Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Timothy Fox




 

Our fox is named Timothy. He likes to follow us around location. I guess after being rescued from the spindle, he feels safe enough to trust us close up.

We have about 3 feet of snow on the ground now, less where it drifts in. Three of us stayed on location over the Christmas holidays.

We played in the snow, skied, plunged through snow drifts, shoveled out igloos, made a baby sledding hill.


Its been quite an adventure, looking forward to the new year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lake Yellowstone Freeze up in Progress

I never knew you could actually hear a lake thawing and freezing. I took several clips and combined them for a twenty four hour look at the process. Skiing is by far the best mode of travel now.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Yellowstone Lake in Winter

There are so many photo opps here at Lake. I take the camera out on my days off, skiing the trails and roads I hiked in summer. Sometimes its a branch holding the snow to the sunlight that catches my attention.
Sometimes its the tracks heading uphill, seemingly appearing out of now where, ending no where. Of course, that's not the case. Wind funnels through a pass, blowing snow, obscuring details and tracks within minutes. I carry a survival pack every time I go out. White outs are not unheard of.
Peering out on a still liquid lake, I love the solitude of a solo ski adventure. The superintendent has asked me to let him know when I go, and what direction, just in case. I admitted many times I don't know where I'm heading til I get there. He said, then just a general direction, and he knows I know the area better than just your average cook. I summer here as well.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Man Camp Reefers

I took a short video of the reefers up in the Man Camp. We shovel the custom boardwalk the guys made for us the second cay on the job. I was and still am so impressed by the guys working here. Everyone is so nice and professional. And, they appreciate our cooking!
video
 
Today we had chili dogs, french fries, pasta salad, and chocolate peanut butter bars. We make our chili from scratch, the pasta salad home made, as well as the dessert.
 
Hoping for a great season. We will keep you posted on Christmas party, and the New Years Eve "I have survived the Mayan Calendar" Party.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Man Camp Sking Report

Days off I go skiing. Its hard work. So far I can do about 8 miles in 3 hours. I take a day pack with ultralight rainsuit (vapor barrier), one large black garbage bag, and fire starter lint and matches, knife and cigerette lighter.

The back country is deep wet snow right now. If I stay put to film, the wax less skis get iced and pick up a lot of weight. I've been going on the snow packed road. Fun!

I'm the only one on location with skis. People ask me where I got them. I say Play It Again Sports. Knowledgeable people up there in Bozeman.
 
Fishing Bridge Junction is a good landmark. You can head to Cody from there, get cell service down the road, head back to Lake along a trail.

 
The deck and stairs built to access the green garbage trailer is a work of art. A few pine martins are getting in and out of the receptacle.We climb the stairs, open a wooden hatch and throw the garbage in really fast.


Today I saw fresh griz prints on my way to Canyon. He came down the hill, crossed the road, headed to the Hayden Valley. It must have happened last night, the claw prints had a small dusting of snow. The prints are enormous!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bison Share the Road

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While driving from West Yellowstone to Gardiner Montana on the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park, I found myself facing a small herd of Bison.
 
There were calves, males and females. They looked pretty healthy. I slipped the stick into neutral, kept my foot on the brake and shot some footage right outside my Geo's window.
 
Bison can be seen just about anywhere, at any time. They're migrating now. The roads just happened to be clear in this section, although parts had ice and snow pack. Easy does it, I always say.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Horror Available at Yellowstone

I finished my novella about a cook wintering in Yellowstone National Park, meeting ghosts, turning to extreme measures to feed her crew. Without giving too much away, lets say I was inspired by the many bloody ghost stories associated with probably what is now my favorite place on earth.

We've had new snow, we've made some toboggans out of cardboard and plastic.

Everyone up here is so great, I hope they realize none of them are in this horror story...at least I changed all the names. We're only one month into the season. Way too early for all the fatalities that happen at the Man Camp in Primal Cut. You can get it at Amazon.com. Click on the link below the photo of the book cover.

Primal Cut is available at this time exclusively for Kindle and PC owners. Its available free for those in the lending program. Otherwise, you can still get it for only $2.99.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tracking Bison or Griz?

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Skiing towards Fishing Bridge I circled back and came upon fresh prints. They were distinctive, showing a large animal had passed this way, heading south. After following them a quarter mile, I decided they belonged to one large, lone bison. The split hoof and path indicated it didn't belong to a griz.
Periodically, I paused, glanced around, making sure I didn't follow too close, ending up in danger.
 
 
This photo taken just after sunset at Lake Yellowstone.

The Yellow Hotel, November 21, 2012

 
 Construction sight at sunset.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gear Review-Lightning 50 Backpack



Points I love about this pack:

totally adjustable fit, which means you can buy it without knowing the exact torso length of the person going to use it,

and it can be used for growing kids, so they can have good gear which will fit them for years to come.

I love the many zippered pockets, the outside pockets for water bottles, and the cinch straps in key locations. I love the fact the zippers are substantial, not skimpy nylon teeth which always give out.

I love the fact its not blue or orange. The color is a nice stealth dark gray, with green highlights.

The pack weighs just over 3 pounds, with 3,000 cubic inches interior space. With all the various straps, you can carry additional gear on the outside.

For me, the straps are excessively long because I'm only 5 foot 2 inches. A bigger person needs this length to adjust  for waist and shoulder girth.

I found the system very quick and easy to use.

I really like the  hip belt pocket. Now my camera has a good home.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Don't Dilute the Experience

Working up  here at the Man Camp at Yellowstone Lake, I'm basically on foot or at the mercy of others to "get Out" on my days off. My car is parked at the west entrance.

What most find hard to believe is I don't want out. I want to experience 6 months here in the snow. A remote, wild, extreme experience.

Like hiking a long trail, if a person takes a couple days off every week or slack packs a lot, they won't have the same intense experience as one who lives out of their backpack for 5 months straight. When they head to town, they re-supply, eat a good meal and get back on the trail.

Backpacking like that, you create serious friendships with trail bums like yourself. Those friendships last for a lifetime. This kind of trailing is unlike anything else. Your home, your work, your play is all about the trail. You eat, think, sleep, love trail.



My suggestion, for those planning a long hike, don't dilute this once in a life time experience by spending several nights in town, going to movies, hanging out in bars, acting like you aren't on a life changing journey.

People ask me what I'll do if cabin fever sets in., I say I'll ski, I'll write, I'll read. Maybe make snowmen, go sledding , taking a cardboard box as my toboggan and slide off the mountain near Lake Lodge. There's a great view from there. There's a clear path all the way to the road. I'll take my new pack out on a survival winter camp out.

There's so much to do on my days off. Diluting the experience by spending time in West Yellowstone or Gardiner or running into Bozeman for a shopping trip is not part of the plan.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gear Review -Cabella's Avalanche Hoodie

When I landed my job at the Man Camp up at Lake Yellowstone, I knew my Georgia winter gear would not suffice. I found a catalogue for Cabella and started shopping.
 
 
 
 
 
 

I knew wintering at minus 40, wind chills at who knows what, required lots of layers. When I called to place my order, Cabella's Customer Service was excellent. I told them to put Two Polar Fleece sets of base layer down, then, with the incentive of free shipping and a sale in progress, proceeded to choose a hoodie.

The one pictured here is called the Avalanche. It's hood and neck are snug and toasty, fitting exactly right. This color is called Clover, a light purplish. I usually go for stealth colors, and this one actually compliments my wardrobe of blacks and forest greens. The zipper goes well up into the neckline, which I learned is pretty essential for cold weather. I had a black one from some other company whose zipper ended below the collar line. Not good. You end up needing a scarf with that, or turtle neck base layer.

The Avalanche is perfect. One cold day, I went skiing wearing just the polar base layer from Cabella's and this jacket. It was perfect. The side pockets are big enough to hold mittens, a second layer I put over my basic gloves. There is an elastic drawcord at the bottom hem. I chose a medium in both base layer and mid-layer. I didn't want sleeves too short, or hem lengths hitting me above the hips. In winter, you need plenty of overlap where different pieces of clothing meet each other, forming good pockets of insulation.

There are two inner pocket, just opposite the outside hand pockets. This feature somewhat compromises the capacity of either one, but so far its not an issue. The jacket and lining are 100% polyester, fast drying, on sale was $54.

The outside is a knit texture, the inside is plush. I especially like the contoured tailoring, making it a great layer beneath my Brooks-Range Mountaineering down jacket.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Video of Man Camp

video
 
Here's the promised video of the Man Camp. We're busy preparing things to get the go ahead to move into our rooms and start cooking. The Inspection will be on Monday. Today I cleaned bathrooms in a trailer that had no water, heat or electric. It had been used and when the hot steaming water hit the floor, it started to freeze. I had to haul the water and work fast.
 
Every Wednesday the group changes, men going home for a week off. The new crew comes in for seven days. They work from 7 a.m until 8 p.m with half an hour meal breaks. Hard work.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Villan Dies

Back in Georgia, the guy who served as the villain of my first novel, AN END of DAYS, has died. He didn't know I patterned Jack Trader after him, never knew he ended up living in Chicago, working for the Contributors, selling out his one time neighbor, Carla.

He didn't know he eventually was cannibalized. This neighbor lived up on the hill behind us. He died at age 65, not really so bad, because really he didn't live very healthy.
 
 
You can find this book at  Amazon.com  along with the next two in the series.
 
I kind of felt bad making him the villain and now he's dead. His wife is still alive, back in the woods.
They still have the same set up I used in the fictional book.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October Snow in Yellowstone

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Short video capturing the weather and road conditions in Yellowstone. I left Gardiner this morning about 9:30, pulled in near noon. Its all about shifting into low gear, no breaking, getting enough speed when you approach a hill. I'm living at nearly 8,000 feet now.
 
I've got some good gear to test this winter, stay tuned for footage and reports.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Swearing Off Lawyer Jokes

Today I'm going to consult a lawyer. I know, I know. But sometimes you just need someone who knows the ropes, can handle the heat and will be your advocate.

This man has been recommended to me by my family, and all I can say is I need some serious legal consultation, maybe some letters and phone calls made in my behalf.

My point is sometimes a gal just has to hire someone who knows what they're doing. Like asking grandma to make your wedding cake is fine, if she can. Otherwise, get the one who knows what they're doing, pay the price, enjoy the once in a lifetime event. Hope its once in a lifetime.

Now, I'm nervous, true that. I'm hoping I bring all the right papers, present my side properly, understand the repercussions of the whole scenario. I'm trying to detach, be objective, but hey, If I could do that, couldn't I handle the mess myself? Nope, I doubt it. It's all about the medical-insurance catastrophe. Of course, the lawyer has seen it all before. It will probably be a piece of cake to him.

The big guys play with big guys, intimidate us smaller guys and call it a day. Meanwhile, I must go on, prepare to winter in Yellowstone, and love life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Anyone Recognize This

 
I say it's griz poop. Saw it hot and steaming fresh while hiking alone this morning up on the Clagget Bluff Trail, south of Mammoth.



Bushwhacked wide around these bison. After watching one big guy approach and charge a full sized griz, I won't take any chances.


Snow is on the mountain tops now, Mammoth Hot Springs feels like home. I move on Saturday.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Shopping List for the Man Camp

Preparing to move up to Lake Yellowstone for my new job, cooking at the Man Camp, I went to Bozeman first thing yesterday morning.

I had a huge shopping list, many hundred dollars in cash and two credit cards. I got everything I wanted, and then some.

Ok, here's what I bought, and some specs:

First and foremost, a pair of awesome back country skis from Play it Again Sports on Oak Street. The guys really were good to me, helping me pick out a pair of barely used Karhu XCD skis. The boots are BC7 by Cockpit. Don't ask me who these companies are. I never heard of them, but the quality of this gear is evident. The skis have metal edges, perfect instant release, and are waxless. Now, I'm used to waxing, so the guy threw in some glide wax for me. He tested for proper length and camber  Smear on, buff, go!

I bought Thinsilate Mittens, a supper long knit scarf, 6 pairs of wool-wool blend socks, 900 minutes for my cell phone (service if you climb Elephant Back), minus 5 boots, (cause the ones I wanted were not in my size and I couldn't go home without any).

A sketch book and black ink pens, three new DVD movies, 5 tubes of tooth paste, laundry detergent, 8 bars of bar soap, 24 ounces each of olive oil (skin treatment) hair conditioner, shampoo and lotion.

Ok, then 12 rolls of toilet paper, and reading glasses. My two sets of polar fleece wear came from Cabellas, along with an Avalanche hoodie. I think I'll be warm with all the other gear I have on hand too.

We'll keep you posted on all this gear, how it holds up and the season's escapades. I have my chef's knives, my Culinary Arts Resource Book.

I've always wondered what it would be like to winter with tons of snow. Now I'll Know!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Beaver Pond Freeze Up

After working over a month at Lake Lodge, we closed it down for the winter, deep cleaned and moved. I had a serious reality check. It was snowing, blowing and DAmmmmmm cold. I proceeded to place an order for two sets of polar fleece base layer wear.
Using my own gear on hand, I layered up and took a nice hike up on the Beaver Pond trail. Its about 5 miles, nice steep climb, some ponds, some pines, no tourists. Not until I rounded a bend and found some guy holding a nice antler. Humm, do I tell him he can't keep it?
I didn't say nothing. The woman asked me if I knew where the Indian Wikiup was. I shook my head, no, kept hiking, thinking, even if I did I probably wouldn't say much. Would they try to take a souvenir home with them.
The colors now are fantastic. The blue lakes and ponds so blue, the drying flowers and vegetation so vibrant. Many seasonal workers have gone home for the winter. Some swearing to god they will never come back. Others say they will be back, it was a great experience.

I have been hired to work the Man Camp, cooking for construction workers up at Lake Hotel. It will be quite a winter, snowed in, living at nearly 8,000 feet. I'll be there until May 2013.

I will be buying skis, bringing up a box of books to read, my computer to write book 4 of the River Survival Series. I love cooking and the outdoors. Seems like a good fit.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Snow Around the Yellowstone Corner

Up at Lake Yellowstone, we know it can snow any day. Any Day. Last evening I hiked up to Elephant Back to get cell service. It began to thunder, sprinking just a bit. I knew it was time to get back to only 7782 feet elevation. On the way down it began to hail, lightening flashed. It reminded me of the Colorado Trail thru hike in 2003. We did the entire trail in 40 days, taking only one zero day. Being rained on, hailed on, snowed on for 38 of those days, mostly just after noon. This morning I hiked along the lake, hoping for some sunrise photos. It was pretty cloudy, but here are two of my favorites.

This photo was taken first. While not as dramatic as the first, its very mellow, with snow clouds heavy in the sky. I love it here!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bison and Griz Face-Off on Wapiti Trail

 
 
Heading back from my hike to the Ribbon Lake up near Canyon,  it began to sprinkle, the thunder rolling over head.
Something briefly caught my eye. I looked left into a meadow, all tall and golden, and saw a huge brown boulder. Then the boulder moved. A bison was approaching this boulder, head lowered, stiff legged. I  quietly slid my pack off, grabbed my binoculars and sighted a huge griz, the tell tale hump clearly visible from his profile. The face off was about 100 yards away from me, either, or both, could be in my lap within a minute.
 
I always hike in stealth colors. Today I was wearing my camo pants, a black shirt, carrying a black pack. I'd quit making noise, instead thinking about the winter season, still no concrete job offers. Maybe I'll just go play near the canyon lands in Arizona.
 
A tiny pond beset with various prints, mostly elk.
 
Suddenly, the bison charged, the griz took off running, closely tailed by a very huge, very angry bison. Then they both stopped, stood still. This is mating season, a time you don't mess around with bison. It seemed I was frozen and quite thankful they ran away from the trail I was standing on. Watching them, I was unsure whether to call out, Hey Bear, so I didn't. Figured the bear had enough worries at this point.

The bark peeling from this fallen log create wonderful hieroglyphics, Modern Wilderness Art. 
 
I glanced down the trail. I couldn't remember if it would swing around that particular meadow, bringing me once again within  yards of these fearsome creatures. I pulled my bear spray, held both hiking poles under my arm, watched the two still in the feild, waiting each other out. I started walking, calling softly, hey bear. Neither turned their heads towards me.

 
I'm glad I took a few pictures on the way in. On the way back I decided to protect my camera, missing shots of the encounter. Let me be honest, though. I was more concerned with not getting in the middle of the fight than filming it. 

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, quite a drop off.
 
 

My hiking poles, map, some raisins on the edge of the Grand Canyon in Yellowstone.
 
I crossed several of these fields, saw some prints on the way, deterimined the stride and markings were those of large bear. A year ago, one person was mauled to death by a griz on this very path. I still hiked alone, as usual. In the rain and late September, few hikers are out, and ususually get a much later start than I do.
 
 
 
 
After the close encounter, hiking back to my car, keeping a close watch for other bears, I couldn't resist laughing out loud at my good fortune of witnessing a rare sight so close. I even let out a couple wolf howls!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Specimen Ridge Trail Report

I hiked this trail on Wednesday after heading off early in the morning, motoring slowly through road construction up by Roosevelt and finally parking. I set foot on the trail by 8:30 a.m.
video
It was a beautiful day with blue skies. Here's a spectacular sunrise in the Hayden Valley. I stopped to take several shots like other tourists driving along the park road and watching bison waking up, enjoying a peaceful late summer day.



Once on trail, the paths split and I ended up off route peering over a huge drop off, spell bound by the beauty. Alone, I could take whatever time, route and breaks I pleased. Not a soul was seen until the afternoon. My companions were bison, Pronghorn (antelope) and several noisy ground squirrels. They seemed as surprised to see me as I them.

 
I felt eyes watching me, spun around, saw antelope and large Pronghorn watching from the mesa. All day, several others crossed my path. They were fat and sleek, traveling leisurely. There was no water on the route. It was quite warm for September. I was glad I had two quarts with me. 

 
The further I went, the more sketchy the trail became. Finally I saw a tall pole surrounded by rocks, a nice trail marker. I swung south, got on the real trail and started hiking several miles farther. I pulled out my binoculars, scoping for bear, at last glimpsing several large brown animals. Turns out they were solo bison.

 
Many large holes such as this badger home and various tunnels were seen along the way. I stopped to take a photo but saw no animals and marveled at the sheer size and quantity.
 

 
Heading back, I took out my field glasses and searched for markers then headed cross country looking for the designated trail. It reminded me of the CDT routes. The saying is that no two people can hike it exactly the same.

 I helped set a pole up then hauled rocks to brace it, knowing how important the poles were should snow hit. I thoroughly enjoyed my hike, did about 12 miles and met two school bus loads of kids from Cody taking a lunch break just one mile from the trail head. You can do a short hike from the Yellowstone picnic area. Its about 3 miles, which is what I figured they did, intersecting the Specimen Ridge trail near where I found them lunching.

The smoke is very strong still in Yellowstone. The fires abated a little after a night of rain. The water levels are quite low and its very dry. But so far, I've not had my hiking hindered in any way due to these circumstances.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hike to Shoshone Lake from Old Faithful

I was planning an overnight backpacking trip on my two days off here in Yellowstone. Most of the back country offices are closing now, the season being so late, so I elected to get to Old Faithful bright and early and see what campsites were available. I packed my gear, bear canister, bear spray, 800 power- fill Marmot sleeping bag, my custom prototype Brawny tent, on my retrofitted exterior frame. As you can see, I am a stealth, black and green girl.


As fate would have it, all the campsites were spoken for. The young kid manning the shop at the Ranger station couldn't seem to understand my objective, Continue my hike along the CDT in Yellowstone. Fine, all the sites are taken, I turn this into a day hike.


I got a late start because I waited for the ranger station to open. If I had called ahead and tried to reserve one, it would have cost $25 bucks. Sometimes we have to work because of co workers calling in sick, so back country permits are best when gotten at the last minute. Then, they're free.


I started at 9 a.m, met several guys hiking out. They had decent sized packs, had poles and could very well have been CDT hikers. Its the right time of year for Northbounders, maybe getting late, but about now is right. I was surprised to see these three bear boxes down at Lake Shoshone.


All along one could see evidence of the fact we do live on a volcano. Hot spots and steam rising were evident, then suddenly, I'm hiking through lush green forest. I passed many heading towards Old Faithful. I saw a green tent, and two rangers heading out from it around 11 a.m. We greeted each other. It was obvious they had day packs and would return to their tent later.

At 1:00 p.m I took a 15 minute lunch break.

 
The Lake had one kayaker on it, and I thought this spot would have made an ideal campsite with the bear boxes just down the trail.

 
There were many signs directing the hiker to various destinations, with mileages. The trail was well marked, unlike some other places in Yellowstone where bush wacking and general direction is all you can go by, just keep the river on your right in, on your left heading back.
 
 
 
All told this day hike was a wonderful 21 mile day, ending back at the Ranger station at 4:50. I took off my boots, put on flip flops and ate food from the bear canister I'd left in the car, along with other over night gear, like the tent, sleeping bag, and cook set.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hike to Heart Lake in Yellowstone National Park

This trail is a small portion of the Continental Divide Trail going through Yellowstone National Park. I started at 7:30 this morning. The frost was heavy on the grass, the flowers have their kiss of death. So do the mosquitoes!
Just getting to the Lake is 7.5 miles, but its fairly level. My first view of the lake came after 4 miles.


I was really surprised by all the bubbling hot spots, the stream was bath water temperatures. I planned to take a break there, just to stick my feet in. Two guys ahead of me on the way back decided to skinny dip. The clouds rolled in, I felt pending snow in the forecast and gave up ideas of bathing in the wonderfully steaming water.

The trail winds through forest showing signs of fire about 20 years ago. This is normal Yellowstone eco systems. Everything is flourishing here, little chipmunks squeaking as I passed by.


Heart Lake is fairly cool. A group of four fishermen said hi, and continued looking for a deeper spot to fish. They had plenty of gear. Most people look pretty loaded with big packs. Its been getting down to 31 degrees at night, so warm clothes are key now.


The tree must be quite old. I took its picture, but didn't attempt to count the rings.


This little dude struck out at me when I passed. He looks like a grass snake, one of many I saw along the way today. I tagged the point I left the CDT two years ago at Lewis Lake, and tallied up my day hike at 19.5 miles.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cell Service on Elephant Back

A two mile hike up a thousand feet will give you cell service. So I found out on Thursday after checking in to work at Lake Lodge, at Lake Yellowstone. For one month, I will be the Employee Dining Room Manager, helping close down the kitchen for winter.



The view is beautiful, the hike a somewhat strenuous climb if you're not used to the elevation of nearly 8,000 feet. Once you get to the bench overlooking the area, you can dial up or text friends and family. There is no cell service otherwise, within quite a few miles of my new home.

My summer has been quite interesting, meeting lots of people, making lots of friends. Some of us will winter here, some will go home and just chill until next summer.

The bison have left Lake. The cold rains have put an end to the smokey skies here. Winter is fast approaching and it will soon be time for the fleece.