Tuesday, July 22, 2008

thank god this work week is over

if you look to the right of the river, there is the road i take into town through tumwater canyon.

This past work week was pretty much hell, with one exception. Friday(start of the past work week) we had to tear down some user built mountain bike jumps/trails. The bike community here had built a bunch on a trail on forest land (not allowed) and it sucked to have to go in there and tear out all these amazing jumps and ruin their fun. I can see both sides to the argument. The forest service wont put in a good course for the bikers, so they built their own, which the forest service has to tear out because user built trails are illegal on forest land. If they would just designate a place where they could have a good trail there wouldn't be any problem, but the forest service doesn't really seem to give a shit. This day wasnt too bad, other than the insane amount of work in very dry and dusty conditions (with not enough water to keep me hydrated so i lost energy very quickly).
Saturday morning started out awesome. The wildlife crew wanted to take a few from our crew out with them, so we drew straws to see who could go (they only had room for 2) and i ended up being one of the lucky ones! The goal of this trip was to find some spotted owls, which are very threatened out here. The head of the wildlife crew walked ahead of us into the forest, hooting for the owls, and they would hoot back, which was pretty cool to hear. They would come towards the hooting, and we would do the same until we found 2 of them. The male wasnt very interested in what we were doing, so he pretty much ignored us, but the female knew what we were up to and that she would get a treat out of participating. The point of finding the owls was to see if they have been banded and identified yet, and this is done by getting them to fly by you so you can see if there is a band on one of their legs. Do to this, you put a mouse on a stick, hold the stick out, and the owl swoops in and takes the mouse off the end of the stick right in front of you! I felt very lucky to witness something like this, since most people dont get to. I tried to get some pics, but the lighting sucked where we were and they didnt come out great. This is where the fun stopped for this week...
female spotted owl

The rest of saturday through monday was spent up on Icicle Ridge. For 3 days we had to hike up this 3 mile(i think?) trail, which had recently been burnt over and is very dry and hot, with little to no shade for the entire day. Once we got to the top. we were pulling Dalmation Toadflax (thousands of these goddamn plants). It seemed like it would never end and that we werent making any progress, which really had our crew's morale low. We were all very hot, thirsty and very cranky having to do the same thing in the same place for 3 days, and we still only probably got a 3rd of these freaking weeds off this ridge. By the end though, it seems like we probably knocked these weeds back and will keep them out of the wilderness for at least a few years (will be even better once next years crew does work up there). I think my crew leader felt pretty guilty for working a volunteer group like slave laborers so he took us all out to dinner last night, which definitely boosted our crews spirits.

burnt over ridge from hell
So, i think we are pretty much done with the weeding part of this internship! The rest of our time will be going on backpacking trips and doing work out in the wilderness. This coming weekend we are doing 3 nights in the Enchantment lakes, which is a big deal around here. It is one of the biggest attractions in the Wenatchee forest and only a limited number of people get to camp there (by reservation only) because of the damage larger groups would do to this particular environment. Ill be sure to post pictures as soon as i get back!

Oh, BTW, Mac and Jacks African amber ale is freaking awesome beer and i wish it came by the bottle so i could bring a case home with me in September. (only sold on draft) i wonder if i would have room for a keg in my car on the drive home.....

This video starts on the male owl, and of course i was looking away when the female swooped in for the mouse so i turned just in time to see her flying by the stick with the mouse on it and flying away with her snack. This is the best i could do.


Christine said...

Hi Ben! Love the owl story and photo. You're doing some cool stuff in addition to pulling weeds up there. It looks just beautiful. Still haven't gotten around to reading Perks. . .must start before you get back. When do you get back?

Ben said...

yeah, we are doing some pretty cool stuff other than pulling weeds, and thankfully the majority of the weed pulling is done for the summer. Yeah, you need to have that book read by the time i get back! My last day here is the 8th of sept, and my dad is flying out the 12th to do some hiking and then drive home with me. I am not sure how long we are taking to drive home, but i suspect it will be longer than the 3 days i took to get out here (hopefully because that drive sucked!)

Albertarian said...


Don't sell the video short. Nice work, actually!

Keep it comin'!


Martha said...

That owl looks cute and fluffy and I want to *nom* his face.