7.29.2016

Building Trail with ABWF

The second half of our Montana vacation was spent volunteering with the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation. We had never heard of the A-B Wilderness before and found this opportunity through www.volunteer.gov.

"The ABWF is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring people to protect and preserve Wilderness by developing their understanding and appreciation for the values and character of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness."

Our "inspiration" came in the form of a 4-day trail crew. The A-B Wilderness is located just to the north of Yellowstone National Park. We were working close to Nye, Montana (about an hour northwest of Red Lodge) in the Custer National Forest on the edge of the A-B Wilderness.

map source: spokesman.com

We met up with the other 5 members of the crew at the Old Nye fishing access. The road up into the mountains was a little too rough for our Prius so we hitched a ride in with crew-mate Jerry, an old friend from Green Bay who now lives in Montana.


We set up our base camp about a mile up the road from the Initial Creek Campground on the West Stillwater River. What a beautiful location!

West Stillwater River (our base camp was on the left)
Base Camp

Once camp was set up, we had some lunch then began our work on the trail which was just on the other side of the road - very convenient! Our mission was to build a trail (to be mainly used by horses) that would connect the Initial Creek Campground to a trailhead for the A-B Wilderness a mile up the road. There is limited parking at the trailhead and it would be hard to get a horse trailer up that last mile of road. You also wouldn't want to be riding a horse on the road if a vehicle was coming. It will be safer to park a horse trailer at the campground and ride on the new trail up to the trailhead. The forest service had come in before us and flagged a route through the trees of where the trail should go. They also cut some trees out of the way which made our work a tad easier.


Using the flags on the trees as a guide, we would eyeball a path through the woods then get to work. We used pulaskis, picks, shovels, and rakes to clear duff, move rocks, cut through tree roots and dig out a trail. 


We worked on the mountainside with the West Stillwater roaring below us. Not bad for an office!


So, this is what we did for 4 days. We woke up, ate breakfast, worked on the trail for awhile, took a long lunch break, worked on the trail some more and then finished around 3:30. The rest of the day was spent cleaning off in the river, collecting firewood, cooking dinner, and chatting around the campfire. The ABWF provided all of the food (we ate really well!) and they gave us plenty of downtime so it felt like a vacation - not working on a chain gang. 

Building trail is HARD WORK but it's also extremely rewarding. Seeing all of your progress at the end of the day is one of the coolest things ever.


We really enjoyed the company of everyone we worked with and hope to volunteer on another ABWF trail crew next summer. I can't say enough good things about them. Have you ever done a volunteer vacation? I would love to hear about it!

7.22.2016

Thursday Sunset


July 21, 2016 at 8:37 p.m.

Awesome cumulonimbus base clouds on the tail end of a storm rolling through.


7.20.2016

Yarn Along: Ariana Ice & the Finished Autumn Leaves

I'm linking up with Ginny for this week's Yarn Along.



Knitting: Ariana Shirt
Trying something new: knitting myself a summery shirt. Yikes! This was my "car project" for the long drive out to Montana and back. I've tried it on multiple times, ripped back multiple times, and have made modifications so it fits my body better multiple times. Oy. Now I think I have it just perfect and there's only the many, many inches of stockinette to get through. 
Pattern: Ariana Shell by Kathryn Ashley-Wright
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Pima Silk in colorway 5134

Reading: Into Thin Air by John Krakauer
We finished this audiobook on our drive home from Montana and it's a good one! The author is hired by Outside Magazine to climb Everest and write a piece on the commercialization of the sport. (In 1996, when the book was written, anyone regardless of experience could pay approx. $65,000 to climb Everest.) Krakauer ends up being involved in one of the deadliest seasons in the history of the mountain. This book is his account of what went wrong. While I enjoy hiking in the mountains, I have zero interest in climbing peaks so high that you can't breathe or think straight. I found the book to be fascinating, horrifying and devastating all at the same time. 


FO: Autumn Leaves Baby Cardigan  I finished Baby Moriah's cardigan just in time to give it to her on her baptism day last Sunday. She's already grown so much in the 4 weeks since I last saw her so I'm sure she'll be just the right size to wear this cute little sweater once the cold weather rolls around. 
Pattern: Autumn Leaves by Nikki Van De Car
Yarn: Frabjous Fibers March Hare in colorway Cabbages Kings

What are you knitting/reading these days?



7.15.2016

7 Days in Glacier National Park

Christian and I just returned from a 2-week vacation in Montana. The first portion of our trip was spent hiking in Glacier National Park. This was our third time visiting Glacier and, once again, it didn't disappoint! Here are a few highlights.

We met up with some MT locals as we were hiking up Two Medicine Pass and they invited us to climb the Painted Tepee with them. The Painted Tepee is in the background of the photo of the 2 of us. By "climb" I mean hike up. We didn't need ropes or anything crazy like that but it did take about 10 hours from when we set out down the trail to when we got back. Pretty amazing experience! (Side note: I burned the crap out of my legs on this hike. I forgot to put on sunscreen and paid the price. I had to wear pants the whole rest of the trip and now I have some crazy tan lines on my legs. Don't forget to wear your sunscreen, folks.)



We saw a Blue Grouse doing his mating dance. He had these crazy things on the side of his head that would balloon out when he called. I've never seen anything like it! We have grouse here in Wisconsin but not like this guy.

  

At Florence Falls. The waterfalls are huge in Glacier and there's a lot of them.



On a snowy/rainy day the fog cleared just long enough for us to see fresh snow atop Swiftcurrent Lookout where we were a few days ago. Moments later we were completely socked in. We never saw the peak again for the rest of the day.



Christian hiding from the wind on the aforementioned Swiftcurrent Lookout. We had 50 mph gusts while hiking to the summit. The wind kept tossing me around on the trail and it was extremely hard to walk. Getting to the top of that peak was one of the hardest physical things I've ever done - but the view from the top made it all worth it.



While hiking up to Swiftcurrent Lookout we ran into 2 guys from the National Park Service trail crew. They were both carrying shovels. I asked where they were headed next and they said the Highline Trail to start digging. The trail was closed due to hazardous snow drifts. A few days later the trail opened. As we hiked the trail we noticed the areas where they had dug out the snow. Two guys dug out all that snow. Isn't that amazing?!

 
 

A nice view of Jackson Glacier on our way to Gunsight Pass. We ended up not being able to go over the pass because of a dangerous snow field. The hike was still worthwhile because we got into an area of the park where we had never hiked before.



At aptly-named Iceberg Lake. 



On the trail up to Swiftcurrent Lookout. Earlier that morning we were hiking through the woods in the valley down below and heard a {SNAP!} We looked over and a bear was standing on it's hind legs pushing on a tree trunk just 20' away! We didn't stick around to determine whether it was a grizzly or a black bear.



The wildflowers were amazing!



Sharing the trail with a mountain goat! By far THE highlight of the whole trip. She wanted to come our way but the trail was on the edge of a cliff. We flattened ourselves against the cliff and she ran down the trail right in front of us!


Have you ever been to Glacier? It's one of our favorite Parks and I hope these pictures help shed some light on why. Stay tuned for the second half of our vacation. It involved a little "dirt work".




6.28.2016

Tuesday Wake-Up


June 28, 2016 at 5:44 a.m.

Quickly growing corn in the foreground, our barn's shadow in the freshly cut hay field and an interesting band of clouds over the distant hillside. What a beautiful morning!


6.22.2016

Yarn Along: The Magician's Autumn

I'm linking up with Ginny for this week's Yarn Along.


Knitting: Autumn Leaves Baby Cardigan 
The little one who this cardigan is being gifted to was born on Father's Day. (Her brother was born on Father's Day 2 years earlier!) I got to visit her before she was even a day old. So tiny! She has some growing to do before she'll fill out this sweater, that's for sure!
Pattern: Autumn Leaves by Nikki Van De Car 
Yarn: Frabjous Fibers March Hare in colorway Cabbages Kings
 
Reading: The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister
The Goodreads description of this book reads "Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus." I can see that! The main character is a female illusionist in the late 1800s who is brought in for murder of her husband. The chapters flip between her banter with the deputy who brought her in for questioning and her telling him her life story of the road that led her to become an illusionist. It's a very good read!

In other fiber-related news, I dyed yarn for the first time! I started with just 6 skeins because I wasn't sure how things would go but I'm very pleased with the results. 


Aren't they beautiful?! I'm still kind of surprised by how well they turned out. Hopefully it wasn't just a fluke. I can't wait to dye some more.




What are you knitting/reading this week?

6.13.2016

Monday Wake-Up


June 13, 2016 at 6:03 a.m.

A storm rolled through at 4:30 this morning. By the time I left for work the rain had stopped but another storm was rolling in. Such awesome clouds!


We're having a very stormy spring. On Friday night we were watching a movie as a storm was just wrapping up. When I looked outside, the yard was glowing. I hit "pause" on the dvd and we headed outside and this is what we saw: