Sunday, July 31, 2016

duct tape, three ways

duct tape is handy stuff. you can use it for a lot of things, from markers in your hammock-weaving, to actual waterproof firestarter in a pinch.

but of course on the venture challenge, it says Find 3 creative ways to use duct tape at your campsite.

ok, so here are three i happened to have photographed:

tarp repair
hook on a pole.
hanging your fairy lights.
because of course you camp with fairy lights.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

quick! boil some water!

i have always known you COULD boil water with hot rocks, but never done such a thing. there is some argument as to whether native americans actually ever made maple syrup this way. in theory, you can.

so anyway, boiling water with hot rocks from your fire is on the venture challenge this year. you KNEW that was going to figure in here somehow, right?

so anyway, i did this thing a number of times. the first time, my water ended up very, very dirty (but sanitary, because boiled) and everything would have needed to have decanted to be drinkable or usable for washing without a rinse in clean drinking water.

the second time i was more careful with where the rocks were placed in the fire, but fire is a messy business, and there's a lot of ash involved.

my rocks still came out varying degrees of dirty no matter where i placed them, although i figure with some clever wrapping in wide leaves or placement on some kind of shelf you might be able to get them to come out of the fire cleaner.

anyway, here's one of my trials. this isn't the best boil i got, but the best video.

Friday, July 29, 2016

the requisite marshmallow stick.

on the venture challenge it says Find and whittle your own marshmallow roasting stick (5 pts). now for nearly everything i do, i don't cut living trees. not for tent poles, not for building projects, and certainly not for firewood.

but for roasting over fire, you really should have green wood so it doesn't burn up. the good news is that striped maple saplings are plentiful and a nice branch or two may be taken off of a beech sapling with very little harm, just so long as you remember to go off a ways from any campsite to reduce impact.

i think in order to call it a marshmallow roasting stick, you have to roast at least one marshmallow, so i did. that was enough for me.

there's not a lot of whittling that goes into it, though. it's already stick shaped, and leaving the bark on helps keep the wood moist.

but even so.

one roasted marshmallow.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

lantern light

i was doing pretty well about posting kinda regularly, but then i took off and went camping for two weeks on the res.

so now i have more things to tell you about and show you, and of course i did things that were on the venture vermont challenge because of course i did. one of the items on the list is Make and use a camp lantern made out of a clear water jug and a headlamp (5 pts).

now, i HAVE all kinda headlams, flashlights, lanterns, and even party lights for camping, so this one is one that i've heard of but never bothered with.

but you know.

i'll try all kinda things.

for science.

so i put this one together with a water jug and a spare headlamp and put it on a stump in my campsite. really and truly, i don't think much of it as a light source, but it's pretty fantastic for mood lighting.

you know, if you stay up past sundown on your campsite.


it was still cool mood lighting for a while after that, but i was too tired to set up a tripod for a night shot. 

a lot of them in the woods would be very pretty.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

just for the record

"hammock testing" is not a euphemism for anything.

i spent a lot of time this winter weaving a hammock. believe it or not, it requires some testing before you make any final cuts or pack it up to take it anywhere.

later i'll have pics for you.

Monday, July 11, 2016

a walk with words

yesterday i went up to niquette bay state park. i felt it was a good day to get some exercise of the foot travel variety, and i had read on the vermont state parks blog that they have this poetry walk.

between the park manager, lisa liotta, and the burnham library's adult services librarian peggy cunningham, they managed to put together a lovely journey across the landscape and with thought.

all i really wanted out of that was an excuse to get a little exercise and i like poetry, so i grabbed my junior naturalist bag and off i went.

i do not think i was prepared, mentally, for the journey. i remember struggling to read some of the fine print, trying hard not to be paying attention to things other than THIS POEM HERE while i was reading each poem, but there were so many things to look at.

at one point late in the journey i was standing concentrating on THIS POEM and i was NOT going to look at that distracting thing over there, but the distracting thing was so close and so red. ok, distracting thing, i will look at you.

the distracting thing was an unusually low-perched scarlet tanager. and then as if to drive his point home, this little guy dropped down and landed right next to my right foot. on the ground. and then after a while he went up to a more eye-level branch where he and his girl continued to look at me for a while.

one thing at a time.

some of the poems kind of beg to be read out loud. not all, but i did read them out loud, just in case. you can't always tell from just looking.

at the far end of the walk is a box like the ones they put trail register books in. only it has a nice good quality heavy-papered journal and some pens and a box of good colored pencils. i don't know whose idea it was not to go on the cheap, but it's really sweet to have so much to see and think and move my body and also a little arts project!

i sat for a long time and worked on a little sketch. i never did see the black throated blue warbler that seemed to be just above my head the whole time.

and the ranger knows her park well. they have posted robert frost's the oven bird at the one place where an ovenbird sang relentlessly. it's not like it was the only ovenbird in the park, but it was the one closest to the trail and the one whose location was easiest to pinpoint.

a little library of field guides

mondrian insect hotel

Desmodium glutinosum

the long road

Friday, July 08, 2016

people continue to be awesome.

today i was on my way to niquette bay state park (another post) and i realized over half way there that i had left the house without a pen or pencil. this is terrible, because a day out for me includes taking notes with my junior naturalist bag and everything.

so i decided to stop at a store and buy some.

i stopped at the maplefields (a local chain of gas station convenience stores that have decent food and sparkly clean bathrooms) off of exit 17 and i looked in all the usual places for pens of any kind. there were none. i asked the cashier if they carried any.

"i somehow left the house without one today",  i explained.
"oh, so you just need one?" she said, handing me one from behind the counter.
"serious. have a nice day."

i had not gone there needing gas or expecting to buy gas, but i went and filled my tank anyway on my way out.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

goofing around in the water

this weekend barb and i went paddleboarding at both marshfield pond (sunday) and at the res (monday).

on sunday we sailed up on a brisk wind and then struggled mightily to paddle back against it. on monday we paddle against a slightly less brisk wind which then died down before we got to ride it back, but that's why you have paddles, i guess.

on the way back we stopped in the little cove just outside casa quince to mess around in the water off of the day use rock.


Wednesday, July 06, 2016

rockin' in the free world

yep, still the venture vermont challenge. "Photograph and identify each of these three types of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic (10 pts)" it says.

ok, then.

this here is a piece of sandstone. it is smooth and river worn, but it is soft enough to scratch with a fingernail. it's a sedimentary rock.

this is a really good example of the metamorphic rock that makes up most of the schisty bedrock layer where i live, which is in the camel's hump - mount mansfield region. even if you don't know what kind of rock it is specifically, when you see folded layers like this, you are looking at a metamorphic rock.

if you want to know what in particular is going on in west bolton, i recommend this map, although it is devoid of keys. if you have sharp eyes and don't mind the color changes, you can use this key to decipher the bedrock layers.

really and truly, i'd like one map with a good key, but the map you can use lacks a key of any kind, and the really good key goes to a map that won't load any part but grand isle.

either way, the bedrock geology of the western part of the state is very different than the bedrock geology of the eastern part of the state, which explains why you see so much schist around waterbury reservoir and a hatload of granites up at marshfield pond.

...which brings me to the next thing: i was up at marshfield pond looking at the granites (igneous) and i saw this pretty little rock in  the water. here are two pictures of it.

pretty, yes? and both the same little piece of granite, just different light and background.

so that's my rock thing.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

native wildflowers

what i am learning is that a lot of wildflowers are introduced and often even invasive species.

i normally like to identify things and memory loss being what it is, i often get to re-identify things in subsequent years.

it's a thing i do, though. it makes me happy.  under the old model i had to take field guides out with me everywhere, but under the new model i take lots of good digital pictures, bring them home, and use both field guides and online resources to make IDs.

and by "online resources" i include mb, who knows a lot more about plants than i do and when i'm stumped i can usually get her to make an identification and teach me the difference between this thing and those others.

i keep a field guide album on flickr, and add to it periodically.

for the purposes of the venture vermont challenge,  i have to identify three native vermont wildflowers.

just for the record, red clover, the vermont state flower, is not a native species.

red clover

here are some that ARE native species:

golden alexander
lesser stitchwort
northern starflower
new england aster
mountain sandwort

Friday, July 01, 2016

going topside

i used to do a lot of hiking. then, not so much. and then i did a little.

it's very hard on my knees and feet, and i am old, fat and slow. i can't do anything about that first thing, but the other two are things i can improve to a certain extent.

so partly because it's on the venture vermont challenge and partly because i have been meaning to hike some of vermont's more mountain-y mountains,i looked at the weather forecast for the week and decided thursday would be a good day to hike up camel's hump.

wednesday night i was at my desk googling "easiest way up camel's hump". ok, so the burrows trail is just under five miles round trip and has the gentlest terrain. i'm sold.

plus i've never been up the mountain by way of the burrows trail, and that's a five point bonus!

i am slow moving on foot, even when i am in good shape.

i knew i was not in good shape, but it was a little upsetting to learn just how badly out of shape i am. ok, right, it's two and a half miles to the summit? i left the parking lot at 0901 and arrived at the summit just after 1230. ok, granted, i stopped more than i strictly had to because i had decided to go with the extra weight of binoculars so i could look at birds because it's a different habitat up there and you see little guys up there you don't see farther down. i probably didn't rest more often because of the birds, but i did rest for longer, because i can HEAR that little duffer right up in that tree. WHY CAN'T I SEE HIM???

about .2 mile short of the summit i started having the kind of pain in my left foot that usually serves as an indicator that it is time to turn around and go back.

had i been closer to the bottom and not nearly at the summit, i would have. at the summit i took my shoes off and lounged around and it was a little after 1400 when i began my long, painful descent. i saw young people scrambling down those rocks as if knees are an inexhaustible resource.

i go slower on the way down, but i need to stop to rest less often. the return trip takes nearly four hours.

ah, anyway. so i went up there. it was more of a challenge than i expected. my feet hurt.


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