Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's Friday!

It's least, for me it is! We work 4/10s, meaning we work 4 ten hour days, and have three day weekends. I have really come to love this schedule and enjoy having a weekday off to get errands done while businesses are open.

We began working with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corp this week. Here's a little tid bit about the organization -
The mission of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, "Linking community, education and environment through service" drives our programming and organizational objectives. RMYC helps youth and young adults make a difference in themselves and their community through meaningful service opportunities and educational experiences. RMYC is part of a network of over 100 youth corps nationwide working to improve communities, the environment and the lives of youth and young adults by putting them to work on public lands and open spaces. RMYC strives to meet the needs of the community of northwest Colorado by offering long term mentoring for middle school students and summer conservation corps participants. Participants, called corpsmembers, work on crews to complete service projects for multiple city, state, federal and nonprofit agencies. RMYC is a member of the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps and the Colorado Youth Corps Association and is the only accredited youth corps serving northwest Colorado.

The City of Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Department established Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) in 1993 in response to a demand from the community for more summer job and recreational opportunities for teens and at-risk youth. Rocky Mountain Youth Corps obtained non-profit status from the IRS in October of 1999. Privatization has allowed for more funding opportunities, a larger geographic area from which to recruit youth and projects, and greater capacity for programmatic changes in response to fluctuating demands.

RMYC strives to:

Provide life skills through a healthy lifestyles model
Provide educational success in youth and young adults
Provide job skills through enhanced employment opportunities for young adults
Engage young adults in meaningful conservation work
Forge partnerships with local land management agencies, community service and non-profit organizations
Promote an ethic of service to communities and the environment
Employ a diverse mix of ethnic, economic and social backgrounds

The group we are working with consists of 7 crew members ( 2 girls and 5 guys, ages 18-22) and their crew leader, Lauren. These kids are from all over..Wisconsin, Maryland, CO, Florida, Virginia..they are basically spending their summer camping and working outdoors..most sign up for the 9 week session, and some go on to "fall session" and will continue working for another 8-9 weeks or so. They will be working directly with us for three more weeks.

Our first week with them went really well! A great group of people. We are mainly working on the south park trail on Guanella Pass. This will be our main scenery for the next few weeks -
Square Top lakes we hike by each morning

I'm really dedicated & enthusiastic about the work we're doing up there, these trails will be used for many years by thousands of people, which really excites me!

Denver has been having record-high temperatures, breaking a 100 year old record of consecutive days with 90+ degree temps. The last record, set back in 1901, was 18 days. Luckily, the elevations we are living and working at provide cooler temperatures, usually 10 degrees below Denver..Guanella Pass usually hovers in the 70s, depending how high up you are.

Jason and the Platte Canyon fire crew has left for California once again - this time, they will be stationed in Quincy - northern California. He is thinking they will "re-up", which will mean they'll stay out there for about 4 weeks..I can't imagine being without his presence for that length of time! I'll have to learn to deal with it though, cell phones and Ben & Jerry's ice cream help immensely :)

Katie (sister-in-law) is in the hospital as I type, she has minimal dilation, enough for the doc to admit her to a room and wait..the baby's due date is Aug. 1st, so he'll be right on time!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone xoxoxox

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Marmots, Fires, and Preggers

We are getting ready for the Youth Corp, a group of around 10 kids (well, 19-23 yr olds) whom we will be doing projects with on Guanella Pass for the next month. Andrew & I hiked half of the South Park trail today, and spotted a few marmots!

The Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris), also known as the Rock Chuck, is a ground squirrel in the marmot genus. It lives in the western United States and southwestern Canada, including the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. It inhabits steppes, meadows, talus fields and other open habitats, sometimes on the edge of deciduous or coniferous forests, and typically above 2000 metres (6500 ft) of elevation. Yellow-bellied Marmots usually weigh between 5 and 11 pounds (2 and 5 kg) when fully grown. They get fatter in the fall just before hibernating. A marmot's habitat is mostly grass and rocks with few trees. Their territory is about 20,000 to 30,000 square metres (about 6 acres) around a number of summer burrows.

Marmots choose to dig burrows under rocks because predators are less likely to see their burrow. Predators include wolves, foxes, and coyotes. When a marmot sees a predator, it whistles to warn all other marmots in the area (giving it the nickname the whistle pig). Then it typically hides in a nearby rock pile.

Marmots reproduce when about 2 years old, and may live up to an age of 15 years. They reside in colonies; a colony is a group of about 10 to 20. Each male marmot digs a burrow soon after he wakes up from hibernation. He then starts looking for females, and by summer has 1 to 4 females living with him. Litters usually average 4-5 offspring per female. Marmots have what is called "harem-polygynous" mating system, which means the male defends 1-4 mates at the same time.

Yellow-bellied Marmots are diurnal like most mammals. The marmot is also an omnivore, eating grass, leaves, flowers, fruit, grasshoppers, and bird eggs.

Marmots are not hunted for sport but are sometimes killed by farmers.

Yellow-bellied Marmots include "toilet rooms" in their burrows as well as living rooms, bedrooms and eating rooms.

Very cool sighting!


I dropped Jason off at the fire station on sunday afternoon - we happened to be getting ready to go frisbee golfing when J looked out our apartment window & spotted a forest fire off in the distance - billowing smoke about 30 miles away. The Platte Canyon crew was called out to it, and the fire turned out to be pretty large ...

I haven't heard from him since I dropped him off, I was out in that area a few weeks ago & am pretty sure they do not have cell service. It sounds like the fire is contained as of tonite, so hopefully they will return home some time this week. :) Missing him tons.

DECKERS, Colo. -- A forest fire that has been burning since Sunday is now fully contained, firefighter said Tuesday evening.

The Oxyoke Fire burned 110 acres -- a figure downsized from an earlier estimate of 140 acres, which prompted the emergency evacuation of about 15 homes near the fire line.

All evacuations and road closures were lifted at 6 p.m.

Slightly cooler temperatures and increased relative humidity helped firefighters gain the upper hand on the fire.

Operations will be scaled down Wednesday morning to just five engines and two 20-person hand crews to finish mopping up and patrolling the fire. Smoke will continue to be visible for several days as interior fuels burn out, the Forest Service said.

The area is now open to the public but residents are asked to be cautious while in the area because fire fighters will continue to be in the area. Also, rocks and other rolling material could still roll out of the burn onto the road, especially after rains.

More than 225 firefighters helped battle the blaze, coming from local volunteer fire departments and the U.S. Forest Service.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation by the U.S. Forest Service.

The National Interagency Fire Center said the national preparedness level remained at five, on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest.

Maternity-wearing Maniac Mamma!

I leave you with this photo of my beautiful sister-in-law, Katie - Schuyler and Her are due with their 2nd precious baby, Holt, at the beginning of August, but from the looks of this pic, he could shoot out at any moment! xoxox Much love to all!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Whew, it's been a month since we last updated this blog, apologies!

We've both been on the go..Jason spent 2 1/2 weeks in Big Sur, CA with the fires. The Platte Canyon fire crew was featured on Yahoo! Here is the link - they are the guys with the green helmets.;_ylt=AlGIuywG0cuRwrRgSbj2WkRH2ocAphotoViewer=/080707/480/8d96cf3978a04a06aa82b839f2bcded5

Unfortunately, along with the satisfaction of starting the back burn that saved Big Sur, the boys also returned with bad cases of poison oak! Jason is still scratching non stop and there is not a remedy out there that will cure him! If anyone has any suggestions, please, pass them along ! I can't place my hands on him without being asked to scratch! I don't mind too much though ;)

My job with the Forest Service is going amazingly well. I truly enjoy going to work every day and working outdoors..each day is different and I have had the privilege of working in some beautiful places so far. Last week, Andrew (my crew leader) and I were asked to assist the American Hiking Society with their "Volunteer Vacation". This required camping out in the Lost Creek Wilderness for 4 days/3 nights. The volunteers consisted of 6 members of the AHS from around the country (we had ppl from AZ, TN, Iowa, Denver, & Maryland), all different ages (ranging from 30s-60s). They hiked in last Sunday and will be there until tomorrow. Andrew and I hiked in on Monday morning. My pack was 45+ lbs., and the hike in was about 3 miles, uphill! I have never done anything like that before, and my legs and shoulders constantly reminded me of that for the whole week :) We arrived at McCurdy Park around 5, just in time for a spaghetti dinner! The AHS had 2 ppl along with them who were our "chefs" for the trip. I didn't lose any weight on this trip, that's for sure! Good meals galore. Spaghetti, salmon cakes, delicious salads, chili burritos, chocolate cake, apple struddles.. A mule pack string had packed in all of the food and tools for the week. They even carried in some Fat Tire (beer), which was a nice little treat at the end of a long day!

Our days consisted of creating water bars and drainage on parts of the Brookside-McCurdy trail. We also cut out many fallen trees and pruned/cleared stretces of the trail. Since the trail is also used as an equestrian trail, there were certain guidelines for how wide the trial needs to be, as well as how low the clearance can be for horses to get through safely.

The weather was beautiful all week. 70s during the day with light breezes. We had a few sprinkles during the evening, but the pattering of the rain on my tent just helped me sleep even better. Once the sun set, the temps fell abruptly into the 40s, brrr! The only thing that coaxed me out of my warm down sleeping bag at 7 a.m. was the thought of strong coffee awaiting me down at the camp kitchen area.

The area we were in was absolutely stunning. The rock formations were mind boggling, and many people mentioned it was like a "whole other world" from the rest of Colorado. Here is a description of the area we were in -

The Lost Creek Wilderness was created under the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1980. The original 105,000 acres plus the 1993 addition of approximately 14,700 acres brought the total acreage to its current 119,790 acres. The entire Wilderness lies within Pike National Forest, split between the South Park and South Platte Ranger Districts. Unlike most of Colorado's jagged alpine wilderness profiles, Lost Creek is a land of fascinating rounded granite domes and knobs, split boulders, rare granite arches, and tree-lined mountain parks. Wilderness elevations range from 8,000 feet to 12,400 feet. Lost Creek, the wilderness's name sake, got its name from its numerous disappearances into rock piles and underground passages, only to later reappear further downstream. At its final reappearance, it becomes Goose Creek. Black bears, bighorn sheep, deer, elk and bobcats share the region. Vegetation in the area includes ponderosa, bristlecone, and lodgepole pine, aspen, spruce, fir and alpine tundra. About 130 miles of trails serve the Wilderness, including the Colorado Trail, which passes through the area. For more on Lost Creek Wilderness, visit History Although there are remains of logging camps and sawmills on the outskirts of the Wilderness, the heart of Lost Creek was too wild for much commercial use other than grazing. There was a failed attempt between 1891 and 1913 by the Antero and Lost Park Reservoir Company to dam Lost Creek underground at a site just below the confluence of Lost Creek and Reservoir Gulch. All that remains now near the site are a few old buildings and some rusting machinery. One of a set of three maps of the Pikes Peak, Plum Creek, and South Platte Forest Reserves (most of the current Pike National Forest), drawn in 1898 for the 20th annual report of the USGS, shows most of the southern end of the present day Wilderness as being "Badly Burned". In 2002, the Hayman Fire burned approximately 6,000 acres along the east edge of the wilderness. Fortunately, very little of the trail system, other than the short sections of the Goose Creek and Hankins Pass trails immediately adjacent to the Goose Creek Trailhead, were affected. Be aware of the possibility of falling snags, particularly on windy days. In 1963, the 15,120 acre Lost Creek Scenic Area was created under the precursor of the Wilderness Act, the “U-Regulations” of 1939. In 1979, it was also designated a National Natural Landmark. During the first U.S. Forest Service RARE process, Lost Creek received more comments recommending its wilderness designation than any other Colorado area. In 1980 the 105,000 acre Lost Creek Wilderness was created under the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1980. Approximately 14,700 additional acres were later added to the west end of the Wilderness under the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993.

It was such a great week, I really enjoyed roughing cell phones, no electronics, no cars..just us and the great outdoors. The smells, sounds, sights, and insights I was able to experience made a big impact on me and I'm happy to be in a place and a job that allows me to do these things!

Below are a few photos I found on various websites of the area we were in - one of the volunteers is sending me her photos once she returns home next week, my camera was left at home..but this is basically what we were surrounded by while camping & working.

In other news, we are in the process of buying a HOUSE! More to follow on that (and the wedding!) - hope everyone has a FANTASTIC weekend xoxox J & J