Sunday, October 10, 2021

2021 venture vermont: Learn to tie 3 new knots

 if you didn't just wander in here, a few minutes ago, you know that  i am very much about the knots.

i have biners and doohickeys that help you not have to tie knots, but if you know how to tie knots, you won't loose a mattress on the interstate, and if your fancy clips break, you'll still be able to tie things down.

but i'm a hammock sleeper. i camp in hammocks and i sleep at home in hammocks and last year for my birthday my mom bought me a sweet custom built hammock, and once you're looking at a hammock custom built for you, you start to think about how well you like it's suspension and assorted accoutrements.

my lovely custom hammock comes with a cinch buckle i don't love as much as the buckles on another hammock i have, but those buckles are proprietary, so i bought a set of buckles and made myself some continuous loops, which are basically just rope circles, which means i had to learn to SPLICE.

a neat splice is not technically a knot, but then bends aren't technically knots either.

anyway, i did a whole bunch of hammock related rope stuff.

here's a dogbone daisy chain. it's a spliced daisy chain with a locked brummel splice at each end. it's super handy and you can girth hitch it to anything and have a little daisy chain to hang things from. i use it for hangign my taarp from my free-standing hammock rack.

this is a continuous loop. it's just a spliced circle, and it's handy for anytime you need a ring.

this is a marlinspike hitch, which is handy for tent pegs or rope ladders or if you just need a handle somewhere on a rope. the stake or whatever that goes through the center is what holds the hitch together.

here are two views of a j-bend. the continuous loop is in the place of the stick in the marlinspike, which is the base of the j-bend. basically it gives you a strong and flexible and hardware-free way to hang your hammock. usually i like the adjustability and ease of my hammock buckles, but each buckle weighs something and if i were seriously backpacking, i'd want the weight savings.

the good thing about the j-bend is that it will hold the body weight of a whole adult person and still come undone when you pull out the slipped bit.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

2021 venture vermont: Hike to a summit of a hill or mountain

 things used to be easier for me, physically. i used to march up and down mountains for funsies but these days things go better for me if i can drive pretty near the top.

enter mount ascutney. 

it has a lot of summit-y goodness and you can do it without breaking yourself up too much.

we hit it around sunset. 

in fog.

Friday, October 08, 2021

2021 venture vermont: Watch the sunrise or sunset from the summit of a hill or mountain

 the whole reason we camped at mount ascutney state park was to make easier the whole "watch the sunrise or sunset from the summit of a hill or mountain" thing.

it was a lovely day and right about the time we arrived at the summit for the sunset, the clouds rolled in.

so this is what our sunset looked like.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

2021 venture vermont: tell your best campfire story

Here's my best campfire story of 2021: I call it The Story of Our First Family Night at Camp Happy

If you didn't walk in ten minutes ago, you know that I do a lot of work for a well-known youth organization, and that I am the naturalist at a place we'll call Camp Happy in Nearby Town. It's right on the border with Other Town, and the Camp Road is the main way to get between the two.

Anyway, it's the summer of 2021, the summer after the pandemic shutdowns and nobody hardly remembers how to be civilized, let alone run camp and we are understaffed because everything, especially camps, are understaffed. But we're doing it. We're doing ok. our entire staff consists of one whole professional, one volunteer, and two teenagers. I am going to refer to them as "Bird", "Plant", and "Candybar".

We're a good team. We're getting things done and camp program is happening and we are feeling organized going into Family Night of Week One, which entails getting all the kids who are going home on the bus onto busses and lighting a fire and roasting hotdogs with the kids who are staying before their families arrive to make s'mores and do skits and songs. 

Candybar is the bus supervisor, so she has left Camp Happy for the day and is riding the bus.

Bird and Plant have taken the kids who get picked up by their parents to the pickup area.

And I have just sent the kids who are with me down to the woodshed, which is halfway down to the pickup area. Camp Happy is a very, uh, vertical place.

So this is the point at which Bird comes flying up the path and she says "BEAR" and I'm not sure what she's on about only suddenly I realize that she has just seen a bear in the general area that I have just sent the children.

It's not entirely clear to me what happened in the next few seconds, but we rounded up the children and put them inside a building and I had to explain to them How Bears Work.

Short version: we know this bear. She lives at Camp Happy and she pretty much knows our schedule so she can avoid interacting with us on her daily commute between the top of our hill and her evening hangout down by the pond across the road, where she does bear things. The proper thing to do is to simply stay out of her way and let her go about her business.

But also if you need to get a fire lit and hotdogs roasted you sort of need to get on with that, so one of us (me) had to go outside and walk the general trajectory of the bear while shouting "hey bear, hey bear" just to make sure the bear has cleared the area and it is safe to let children outside.

The shouting of "hey bear, hey bear" serves the dual purpose of warning the bear of your location so she can avoid you and also to let Bird and Plant know that you are still alive and inform them of your rough location while they do some tapdancing to entertain the children and keep them calm.

So THEN it was time to roast hotdogs and we are a little behind schedule, so we're not quite done that as parents start filtering up. I am minding the fire and the cooking process and Bird is handing out and organizing the food and Plant is down in the parking area checking in families and parking cars.

So when Plant called me on the radio I had hotdog skewers in both hands. "Plant to flask," my radio crackles. "I'm going to call you on your phone." I found some random dad and I handed him a half dozen skewered hotdogs and said "Hi. You've just been elected to roast these hotdogs. There is a little girl named Lila around here who will expect to eat one" and before he could answer, I marched off to take the phone call.

When i pick up my phone, Plant tells me that Officer Friendly from the state police wants to talk to me. this is day three of Plant's first job ever.

"Hello, my name is Officer Friendly from the Neighbortown Barracks of the State Police. We are pursuing an adult male suspect who fled on foot onto your property from Camp Road. He is about forty years old and wearing cutoff shorts and a blue flannel shirt. Can you look around and make sure nobody up there matches that description?"

So I real coolly take a look at all the dads wandering around to see if the suspect may have just wandered in from the road and decided to blend in. I agree to meet Officer Friendly and show her the assortment of game trails, abandoned roads, and hiding places we have up there. And then I have to hand Officer Friendly off to Bird for the incident report and Bird tells me to get the crowd together and run a singalong and suddenly out of all the THOUSANDS of songs I know, I cannot think of a single one that is appropriate for children.

After a few seconds of stalling and clowning, I manage to think of one, and start leading it. but I am noticing a weird bemused look on the faces of the parents, and I think I see some winking.

Because any parent who has come up the road to gain admittance to Camp Happy knows what I do not yet: THERE ARE ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIERS AND ROADBLOCKS and if they're at family night, they have come THROUGH all that. So the parents KNOW about the manhunt, and their kids are telling them ALL ABOUT THE BEAR and it's like we've all been trapped in some weird surreal theater where were just going to eat s'mores and sing songs as if none of this is happening and for the rest of the summer, every week on family night some of the parents come up to the campfire and say conspiratorially: "lot better than week one, huh?" 

Which means they get to tell the story to all the parents who were not there that first week and THOSE parents turn to me as if I am going to tell them it's all a running gag and all I can do when they say "WAS IT A REAL BEAR???" is shrug and say "Sure. She lives here."

"She lives here? Does she have a NAME?"

"Probably. But we don't know it. We're not on a name basis with her."

That's sort of where the story ends, but in week two on the morning after family night I was in the woods just OUTSIDE of the area we generally use and we found a HUGE pile of fresh bear poop. The bear had simply adjusted her route.

2021 venture vermont: . Write Haiku or other nature poetry based on things you observe in nature around you

 one turn, one flower

pine forest in deep sorrow

relieve pain? maybe.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

2021 venture vermont: find frog eggs or tadpoles

 i flat out do not have any good pictures of frog eggs or tadpoles.

but let's recap my season.

i marched up and down notch road all through the migration season, helping amphibians cross the road.

i monitored a beaver pond from february to july. there were frogs there, and certainly breeding ones.

i spent two and a half days off trail trying to confirm the presence of two vernal pools way up in the camel's hump state forest, and boy howdy did we see frog eggs and tadpoles.

but there are no good pictures of them. there's a picture of some from eggs i found where a pond had partly dried up.

Monday, October 04, 2021

2021 venture vermont: Section off a square foot of forest with string. How many plant & animal species do you find?

 we were walking up in the huntington community forest and got to a nice grove where it was a little level and a little clear and laid out our string and whipped out approximately seven and a half pounds of field guides that i had been carrying, as well as some magnifying lnses.

for some reason we did not take a picture of ourselves doing this, but here's the inventory list we kept.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

2021 venture vermont: Pick up litter by the road or in your town

 i'm just going to combine this post with "Attend and support a local event".

so let's start here: i'm the land steward at a town forest, which makes it my JOB to go out periodically and pick up litter from my parcel. i'm also in charge of monitoring trail use and conditions. my only photo of me having picked up trash is from greenup day, though,  which is a local event that i attended and supported.

i HAD been planning to simply GO to greenup day, but then the coordinator of greenup was having a family emergency and all questions came to the conservation commission, and since i was the one who had time to do the scouting, i was the one who drove the town roads looking for the hotspots where we planned to send the volunteers when they came.  then i spent greenup day driving town roads, picking up full bags, handing our fresh bags, and being generally helpful to the volunteers.

fun fact: if volunteers come to do work for you, you can get a lot more work out of them if you adequately support them.

here is a group of volunteers on a project spot:

and here i am with a full trash bucket.


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