Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Northern Exposures 2

Coeur d' Alene River
Coeur d' Alene River - Idaho Panhandle National Forest, ID

Selkirks - Near the Pack River

Hole-In-The-Wall -- Olympic National Park, WA

Unknown mountain poking through the clouds - Glacier National Park, MT

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Among The Wildflowers 2

I guess this is the month of sequels. Everyone seemed to like the first go-round of Among The Wildflowers. These flowers were all found in Idaho except the Daisies, which I found in Arizona. If you think I've given the wrong name to any of these, please feel free to correct me. Enjoy.

Glidden Lake
Rocky Mountain Butterweed
 My favorite thing about this shot is that you can see Glidden Lake in the background.

Shrubby Penstemon

I think these are Daisies, yeah?

I couldn't put my finger on this one. I think it may be a knotweed. Any takers?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Arizona Landscapes

Some of my favorite landscape shots from hiking Arizona over the summer.


Mount Baldy Aspens



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Big Mountain Buck

This was our fourth day in the beautiful Seven Devil's range in Idaho. We were camped at a big mountain lake called Baldy. I woke up in my tent early in the morning to the sound of a big animal rustling around in the brush outside... At first I thought it was one of our neighbor's animals. They came in with horses and mules the night before, long after we had set up camp. They didn't bother tying their animals up either, and every so often one of them wandered into our camp. I kept worrying that one would mistakenly walk over my tent in the dark, with me inside. So here I was, laying there, thinking a horse was outside. I wiped the sleep out of my eyes, unzipped the door, and peeked out...  But instead of a horse or a mule, to my surprise and utter amazement, there stood not 20 feet away the biggest buck I had ever seen. I grabbed my camera and took as many pictures as I could before he bolted, but these two here are the best.

Now, I'm not a hunter or an expert on deer, but my guess is that this is a Mule Deer.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Trail Days 2

Somewhere along the way my weblog has morphed into a photo-blog. I just have so many cool pictures that I wan't to share. I hope you guys like them as much as I do. This is the sequel to Trail Days. Enjoy.

Seven Devil's
Jesse & Steve - Seven Devil's Range, Hell's Canyon Wilderness, ID

Mount Baldy Wilderness
Sarah - Mount Baldy Wilderness, AZ

 Rapid River
Unknown backpacker -  Near the Rapid River, Nez Perce National Forest, ID

Hell's Canyon Wilderness
Jesse & Steve - Hell's Canyon Wilderness, ID

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Bug's Life 2

The long awaited sequel to:  A Bug's Life.



I think this one may be a Kissing Bug, but I'm not sure.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Horror Novel - Take 2

Well I've finally done it... Finally taken the plunge. No, I'm not getting married (yet). But I am writing a novel, and guess what? I'm over half-way done. I'ts crazy how it's all come together too. I've had an idea for a few years now, and my brother Kelly and I have been adding to it, and subtracting from it, over time, and to see it on paper finally is pretty exciting.

The first time I tried to write my idea down was a total disaster. I wrote maybe 5 pages before I hit a brick wall. This time I took a totally different route. Instead of telling the story in a chronological sequence of events (which I tried first) I started in the middle, and revealed anything pertinent from the past in flashbacks. For some reason writing is just easier for me that way. It feels more natural then just plodding along from "A" through "Z".

I can't tell you what it's about because I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say that my book will be the scariest book you have ever read (I know that is a bold statement, but It's true, I totally stand by it). Yes, I am writing a horror novel. Is it weird that an outdoor writer is writing a horror novel? No, because it takes  place in the woods and the protagonist is a backpacker... Go figure. 

So, horror, indeed. I've always wanted to write horror, ever since I was a kid. Ever since I read Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark by Alvin Swartz. The cool thing about those books (there are 3) is that the illustrations are as scary as the stories. As a kid I actually became pretty obsessed with the horror genre. I bought a lot of "scary" books at the library book fairs (remember those?) and actually amassed a respectable collection. As an adult I've read tons of Stephen King. He's probably my favorite modern author, and I think his influence is apparent in my writing.

Why am I telling you this? Because I'm really excited about it. I'm hoping to be finished by Christmas. Of course half the battle with writing is getting your work published, so we shall see how that goes... I think my story is unique in a lot of ways, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that some publisher somewhere will agree. Above all though, my story is scary, in every sense of the word. So if you like a good scare, then keep a look out for it. I will update my progress here so all my loyal readers will be "in the know". 

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Lost World: Tonto Natural Bridge

Tonto Natural Bridge is one of the most amazing places I've ever been. When you step inside it's like being transported back in time, or to another world. If you're ever in Arizona, It's definitely worth stopping for.

Tonto Natural Bridge
Can you see that person standing in the bottom left corner? Really gives you a sense of how huge this opening is.

Tonto Natural Bridge

Tonto Natural Bridge

Tonto Natural Bridge
Okay, this is my favorite shot. Why? because it looks straight out of the movie "Alien".

Friday, October 5, 2012

Water Crossings

Upper Priest Falls
Steve crossing Rock Creek near the Canadian Border
 Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

 Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Need a hand?
Goat Creek - Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, WA

South Salmo River
South Salmo River
Salmo-Priest Wilderness, Colville National Forest, WA

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Lakes of the Seven Devils range in west/central Idaho. Photos Taken August 2011.

Seven Devils
Gem Lake

Seven Devils
Echo Lake

Seven Devils
Baldy Lake

Seven Devils
Baldy Lake

Monday, October 1, 2012

Javelina Hoedown: Fossil Creek Overnighter

*Note: The title for this blog sounds cooler if you know that Javelina is pronounced with an "H", and sounds like Havelina.

Top of the canyon
Ever since I moved to Arizona, Sarah has been talking about Fossil Creek. She would talk about the splendor of it's falls, and the beauty of it's banks. She would tell me how perfect the water was for swimming. Unfortunately we never had a chance to go because the Forest Service closed it, on account of all the trash and overcrowding. You see, although the Fossil Creek area is a designated "Wilderness" and the creek itself is a designated "Wild and Scenic River" there are roads leading down to the creek at the canyon bottom. This makes it easy for people to access the creek with minimal effort. As a result the area has seen an epidemic of litter, trampled vegetation, and general misuse. They finally opened it back up in September, and since we had a free weekend, Sarah and I decided to hike in for an overnighter, and we brought her dog Rocco.

The hike got off to a bad start before we even made it to the trailhead. Driving through Payson I suddenly had this sinking feeling that I forgot my hiking shoes. I pulled over and searched the car. Sure enough, my Merrell's were nowhere to be found. For the first time in my life I actually forgot my damn boots! I couldn't believe it. Sarah suggested we swing by Walmart and pick up a pair of cheap shoes, which is what I did. Fifteen dollars later I was the proud owner of a pair of Starter tennis shoes that were a half-size too big. They looked like they were made from plastic, and the tread on the soles were non-existent. I wasn't looking forward to hiking in them.

The trail was all down hill. We passed several signs warning hikers to be prepared. Apparently every year people hike down to the canyon with flip-flops and no water. I read online that Fossil Creek can draw up to 4,000 people on the weekends. The evidence of overuse was plain to see. We saw beer cans, water bottles, toilet paper, food cans, clothing, and just a lot of garbage on and near the trail. It was pretty pathetic. The worst I've ever seen. The trail itself was a gradual descent, dropping 1500 feet over 4 miles. The parts of the trail made of soft red sand was really comfortable. The parts that were rocky and boulder strewn - not so much - but my new shoes held up, and we made it to the bottom relatively easy. We found a perfect little campsite near the water and set up shop, and from what I could tell we had the entire place to ourselves. We didn't see anyone down at the creek that first day. 

Fossil Creek
Fossil Creek
That afternoon Sarah and I were lounging around on some big boulders down the trail from our camp. I caught movement out of the corner of my eye, and when I looked up I saw a huge javelina coming down the hill. For those of you unfamiliar with a javelina (also called a peccary) they look like a big wild pig, except they aren't pigs, they're peccaries. They are shaped like a pig, covered in hair, and (this is the fun part) have huge sharp canines that stick out on top and bottom. So here I am watching this javelina gallivant down the hill and it looks like a big boy to me. I guessed it was at least 100 pounds. It looked that big. Definitely the alpha male of it's peccary pack. Sarah and I are watching this javelina (who is oblivious to us) and I see that it's headed in the same direction I saw Rocco go just a couple minutes before. Then I see Rocco walking up the trail toward us, near the javelina. At this point I blew my cover (I was sneaking around trying to get a clear shot with the camera) and called out to Rocco because I didn't want him to attract the javelina's attention and get gored. I swear they passed within 20 feet of each other and neither of them even knew it. I guess the rushing water sound of the creek drowned out the noise. 

Boiling water for dinner that night I noticed a white powder in my water, that resembled salt. It worried me because earlier in the month biologists poisoned the creek to kill non-native bass. Even though the Ranger had told me the water was safe, I was still a little bit apprehensive. Sarah thought the sediment was just a mineral in the water, and she was right. After researching for this blog, I found that Fossil Creek is "super saturated with calcium carbonate", which explains the milky water. The interesting thing is that the water in the creek is crystal clear, and doesn't become milky until heated. 

Collared Peccary (Not my pic)
The full moon lit up the valley so well that I could see clearly in the dark. We were camped with the rainfly off and the moon was directly above us. It was pretty awesome. Rocco was sleeping outside the tent at our heads. Sarah was sound asleep too. All was quiet. Then I heard squealing. Pig squealing. Peccary squealing. Loud squealing, like screaming. It was coming from the spot near our camp where we saw the javelina earlier. It sounded like some javelina hoedown or peccary pit fight. It went on for 5 to 10 minutes, and then just as sudden as it began, it stopped. Rocco was freaked. He started whimpering and pacing around the camp. I was freaked too. I kept thinking of an episode of Survivorman that I watched last week. Les was in the Sonoran Desert, and he mentioned several times how aggressive and dangerous javelinas could be... Sarah slept through the whole thing.

About an hour later, I was still awake. I heard screaming in the dark. I thought the javelinas came back. I sat up in the tent and listened, and then I heard voices. In a couple minutes a large group of teenagers came walking through our camp. About 10 in all, being loud and obnoxious. Two were even carrying a cooler. How they carried a cooler all the way down from the trailhead, in the dark, I don't know. I suspect they knew of another way in. I thought I heard the sound of car doors shutting. It was weird. They set up camp in the spot next to us, where I had heard the javelinas. Then they proceeded to party all night. It was pretty lame. I wasn't very happy. In fact I spent the next hour laying in the tent thinking about the letter I would write the forest service. Personally, if they want to keep Fossil Creek clean and pristine, they are going to need to make the hard decisions. Like closing all roads leading to it for starters. Make people hike to it. It will weed out the undesirables, like those who would fill the place with garbage. 

I was awoke by voices the next morning. Apparently the portion of the creek we had camped by was a popular swimming hole. There was a large group of people in there swimming at 7:30 am. We spent the day hiking and swimming ourselves. Saw some beautiful scenery, and an awesome waterfall. Found some interesting litter, like a pair of shoes, a couple sleeping bags, and a tent, among other things. 

The hike out was tough in the blazing sun. Rocco needed lots of brakes. By the time we made it to the car I had a blister the size of a dime on my left big toe. All things considered, an excellent trip. The truth is, that even with all the people and all the trash, Fossil Creek is a beautiful place, and very much worth a weekend backpacking trip.