Archive for the ‘Forest Service’ Category
What would be ugly in a garden constitutes beauty on a mountain.
Three observations concerning Forest Service web sites:
1. There isn’t a lot of information on some sites;
2. Many sites just sit on the same information for months and even years;
3. And, the Forest Service really doesn’t blow its horn often or loud enough.
When we started our US National Forest Campground Guide efforts, the Forest Service was still in a cyberspace “Dark-Age.” Their computers were some “off-brand” unknown system that barely talked with any other computers. Some Forest Service employees had been exposed to cyberspace via “gopher” aided college research but most had no experience with cyberspace. The Internet was in its infancy.
Needless to say, “back-in-the-day”, the Forest Service seemed to think web sites were the corners of rooms were spiders hung out. A few years later, if a Forest’s web site was developed, designed, and maintained it was by whoever had the time and interest. Work on a web site was done when everything else was done. Since than web sites have evolved and today the Forest Service web sites have a standard appearance with specific guidelines. But getting the information we, the users of National Forests, need continues to be challenge.
My interests are focused on camping opportunities and hiking trails. Over and over again I have found the campground information provided by the Forest Service is one, two, or more years old and so sketchy I am not sure what I might be getting myself into. (A call to the Forest’s Front Desk person usually corrects this problem but not always and there is a rumor that this position may be “consolidated,” whatever that means.) And trying to discover trails at or near the campground – just forget about it.
After all these years of working with the Forest Service in the forests across the country there are three things I have learned:
- people who work for the Forest Service are dedicated, committed, wonderful group of people and, generally, introverts;
- National Forests are the bestest places; and,
- the Forest Service is “hiding their light under a basket.”
Our weekend of camping in the shadow of the San Francisco mountain on the east side of Flagstaff is almost done. Tomorrow we’ll go to Williams, AZ and re-visit Dogtown, Kaibab Lake, and White Horse Lake campgrounds before heading to Prescott to do some of the campgrounds area there. But more about those adventures later.
It was 351 miles from home to Flagstaff. Hand down, the worst part was the hour or so driving through Phoenix. I wish I could find another way to go from southern Arizona to its northern reach. It doesn’t seem to matter when we leave home, the traffic in Phoenix is miserable and the temperature only adds to the misery. However, when Phoenix is in our rear-view mirror things are good. The traffic melts away, as does the heat, and landscape goes from one housing developed, mega-shopping mall and apartment complex to various vista that stretch beyond imagination, open prairies dotted juniper and finally towering sweet scented Ponderosa pine.
It is still too early, and cold, for wildflowers to be in blooming north of Phoenix but up to there blossoms lined the I-10. Yellow Brittlebush seemed to be the most plentiful with occasional patches of rosy pink penstemon and golden Mexico poppies are everywhere. May it’s the surrounding dull dead brown landscape that makes the roadway lining wildflower displays so pleasing. What ever the reason, it might be the best part of the two-plus-hour drive.
This is a photograph of one of the my favorite weeds. I call it a “Chocolate Weed” because it smells like a chocolate cocoa.
Once in Flagstaff, we settled into a private campground. What can I say,? It’s a private campground were one parks their rig between young pines on parking aprons of the cindery soil so common to the area close enough to the neighboring rig that you can identify what they are having for dinner. The dogs are completely unimpressed by the many Abert’s squirrels (with tuffed ears and related to the Kaibab squirrel which live on the north rim of the Grand Canyon National Park) gathering around the plate of food left by our neighbor. Besides the entertaining squirrels, the adjacent Coconino National Forest offers miles and miles of trails to explore. The dogs and I think that is the best feature of this private campground.
Our presentation at REI in Tucson, AZ March 9 went well. We talked about camping in the Southwestern Region (basically in national forests in AZ, NM and national grasslands in NM, OK, and TX). Here is Fred waiting for folks to arrive. I think we’ll do more presentations in the future. Any suggested topic would be appreciated.
One of the highlights of our travels in 2011 was a Guided Auto Tour through Picketwire Canyon (available starting 3/1/13). It is a recommended “Must Do” for anyone visiting the Comanche National Grassland in southeast Colorado. A personal favorite stop on that tour was at the meandering dinosaur tracks near the Purgatoire River.
What I have just learned is, within the area covered during Picketwire Canyon Auto Tour, there have been upwards of 50 locations bearing dinosaur bones discovered since 2001 and four of these areas have been excavated. The discoveries were made by Passport in Time volunteers and a task force of volunteers selected by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, a Forest Service partner, is taking on the task of stabilizing and storing the fossils.
So far, the remains of Ceratosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, Allosaurus, and a limb bone possibly from a Stegosaurus have been found at what is called the “River View” quarry. FYI: Ceratosaurus and Allosaurus are meat eaters while Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, and Stegosaurus are plant eaters. Apparently, meat eating dinosaurs shed their teeth, like sharks, and a bunch their teeth have been found. The theory is bones were washed in and stacked up on a gravel bar in the river, thus the “toss dinosaur salad” image. It is thought many of the dinosaurs dead up river then either their partial skeletons or full carcasses washed down river, became lodge on an ancient sandbar, only to be chewed up by carnivores (meat eaters), thus, accounting for the tossed and strewn about fashion of the bones.
And to think we were there and, besides walking in dinosaur footsteps, we could have been walking on dinosaur bones! I want to go back!!!!
Took some friends from Fairbanks, Alaska to a magical place, Council Rocks. Click here of a photo album of this location.
Like too many trails, the one to Council Rocks isn’t well signed. We sort of ended up making our own.
Recent snow and rain produced numerous puddles and this pond in the scooped out boulder.
While waiting for the men to catch-up, Robin admired Council Rocks interesting geology.
This is view from the top of Council Rocks. Little wonder why Cochise and his band found safety in the jumble of rocks known, collectively, as the Dragoon Mountains.
Yosemite National Park is impressive. It is also congested, busy, and too commercialized for my tastes. For a long time, the Inyo National Forest‘s Mammoth Lakes area was my preferred “go to” alternative to Yosemite. Then it seemed everyone had discovered it, too. However, much to my delight, there are still places you go and thing you can do and still feel the solitude and enjoy the wonder of a national forest. I guess it is all a matter of how an area is developed and managed.
One example of the Mammoth Lakes area’s development and management is the newly completed Mammoth Lakes Trail System. From granite crags to trout-stocked lakes, pine forests to alpine meadows, there’s 300-miles of trails providing access all seasons, interests, and abilities, for the motorized and non-motorized alike. The network of trails connections to three wilderness areas, Devils Postpile National Monument, the Pacific Crest Trail and more. With 300-miles of designated and maintained trails visitors to Mammoth Lakes have the opportunity to experience the area’s beauty and wonder plus the many miles means visitors are spread out over a larger area so there are less crowds and congestion.
It has been years since we last visited the Mammoth Lakes area. We have been tempted to return but just haven’t. Now that I know about the completion of the Mammoth Lakes Trail System, and considering how much I like hiking, I think the Inyo National Forest‘s Mammoth Lakes area is got to be moved closer to the top of our “To-do” list.
Cold weather camping requires an RV have a dependable and adequate source of heat, reliable batteries with enough amperage for your needs and a way to charge them, full propane tanks, plenty of warm clothes, extra food for “just in case” situations, and some way of receiving weather reports.
Cold weather camping is more labor intensive. It is also a wonderful experience, when one is properly prepared. Here are some hints we were given and found useful:
- Remember that batteries become more difficult to recharge as the temperature drops
- Keep antifreeze in holding tanks so drains won’t freeze.
- Crack a winder when heating the RV with any type of propane or solid fuel heater
- Keep lower cabinet doors ajar so water lines will not freeze.
- A hair blow dryer is useful for thawing frozen drains and iced over doors. A can of de-icer is an alternative.
- Each night discount sewer and water hoses. Bring the water hose into the RV to prevent freezing (we stow ours in the shower stall).
The bottomline is be safe and enjoy.
A lot of homes rely on firewood as a part of their home heating. It’s an important product our national forests and grasslands supply to many communities. One district in the Deschutes National Forest has issued firewood permits for 1,700 cords (that’s two pick up trucks loaded down with firewood for every adult in the town of Ennis, MT) already this year so imagine how many cords are harvested in the 175 national forests and grasslands nationwide! However, a lot of people may not be aware that “imported firewood” or firewood not from the local area, could carry non-native pests and diseases. Check with local district ranger’s office for a permit as well as the rules and regulations of harvesting firewood. District office phone numbers are found off the “Forest Contacts” tab located at the top of the forest’s web page on our website.
You heard or seen all the recent sad news. Don’t worry I’m not going to recount any but to say I was happy to come across this item. It helped bring that festive holiday feeling back.
“Rescue Dogs Sniff for Salamanders to Save Rare Species and Help People” – Shelter dogs are being trained to be conservationists. These conservation canines climbed the Jemez Mountains in the Santa Fe National Forest, clambering over rocks, running from smell to smell, to track where rare Jemez salamanders, a species found nowhere else in the world, are living in New Mexico. Because salamanders are succumbing to warmer temperatures and drought conditions, their population has drastically declined. Between two dogs, and with human assistance, only seven of the salamanders were found during the latest search effort. By mapping the salamanders, scientists will be able to create a land management plan that will help salamanders, as well as the forests we all depend on for clean water supplies and recreation. The work includes restoring the forest, woodlands and streams. The plan is for the dogs to return in 2013 to continue their work.
Good story that I hope brought you a smile and a little holiday cheer.
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