Sunday, February 22, 2015

Camp Chef's Mountain Man Grill...

Ribs 'n Fixins...

Elk steaks...

Quail poppers...Keith Szafranski photos...
Each January a bunch of us--fellow Montanans, a couple Washingtonians--rendezvous in the Arizona desert to hunt quail, swap lies, sip a bit a whiskey and grill a bunch a yummy eats over the world's best campfire coals (Mesquite). This year our grillin' got a big boost with the addition of Camp Chef's Mountain Man Grill to our camp cookware arsenal.

Easy to put into operation--drive the included steel stake in ground, slip on grill add Mesquite coals and voila--grillin' whatever, campfire meals really are fit for kings...okay, no kings here but ah'm sure you get my drift.

The MMG also comes with a solid grill--like for eggs, pancakes, bacon and such--and a charcoal pan, just in case you run short the real deals--mesquite and such.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Poindexter Slough Renovation...

Funded by Future Fisheries grants and a compelling argument by local sportsmen, the Beaverhead Watershed Committee and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks fisheries biologists Poindexter Slough is getting a long-awaited and much needed face-lift.

A new head-gate designed to allow for periodic flooding to maintain spawning and insect rearing gravels, dredging decades of silt build-up, narrowing channel and returning natural meanders and bank stabilization the hope is to once again return the "Slough" to its rightful place of prominance.

While great progress has been made so far this winter, whether or not the entire project is completed depends a lot on the return of more normal, e.g. colder, weather. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bryce Canyon National Park...

Gale Robbins photos...

Bryce Canyon NP (and nearby Kodachrome Basin SP) are two spots you shouldn't miss when traveling through Utah. Both are a photographer's dream, providing endless opportunities to shoot what can only be described as awesome views. Both offer year-round camping ops though beware the only loop open in Bryce during the winter provides a limited number campsites, most of which are tight getting in and tighter getting out...and come prepared with lots of leveling blocks. We found the campground all but empty, tried just about every open site and finally parked the camper going the wrong way, right off the access road--like inches off the access road. Actually not a problem, since there was hardly any through traffic and the park ranger who drove by early each morning apparently didn't give a damn which way we were headed.

The rock formations depicted above are called hoodoos. A hoodoo (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney, and earth pyramid) is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland. Hoodoos, typically consist of relatively soft rock topped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from the elements. They generally form within sedimentary rock and volcanic rock formations.

Found mainly in the desert in dry, hot areas, hoodoos range in size from a few feet to several hundred feet. Hoodoo shapes vary due to alternating hard and softer rock layers. Minerals deposits cause hoodoos to have different colors throughout their height.

As always the best photo ops (light) are early and late and for what its worth the best spots are Sunset and Inspiration Points...just one ol' man's opinion a course...You can drive to all the overlooks, something like 17 miles from Visitor's Center assuming of course the snowplows have had time to do their thing...again no problem this time around given one the least snowy winters ever...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Arizona's Canyon de Chelly...

Seven hundred feet below rim of Canyon de Chelly, Navahos still farm, carrying on a tradition thousands of years old.
Navaho family in front of traditional hogan, circa 1927...photo courtesty Northern Arizona University.

In spring  about a dozen Navajo families still return to their old homesteads at the bottom of Arizona's Canyon de Chelly. (pronounced dee chea).  For thousands of years various tribes have lived and farmed the canyon; the most recent, Navahos, have used it for centuries. In 1931, Congress authorized 84,000 acres — entirely on the Navajo Nation — as Canyon de Chelly National Monument.  Today, about 80 extended Navajo families have the right to use the canyon.

Lupita McClanahan stands inside a structure at bottom of Canyon de Chelly...photo courtesy Daniel Kraker, NPR
Most reside on the rim, but a few, like Lupita McClanahan, still reside, at least part time, within the canyon. Her aim is to hold on to the traditions she learned growing up here; when her family grew corn and maintained 200 fruit trees.

"When you pick a peach you drop it in the bucket — dong, dong, dong — and the sound of it is still with me today."
But 50 years later, just a few trees still bear fruit. Extended drought has driven many farmers to the ease of life on the rim.
McClanahan's home is a traditional octaganal Hogan with an east facing door, dirt floor and log walls chinked with mud. To supplement the farming, she and her husband, Jon, operate a guide service in the canyon.

Lupita McClanahan, wearing a traditional Navajo hair knot tied with white yarn, in a shelter her husband built.
Wilson Hunter, deputy park superintendent, grew up here, too. "Everything was there we needed," Wilson says, "If we needed water you just start digging with your hand along the side of the wash. Get a little hungry, go to the cornfield and get some corn and just build a fire, and we roast 'em."

...text adapted from NPR article.