Wednesday, September 19, 2012

bear at the door, 2 postings, bow drill,
3-week stints off the grid, the Kaibab,
living for single-tracks, and mushrooms

‘I was seeing if M&M wanted to come out and play.’

I know the reasons why people choose to stay in campgrounds but it just can not compare with disperse camping out in Nature. As I got back to camp one morning after a sandbag walk, this little one was checking out the place. When I first saw her, she was at the door. Sure glad she stuck around until I dug out the camera and got off this single rushed shot. The next morning while I was working through a medicine ball routine, guess who came walking up the road?

I should have posted the previous entry the last time I had web access so I’m posting two today.

I’m back to spending time at the bench but I’m working with ‘found objects’ rather than silver. I’ll post pictures when I get some pieces made along with a photo of what they were made from. I made a bow drill. I used something I had around for the weights. I’m keeping my eyes open for a single more compact weight to use for a cleaner look. Sure has more power than I thought it would. I started with one more weight but had to take it off; there was too much force for the small bits I use. I could also probably place a thin stick in the chuck and use it to start a campfire. Have to try that at some point.

In the past when staying off the grid for three weeks or so, I was pretty much winging it as far as supplies were concerned. After this year with so far, five back-to-back 3-week stints, I pretty much have it nailed without running out of certain items too early or having leftover items that were just taking up space. Three weeks is a comfortable time span for me before making a town run. If it is hot though, it’s more difficult. I start getting a very strong craving for fresh fruit. With the cooler temperatures that I experienced for most of the summer, it wasn’t much of a problem (except for the first stint back in the Gilas). The days for a town trip can be a pain in the butt with all the stuff I have to take care of. Then I still have to drive to another section of national forest and explore the roads looking for a spot to set up camp. I can almost blame my slow email responses on M&M. I don’t like M&M staying in the Dodge too long so when I find web access, I just download my emails to a Word document to read and write responses when I get to camp. The next time I come across wi-fi, I copy and paste to email. The only thing wrong with this is my responses can be six weeks behind. Then at one point, my tracfone was canceled. They sent me notification emails that my account was about to expire but I was off the grid. Luckily it was not difficult to get it back up. Unreal.

The first morning after I got to the Kaibab, I left the casita up top and made a run down to Kanab. Took care of the various tasks and stopped in at Parry Lodge where I was a workamper in ’07. That summer the Lodge employed 11 workampers (2 left early on). This summer the Lodge only employs 2 seasonal workampers. After the season two of the workampers took over managing the Lodge. I was looking forward to seeing them but they moved to Florida. I wonder if they are still workampers. Two locals I enjoyed spending time with back in ‘07, Doug and Bob, are still there and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with them and shared some new jokes. Made my day. Doug is still writing cowboy poetry and still winning awards. I’m seeing them again on this run.

When I got back to the Kaibab, I dropped stuff off at the casita and went off looking for a spot to camp. Oh man, what a network of forest roads! I came across a decent spot and the next morning had a 3-mile drive to the spot. My kind of daily mileage. Back in 07, my weekly double-overnights on the plateau were generally 30 miles south of Jacob Lake in the east rim area with access to the Arizona Trail only two miles away. This time I’m camping where I can access sections of the Arizona Trail I have not been on, as well as a section of the Great Western Trail. This summer sure is a contrast from last. Have no idea of how many miles I’m racking up mountain biking the trails and forest roads and running the single-tracks but it sure feels good. I marked down coordinates for potential camping spots down spur roads in my road notebook and will be moving to one of them tomorrow. I made note of a couple spots with more sun since it has been getting cooler up here, I’ll shoot for one of those spots. I’ll also start positioning the trailer for colder weather camping so the early morning sun shines into two of the back windows. I’m looking forward to new sections of the Arizona Trail. I don’t know, I almost seem to live for single-tracks. It’s my favorite type of travel.
Before it gets too cold I might go down to the North Rim, try out my senior pass, and hike into Bright Angel Canyon and also explore another section of the Arizona Trail. Being able to hit the trails is one reason I try to keep reasonably fit. I love being out there. I rarely see people out on the trails, though, probably because I’m out there so early in the day, but I like to stop and talk with those I come across. Kindred souls.

The area was pretty wet when I first got to the Kaibab and it continued to rain occasionally for the next few days. This is the first time that I‘ve ever regretted not having learned about gathering wild mushrooms. I’ve never seen so many in one location nor the varied sizes, shapes, textures, and colors. I could have easily collected a bushel around my camping spot and another when out walkin’ with M&M. There were probably 4 or 5 varieties that I have not come across before or at least don’t remember. Many were 3, 4, and 5 inches in diameter. I’m going to look some of them up on the web when I have the time, especially the large red ones with insides as white and crisp looking as apples and other large ones that reminded me of squash. There was one shiny, little orange and red one that seemed to shout ‘Don’t eat me.’ Didn’t try any of them since I had no idea which ones were eatable and I still enjoy being above the ground.

I was talking with Siscily and I asked how Jim and Beverly were doing as volunteers at Heron. She mentioned that they scooted a bear out of their campground and the bear ran into the lake. It SWAM from Brushy Point cg all the way across to the other side of the lake. I had no idea a bear could swim so far. There were quite a few people watching its progress and the bear was big enough that they could see it climb out. Now THAT’S way cool. Sure would love to have seen that.

If I’m reading a well-written suspense novel, I can refer to it as a real page-turner. For a person reading an exciting book on a Kindle, it just does not seem to give the same sense of excitement if the book is referred to it as ‘a real button-presser.’

You’re never dead until you stop learning.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

last 3 weeks in the Whites, plinking,
more mud, logger, and felines

Well, we headed south from Pinedale towards the Mogollon Rim. There were deep tire tracks in the mud and some standing water from all the rain along the 8-mile stretch. I was thinkin’ that if it rained, I would have to wait for a couple days of sun or I wouldn’t get out of here. I did not want to get stuck in the mud with a trailer. At one spur road, I pulled over and jogged down it looking for a camping spot but found I would not have been able to get the rig in far enough to be out of sight of the main forest road. I continued on and headed west along the Rim Road (which also had deep ruts and mud in spots) and did not come across any accessible spur roads. This area of the Whites didn’t have the appeal that I look for in a pine forest and I started playing with the idea of heading up to the Flagstaff area the next day. I’ll save other areas of the Whites, maybe around Overgaard and Heber, for another year. Eventually I turned north on another forest road and pulled into a spot for the night. M&M had been in the truck for hours so I let them out for a few hours before dark. Later, Meadow was looking somewhat apprehensive after she noticed the window cage was not set up. ‘Uh, oh, we’re not staying here.’ I was hoping for a dry night so we could get out of here early in the morning. It rained—heavily. Guano. But not for too long. The map showed some hills along this route and I was concerned about the road.

In the morning, I went to bike up the road a few miles to check out the road and hills. It did not start off well. The road did not look all that wet but the mud coated the treads and packed the area between the forks and the tires. Not good. Luckily the mud only lasted a couple hundred yards (even though the road surface didn’t appear to change color or texture, strange) and I began to make progress. I biked past a couple other forest roads but they led to lower ground so I didn’t check them out. Then I came to a road that headed to higher ground and chose to see where it went. After a bit I biked down an unmarked spur road and came across a spot to camp that looked decent. More open than I would have liked in the summer but doable; maybe I’ll stick around. Biked back to camp (bogged down in the mud again), let the ground dry up a bit and drove to the new spot.

In the morning, I went for a run up the road. It wasn’t suitable for pulling a trailer but it was great for running and hiking. It went for miles and hooked up with other little-used roads and a single track. Not bad. So I decided to stay for a third 3-week stint in the White mountains.
This has been a treat, spending the summer months in Arizona. While living in Bisbee and Naco, I got use to not having daylight savings. Being an early morning person, I loved it. Sure feels good getting up so early to a brightening sky.

While out bikin’ one morning I came across one of the machines being used to cut trees in the area. It’s a Valmet 603 three-wheeled feller buncher. Second time I saw what is currently being used. The first time was a few weeks ago down a ways from where I was camping. It seemed the guy had cut down 4 trees and neatly laid them out in only five minutes or so. Quick and efficient without damaging the trees left standing. I know it is part of keeping a forest healthy but I just don’t like seeing healthy trees cut down. But it sure beats clear cutting.

I haven’t shot my longbow much since last fall. It was tough when I first got back into it so I started using a tension-tube to strengthen the upper back muscles. It got easier. As you can see, I painted the arrows yellow so they are easier to find. With the judo points, however, it was probably not necessary; there’s no way they are going to dig in under the grass and pine needles. Feathers sure get trashed, though. It’s a hoot walking through the woods and shooting at tuffs of grass, pine cones, branches, whatever. Simple pleasures.

I generally enjoy having felines along with me. There’s pleasure in just watching them move about, interact with each other, explore, and stalk. The domestic feline, with their self-sufficient independence, are truly animals that could take off at any time and make it on their own. Society does not program us to like cats and I never cared much for them until I picked up a kitten at a party in college (it was the beer). Sure glad they are a part of my life. Meadow is always up for a walk and most of the time, Mesa joins us. The first week in a new spot, they pretty much stay with me then race back to camp when we get close. I vary the walks going off in different directions and making clockwise and counterclockwise loops but sometime in the second week they start lagging, going off to more explore the area and don’t wander back to camp for an hour or so. Yep, independent.

One morning I finally biked north to rt260 to check out the condition of the road and it was fine. Even the hills were in better shape than the relatively flat road I headed south on.
In the last 12 weeks of disperse camping, I’ve only come across 4 RVs and 3 tent groups. Not bad. While in the fourth spot, I heard quite a few vehicles probably pulling rigs on weekends, off in the distance. I guess I’ve been finding the less popular areas to camp. Wish I always could.

August sixty minutes sixty years—2075 minutes

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’