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 : The Journals

<< 9-14-2002 Journal Entries: 9-15-2002 9-16-2002>>

•
Team: North
Dana Bell
Sunday, September 15
JACKSON TO SCALER CABIN
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15

JACKSON TO SCALER CABIN, BRIDGER-TETON NF

What a gorgeous drive today along the Greys River all the way up to its source and then beyond up and over Lander Pass. Many of the aspen have changed to yellow and the maples ranged from florescent orange to deep red. We stopped for a picnic lunch along the river and most of the group had a stone-skipping contest. Bob A and Cheryl won hands down! As we approached Scaler Cabin where we were staying for the night I happened to glance down in the willow-filled ravine about 100 feet from the road and there was this big black animal that I just mentally thought must be a cow. Then I looked again - it looked at me - and it registered that it was a very LARGE black bear feeding on a dead calf. I stammered out to Cheryl, who I was riding with in the big silver truck, that there was a bear down by the creek and then grabbed the walkie-talkie radio and told everyone there was a bear. Since all of the others were ahead of us they had to back up. It wasn’t until the bear got fed up with us staring at him and slowly ambled up the hillside that I thought to take a picture of him.

Scaler Cabin is a wonderful old Forest Service log cabin that is now available for rent at $30 per night. The front half of the cabin is a room with two bunk beds and an old wood desk. A back quarter is a kitchen with propane stove, sink and small table. The other back quarter is a small room with one bunk and a bathroom with sink, flushing toilet and small shower. In front of the cabin is a fire ring and sufficient room for several tents.

Mark Booth, District Ranger, John Wytanis, Natural Resource Specialist for the Kemmerer Ranger District joined us for dinner around the fire and discussed their Districts primary management issues. Of course a primary issues particularly at this time of year is hunting. Rifle season on deer, elk and moose opened today and there were hunters and hunting campsites everywhere. Of credit to Mark is that the primary access road for hunters in this particular area was extremely well maintained and signed including mileage markers in from the main highway. Considering the amount of constant traffic we encountered on our drive in the maintenance was critical in providing good access and protecting the adjacent river environment. I had previously met Mark this past spring at the Region Partnership Conference and asked him what he had thought of the conference and if he had gotten any good ideas for his District. He said that he thought the conference was beneficial to him and had several ideas that he wanted to work with over the winter. One of his challenges is that there are no large population areas within or near his District to draw volunteers from. But, that he was in contact with several hunting organizations that he hoped he would be able to work with. Having local populations to draw from or being able to contact and work with publics that utilize an area but do not live near it appears to be a common concern in the rural areas that we have traveled through. And, to me it appears a concern that State and national organizations should address in order to assist local areas with developing partnerships. From the Journey, dana
for Sunday, September 15
North South Both




•
Team: South
Catherine Kiffe
Sunday, September 15
Swirls


Laptop computers do give some sense of freedom and I will tell you how. It is about 2 o’clock on Sunday afternoon Kay, Julie, Richard and I decided we would set off on a short adventure, a creek and box canyon that Julie had found out about yesterday. We went into Escalante to see if Cowboy Blues, the place we had lunch yesterday would be open today. We really enjoyed their hamburgers and they were excited to hear stories of our adventure. Escalante is not a very big town, mostly everything on main street. Cowboy’s was opened so Kay went down the street to see if Bob and Jan were finished with their laundry and would like to join us. Funny, where ever we go there we are! We all enjoyed the lunch, then Kay, Richard, Julie and I set off for Dixie National Forest and Dead Box Canyon and creek only 7 miles away.
It is a lovely babbling creek with a wonderful sandy path around the cool flowing water. Right now Kay is reading a book, Julie is peacefully dreaming on a sunny rock and Richard has gone off to find adventure. I was drawing for a while then I thought I would stop and make use of modern technology and write to you. I am sitting in the shade of a cottonwood tree in a sandy spot not far from a short waterfall and water frolicking around the various size and shaped rocks. Around me are wildflowers of yellow, purple and white. Pine, pinion and cottonwood provide shade and fragrance in the air. The sky is clear blue and the sunlight is warm and vibrant. It is a very good place to be.
Just now a tiny blue-green iridescent hummingbird has stopped by for a visit. As I type his whirlwind wings hold him hovering at the throat of the red flowers about 3 feet away from me. He Just halted on a branch about two feet from me, looked me over and buzzed away. Don’t you just know how I love it!

for Sunday, September 15
North South Both




•
Team: South
Bob Hammond
Sunday, September 15
THE DAY OFF or “VACATION?”

I can remember when I was a boy my folks would pack up my brother and I and head off for a “vacation” normally on public lands somewhere in the west. Often I heard my Mother say, “When is it my vacation?” I never could figure out just what she meant until today. I have the job of leading the Southern Team and making sure everything goes as planned, all the vehicles and equipment get to the right spots, everyone is fed, the trekkers have the maps and GPS information they need and a thousand other details, including paying the bills and doing the reports to our sponsoring organizations. This sort of makes me a combination of Mom, Dad, a priest and a Marine Gunny. Yesterday and today we have had a slack period because we managed to do what was originally scheduled as a 3 day back packing trip in one day, so we have a couple of extra days to relax and recuperate. The trekkers are off enjoying the extra time and some are just relaxing, others running, or fishing, or hiking the lovely canyons in the area, but my job continues! This morning I captured one of the Honda CRVs and drove up to Hells Backbone for a little 90 minute escape from all the issues of the team. The drive was great, the view, well what can I say, it was “routinely spectacular”, but most of all for a few short minutes I was on vacation and relaxing. I was not answering questions, working on maps, looking for car keys or doing any other task. I was just enjoying the journey. As I drove that really neat dirt road it finally hit me, my Mom never got a chance to rest and enjoy, she was always cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids and all the other things she had to do at home. But now she had to do it in the middle of nowhere without the conveniences she was used too, and we called it a vacation! In many ways it is a real shame that it took this experience to make me realize what she did for me and the value of the folks that make it work for all of us.

So I want to dedicate the joy, excitement, and liberation I felt this morning to all the Mothers, Fathers, other caregivers or group leaders that work to allow the rest of the group to enjoy their vacation or journeys and to let them know that we recognize what they do and its value. This trek is all about the interaction between public lands and the people that live close or derive a livelihood from them or recreate and enjoy the lands. We need to recognize the unsung heroes that make that possible; the supporting group that helps each of us live the lives we choose.

There is a special joy and reward to being able to help accomplish this journey. Some days it is hard to remain focused on the mission due to all sorts of irritants which, in the long run, are trivial, but which I fear degrade the quality of the experience for trekkers and support personnel as well. On a very personal note, I know it is not possible to fully enjoy this experience with so many unnecessary detractors. So maybe this is why Mom never seemed to have as much fun on vacation as my Dad, Brother or I did. We will never fully appreciate or enjoy public lands unless we all come to terms with the interpersonal issues that can enhance or detract from the experience!
for Sunday, September 15
North South Both




•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
Sunday, September 15
Riding The Hog's Back
"All this wide open space is uplifting to the soul!" We didn't get her name but a young woman hitchhiker from Germany said that. She also said that traveling America's public lands is like turning pages in a book, with each page marvelously different.
She asked me if I was the guy who jogged past her on the Lower Falls Trail, and indeed I was. She was the woman I ran past when I encountered Kay and Cathy.
Bob and I gave her a lift to Escalante where Bob was taking me to do laundry. He was going for a scenic drive. She was thrilled to meet us and get acquainted with our American Frontiers Journey, and you could see in her eyes the same light that is developing in the team. Our public lands are uplifting to the soul, and we want everybody, not just foreign tourists, to know it.

It may not be uplifting to the soul but it is uplifting to the spirit to have clean laundry. Ever wear gum?
In clean shorts and T-shirt, I decide to get dirty. Because my schedule didn't coincide with yesterday's schedule, I was alone in the laundry room today. Part of the team is going on a hike and another part is staying in camp to journal.
But back in camp with my clean laundry, I devise a plan to see Upper Falls. If there's a lower, there's gotta be an upper, right? In this case, there is.
Rather than commandeering a vehicle and taking it out of the team pool, I get a ride to the Upper Falls trailhead with Lorie MacGraw, who is always willing to help out in this way. The trailhead is several miles from the campground so I take along a mountain bike to ride back to camp. The beauty of this plan is not that I get to mix up activities but that I'm going to the "Upper" Falls, meaning my ride back to camp will be mostly downhill.
To get to Upper Falls requires that I hike a mile and a half down a steep sandstone slope to the stream at the bottom then skirmish upstream to the falls. The trail is terrible, meaning non-existant most of the way down and all the way upstream to the falls. Arriving at the stream I get frustrated looking for the trail, which I doubt exists -- there's not much room in the canyon to put a trail -- so I walk in the stream to the falls.
I don't stay long, not because I'm impatient but because the Upper Falls does not have the allure of the Lower and it is heavily vegetated and steamy. It's not nice when I'm there, and the pool is mossy and uninviting.
Scrambling out of the streambank, I encountered a couple who asked for directions. They went downstream rather than up so putting them on course was a matter of pointing.

It's hard for me to imagine why anybody would call a land feature a "hogs' back" but that's just me. My mountain bike liked the Hogsback, and so did I. Imagine a paved road running along the skinny back of, well, a hog the size of Mt. Rushmore and you'll get a weird picture. But take away the hog and keep the highway, and then imagine sandstone slopes and amazing washes where the hog was and you'll get a decent picture of the thrill of this road.
You know how they say that if you look at something you're likely to walk or drive right into it? Well, don't look over the edge, on either side, if you follow your look. It's a long way down.
That's why my mountain bike and I liked the Hogsback. This pig has a long back, too, which made for a long descent to our Calf Creek campsite. Oink! Oink!
for Sunday, September 15
North South Both




•
Team: North
Robert Ashley
Sunday, September 15
Sunday, September 15, 2002. 7:00 p.m. Scaler Cabin, Forest Service, near LaBarge.

Scaler Cabin is a Forest Service restoration project, one of three in the district that can be rented by the public for $30 per night. It will sleep six in bunk beds, has propane lanterns for light, and has real hot and cold running water and an indoor bathroom with shower! The Forest Service workers had piled enough firewood near the fire ring that we will be able to enjoy a fire all evening without having to collect wood.

The cabin is located just south of Triple Divide area, from which water flows to the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, or into the Colorado River and into the Gulf of California. The steep drop behind the cabin leads down to LaBarge Creek. North of the Triple Divide, our road followed the Grays River Valley, a naturally beautiful area. Despite the heavy dust plume of our six-vehicle caravan, the valley’s beauty was enhanced by the annual color change of the clumps of aspen trees-brilliant yellows, yellow-orange, and yellow-green. The drive probably covered 60-70 miles on the narrow, winding gravel roads, and it was exciting the entire distance.

As we turned off the main road toward the cabin, we slowed for a deeply rutted cattle guard and sighted a large black bear. He had been feeding on an Angus calf and was interrupted by our vehicles, so he was retreating up the hillside on the opposite side of the creek as we approached. We got clear shots with our cameras, but the distance was considerable, even with my long lens.
for Sunday, September 15
North South Both




•
Team: South
Julie Overbaugh
Sunday, September 15
-Day 47-Sunday-Death Hollow

Dusk is settling over Calf Creek Campground. I am sitting next to Calf Creek, listening to its gurgling clear water. It has been a relaxing and refreshing day. I was up early and made coffee. Bob was up next, then Cathy and Kay, the rest followed. The tiny RV was soon filled with folks waiting for coffee. We had grits, scrambled eggs and bacon. Sam is a great cook. I helped wash dishes and then journaled for a while. Then Cathy, Richard, Kay and I were off for an adventure. What do we do on our days off, but want to hike and drive. Go figure. We went to the town of Escalante, Utah and had lunch at the Cowboy Blues Café. Then we drove to the Death Box-Hollow Canyon, part of the Dixie National Forest. I made myself comfortable next to the stream on my lazy girl chair, which consisted of sand under my bum and a rock slab (about 40 feet tall) supporting my back and my feet in the water. I started to read Everett Ruess's story in Vagabond for Beauty. Before I knew it was naptime. After my nap, I went for a hike. The canyon was beautiful. The canyon was very deep and steep light sandstone walls. It had a stream running through it. The part I like the best is the pockets of ponderosa pine trees. There was a particular place that made me feel like I was home. It was absolutely beautiful to me. I stayed there for a short time until two backpackers and a black lab came up and interrupted my solitude.

It was time to get back to camp. The four of us all returned to the cars at the same time without really coordinating it. We drove back to camp. Geneva Chong PhD from the USGS, biological research division. She came all the way from Fort Collins, Colorado to give us a wonderful to give us a wonderful and hike on Invasive Plant Species.

for Sunday, September 15
North South Both




•
Team: South
Catherine Kiffe
Sunday, September 15
Invasive Weeds
Our days are slowing. The pace is not as fast and we have more time to journal.

Laptop computers do give some sense of freedom and I will tell you how. It is about 2 o’clock on Sunday afternoon Kay, Julie, Richard and I decided we would set off on a short adventure, a creek and box canyon that Julie had found out about yesterday. We went into Escalante to see if Cowboy Blues, the place we had lunch yesterday would be open today. We really enjoyed their hamburgers and they were excited to hear stories of our adventure. Escalante is not a very big town, mostly everything on main street. Cowboy’s was opened so Kay went down the street to see if Bob and Jan were finished with their laundry and would like to join us. Funny, where ever we go there we are! We all enjoyed the lunch, then Kay, Richard, Julie and I set off for Dixie National Forest and Dead Box Canyon and creek only 7 miles away.

It is a lovely babbling creek with a wonderful sandy path around the cool flowing water. Right now Kay is reading a book, Julie is peacefully dreaming on a sunny rock and Richard has gone off to find adventure. I was drawing for a while then I thought I would stop and make use of modern technology and write to you. I am sitting in the shade of a cottonwood tree in a sandy spot not far from a short waterfall and water frolicking around the various size and shaped rocks. Around me are wildflowers of yellow, purple and white. Pine, pinion and cottonwood provide shade and fragrance in the air. The sky is clear blue and the sunlight is warm and vibrant. It is a very good place to be.

Just now a tiny blue-green iridescent hummingbird has stopped by for a visit. As I type his whirlwind wings hold him hovering at the throat of the red flowers about 3 feet away from me. He Just halted on a branch about two feet from me, looked me over and buzzed away. Don’t you just know how I love it!

We left our little oasis and returned to camp. Geneva, from USGS, came to talk to us about Invasive Species and their effect on the area where we are staying.

Just some notes:
· National Biological Survey, Dept. of Interior
· Provide science for managers of parks and wild life refuges.
· Surveying vegetations here in Escalande. Invasive species have become nuisances because they become very common and they are displacing native plants.
· Non-native term used for plants that were not here before European settlement –human interaction with environment, we shape the environment around us.
· Have great biological, ecological and economic impact
· Tamarisk, feathery trees that draw alot of water, can dry up a stream, deep roots, long time alteration, also called Salt Cedar
· Russian Tea now common her, silvery subtree
· Cheat grass-grows in clumps, quickly after rains
· Drought could be good, might knock out unwanted , seed banks smaller
· Insects, birds and animal life also affected
· Loss of benefits for migratory birds
· Question: Should a land manager be concerned about the invasive species?
· Studying the non-native plants means looking for evidence—finding stories, visual example: if wet year then…if summer fire then…..

There’s lots to learn about invasive species.
More on this later.
for Sunday, September 15
North South Both




•
Team: South
Kay Gandy
Sunday, September 15
Solitude
Jacob caught a brown trout last night and fried it for breakfast this morning. I think each of us at one time or another have said how much we admire Jacob and how mature he is for age 19. He is so dedicated to keeping the environment clean. In fact, whatever job he is given, he is totally dedicated to it.
The Fearsome Four (Cathy, Julie, Richard, and me) made another getaway today. Our first stop was the Cowboy Blues for another fabulous burger. Jan and Bob joined us this time, as they were in town doing laundry. The four of us traveled to Death Box Hollow, a canyon about seven miles from Escalante. We walked along the river until we found a spot with sun and shade, water and rocks. Julie lay by the river and slept. Richard hiked further along the trail. Cathy went the opposite way, and I climbed up to look for what we call a good “butt rock.” A time of solitude was the game of the day. In the 25 years of my marriage it was the one thing I actually craved-a time of solitude. With a husband and two children, sometimes it was extremely difficult to find time to be alone. Sometimes I would take off from teaching school just to have some quiet time. Richard mentioned that he dreaded going back to the cacophony of New York and would miss the quietness. I think all of us will be shocked when we go back to civilization. We stopped in Escalante for quick showers before returning to camp. We all felt like delinquent children skipping school. Our days are usually so scheduled that it seems like truancy to go off and do what we want.
Dr. Geneva Chong met with us at 4:00 to talk about invasive plant species. She is another biologist with USGS. I can now recognize some of the plants along the trail: birch, cottonwood, juniper, rabbit brush, wild licorice, Russian olive, and sage. I put a small piece of sage in my journal so that whenever I smell it, I will remember my trek out West. Dr. Chong reiterated that education is the key to control of invasive species.
for Sunday, September 15
North South Both




•
Team: North
Michael Murphy
Sunday, September 15
Scaler Cabin

Dear America:
Field Report, Day 47


A big mileage 4x4 day, with no walk arounds. We drove, about 85 miles, on the dirt road that runs along side Greys River. We followed the river to its headwaters and the Tri-River Pass. This area splits water for three river systems, the Missouri, Colorado and the Columbia. We continued on to Scaler Cabin, an old Bridger-Teton National Forest ranger cabin that can be rented by the public. Many national forests have similar cabins for rent. The cabin is named for a job in the logging industry. A scaler measures logs for sale.

Just before we got to the cabin Dana spotted a bear feeding on a dead calf. I took several pictures of the large bear as he made his way up the hill. He stopped every once in awhile to look back and glare at us. A bear does not like to be interrupted while eating.

Mark Booth, District Ranger for the Kemmerer District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest and John Wytanis, the natural resource manager, met us at the cabin and had dinner with us. They gave a talk after dinner about the Kemmerer District and all of the activities that go on there. They are especially pleased to have a fairly large roadless area centered in the district.

Staying at an historic ranger cabin was great. I would encourage families and others to take advantage of this special program offered by the Forest Service.

for Sunday, September 15
North South Both




•
Team: South
Lorie McGraw
Sunday, September 15
Calf Creek and Grand Staircase
View
LM-grand_es_calfcreeksunset2002_0915DU.JPG

Courtesy Lorie L. McGraw

View
Grand Staircase Escalante between Boulder and Escalante

Grand Staircase Escalante between Boulder and Escalante
Courtesy Lorie McGraw

View
LM-grand_staircase_2calfcreek__0914.JPG

Courtesy Lorie McGraw

Hi, all
Be sure to check out the journals that have been posted. The tech trailer worked great all day Friday, but things have slowed down some as the networking in the trailer has now stopped. We do have one connection going, so we will be getting some new entries online, albeit slowly.

We are currently at Calf Creek Campground, a beautiful spot nestled in the canyon carved by the creek of the same name. There is a lovely falls about 3 miles up the creek, I hope that I can make my way up there later today, perhaps.

This area is within the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. This monument, created by President Clinton, is beautiful and everchanging, with vistas and spires, canyons and overlooks at every turn. I will post some pictures later.

The folks around here are somewhat angry, though, at the area being named a National Monument, as they now have some of their activities restricted that they did not before. One lady was very upset that she could no longer ride her dirtbike wherever she wanted. It brings up the question about use and access on our Public Lands. The people in this area are stopping by our camp and letting us know what they think.

Keep tuned.
for Sunday, September 15
North South Both




Public Lands:
You Are Here
•
Team: North
Out of the Woods
Team North emerges from the high country today and they'll say goodbye to the evergreens they've come to know so well. They'll drive down from the hills into the rolling sage uplands which characterize so much of Wyoming, and indeed much of the West....
   >> more...

•
Team: South
Exploring BLM's Grand Srtaircase-Escalante National Monument
Having spent four days lounging on a houseboat on Lake Powell, the trekkers of Team South were raring to do some serious hiking, so serious, in fact, that they finished their cross-country hike early and today they are back at Calf Creek campground with...
   >> more...


<< 9-14-2002 2002 9-16-2002>>



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