Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Badgers, bucks and more

There is a lot of wildlife at our cabin, more than we ever expected and we haven't even experienced springtime yet. We've got the mountain lions, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, antelope, etc.

I really never imagined we would have badgers, I've never actually seen one in Colorado but apparently we have a lot. It makes sense, there is a lot of crap soil land edging lush forests, it's the perfect feeding ground and habitat.
Many think the badger is aggressive, but like most wildlife, just leave it alone and they will give you the same respect. We saw it out the picture window, Rock was being a good watchdog and trying to figure out what this new "large not a bunny thing" was.
In our usual tradition of going for a walk after dinner to stargaze, we encountered either the same, or another badger. It was on the roadside and didn't like the high powered LED tac lights so it scurried off into the high grass on a field edge. Just another reason to be alert, vigilant and armed.

Speaking of that, a neighbor stopped me on the road asking if I was ok or just out for a hike. She apparently didn't recognize me and thought maybe I was an escaped convict rumored to be in the area. Yes, she drove right up to me with her window down and vehicle unlocked....
We small talked for a minute, she told me to be careful and then stared longingly at my XDm. I headed back to the cabin, I had left it unlocked as we always do on our hikes. Not being one to toss caution to the wind, I cleared the entire place upon re-entry.

For city slickers, we do OK with projects. It might take us a while but we get things done. Usually the time delay is not having enough of something and not being under a time crunch. The shed roof was finally completed on Monday.
It will hold and it doesn't look too bad for us do-it-yourselfers.

On the way into work I counted about 35 wild turkeys, a few dozen antelopes, around 20 bighorn sheep and countless bucks and does. It's on the edge of winter, everything is moving down the mountains and grazing/getting ready to hibernate.

Even rock gets worn out from the wildlife and duck hunting....

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fun with hand tools

When most people think of hand tools, they usually think of things like shovels and rakes. I think a hand tool is anything powered by your body, and we think it's a great idea to have a lot of hand tools. Saws, drills, shovels, rakes, screwdrivers, pliers, nail pullers, hammers, different saws, etc.

Saturday I was up nice and early and started to add supports to the woodshed roof area. We need to add about 8 2x6 supports, but need something to brace them against. It's a typical easy job of measuring, cutting and drilling screws in.
Nothing is 'easy'. The battery powered circular saw cut one 2x4 and then died. No problem, we have 3 batteries so I grabbed another one and the same thing happened. It's a craftsman, not a Dewalt, but it's done well over 10+ years. The third battery didn't get me anywhere so I got my hand tools out.

Sawing 2x4's is easy, using a hand drill is easy. What's not easy is balancing at the top of a ladder while trying to keep pressure on the hand drill while you are stuffed against the underside of a roof. I decided to try again next weekend when I 'll have some help, I'm not a wobbly-ladder kind of guy.

Since the hand tools were out I decided to cut down a small dead aspen tree. This was followed by another, and another, and some bigger ones. Once it's cut you need to drag it out into a pile so you can get the chainsaw out and make firewood lengths, and then split it. 3 hours later I stopped cutting and dragging since I was dehydrated and completely soaked with sweat. 80 degrees in the shade is still  80 degrees.

I headed into town and picked up a corded skill saw at the one and only pawn shop. It was a Dewalt and appeared to be almost brand new for a great price. I can use hand tools, but I figured it would be great to have some nice power tools too.

I got a 2 mile hike in, a 40 minute run and even a 9 mile bike ride. I slept amazingly well for once in the last few weeks. It probably had something to do with the temperature being cool and the house getting down to 60 inside.
Sunday morning it was 44 outside and of course 60 inside. Perfect time to make muffins, run the laundry through the dryer (need to get a clothes line up still) and get some inside stuff done before the temperature decided to get hot again. It's late summer and I have to remind myself that we work with what we are given.

I went for a hike in the morning but got distracted by talking to my new neighbor. He isn't staying, he backed out of the deal once he found the subfloor rotted bad from a leaking water heater. He is renting for a month while he closes on another house he found on the other side of town. Sure, he annoys us by not containing and/or leashing his dogs but he would still be a great neighbor to have. He reminded me of my own Father, including the way he dressed and his sense of humor and self sufficient oriented lifestyle.

More chores were done, we use my hand drill bits (12" bits) to clean out a cable hole in the side of the cabin so we could run some wire in it. I just knew those long bits would come in handy. I did almost an hour of trail running and it was brutal. You can't look up or you trip/slip/slide and you have to constantly plan where to place each foot for each step. It was exhausting but fulfilling as usual and I'm just doing what I can to keep in good shape while I'm able.

It was still another great night of sleep, something I really needed again. I almost feel whole again. 64 inside this morning, 44 out. Headed out for the 1 hour 40 minute drive to work and enjoyed every mile of it.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

50% off Fenix lighting; another weekend in the hills

While I was in Salt Lake City I picked up a 50% off Fenix coupon code. I don't know how long it's good for, but I put it to use already. They are my favorite flashlight manufacturer, so half off more lights is always great.
Once you are there you need to make an account. I made one and used a normal sounding made up business name. Coupon code for your cart: FENIXUSPRO
If you like Revo sunglasses here is a 25% off code to use at checkout: OR2014_25 (
I mention the sunglasses since my Oakley's are at the bottom of a lake in Utah... lesson learned there but I did a pretty nice job on the standup paddle board only getting wet once. I think I paid about $200 for those glasses 10 years ago so I've gotten my use out of them for sure. My backup pair are 16 years old, I try to make things last.

Cricket flour bars, not bad actually. I wasn't sold on it entirely but it they have different flavors and they were all OK. Just one of the several dozen bars/snacks I sampled at Outdoor Retailer this past week.
 My great, great, great grandfather sculpted this, first time I've seen it in person. Salt Lake was pretty easy to navigate, cheap to park and overall not too bad of a city. For a city.
At the cabin right now it's 52 degrees and its only 7pm. That's a picture of Lorie, the Amish working dog, getting spoiled. We took most of her molting hair out and leave fresh water out for her and some snacks.
A little snack, a little nap, and then she is off and running. It's nice that Rock gets along with her, we just don't introduce food when they are together. Yes, I know, the green outdoor carpet is horrible but it bets splinters until we can get around to redoing the deck.

We have new neighbors up the street who have zero control of their 2 dogs. I gave him a little introduction today to my vocabulary after the 7th time of his dogs running around us snapping at Rock. I figure if you can't get the hint, and have only apologized once with zero corrective action, you deserve to hear whatever I have to say.
Like their cat who walked into the cabin last night while we had the storm door propped open. I know it's the country, but manners (should) still apply. I think I'm we are the only people who own a leash in the county.
The shed roof is half done, we got the metal from a company in Colorado Springs who shorted us by one sheet, didn't have enough to do both sides. The top cap is on order, we wanted green and everyone had silver or white. The tar paper kept the rain out so it's nice and dry inside finally. We will finish it this coming weekend. The overhang is almost a foot to help keep the rain from splashing up on the wood and concrete. Once we are done it will have a fresh coat of stain.
More supplies lined up in a space that seemed perfect. Free space is at a premium with electric baseboard heat and the ATV's hogging the garage. The buckets can be stacked to the ceiling if we put the lighter ones up top (oats, elbow noodles, etc.).
We had one of our BBQ group members and longtime friends down to the cabin. I showed them how to make and can blueberry jam and he showed me how to use a 7 foot longbow. I did OK, then decided to get my compound bow out since it had been a long time. I couldn't figure out why I missed 5 out of 6 times, then I gathered the arrows and noticed the fake feathers were dry rotted: time for a re-string and new arrows. It never occurred to me they would dry rot but the broad head arrows were just fine, cheap target arrows are cheap.

We made chocolate chip cookies from food storage and they enjoyed my recipe tweaks. I introduced them to freeze dried yogurt bites and they ordered 6 #10 cans (they are pretty awesome to snack on). They both helped out on the shed roofing without being asked, that's a quality that's hard to find. We really enjoyed their company and they loved hanging out with us in the mountains.

It's raining, down to 48 degrees and I don't think I'll see the moon tonight. Last night was pretty amazing but unless the clouds vanish really soon it's going to be early to bed (and I really need some sleep). I'm predicting snow on the peaks within 2 weeks, it feels like it should be sooner but it's damp with all this running water around us.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Another week, another Epic Adventure.

I wanted to title this, "Another week in a life well lived" but for some reason it sounded a little egotistical but I suppose it really does fit. I could also title it, "I probably need less dangerous hobbies or better reasoning abilities when battling my activity OCD."

I visited the doctor for my "Affordable Care Act Wellness Checkup". I had no clue why I was going in, nor what they were going to check, but it was free and I figured I should see a Dr. once every 5 years even if don't think it's needed. It turns out it was a complete physical, including lab work that I was supposed to have gotten done before the appointment. Fail on that, fail on urine sample, fail on fasting, etc. I told them if they want this stuff they should inform patients.
The Dr. said I'm healthy, blood pressure is great, resting heart rate is great, nothing abnormal, etc. He did ask me a lot of useless questions (nothing about guns) like: do I recycle, do I have a fire detector at home, how much exercise do I get a day, rate my diet on 1-10 (10 being great), etc.

Apparently healthier people care more. He had a BS explanation on why they had to ask silly questions. I did get a tetanus shot, it's been about 25 years since my last one and I'm always playing with old metal and crap at the cabin. When I asked for the side effects and drug interaction sheet everyone was stunned and confused for a bit.
Not a sheep.

Anyhow, here is the week in pictures!
As I was driving to the cabin on Wednesday afternoon, the rain had finally eased off and the clouds had lifted up, it was obviously a perfect time to get some mountain biking in. Those puddles in the road just added to the fun. I geared up and headed out... weeeee.... it's a nice downhill grade to start so I was flying. Suddenly the rain started to fly as the wind shifted directions and was blowing towards the mountains instead of away as usual. I've been wet, will be wet again and don't care about being wet so I kept going and was enjoying the tailwind. Unfortunately that turned into a headwind when I headed back home. All was well, it's a long grind back home through mud puddles and battling a 30+ mph rain and wind storm. The the flashes started....
One day, and hopefully not soon, I'll be found dead in a ditch somewhere with a smile on my face having enjoyed whatever it was I had been doing when my time was up.
It just wasn't my time I suppose but good lord I was exhausted. I had to push the bike for a few hundred feet since the wind was so bad. Flash; 1 thousand one, 1 thousand two, boom!

It isn't often that people get naked outside but I was wet there was no way I was going inside dripping all over the floor. I cleaned up and assembled the new Berky! 8 gallon capacity, 6 out of 8 filters installed and we now have some fantastic water at the cabin. It's gi-normous!

 The half moon was out, it was very nice for an evening walk.
 The next morning I headed to work as usual.
Amazon didn't let me down and a box of books showed up. I have about 25 books to read, including those trilogies. I really like the Terry Brooks Shannara series, I grew up reading them and it gets my head into something other than the usual books. I have hundred of books from when I was a kid, that's all I spent my money on, whenever I had it. Forgotten Realms, Dungeons and Dragons, etc. I really loved to read, and still do. I find it's enlightening to change genres from dystopia to anything else.
Everything was wet Friday afternoon but we had high hopes for a nice weekend. We needed to get some outside work done. That's a shot of the backyard dog area. The Amish neighbors dog is getting used to us being here and hangs out most of the time with us. Probably since we pulled all of her molts out, feed her and let her come along on hikes, etc. I have the door open and she just walked on in wondering where Rock is. They get along great, only the third dog ever, but we don't let them play it would be too hard on her.
 Since it was cool and wet I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies. Food storage cookies for the most part, I didn't have butter powder. I need to remember to bring some down in the next load of goodies.
 Yum! We had BBQ chicken drumsticks, fresh veggies and Italian bread. Using the over helped get the cabin warmed up to 70, it was cool and damp. It got as low as 42 degrees Friday night.
 Saturday was beautiful, mid 70's and a slight breeze. Here I am working on stripping the old roofing from the small storage shed. The local hardware store is nice, and it's big, but they didn't have any shingles in stock. That wasn't expected so it's just a tar paper roof right now. We are going to pick up some metal slide roofing sections and peak cap in town and finish it this coming weekend. I was really hot working up there but I wanted to be protected from the sun, wood, nails, etc. so I ditched my signature shorts and t-shirt look.
This morning Rock was awaiting his hike but I was really exhausted from the last week of nonstop epic adventures. He settled for a few big rides and is probably sticking his head out the window on the way home right now. I did grab my bike and ride into town this afternoon, 10.25 miles in 41 minutes. I cheated and got a ride back, I know my limits.

It's cool currently, 54 degrees and we had an hour of light rain. I'll sleep great tonight and head out on the highway for Salt Lake City in the morning. Cheaper to drive instead of fly and rent a car, and an 8 hour drive could be another epic adventure to post about. I'll be at the Outdoor Retailers Expo, if I see anything awesome I'll snag photo's.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rain, on top of rain!

The weather for some has been miserable, it's summer and they enjoy the 100 degree heat we often get. I'm enjoying the overcast rain, it's making the garden really flourish this year. Mid 70 degree weather and hours upon hours of rain with a few hours of nice sunshine are perfect.

I know that veggies are sneaky, but 2 days ago I didn't have a single cucumber. I know this since I was helping direct them onto the fence. I don't want them laying on the ground, they are supposed to climb but often meander wherever they feel like. Last night when I was harvesting some zucchini, I checked the cucumbers out again... I have about a dozen of them close to picking time.

It's national pit bull week! Not sure if that's true or not, but Rock was very pleased to hear about it.

Those who saw my adventure from this past Saturday will be pleased (or not) to know I'm recovered and ready for the next random thing. This picture below shows the route I took.

This picture is from Monday morning on my drive to work. Not only was it beautiful, it's was full of wildlife. I saw about 40 does, 12 bucks of various sizes, 2 groups of 20+ wild turkeys and a bighorn sheep.

Since it's not that great canned, I decided to freeze a lot of the zucchini and squash this year. I did one batch from the fridge that I had picked and then cleaned the garden out again. I have a feeling I'll have a lot more batches and a freezer full of nutritious veggies for the winter.

Heading to the cabin tonight with another load of supplies. We are going to redo the roof on the little shed and shore up the woodshed roof this weekend. I'm waiting to see how the month turns out at work before I decide how much firewood to order. When I wake up at the cabin I'm reminded that winter is coming, 49 degree's is the average morning temperature at 5am.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

An adventure, with a ton of photo's. Part 2.

Where did we leave off....
 Lunchtime! 4 hours, 30 minutes, 11,400 feet or so, 4 or so miles. That's the pack I wore, it's great since it displaces the weight into your breastbone instead of your shoulders, hips or back.The shoulder straps have velcro flaps (you can see the underneath of one where the drink tube is coming out of) that keep the weight bearing up front. It doesn't bounce around at all, shift or chafe.
 Cheese tortellini, very neutral flavor but it wasn't bad. This was the first time I gave myself a break, and actually sat down for the entire trip so far,
 I was up and across all the rocks, they were sharp and lose so I took my time with a zig zag pattern that would be the norm soon.
 Damn! I got tricked and there were more rocks. I went across instead of up and across to save time.
 I found this cactus in the rock pile and thought it looked awesome.
 There it is, treeline end! The clouds looked great so I decided to keep going, it was still early.
 If you notice the tree's reaching into the valley, I started just about where the left edge sort of takes off on it's own.
 So close to the summit! Just to the right of center you can see some brown dots, that is a herd of about 100 elk. Later I would see one of the females as she popped up over the edge and decided I wasn't friendly and left. She was big, they all were big and the entire hike from this point on I smelled them and stepped in the poop. There are a few hers of this size or bigger on the various peaks if you are lucky enough to see them.
 Same spot looking left at Mount Humboldt. The valley has a lot of snow still, that feed the creek that runs through our cabin property.
 Just when I thought I was at the summit, it was a false summit so I figured this one would be the real one.

 It wasn't the real one, this one let me down too!
 Look, snow! I passed it without noticing, I don't stray close to the edge. I did look for the herd of elk a few times but like I said, they are much more graceful than I am (and brave).
 Yippie! I made it, sort of. I honestly skipped a couple hundred feet, the clouds were starting to build up and I had a long way home still before treeline. The view is the same anyhow. Looking West. I was exhausted to the point where I would take 20 steps and rest for 10 seconds, 30 steps and rest for ten, etc. I was just so damn close I couldn't give up.
 Looking East.
 West here too.
 I did take a break and eat my MRE pears. They tasted great, just like canned pears, and I was angry at myself when I dropped a big spoonful on the ground. I took my shirt off so it would dry out, it ws my adventure team shirt but I don't have an adventure solo shirt.

I headed back down. My legs were starting to cramp up, I was low on water too. Technically it was water with electrolytes but whatever. Once I hit treeline I actually ran out of fluid and was miserable. The only water source was on either side of me, 2 thousand feet down. I trudged on, being angry with myself and when the tree's got thick I got really mad. I was tripping over everything, hit every spiderweb known to exist, stepped on way too many ant hills and my legs just basically started to give out. I stopped sweating and didn't need to pee.

If I had more water I would have been good to go, but since I didn't plan to really summit I didn't think about the additional fluids I would need. It took me 6 hours up and 3 down and it was hot out, I really messed up. It should have taken 2 hours to get back down but I had to stop all the time to rest so I wouldn't collapse.

I finally got back to the cabin, only missing a small portion of my intended route, and I drank 4 bottles of water (including an emergency carbohydrate and electrolyte mix) and got into a cool shower. I was dizzy, wanted to vomit and every muscle in my legs was cramping. I know what that means, it means I'm an idiot and learned a valuable lesson that could have either killed me or had search and rescue trying to find me. Then I had a banana and some ham.
 7 hours later, I was sitting outside and eating 3 hamburger patties. I zoomed in as much as I could for this photo.
See the snow just right of center on that mountain? That's the snow from a picture above that I mentioned. You can also see how many false summits there are. The rock filed area and where the elk were are not in this picture at all, if that gives you any idea of the trip. I think it was 5 miles or so but it was one of the hardest things I've done in years.

I learned even I need more water than I assume I'll need. I learned I'm in pretty awesome condition as far as this kind of crazy activity goes. I knew I was in good shape, but this just reinforced everything I am doing.
Oh... my knee's are just about good enough where I can walk up steps without holding onto the railing, should be back to normal in the morning. I'm also all hydrated and protein loaded.

An adventure, with a ton of photo's. Part 1.

 I was planning on doing a hike today, nothing long just head up the ridge line running west of the cabin and check it out. Since I had to jump a barbwire fence I wanted to do it bright and early before any livestock was in the area. There aren't any keep out signs and the previous owners said they did it all the time so I felt OK about it.
 Directly above the water bottle is Colony Baldy Mountain, 13,750ish feet. The ridge line runs all the way up, but I was just planning on breaking treeline if possible, and I was very pessimistic on that goal.
 I had to have enough light to see without needing to take my headlamp, so at 05:30 I headed out.
 This is looking back, I was keeping an eye on the sun as I didn't want to get cooked on the first hill.
 I'm holding my camera level, this hill was a bastard. It took 30 minutes to get up and my reward was tons of stickers and cactus pieces in my shoes and socks. I stayed on the right side of the fence, the left fence was marked. 8,750 feet.
 Ha, up top of the stupid 'cut bank hill'. They did some testing about putting in a reservoir and never bothered to fill in the cut, hence the name.
 It wasn't very difficult, sometimes I had good forest to stroll through.
 At 1 hour in I had a snack. I was trying to keep my energy up for the entire trip. I raided an MRE, cheese ravioli, and this energy bar was actually pretty awesome. 1 hour in, 9750 feet, 1.25 mile.
Here I linked up with the ATV trail that runs the length of the mountain range, called the Rainbow Trail. From the cabin up the regular way, this is 8 miles exactly. From the ridge line way it was 1.5 miles.
 After I hit the ATV trail for a few feet I went back into the woods, the trail runs down the hill and that wasn't my plan. Here is a shot of Mount Humbolt (left) and Crestone Needle (middle small spires).
 2 hours! The old MRE goodness again, peanut butter and crackers. You can see what the hiking was like in the forest as well. In fact, sometimes it was so bad I was swearing to myself, in my outside voice. 2 hours, 2.5 miles, 10,300 feet.
 The elk make a nice path to follow, for the most part. I'm tall and not very nimble and have 2 hooves instead of 4. It was a relief to hit a 'trail'
 The elk path wasn't easy, they are very graceful on a slope and going uphill. I found this huge rock clearing that I had seen from the road. I figured it was just bare but it wasn't and I decided to give myself a much needed sit down break.
No tactical gear, I had my running hydration pack on with food and of course water, about 60oz. I had blister pads, chap stick, toilet paper, a large knife and my SPOT GPS search and rescue summoning beacon.
end pt.1