Friday, June 30, 2017

Thursday Evening Hike

I've got hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures that I never labeled when I took them figuring I'd do it some other day. Some other day is here. The summer season is slow so I've got some time to catch up and I'm running across pictures of things that happened two or three and up to six or seven years ago that I'd forgotten about. I had a running winter long battle with a sharp-shinned hawk three or four years back and eventually tracked, that's right, I can track a hawk (if the conditions are right) to it's home and threw snowballs at it all day as it was coming to my home everyday and despite my best efforts taking a horrible toll on the songbirds. In time we worked out a peace agreement and he brought me a gift, I petted him for awhile, and we came to terms. I would not go to his house anymore if he didn't come to mine. We have both honored that agreement. Sometime later Kobae escaped and while I was out looking for him I came across the remains of a sharp-shinned hawk that looked like my frienemy. After that I occasionally saw one in the canyons that looked similar so I don't actually know for sure if he met his demise with the ravens as it appeared. There are four finger canyons back there. Access to three is pretty easy, the fourth is difficult to find entry to and that's where the sharp-shinned was living. Jax and I have headed out to the fourth finger canyon to see if there is any sign of my former enemy and eventual friend.

On the way to the finger canyon I found, for the third time, a bush that was healthy just a few days ago, now completely destroyed. All three have been in this canyon all over the last few months. Whatever broke this one was heavy. You can see the thickness of the broken branch still on the tree.
Jax and I have reached the one time home of the sharp-shinned and we've been sitting in the back of the canyon, just listening, to see if our friend might still be making home in here. It's quiet. No sound from above. Still, the sharp-shinned could be out somewhere.
As I stand up to hike out of the canyon I find the last thing I wanted to see. The ravens own this canyon. There's no sharp-shinned living here.
Trying to find a different way out of the canyon Jax and I run across the place where I fell and did my first hospital trip. I'd been following big horn and they went down a steep slope and then did a jump. When I did the jump, the bottom was frozen, I fell and got a nasty shooting pain in my right shoulder. Trying to find a way back in the snow and ice, with one arm, I tried to get down right here. I put my back against the wall and my feet against the other wall and with one arm tried to work my way down. I fell again. The next day after x-rays they found a chipped bone in my right rotator cuff. Prior to surgery it slipped back in it's slot and has been there since.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

It's True

Just hours ago I was complaining about the raccoon problem and how it had reached epic proportions. But tonight, for the second night in a row, mom left her three kids here, apparently for me to babysit. The fact that she thinks this is a safe environment for her newborns makes me feel pretty good and all is forgiven, until they screw up again. I had a program that was working. Everybody has there space and I changed the hot dog location and messed up the program. I won't do that again.

There were three baby raccoons sleeping on the railing but one fell off. I saw it go under the porch so it appears to be alright. Three nights ago there were six babies on the porch so somebody else has three also.

Wednesday Evening Hike

Fossils and Dino Tracks

It's Wednesday evening. We waited for Kobae to come out and eat but by 6pm when he didn't show up Jax and I went hiking to make sure we got back before dark because he'd surely be out pacing the yard waiting for us by then. Hanging out by the Base Camp sign and front gate we ran across fossils and dinosaur tracks everywhere. Still calling it the front gate out of habit. Years ago there was a gate at the bottom of the lodge driveway which we called the back gate but the floods took it and everything supporting it so there's only one gate now.

My Mistake

I have at least three baby skunks now as everybody is having kids. Last night instead of dropping a couple hot dogs in the skunk hole I dropped them in the wall of the cistern so mama didn't have to bring the babies out into the open for ten feet or so to get under the deck to get to the regular food court. There is one raccoon that is not welcome by the others on the front porch and he/she is constantly causing havoc trying to reach down in the skunk hole for their food, pull up the boards on the porch, climb up poles onto the roof to see if a ringtail left food up there. Last night it apparently smelled the hot dogs and when I went out this morning much of the rock around the cistern had been removed but since I heard the mother skunk in the wall moving around and smelled her defense mechanism it appears the raccoon's attempt to get the hot dogs was unsuccessful.

Looking back at all the critter challenges, rock squirrels eating all the flowers off the Desert Willow tree, rattle snakes, whip snake trying to get my two favorite lizards Who's Up and What's Up, the foxes trying to get the ringtails, hawks trying to get the songbirds, the raccoon problem is turning into the number one issue of all time and it doesn't feel like it's anywhere close to a solution.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday Evening Hike

Doug kept two lots on top of the cliffs. I ask what he was going to do with them and he said "make a giant hogan and a three hole golf course." Not disc golf, regular golf. Looks like he's on his way. Little bit of beach showing on the end of the island. Still smoke in the air so everything looks hazy.

Here's Why

For years I've had folded chairs on the front porch leaning against the wall that were non functional, as chairs. They did provide a tunnel of sorts safe haven for the skunks and ringtails to come eat out of the Kit&Kaboodle bowl without the foxes being able to get them. Earlier this year the raccoons took over the east end of the front porch and I've been carving out a different safe space for the skunks and ringtails ever since. The raccoons hang around all night to see if by chance I do come out, which I do, but I don't feed them or refill the bowls. The chairs were looking pretty ratty but I hated to throw them away and lose safe passage for the skunks and ringtails but this video convinced me the raccoons are never leaving and they own the east end of the front porch forever with another generation so the chairs are sitting in a dumpster on the other side of Hurrah. I will say it does look better though.

Sunday of Discovery

Joel is one of the geologist who has been showing up for the last couple years working out at Jackson Hole just north of here. There initial aim was to determine when the river broke through the rock and came straight through instead of going around what is now called Jackson Butte and I think they've decided it was right at 130,000 years ago that the river quit going around Jackson Hole and broke straight through. I found out that the gravel pit next door has been determined to be 60,000 years old.

We spent Sunday looking at stuff on the way out to Jackson Hole and I took him to different kinds of unusual rock formations on the way out. As we were leaving the property and on the way out the gate he said "A sign that says Crusty Tom." I'd seen a metal sign lying in pieces but I never really put it together or paid much attention ot it but Sunday evening while Jax and I were out hiking and I was cutting branches sticking out into the trail I put the pieces of the sign together and found "Crusty Bottom". There are other names along the river that end with bottom and apparently as one time something in this direction did the same. I don't know the origination but I'm going to see if I can find out.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sunset: There's a fire somewhere


It's a big deal that so many take for granted. Last time I was in San Diego picking up Kobae I went to get a drink of water and despite having lived in that house for 20 plus years I ask daughter Heather, "Where do you get your water?" Not sure if I could drink out of the sink or not. She hesitated and looked at me and I remembered how easy it is most places.

Not so here. At the lodge there are three kinds of water. Sink water comes from the well part way down the driveway, only 88 feet deep. But it's salty. You can shower, dishes, laundry and stuff like that. If you drink, make ice cubes, or cook with it, make sure it's something you want with salt. I have jugs on the front porch that I haul drinking water in from town when I go pick up critter food. Then there are the cisterns on each side of the lodge that collect rain water off the roof that I use for watering the plants along the porch and the cottonwood tree. This time of year the cottonwood tree takes six buckets of water per night to keep from shedding leaves. It takes less than a month to drain both cisterns in the summer of 90 to 100 every day.

Next door at Last Hurrah (part of Base Camp) water is pumped from the river into a pond just below the upper house. After settling for a few days back down the hill to a settling tank. From the settling tank through two commercial filters, a huge sand filter, and a house filter, into two holding tanks, and then to usage in the houses and hogans. You can overflow the settling tank if you're not watching the gauges. You can run out of water in the settling tank as you're pumping it into the holding tank and ruin the pump, if you're not watching the gauges. There are two holding tanks, at different elevations. You can link them together but if you're not watching you can flood the lower house and if you're sloppy of the whole process you can do all those things at the same time.

For the last three or four days I've been experimenting with different size hoses, different pumps, different start and stop times, trying to find a system that ran on it's own so I'm not captive standing there watching pressure valves and gauges light up and go dark and finally I made it through six hours of pumping with no lights coming on and I believe I now have such a system. There is also a tank in the garage to wash vehicles and use the shower if you get any chemicals on you. It's full. The settling tank is full. Both holding tanks are full. The pond is full. Since I've got the hoses strung I took my motorcycle ramps, put them on the tailgate and pushed the big brown tank up into the back of the truck and went over to pump water out of the pond, fill up the tank, return and have now filled up the cisterns.

I will never take turning on the tap at any sink without appreciating the luxury.

The Critters

I've tried all kinds of objects to shrink the skunk hole where I feed the spotted skunks after the raccoons tore out part of the decking to get at the skunks hot dogs. I measured it and then called my friend Ivan "The Terrible" as he's been called for all the mountain lions and others he's taken during his hunting days, most with a bow. He has a woodworking shop and he cut me a piece of wood that fit exact and I didn't even have to hammer nails. It's tight and just when I thought I'd finally beaten the raccoons at one place I noticed the rock deck was sinking and when I dug it up they had been digging a tunnel to get at the hot dogs so I dug it out, cemented some of it, and put the rocks back.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Some Stuff

In this first picture, this is what activity looks like just off the front porch when the temperature is 109. If you use your imagination you might see a fox chasing a rabbit and they are both walking. Then Kobae passes them.
In the second picture it become apparent why my grocery bill is so high. The two cups in the back are because this type of refrigerator has a defect that it leaks in two places in the back after so many years. Upper left, upper right, and middle right are Kobae's romaine. Middle left is my turkey bacon and some of it to Jax. Lower left and right in the drawers are Kobae cucumbers and green peppers and on the door and in the middle left drawer are fox, ringtail, and skunk hot dogs. I'm noticing an absence of food for me. In the hall way it's all bird food, sunflower seeds, and Kit&Kaboodle for other critters. In the cabinet, bananas for Kobae.
The third picture is a collection of items I tried to block the raccoons from getting into the skunks hole and taking their hotdogs. It finally worked. The fourth picture are the porch rocks settling because somebody is digging a tunnel under them trying to get to the skunks hole.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Monday Evening

Jax and I headed into the finger canyons below the Anti-Cline with the eventual goal of hiking back to the Three Finger canyons where we've seen a lot of deer lately. Just before we broke off to switch canyons bone fragments began showing up in the creek so instead we followed it to the end. Every year the mountain lion comes down twice from the Anti-Cline, takes a deer and then goes back up. Every year, twice, I find the remains, but not so far this year. If this was a deer, it was a pretty small one. On the way out we came across a small spring which Jax took a drink of but from the color of the ground around it and the look on Jax's face it's not hard to tell there's a little salt in it.