Life Verse:

"...I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." -- JESUS in John 10:10

Friday, September 30, 2011

Green Mango Hummingbird

Vibrant colors and an amazing job freezing a hummingbird in action. Flickr user farmhousephoto captured this shot of a Green Mango Hummingbird in Dorado, Puerto Rico, and shared it through The Nature Conservancy’s Flickr group.

Such an astounding shot and such a marvel of design!  What wonders GOD's creation contains.  Open your eyes and ears.  Enjoy what HIS hands have made.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Courageous Wrangler and Her Horse Face Down Grizzly!

Gutsy wrangler, huge horse save boy from charging grizzly

Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review

Erin Bolster, a wrangler for Swan Mountain Outfitters near Glacier Park, poses with her horse, Tonk.

Grizzlies are high profile this year.
A lingering winter and late berry crop kept bears in proximity to humans longer than normal, perhaps contributing to a stream of headlines about grizzlies killing people and people killing grizzlies.
Meanwhile, a young lady on a big horse charged out of the pack of grizzly stories near Glacier National Park. In a cloud of dust, the 25-year-old wrangler likely saved a boy’s life while demonstrating that skill, quick-thinking and guts sometimes are the best weapons against a head-on charging grizzly.
On July 30, Erin Bolster of Swan Mountain Outfitters was guiding eight clients on a horse ride on the Flathead National Forest between West Glacier and Hungry Horse, Mont.
“It’s the shortest ride we offer,” she said Wednesday, recalling the incident. “We’d already led two trips that morning. It’s always been a very routine hour-long loop, until that day.”
The group included a family of six plus a vacationing Illinois man, who’d booked the trip for his 8-year-old son’s first horse-riding experience.
The young boy was riding Scout, a steady obedient mount, following directly behind Bolster, who was leading the group on Tonk, a burly 10-year-old white horse of questionable lineage.
Tonk isn’t the typical trail mount. Best anyone knows, he’s the result of cross-breeding a quarter horse with a Percheron – a draft horse. Bolster is 5-foot-10, yet she relies on her athleticism to climb into the saddle aboard Tonk.
“He was one of the horses we lease from Wyoming and bring in every year,” Bolster said, noting that she’d picked him from the stable in May to be hers for the season.
“He’s a very large horse – 18 hands high. That intimidates a lot of riders. But I’ve always loved big horses. He’s kind of high-strung and spooky, the largest of our wrangling horses. I like a horse with a lot of spirit, and I was really glad to be on him that day.”
Bolster has accumulated a wealth of experience on and around horses of national and even world class. She started riding at 4 years old, became a pro trainer at 15, graduated from high school at 16 in Roanoke, Va., and ran a riding academy for several years.
Seeking a more laid-back lifestyle, she wrangled in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic before moving to Whitefish three years ago to guide tourists during the summer around Glacier National Park and ski through winter.
“It’s the country, the mountains and the idea of seeing lot of wildlife that appealed to me, ironically enough,” she said.
Bolster quickly racked bear experience, too, although until July 30, it was always at a distance.
“At the peak of the season, we were seeing bears daily,” she said. “The wranglers name them so we can let each other know where they are. Usually the bears just keep feeding in the distance or they run away when we come. Just seeing them is a treat for us and our guests.”
Because they guide around Glacier Park, bear awareness is part of the preparation wranglers get when hired by Swan Mountain Outfitters.
“We go over a lot of wildlife scenarios in our training,” Bolster said. “We learn to watch our horses for signals of possible trouble so we can steer clear.”
That’s the key, she said: Avoid trouble with a moose or a bear.
“We can’t use pepper spray when we’re riding because that could blind the horse,” she said. “And using a gun would spook the horses and probably produce more danger than safety.”

That’s how she went to work that day: a young but seasoned pro rider on a new, huge and spirited horse, unarmed in the wilderness with eight dudes.
“It was a pleasant ride until we came around a corner on the trail and my horse stopped firm and wouldn’t move,” Bolster said. “He never refuses to go, so that caught my attention quick.”
But not fast enough to avoid the spike white-tailed deer that burst out of the brush and glanced off Tonk’s left front shoulder.
As Tonk spun from the impact, Bolster saw a huge grizzly bear crashing through the forest right at the group in pursuit of the deer. Horses panicked and guests grabbed saddle horns for the ride of their lives.
“No amount of training could keep a horse from running from a 700-pound charging bear,” she said.
Seven of the horses sensed the danger, scrambled around and galloped back on the trail toward the barn.
But Scout bolted perpendicular to the trail into the timber packing the 8-year-old boy.
“The deer peeled off and joined the horses sprinting down the trail,” Bolster said. “So the bear just continued running right past me. I’m not sure the bear even knew the roles had changed, but now it was chasing a horse instead of a deer.”
The grizzly was zeroed in on Scout and the boy – the isolated prey in the woods.
Adding to the drama, the boy’s father, an experienced rider, could not convince his horse that it was a good plan to ride to his son’s rescue.
“The last thing he saw over his shoulder as his horse ran away was the grizzly chasing his boy,” Bolster said.
With the bear on Scout’s heels, Tonk’s instinct was to flee with the group of horses. But Tonk responded to Bolster’s heels in his ribs as she spun the big fella around. They wheeled out of a 360 and bolted into the trees to wedge between the predator and the prey.
“The boy was bent over, feet out of the stirrups, clutching the saddle horn and the horse’s neck,” she said. “That kept him from hitting a tree limb.
“But all I could think about was the boy falling off in the path of that grizzly.
“I bent down, screamed and yelled, but the bear was growling and snarling and staying very focused on Scout.
“As it tried to circle back toward Scout, I realized I had to get Tonk to square off and face the bear. We had to get the bear to acknowledge us.
“We did. We got its attention – and the bear charged.
“So I charged at the bear.”
Did she think twice about that?
“I had no hesitation, honestly,” Bolster said. “Nothing in my body was going to let that little boy get hurt by that bear. That wasn’t an option.”
Tonk was on the same page.

With a ton of horse, boulder-size hooves and a fire-breathing blonde thundering at it, the bear came within about 10 feet before skittering off to the side.
But it quickly angled to make yet another stab at getting to Scout and the boy – who had just fallen to the ground.
“Tonk and I had to go at the bear a third time before we finally hazed him away,” she said.
“The boy had landed in some beargrass and was OK. Scout was standing nearby.”
Bolster gathered the boy up with her on Tonk, grabbed Scout’s lead and trotted down the trail.
“The boy was in shock,” she said. “I looked back and could see the bear had continued to go away through he woods, but I had another five or 10 minutes of riding before I got back with the group.”
Not until she reunited with her riders – all OK and standing in various stages of confusion with their horses – did she start to shake.
“I looked at Tonk, and he was wet with sweat and shaking, too,” she said.
She was especially concerned for the boy’s father, who probably suffered the most terror in the ordeal.
“He was fine, and I got my biggest tip of the season,” Bolster said. “My biggest hope is that the boy isn’t discouraged from riding. This was a one-in-a-million event.”

For the next few days, the outfitter shut down the trail rides and Bolster joined other wranglers and a federal grizzly bear expert to ride horses through the area looking for the bear.
“They tracked it for a long way and concluded that it kept going out of the area,” she said. “Judging from the tracks and my description of how high the bear came up on Tonk, the grizzly expert estimated it weighed 700-750 pounds.
“This was a case of us being in the wrong place as a bear was already in the act of chasing its natural prey. He was probably more persistent because he was really hungry.”
Bolster and the other wranglers vowed to have bear spray on their belts to make sure they can defend their guests during breaks on the ground.
“But when you’re riding, the horse is your best protection, if you can stay on,” she said.
“Some of the horses I’ve ridden would have absolutely refused to do what Tonk did; others would have thrown me off in the process. Some horses can never overcome their flight-animal instinct to run away.”

In those minutes of crisis, the big lug of mongrel mount proved his mettle in a test few trail horses will face in their careers.
Tonk’s grit moved Bolster. She wasn’t about to send him back to Wyoming with the other leased horses.
“Two weeks ago, I closed the deal and bought him,” Bolster said as she was wrapping up her 2011 wrangling season.
“After what he did that day, he had to be mine.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life Theme Song...

If I had a "Life Theme Song", this would certainly qualify.  I have shown it at least twice at church.  Allow it to speak for itself.  "The heavens declare the glory of GOD and the firmament shows forth HIS handiwork..."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Almost Fall Hike - Mountain Creek

Hike: Mountain Creek, AL, Sat., 09/10/2011, 08:05-10:02CDT
Distance: 4.0 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Abundant sunshine, clear blue sky.  Low 70s to 77 degF.  Wind calm.  Trails dry. 

Fantastically gorgeous day.  Forest had the look, feel, and smell of early Fall (even though the calendar says it is still summer).  Autumn touches me deeply.  Everything about the season appeals to me, the colors, smells, sounds -- the "feeling in the air" excites and deeply-calms me all at the same time.  (That sounds weird, I know.)  For some reason the worship and joy just pours out of me so freely during this season. 

Almost a month since my last hike -- it felt so wonderful to be hiking today.  I had plenty of company: gray squirrels were busy storing up food for winter; woodpeckers were fighting over the best spots; several blue jays were being their normal raucous selves.  Yellow Poplars and some other deciduous trees were beginning to show signs of autumnal color.  Already a few leaves dot the trails -- the promise of a carpet to follow.  Thank YOU, LORD, for YOUR love and presence.  YOU are indeed glorified in YOUR Creation.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

NOLS Recipe for Cheesy Campsite Trout!

I cannot recall making a blog entry around a recipe before, but this one stirred me.  The idea of a fresh, stream-caught trout cooked on the backcountry fire whets more than just my physical hunger...  The pictures and recipe are from NatGeo's Adventure Travel/Best U.S. Hiking Cities.

Bon appetit!

Outdoor Tips + Advice: How to Cook the Most Delicious, Cheesy Campsite Trout of Your Life


By Contributing Writer Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, Faculty member and Diversity + Inclusion Manager at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS); photographs, from top, by Andy Clifford, Rich Brame (3)

Oh, the things you learn about yourself when you spend 35 days on a NOLS course in the wilderness with a backpack and a fly rod—and without your family.
Such as, for example, how you were so looking forward to 35 nights of uninterrupted sleep and lazy mornings, only to realize that having a kid has made you a light sleeper and a morning person.

Or, for example, how excited you are to be “living off the land,” catching and eating 14-inch golden trout every day, only to realize that you’re about as good with a fly rod as you are with knitting needles, or any other activity requiring dexterity and patience. That is, you suck at fishing.

And by “you,” I’m not talking about you, dear reader. I’m most definitely talking about me.

So let’s talk about that trout. Although I couldn’t catch one for the life of me, I’d like to think I could cook one up to delectable perfection with this easy backcountry recipe for Fresh Trout WIZNUT, courtesy of NOLS Instructor John Whisnant). “The WIZNUT appeared in 1966 as a miracle response to our desperate pleas for cheesy crunch,” reflects John. Over the years, the WIZNUT has taken many forms, but the common denominator in any recipe is a layer of fried cheese at the bottom of the pan.

2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup mixed veggies (rehydrated)
½ cup reconstituted potato flakes (rehydrated)
¼ cup thunder flakes (onion flakes, rehydrated)
¼ cup powdered milk
¼ cup butter
1 lb. cheddar cheese, sliced thin
2 Trout—10-12” each, preferably swimming 20 minutes before cooking (go with a non-native species if you can!)
1. Grease fry pan with a thin layer of butter. (We recommend the Banks Fry Bake, which we have used for decades.)
2. Fry the trout in the pan with spice until the meat comes off the bones.
3. Collect small dead twigs—enough to sustain a small twiggy fire on top of the pan lid for at least 30 minutes.
4. Remove fish from pan and de-bone (leave the little bits of trout and whatever butter is remaining in the pan).
5. Mix all ingredients except trout and cheese in a separate pot.
6. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with a layer of cheese.
7. Add half the rice mix in a layer over the cheese.
8. Add the trout in a layer over the rice mix.
9. Add the remaining rice mix over the trout.
10. Finish with the remaining cheese on top.
11. Seal tight with fry pan lid.
12. Set stove on a low simmer (you can do that with an MSR Whisperlite stove by slightly depressurizing the fuel can). Construct a small twiggy fire on top of the pan lid. Rotate the pan and keep the twiggy fire burning for half hour to an hour until the WIZNUT is golden brown and bubbling.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Weekend Cabin: New South Wales Australia

The structure called “Mudgee Permanent Camp” by its architect is the epitome of rustic modern with a definitively Australian bent. Located on a sheep station in central-west New South Wales, it sits atop a hill that provides views for hundreds of miles in all directions, either from the first floor with the copper sides propped open or from the roof, which doubles as a rain collection device.
Mudgee is just 10 by 10 feet, 200 square feet total, with a sleeping loft, kitchen, and wood stove. An outside is a short walk to the west. On the south side of the house, winches control the adjustable veranda roofs (and the water tank is tucked away). The copper sides, in additional to provide protection from rain, fire, and cold, connect the structure to the long building vernacular of Australian sheep ranches. 

The simplicity of this cabin reminds me of some medieval tower standing guard over a wilderness frontier.  I could get used to the spartan accommodations very easily.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Nature Photo of the Week - Fox

This photo was taken by Flickr user jcostanza4 and is this week's Nature Conservancy Nature Photo of the Week.  It is rare to catch a glimpse of a fox in the forest.  I consider it a wonderful gift when offered fleeting sights of these elusive creatures.  Seems the fox in this photo was looking right into the camera.

Get out and enjoy GOD's Creation.

Thursday, September 01, 2011