Twin Lake Crawl

On my own terms I tend to ramble the woods on foot or ski, trudging uphill one step at a time. Wheelers are pretty hilarious though and some are true pieces of machine-art. When you try to drive up sodden, snow covered logging roads for a few thousand feet vertical (past the trailhead and toward the ridge Yellow Aster Butte is part of) it’s quickly realized it’s about the struggle, not getting anywhere. Easily passed by snowmobile and hiker alike (without snowshoes…) these fellas managed to not slide off the cliffs and conquered each avalanche debris-pile with grace and winches.

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Acadia

After fleeing Fort Collins  over thousands of miles of train track I ended up in Acadia National Park in Maine with Hannah. Due East as far you can go from my home in Cascadia, the place shares a lot in common with the rocky shores of the West.

  • The Summit of Cadillac Mountain in predawn cloud
  • Just down from the summit we left the cloud behind to a spectacular sunrise over the Atlantic
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  • With crazy colors added
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  • Descending the Beehive trail
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  • Thunder nole not thundering much
  • Rungs on the Precipice Trail
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Fort Works

I briefly resettled in Fort Collins to be a part of Katie and Nic’s fantastic family fun wedding extravaganza. Along the way we ate well, worked hard and debated what it is to know a place and choose to tie your kite.

  • Katie and Nic just a couple days before getting hitched. Hard frost was only 2 weeks away but things are bountiful!
  • Nic's Party of Men up at Noku Hut enjoying breakfast after a night of scotch and Wendell Berry. Thanks to Jim (Papa) Koontz for the photo!
  • Francesco free of the swine-filled rotten-apple chaos of the Big City.
  • Plaid-clad Farmer Boys.
  • Surgery to extract a wedding gift
  • Precise work.
  • Wrapping up a late night wash/pack session at Native Hill. The day started with frost so things went slowly.
  • 1/2lb keys of salad mix, spinach and arugula. The 25 degree nights following this pretty well killed what wasn't  in the cold frames.
  • Carrots for the interns
  • Apple Rain. This has to be the largest most delicious apple tree ever.
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  • The second shaking of the tree. We cleaned the ground completely before hand.
  • We got 670lbs of apples in all from that one tree!
  • Washing the apples for storage or processing later that day into apple sauce, butter, crisp, and dried. It pays to have friends with resources!
  • Some of the stored apples being kept for cider pressing and apple grappa.
  • Doodlewink and friend on their last day. They were raised this season by a neighbor on feed and left over vegetables. The act of killing my own meat is something I seldom participate in, like most of us. I can't say it's fun but I do appreciate knowing how the animal lived and died and knowing it was done as well as we could.
  • Nic finishes putting tarps on the pen before we corral the first for slaughter.
  • The sun rises as the first pig is bled and washed.
  • The pig was shot in the brain and died instantly. The pigs are introduced to the killing box in the days before then fed to help them be comefortable with going there. They're quite smart and Mark takes a lot of care to keep the process quick and hidden from view to keep the animals calm and maintain the quality of the meat.
  • The second pig was harder to corral so Mark let it roam and snack until a good moment to shoot. In a standard commercial setting 10s of thousands of animals are killed in one persons shift. Each person performs one task: killing, bleeding, one cut making the human a machine in the process and dehumanizing them.
  • We took the pigs to the processor down the road for butchering where they were quickly skinned and gutted.
  • The hung pig is cut fresh then frozen to eat all year. Some animals like deer, elk and beef are left to age before butchering.

Hop Breeding Co.

I spent a couple days at Perrault farms learning from Jason and his two-man, father-son field crew for the experimental hop yard. I included captions on the photos which tell some of the story for now. They’re a bit hard to read.

  • Cruising the experimental hop field at Perrault Farms. Each year this single hill field contains thousands of individuals.
  • A mother plant well after crossing. The upper branches are stripped of leaves and the bag is pulled up when the pollen is blown in.
  • Small samples are collected from promising crosses to test in the lab.
  • Crosses that are still promising after testing are harvested by hand and picked for yield and brewers cuts. Jas and his dad Jaime run the experimental field.
  • Each vine is a separate cross. They are run through the Wolfe picker at the Hop Breeding Company.
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  • A never before seen variety fresh off the picker.
  • Yield seems to be about 8-12 pounds, of which only a few pounds are actually dried for bailing.
  • Every day during harvest (20-30 days) new varieties are picked and dried for further scrutiny. If they pass muster in the lab and brewers rubs then they may make it to 7 hill trials.

Cascadian Summer

In mid August I took a short backpack trip to Yellow Aster Butte in the North Cascades with my brother Ian, our Dad, Mark and Ian’s lady, Malia (her first backpack). Somehow the northwest had a good snow year and the tarns weren’t even fully melted out. My Dad and I hiked out the ridge toward Excelsior picking early ripening cascade blueberries as we went.

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Rocky Mountain Fall

Thanks to Dale, the friendly ranger, we managed to snag a recently cancelled backcountry permit for one of the hardest to reserve camp sites in the park – Andrews Creek. It’s one drainage over from Glacier Gorge with access to numerous high lakes and the last remaining glaciers in the park. Add in a full moon, a first dusting of snow, turning aspens and good whiskey and we had a perfect little walk in the woods.

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