Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wow, last day tomorrow.

Right now I don't really know how to feel. I am excited about the future, but I am also sad that my time here is almost up.
Today our plans were to go to Apache Creek Wilderness and hike the 9905 trail. Instead, Jason was called to the Woodchute fire and I was left to visit the only wilderness I hadn't been to yet, alone. On the way to Apache Creek I decided to stop by the trail head we had worked on 5 days prior to today. At the trail head of trails 1 and 2, there is a user-created "road" that shouldn't be there. We spent all day blocking it off 5 days ago, and today, it was cleared and ready to be driven on. I took a picture of it with my cellphone (before and after. I added much more debris to the road this time and built a small rock blockade two rocks high. I don't really understand why people would ignore a closure sign, removed all the debris from the road and drive into that area. It's leads to nothing more than a few basic campsites and that's it. I hope today's work will keep the people out.
By the time I was done with that it was lunch time. After lunch I went to Apache Creek Wilderness to complete my visits to every wilderness managed by the Prescott National Forest. I didn't get to spend a whole lot of time there in the wilderness because I couldn't find where I was supposed to be right away. The road was very confusing and the signs weren't really there. All in all it was a good strong day and I feel ready for tomorrow, my last day with Prescott.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Everyone gets hit at one point...

From first glance Prescott seems like a killer town to use your bicycle as a mode of transportation. Dorothy, one of my advisors at the office, rides her bike everyday. Jason even rides his some days. I quickly jumped on the bandwagon, or my bicycle, and started riding it everyday to work. After about a month of riding to and from work everyday, I realized drivers in this town do not respect bikes or even pedestrians. Someone once told me that everyone that rides a bike in Prescott gets hit by a car at one point or another. With only a few weeks left of the internship, I was thinking I would get through my time in Prescott without getting hit by a car. I was wrong. On Sunday morning I was running kind of late so I hopped on my bike in a hurry. As soon as I was gaining speed down the hill in front of the Safeway by my house, an old man driving a big Nissan Truck pressed the gas and hit me on my left side. Luckily for me I am a skateboarder so when I launched off my bike and hit the concrete, I wasn't hurt really at all. The adrenaline was running on high and I felt no pain. After speaking with the local firemen and police, I called Jason and told him what had happened. He heard the angst in my voice and let me take the day off. I went back home, poured myself a cold glass of water, and sat in my backyard thinking about how bad the situation could have been. It was definitely a life changing experience getting hit by a truck on my bicycle.

Before that had happened, we made a trip out to Castle Creek Wilderness to see the devastation from a fire that had burned a year or two prior. We did a bunch of trail work and had a very productive weekend there. Here are a couple cellphone photos of the devastation...

Friday, July 24, 2009

A fully loaded weekend

This past weekend was crazy up here in Prescott; and not just because of the weather! It all started Wednesday, July 15th at 7:00 am. Jason had called me the night before and told me to bring my rock climbing gear (harness, chalkbag, shoes) because it was opening day at the Granite Mountain crag. The crag (climbing spot) is located in the wilderness that Prescott National Forest manages, so technically, we were getting paid to rock climb. As we climbed the 400 something foot cliff, a big monsoon started rolling in so at about the 200 foot mark, we had to bail. Even though we didn't get to climb all the pitches, we still had an amazing time! After a fun day of climbing big cliffs, we prepared for a 3-day trip to Taylor Cabin in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness. Sycamore Canyon is my favorite Wilderness in the forest so I was super excited to get to pack into a spot I had never been to before. Where we were going to camp for the weekend was about 10 miles in the Wilderness, so before the trip we loaded up the horses and Jason packed them in (I had to hike). About 10 miles later I had made it to our destination as the sun was setting; I had beat Jason and the horses. Taylor cabin is a sweet old cabin that was built in 1931 by some dudes everybody calls the "Taylor Brothers." Unfortunately, the inside of it was in pretty bad shape and had mice running around or else I would've slept inside of it. The next morning I woke up to Jason telling me he gave all the water he had collected to the horses and we needed to hike back to the truck, 10 miles back where we started. I calculated the miles when we got back to the truck and I had hiked 22 miles in 24 hours. It was sunny and like 90 degrees outside, I was pretty tired. We set-up camp at another cabin outside of the Wilderness for the night. Sunday morning came pretty quick and we took another hike. Fortunately for me I only had to do like 2 or 3 miles before we packed all of our stuff and headed home. We spent the rest of Sunday unloading the horses and tack (horse goodies). When I got home that night my best bud from Mesa came up with my brothers and we partied hard...Whiskey Row all night!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Horse Duty...

Today Jason and I took care of the horses. The Prescott Forest has 4 horses to use and we took care of them all. I learned how to drive a Bobcat, shovel horse "eggs", and change a horse's shoes. It was a long day, but helpful nonetheless. Tomorrow morning we head out to Castle Creek for a 2 nighter. We were going to go to Sycamore (like I posted last time...), but had a change of plans. I was really looking forward to Sycamore again, but I think I am just as excited to see a different Prescott Wilderness for the first time! Its going to be another fun, hard weekend.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More Sycamore Please

Over the Fourth of July weekend we stayed pretty busy. On Friday we went up Juniper Mesa Wilderness with a bunch of water and tools. Throughout the day we cleared trail, crosscut trees, and dug a few drainage spots. It was hot at the beginning of our day but Mother Nature quickly changed her mind and thunder and rain took over for about an hour. While there was no visible lightning overhead, there definitely was booming thunder. We ate lunch in the rain and finished up our work when we got a break from the elements. The rest of our weekend was spent in the Woodchute Wilderness up on the Mingus Range. Before this weekend I had only been on trail #102 in Woodchute so I was pretty new to the Wilderness there. We started on trail #102 and headed E on trail #103. Trail #103 is a fairly new edition to the system of trails in the area so we had a bit of work to do to it. It was a pretty hot day out with not much cloud cover, but I think it was the big tools I had to carry that made me sweat most. We cleared a lot of trail #103 and dug efficient drainage's along the way. While it was a hard work weekend, I enjoyed all of it! I'm feeling better in the Wild everyday. This Thursday we head out to Sycamore Canyon for a 4-day pack-in trip past Parson Springs. I'm really looking forward to it, last time we were at Sycamore we had a great time. I posted a few pictures from Sycamore, I can't wait.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Wilderness Life

Life as a Wilderness Ranger in the Prescott National Forest has been amazing! When I'm not in the Wilderness, I'm thinking about the Wilderness. Today, we went out to Granite Mountain Wilderness area and created a ROG (Recreation Opportunity Guide) for the Baby Granite Trail (#320). In order to do this we needed to GPS the whole entire trail first. We woke up early and got the trail head at about 7:30am. After setting up the GPS we proceeded to hike the entire 9.something miles of trail #320. After a long hike, we got back to the office and started our ROG. A ROG is typically what you find in the sign-in box at most Forest Service trail heads explaining anything and everything about the trails in the area. It tells you everything from altitudes on the trail, what kind of plants and wildlife you might see, and it ever tells you the best time of year to visit. Today we finished just one ROG and tomorrow we will finish more. Until then, here are some pictures of the area we hiked today...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Abiquiu, New Mexico

Today we rolled into Prescott at 4:15 in the morning. On Friday, May 29th we packed up the green Forest Service SUV truck and headed Northeast to Abiquiu, New Mexico. You might be wondering why Abiquiu? Well, there is a little place called Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu that holds numerous conferences and retreats in a way that is reminiscent of every kids favorite summer camp, bad food and all. I was there to attend the 2009 Wilderness Rendezvous. The Wilderness Rendezvous went from Sunday, May 31st to Thursday, June 4th and was a training/educational program for all wilderness rangers of the Southwest region (region 2 and 3). We spent 5 days learning about what it takes to be a wilderness ranger, what it means to preserve our wild areas and 'Leave No Trace,' what it is like to work for the National Forest Service, and even how to 'fell' and 'buck' a tree so that it is safe for all. Each day was full of classroom sessions, field work, and networking opportunities. Here is an example of what just one of our days looked like at the Ghost Ranch:

Tuesday, June 2 - Lower Pavilion
Facilitator- Tom Dwyer

0800-0830 Housekeeping, Introductions (Tom Dwyer)

0830-0900 Welcome - Gilbert Zepeda - R3 Deputy Regional Forester

0900-1000 American Values - American Wilderness - video

1000-1015 BREAK

1015-1100 Wilderness History and Law - Doug Scott, Policy Director, Campaign for America's

1100-1200 Rapid Campsite Assessment Overview (David Cole)
(review of process and afternoon field work)

1200-1230 LUNCH

1230-1700 Rapid Campsite Assessment Field Work (David Cole), Location: field

1730- DINNER

7-9 pm George Duffy - Retired FS Wilderness Manager - Wilderness: We Define It, It
Defines Us - followed by Wild by Law - Lower Pavilion

Needless to say, my week at the ghost Ranch was full of fun, education, and hard work. Until the next posting...