range from Alaska and western Canada south to California and east to the Great Plains. They have been known to pilfer from humans, particularly bright or shiny objects. I’ve tried to write what I think they say, but “chirp, chirp” appears a bit simplistic when compared to The Sibley Guide to Birds’ description: “…a nasal, rising jeeeek; harsher, lower rek rek rek rek or weg weg weg weg weg; rapid shek shek shek shek, three to five notes. Also higher, long, nasal gway gway or gwaaaaay; rather nasal, hard, querulous ennk.” Really.
Friday, September 13
Field Report, Day 45
Since we were able to finish the backpacking trip a day early we have a true day-off. Teton Village, just south of Teton National Park, has a tram that goes to the top of a 10,450-foot peak. (About a 4,000 feet rise.) Most of the team members took the tram to get the great views of the valley below. The Snake River winds its way through the valley on its way to Idaho and beyond.
I spent the afternoon catching up on my journal and getting them on the web site. I also made phone call and answered e-mails. I was able to call my class and answer about a dozen questions about the trek.
All in all a very peaceful day.
Question: How many west slope cutthroat trout did I catch in the Bob Marshall Wilderness?
Friday, September 13
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is no secret nor is it supposed to be. It is public land, and as public citizens we are free to use it as long as we abide by Monument regulations. But weeks prior to today’s hike we are informed that taking photographs would not be allowed on the hike. We are itching to know why.
Is the land so delicate or fragile that capturing an image of it will break it or take its soul? Is there sensitive information that if revealed would jeopardize its public security?
Joining us today are Larry and Tom, the BLM rangers who guided yesterday’s hike down the Escalante River. We have taken with us our cameras, but before we expose a frame we ask for clarification of what is expected of us.
We are informed that a Deputy Manager of the Monument had indeed given a directive that we do not take photographs. The directive was given in order to protect the natural resources, said our guides. A good photograph(s) published in the right places may attract an onslaught of visitors to the Monument, they said, which could result in areas of the Monument getting loved to death.
But, said our guides, in their opinions we are free to take photographs with the understanding that our photographs will not be sold for commercial use. We trekkers can live with that because our efforts are for education purposes and not personal gain, but I am doubtful of the legalities.
Furthermore, a scenario of deep concern crossed my mind. Had the directive been an inch closer to a mandate, and had a reporter accompanied us, which has occurred on two stages of our Journey, there would be a story hitting the media and it would not have been the American Frontiers visit to the Monument.
Headline: “Grand Staircase Takes Step To Ban Photography”
Nobody will begrudge the Deputy Manager her desire to protect the Monument. The Bureau of Land Management is new to managing Monuments and there will be some mistakes made. But knowing without prejudice that citizens are allowed to photograph public lands is something I wish was built into all land managers.
A third of the way into our hike, we are again at water’s edge. This time we must get our feet wet in Boulder Creek and travel downstream until we come to the confluence of Deer Creek. There we’ll turn upstream and look for a good spot to scramble up the slickrock on the north side, from where we can continue our hike on dry land.
This time Julie joins Cathy in the crocodile-infested Congo jungle. Never to miss a photo op, Julie spies me on a rock with my camera and wades through the rare deep pool ahead of Cathy, white teeth posed between a wide smile. The other hikers walk around the pool. Cathy follows Julie through the deep pool unaware of the alternatives.
On dry land we follow a sandy bench to a slickrock arroyo lined with isolated ponderosa pine stands guarding fresh pools.
Breaking onto the trailhead where our support vehicles await to take us to camp, my camera is loaded with images of this amazing hike. White slickrock canyons and sandstone massifs describe the hike which can be described again with words stolen from team leader Bob Hammond: “routinely spectacular.”
In the case of the Grand Staircase-Escalante, as it has been with so many of the lands we’ve crossed, a picture can say a thousand words but being there to take the photographs sings a million to my soul.
Friday, September 13
Only fifteen days left. Crazy how time flies.
It is Friday the 13th here in Jackson, Wyoming. We have a full camp today, with several VIP (and wonderful) visitors, Rob back from New York, and the rest of the trekkers in a day early. The trekkers completed what was supposed to be a three-day backpack trip in two days, which will tell you a little something about them. Breakfast this morning was rowdier than usual, with fifteen people competing for omelettes and coffee and prime spots to sit and eat. Everyone was discussing the day- would we hike? take the tram up the mountain? go to town? Or how about all of the above? By 10 AM, nine of us were in our Honda Pilots, driving to Teton Village to ride the tram up 4,000 feet to an elevation of 10,400. It was spectacular, and also a little scary. Every time the tram crossed one of it's supports, the whole thing swayed a little, and everyone sort of cooed until it righted itself. But the views were worth it, and there was a topographic map that named each river, wilderness area, peak, and town that stretched out before us. The tram operators were entertaining, if only to me in my constant study of people. There were five or six of them, young twenty-something men with shaggy hair and mountain-man clothes, patiently watching the parade of people tramming up and down their mountain, talking under their breath about where they would ski this winter. One of them, my favorite, was working on a crossword puzzle as he waited for the next tram.
After lots of photos and a little hiking, some of us climbed back on the tram, while the rest of the group started the 7-mile hike down. I had to decline. My knees much prefer to hike up. On the ride down, our operator said, "So, I don't have a little speech for you, and there is no recording or anything, but I've got some great music (the Rolling Stones) and if you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them for you. Otherwise, hang out, enjoy the ride, and thanks for coming." My kind of guide. I occupied myself by scanning the mountain for wildlife and talking with the two little girls riding next to me.
After the tram, Cheryl and I hit the Teton Village Gym for some much-needed weight-lifting, and then went to town for bagels and chocolate. (We deserved it, right?) And now we are back at camp, where Ken Chapman is busily cooking us dinner.
These last few days have been really mellow, almost civilized, and I think I really needed that. Wednesday was a little rough. I guess what I really needed was more to do, more to occupy myself, and since the trek team was gone and we had already scrubbed everything a few days before, there was just too much free time. And, frankly, too much media, too many reminders, too much of what had already been done and said. For me. Finally, I left camp by myself and took a drive around the mountains, privately grieving, quietly remembering, and thinking good thoughts for the next year. That night, I lay in my tent and waited for date on my watch to switch from 9/11 to 9/12. And then I could finally sleep.
I feel like what we need to do is look forward. We need to keep helping those who need it, those who emotionally or financially or in any way are still struggling because of what happened a year ago. But we also need to look forward, be aware, be learned about the choices our leaders are going to make on our behalf. In the same way that we have a voice in what happens to public lands, we have a voice in what happens to the the public world. I intend to use that voice in the year ahead, more than I ever have before.
Friday, September 13
Day 45- Grand Staircase Escalante
Up and ready for Larry Vensel and Pat Zurcher to arrive at Calf Creek Campsite for our big hike today. We pack our lunches and lots of water to drink. We start hiking around 930 am and take a rather leisurely pace for us. We are hiking in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It is absolutely beautiful Canyon with steep canyon walls, rugged cliffs and water running through it. The vista and terrain continually change with the light of the moment. It is hard for me to describe the terrain. I feel visually over stimulated. We hike down some pretty steep canyon walls down to the creeks, which we have to hike through for a bit. That is absolutely fun. I want to hike through them longer. When we climb out of the creek basin the terrain changes. We come across Moqui Balls, which are round like marbles and apparently are filled with iron. An afternoon storm threatens the trekkers. It spits on us a bit and just feels good to me. It helps cool me off. The clouds go on their own way and so do we. We continue to hike and discover more beauty along the way. We come across more ponderosa pine groves on sandstone. And lots of waterfalls. A truly wonderful day.
Friday, September 13
I slept deeply last night despite the river noise and the children playing nearby. The Trekkers headed out at 9:00 for a ten mile hike. The support team drove into Escalante, Utah to the Escalante Interagency Office for the Bureau of Land Management, the Park Service and the Forest Service. I believe this is one of the few places that all three land management agencies work together. We showed the PowerPoint about the trek, then each team member spoke about their experiences along the way. I thought the discussion went very well. Bob asked the land managers what message would they like the public to hear. Jeanne Lynn spoke words that we hear everywhere we go: “Tell people to go to the source for information, and not make decisions based on emotions.” She also requested that people go to the land management agencies for information on access to public lands. Part of our mission is to get people aware of issues so they can make informed decisions concerning our public lands.
When we came back to camp, Jessica, Jake, and I packed sandwiches and hiked three miles to the Calf Creek Lower Falls. We only had a couple of hours, so we moved at a fast pace. The waterfall was beautiful, and a cold pond of water waited to meet my feet. We wolfed down our lunches and headed back to camp. On the way to the falls we passed three different sets of hikers, and passed them again on the way back. I’ve noticed that most western plants have sticky, prickly parts. I have lots of cuts and scratches from acquaintances I’ve made with the local flora. I’m amazed in the change in myself. I don’t think anything about taking a six-mile walk.
We’re excited that the tech trailer is here and Marlene, our new volunteer techie. We haven’t had email access in days. That’s the story for us-we go days without Internet access, a new volunteer comes in for a couple of days, they usually take a full day to figure out the system and work on maps, and maybe we get a half day to load journal writings or check email. It’s helped a lot that Lori is working with the technical crew. Sometimes she drives into a nearby town and loads our journal writings for us. We have four laptops, so in any free time we type and save our stories.
This evening we had bar-b-que ribs, one of my favorite dishes.
Friday, September 13
SEPTEMBER 13, 2002
KOA CAMPGROUND, JACKSON, WY (DAY OFF!)
What a delight to not have to get up, pack up the tent and be off for another leg of the Journey. After a leisurely breakfast all headed in a multitude of directions for an entire day to do as we pleased. Some took the tram up to the peak above Teton Village and hiked down, others just chose to hike, a few stayed at camp to catch up on Journals and laundry and I selected to go in to Jackson for some Christmas shopping. Jackson! What a change from our usual backcountry days with few to no people-encounters. Jackson was crowded and busy with vacationers. While not an enthusiastic shopper I covered an awful lot of the shops and actually bought several Christmas presents in addition to some fun things to take back to my kids. For me, even one present bought in September, is an unheard of accomplishment.
I came back to camp about 4:00 and had time prior to dinner to get some Journal entries in and answer all of my email that had built up over several days. And, after dinner had the fun of long calls to the kids and Sam. From the Journey, dana
Friday, September 13
September 10 - 13
The trekkers are out on an overnight back packing trip through the Gros Venture. Two of our support team members, Bob and Stephen have joined them. Bob Ashley, our education outreach coordinator is out doing a program at a couple of local schools. Rob, the New York City fireman who lost his brother on 9/11 has gone back to NY to attend the memorial services. There are four of us left at camp and it is a little bit lonely without the others. We miss them and it seems as though this could be a little taste of what it will be like when this is over. We’ve been together 24/7 for these past 6 weeks and through so many experiences, it’s no wonder we are having separation anxiety. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rob and his family and so many others during this anniversary. We are out of the media loop of coverage so we don’t get the sensory overload going on outside, but we are reminded because of our friend and teammate. Like everyone else we struggle to comprehend the tragedy, even a year later, much less know how to acknowledge the anniversary. Our EMT Michelle is from New York also and has been a bit uneasy about this coming 9/11. She has asked us to observe a moment of silence and everyone will respect her request. We fly our flag at every camp and say “Taps” (yes, there are words - I didn’t know that before) when we break camp. We all take time to call our families and in our own way acknowledge our emotions.
Michelle, Stephen, Bob and I take a hike in Teton National Park on the Taggart and Bradley Lake trail. It is a moderate uphill 7-mile hike around two of the most beautiful lakes in the park. Emerald-Teal green waters, still and clear. We see deer and bear and a spectacular view of the Grand Tetons. It is a sunny day with no rain in sight. Perfect picture-taking opportunities.
The next day, the trekkers have arrived back in camp. We also have special visitors for the next few days. Program Directors, Lisa Madsen, Ken Chapman, and Debbie Payton, Media Coordinator, are staying with us. They get to visit with the trekkers and support team to get a taste of our life on the trail. We also have another guest, Dave Mensing, our Project Leader, his wife Trisha is visiting. Dave has been with this project since the beginning, the last two and a half years, so, it was nice to have his wife come out and not only show her support for him but for us as well. She has as much ownership in the project as any of us.
We all went for a tram ride at the Jackson Hole ski resort - we had spectacular vistas and clear views of the Tetons and Jackson. We were up over 10,000 feet. There was a trail about 7 miles about 3 hours uphill. Some of us rode the tram up and hiked down.
While we are in the midst of civilization, I joined local gym on a temporary membership. The hiking has been fun but a little variation in workouts is hard to come by outdoors. It also has become time for a little solace - my teammates are great but a little “alone” time is to be savored. It’s cheap enough and I think I’ll get a sports massage - ahhhhhhhhh
Lisa cooked dinner last night; Lemon Chicken, and Ken cooked tonight: smothered pork chops with scalloped potatoes and ice cream for dessert! We had a chance to relax and be treated.
You Are Here
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