Moonrise at Granite Mountain Wilderness, California

October 26, 2016

Your public lands at work, filling you with awe.

From BLM National's Twitter feed: A full moon 🌕 lights up the sky at Granite Mountain Wilderness, #California. (Photo: Bob Wick)

From BLM National’s Twitter feed: A full moon 🌕 lights up the sky at Granite Mountain Wilderness, #California. (Photo: Bob Wick)

BLM National put this photo up on September 30, so we might assume the photo is from September’s Moon, as well.

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A new day: Sunrise at Rooster Rock

September 9, 2015

We seek renewal in wilderness, and find that wilderness itself renews with every sunrise.

Mike Scofield photo, Sunrise at Rooster Rock in Table Rock Wilderness, Oregon

@BLMOregon: Rooster Rock #sunrise from the Table Rock #Wilderness near Molalla, #Oregon – photo: Mike Scofield #camping #hiking

Mike Scofield is a lucky guy to have been there to get that shot.

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1st National Parks Director Stephen Mather, memorial at Teton NP

August 26, 2015

Photo from the poet and muse of the National Parks and wild places, Terry Tempest Williams (at least, she posted it on Instagram).

Don’t you love the way the Tetons just peak over the fence?

U.S. National Park System just celebrated 99 years. Williams works on a book for the centennial in 2016.

Wouldn’t it be fun to do 100 parks in the 100th year? Anybody up for funding me to join them?


Earth on fire? No, just Idaho (and a lot not pictured)

August 23, 2013

Photo and press release from NASA’s Earth Observatory:

Image from the astronauts aboard the International Space Station, acquired August 18, 2013 -- 50 mm lens. Looking to the west, over Idaho.

Image from the astronauts aboard the International Space Station, acquired August 18, 2013 — 50 mm lens. Looking to the west, over Idaho. See photo below for labels of fire sites.

Description of the photo:

Taken with a short lens (50 millimeters), this west-looking image from the International Space Station includes much of forested central Idaho. The oblique image highlights part of the largest single wilderness area in the contiguous United States, the Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness.

Within this mountainous region (the dark areas are all wooded), several fires produced extensive smoke plumes. The densest smoke appeared to be generated by a combination of the Little Queens and Leggit fires (within the Salmon River Mountains [link added]). This image shows the common pattern of westerly winds carrying smoke in an easterly direction, as seen during the wildfire season of one year ago.

Named fires—most ignited by lightning—had burned 53,000 acres of forest south of the Salmon River by August 20, 2013; the number would be significantly higher if unnamed fires were included. The Gold Pan fire, north of the Salmon River, had burned 27,000 acres. For a sense of scale, Gold Pan lies about 125 miles (200 kilometers) north of the Little Queens fire.

Ten days before this image was taken, fires in central Idaho (near Boise) had been aggravated by southerly winds. Some of those fires began to burn in July, but were quelled and remain under observation for new flare-ups.

In the image above, smoke partly obscures the black lava flows of the Craters of the Moon National Monument [link added] (lower left). The Beaverhead Mountains [link added] mark the eastern boundary of Idaho with Montana.

Astronaut photograph ISS036-E-32853 was acquired on August 18, 2013, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 50 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 36 crew. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by M. Justin Wilkinson, Jacobs/JETS at NASA-JSC.

English: Salmon River Mountains, ID

Salmon River Mountains, Idaho, on the ground; notice the steep mountains on-the-ground firefighters must contend with. Wikipedia image

Instrument: ISS – Digital Camera

My older brother Dwight was a firefighter with the Bureau of Land Management in the early 1960s.  There were some huge fires then — but not so many, so large, all at once.  While we don’t have satellite photos to compare from way back then, this is just scary.  Those were scary on the ground, and smaller than these — and fewer.

Notice in the photo below, some of these huge fires are not even big enough to be named.  Wow.

Image from the International Space Station of Idaho fires, with names of larger fires overlayed.  August 23, 2013

Image from the International Space Station of Idaho fires, with names of larger fires overlayed. August 23, 2013

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Compare with NASA photo from a month ago; Idaho’s been hammered by fire in 2013:

Photo of Idaho from about July 20, 2013, showing then-active fires in the state -- north at top of photo. Notice Craters of the Moon National Monument, the dark area in the southeast section -- this area is obscured by new fires in the photos above.

Photo of Idaho from about July 20, 2013, showing then-active fires in the state — north at top of photo. Notice Craters of the Moon National Monument, the dark area in the southeast section — this area is obscured by new fires in the photos above. Idaho’s borders are barely visible in a thin, black line.  This photo from NASA/Goddard


“Out of Yellowstone,” Nature Conservancy film on surviving the winter, and surviving the future

September 19, 2011

It seems like just a few months ago that Kathryn the Trophy Wife™ and I honeymooned in Yellowstone National Park, for a glorious January week.  On more than one occasion we had Old Faithful all to ourselves — it seemed like such an indulgence.

Seems just a few months ago, but that was before the 1988 fires, before our 1989 vacation there, before our 2004 ceremony casting the ashes of brother Jerry and his wife Barbara to the Yellowstone winds.

Will Yellowstone be there for our children, and for our grandchildren, as it has been for my lifetime?  The Nature Conservancy produced a 16-minute film showing much of the glory of winter of the place, and talking about the problems.

For the deer, elk and pronghorn in and around Yellowstone National Park, surviving the winter means finding adequate food and areas with low snow accumulation. But this critical winter range is increasingly threatened by energy and residential development. At stake is the very future of the Greater Yellowstone region’s iconic wildlife. This film highlights the voices of those working together to save these magnificent herds: ranchers, conservationists, scientists and others. http://www.nature.org/yellowstone

Growing up in the Mountain West, I learned to appreciate the stark beauty of the cold northern desert — but seldom is that beauty captured on film so well as it is here.  Phlogiston Media, LLC, made a remarkable, beautiful film, about a remarkable, beautiful land threatened by gritty, banal and mundane development.

This movie has been viewed only 542 times when I posted it.  Spread the word, will you?


Sky islands in Yosemite National Park

September 19, 2011

Nature Notes #16 from the good people at Yosemite National Park:  Sky Islands.

Throughout the Sierra Nevada, high flat plateaus are found at elevations around twelve and thirteen thousand feet. These isolated sky islands are the home to unique plant communities that are found nowhere else.


Typewriter of the moment: Sigurd Olson, a typewriter in the wilderness

January 11, 2011

 

Chuck Wick with Sigurd Olson's typewriter, in Olson's Ely, Minnesota, Home.  MPR photo
Chuck Wick knew Sigurd Olson and now owns Olson’s Ely home and writing shack. Olson’s old Royal typewriter, his pipes, photos, duck decoys and rock collection are still in the shack, where they were left after Olson died more than 20 years ago. (MPR Photo/Bob Kelleher)

Sigurd Olson, in his spare time, ghosted part of the National Wilderness Act, always fighting to preserve and protect his love, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area — on this typewriter.

It’s just a small shack, really an old garage — a drab olive green with a pair of windows on each side, tucked under a few shade trees in the corner of the yard.

When you enter, you hear the spring of a weathered, wooden screen door, and the slap when it closes behind.

Inside, it’s mustiness and old pine. The faded Royal typewriter still waits on a broad oak desk. Olson’s pipes are in the shallow bowl to the right.

Sigurd Olson at Quetico

Sigurd Olson at Quetico

From this typewriter, and this shack, Sigurd Olson captured in words the spirit of wilderness. Olson’s poetic writing has been compared to Henry David Thoreau’s, or John Muir’s. Chuck Wick owns the shack now.

“There’s all kinds of stuff here,” Wick says, fumbling a metal axe head pulled from a wooden drawer. “This piece here — this is an interesting one here. This is a trader’s axe that’s back from the voyageurs era.”

As he worked in his shack, Olson worried that 20th century America was fast gobbling up the nation’s last wild places.

Read the story at Minnesota Public Radio.

Read Olson’s book, The Singing Wilderness, or visit the website for the documentary on Olson with the same title, by Peter Olsen.

Resources:

It is wonderful to have national parks and forests to go to, but they are not enough. It is not enough to make a trip once a year or to see these places occasionally over a long week end. We need to have places close at hand, breathing spaces in cities and towns, little plots of ground where things have not changed; green belts, oases among the piles of steel and stone.

Sigurd Olson, “Our Need of Breathing Space,” at a Resources for the Future, Inc., forum, Washington, D.C., early 1958.


Boy Scout died in fall from Utah’s Gemini Bridges

July 19, 2010

Tragic accident at a spectacular site in Utah’s desert.

A Scout from Wisconsin attempted a leap from one part of a natural bridge to another, lost his balance and fell to his death.  According to the Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City:

A Wisconsin Boy Scout died Saturday after falling 100 feet from Grand County’s Gemini Bridges.

Anthony Alvin, 18, of Green Lake, Wis., was with a Scout group at the Gemini Bridges rock formation, which is on federal land northwest of Moab, deputies wrote in a press statement. At about 9:30 a.m., Alvin tried to jump from one span of the double bridge to the other span, six feet away, when he fell backwards, dropping 100 feet to the bottom of the bridges.

Rescuers rappelled off the bridges and found Alvin had died. His body was lowered down two separate cliffs to the bottom of Bull Canyon, deputies wrote.

Erin Alberty

Anthony Alvin was a member of Troop 630 from Green Lake, Wisconsin, in the Bay Lakes Council, BSA.  The Troop has years of experience in high adventure trips.  This was a transition trip for Alvin, moving from Scout to leader.

High adventure Scouting takes teens to outstanding places with some risks.  Strict safety rules protect Scouts and leaders from most accidents.  Jumping the gap between the two natural bridge sections is a leap that experienced rock climbers and Scouters should advise against — and probably did — precisely because of the dangers of minor mishaps, 100 feet or more in the air.  A six-foot gap would look eminently leapable to a capable young man.

This is a picture of Gemini Bridges from below:

Gemini Bridges, near Moab, Utah - NaturalArches.org image

Gemini Bridges, near Moab, Utah, from below. Image from NaturalArches.org image, photo by Galen Berry.

NaturalArches.org includes details about many of these natural spans in the desert Southwest, in Utah and Arizona.  For Gemini Bridges we get this warning note:

These magnificent twin bridges are a popular 4-wheel drive destination on BLM land northwest of Moab, Utah. A few foolhardy individuals have lost their lives here. One person fell to his death while attempting to jump the 10 feet between the two spans, and in October 1999 a jeep and driver fell 160 feet off the outer span.

From atop the bridges, the gap between the two can appear deceptively small — see one view here.

Gemini Bridges from the trail, on top - PaulandKate.com

For safety’s sake, no one should attempt to leap the gap without proper rock-climbing safety equipment in place and in use — and frankly, I’m not sure how it could be secured even then, in the sandstone.

Redrock country brings out the worst in otherwise adventurous-but-mostly-sane people.  Even rock climbers will act irresponsibly.

Four-wheelers and off-road vehicles frequently climb these trails — despite the dangers, the area offers a huge playground for people out of the jurisdiction of the National Park Service or National Forest Service, each of which discourage excessive vehicular risk taking.   Several sites extoll the glories of conquering these deserts with gasoline-power.

Irresponsible jump at Gemini Bridges, from rockclimbing.com

Irresponsible jump at Gemini Bridges captured on film, from rockclimbing.com

The photo at the bottom shows a memorial plaque to the four-wheeler who lost his life off of Gemini Bridges in 1999.  So long as people make monuments to people who pull daredevil stunts, others who have less experience, or even more sense, will be tempted to try the same daredevil stuff.

Go to these wild and beautiful places.  Please remember they are treacherous, however, and stay safe.

Tribute to Beau James Daley, who died when his jeep plunged off of Gemini Bridges, Utah

Tribute to Beau James Daley, who died when his jeep plunged off of Gemini Bridges, Utah

Also at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

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Boy Scouts Centennial: Dan Beard and Ed Dodd

June 21, 2010

Dan Beard, a founder of Boy Scouts of America, and cartoonist Ed Dodd, photo dated (incorrectly) February 14, 1950 – Georgia State University Library Photography Collection, Atlanta Area Photographs from the Lane Brothers and Tracy O’Neal Collections

Dan Beard, a founder of Boy Scouts of America, and cartoonist Ed Dodd, photo dated (incorrectly) February 14, 1950 – Georgia State University Library Photography Collection, Atlanta Area Photographs from the Lane Brothers and Tracy O’Neal Collections

Daniel Carter Beard was best known as an illustrator of children’s adventure books.  He founded a group for boys, the Sons of Daniel Boone, in 1905.  That group was merged into the Boy Scouts of America at BSA’s founding in 1910.

Ed Dodd (November 7, 1902 – May 27, 1991) was an illustrator and cartoonist, probably best known for his comic strip “Mark Trail,” which is still carried in many newspapers today.

According to his listing at Wikipedia:

Ed Dodd went to work for Dan Beard, founder of the Boy Scouts of America, at the age of 16. Dodd worked at Beard’s camp in Pennsylvania for thirteen summers, where he honed his writing and illustration skills under Beard’s guidance. Dodd became a scoutmaster and the first paid Youth and Physical Education Director for the city of Gainesville, Georgia.

Another story of Scouting providing a career for a kid, another story of Scouting providing a career for an illustrator (see also Norman Rockwell, and the Csataris).

Dodd was a Georgian.  This photograph, dated February 14, 1950, shows a meeting of the two illustrators, with Dodd appearing older than the 16 he was when he first met Beard.  The photo is in the collections of the Georgia State University Library, in the Atlanta Area Photographs from the Lane Brothers and Tracy O’Neal Collections.  We might assume it was taken in Georgia, perhaps at Dodd’s “Lost Forest” home and workshop.

We know that can’t be the right date, however, since Dan Beard died in 1941.

Who can shed more light on this bit of history?

Updates:  See comments below — among other things, we know that the February 14, 1950 date was the date that a duplicate negative was made.  Please note in comments if you have further details.

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Mark Trail strip on NOAA's 200th-2D-MarkTrail650

Click on image: Marke Trail on NOAA’s 200th anniversary; King Features Syndicate

Ed Dodd and others in his studio at Lost Forest, Georgia, drawing the comic strip Mark Trail - Wikimedia

Dodd and others working on “Mark Trail”: The Mark Trail studio was on the second floor of Ed Dodd’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in the Lost Forest at the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs, Georgia. At work are (l. to r.) Ed Dodd, Jack Elrod, Tom Hill and Rhett Carmichael. The 130-acre Lost Forest was the model for the fictional Lost Forest National Forest in the strip. Dodd’s house was located on Marsh Creek, a tributary of the Chattahoochee River. Wikimedia photo and caption

  • Sadly, Dodd’s Lost Forest was completely burned in 1996.  I can find no information on any of the studio surviving the fire (anyone know differently?).   Dodd was honored in 1991 with the naming of the Mark Trail Wilderness Area, in the Chattahoochee National Forest.
  • According to the official information at King Features Syndicate, Jack Elrod first assisted Dodd, then in 1978 took over the creative writing and drawing of the strip when Dodd retired and Tom Hill, who had done the Sunday strips, died.  Elrod was a Boy Scout when he first met Dodd, in Dodd’s role as Scoutmaster.  The Scouting links are strong in this strip.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Chamblee54, for showing the way to the Georgia State University photographs.

[Editor’s note: Georgia State Library keeps changing the link url on the photograph; if you find a higher resolution version, please, please let us know where it is!]


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