From Fire to Ice

Wow, it’s been a while.

Well I’m happy to say that the flames (and drama) you saw from my last post were doused in a downpour that brought and inch of rain in a couple of hours. At the moment, that same ridge line is looking a lot more like it should given the current time of year. If only there could be a little more crystalized water on the ranch property itself could I be properly satisfied (rain in late December? c’mon).

Let’s recap, in the past half-year I’ve done a few other things:

A week after the rains came and gave the firefighters a huge help in controlling the fire, I was out hiking in the burnt out area. It was only after I came back that I leaned there was a $5000 fine for doing so.

National Forest Service finds and excuse to clear-cut.

National Forest Service finds an excuse to clear-cut.

Huge water basin used to feed the hoses a mile uphill.

Huge water basin used to feed the hoses a mile uphill.

Survey of the crispiness.

Survey of the crispiness.

Comin' to get ya.

Comin’ to get ya.

At least it wasn't too crowded at the campsite.

At least it wasn’t too crowded at the campsite.

And somehow still standing.

And somehow still standing.

The next couple of months were then spent preparing for winter. As with most things, I saw the challenge to help split this entire wood pile before  Old Man came for his visit. Alas, this ended up with my developing de Quervain’s Tenosinovitis, essentially an inflamed tendon that connects to my thumb that I will eventually get surgery for.

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Then there was a hike to Johnson lake.

From atop Pintler pass.

From atop Pintler pass.

The lake itself.

The lake itself.

Followed by a climb to the highest peak in the Anaconda-Pintler wilderness. West Goat peak is not super impressive at 10,793 feet, but the fact that it’s summitted by probably no more than 20 people a year makes it feel that much closer to true wilderness.

Navigating our way.

Navigating our way.

Dinner

Dinner

Descending to the Lost Lakes.

Descending to the Lost Lakes.

If only I were a better photographer.

If only I were a better photographer.

We'll save that for later.

We’ll save that for later.

Grouse stew. Colon included.

Grouse stew. Colon included.

Not a bad alarm clock.

Not a bad alarm clock.

Double the sun.

Double the sun.

After spending the night at one of the most picturesque places I’ve slept in a good while, the all day hiking expedition that followed did a wonderful number on my vertebrae as we clambered over some terrain that could have ended, how shall I put it… badly.

Panorama from West Goat peak. The tallest of the Pintlers.

Panorama from West Goat peak. The tallest of the Pintlers.

The wrong way down, via cliff.

The wrong way down, via cliff.

Ben happy to be alive. I took the route to the right.

Ben happy to be alive. I took the route to the right.

Hour 10 of 12.

Hour 10 of 12.

This didn’t stop a late summer excursion up Warren peak (second tallest in the Pintlers) in which we proceeded to get lost and had to bushwack down… again.

Last snow-less picture of the year.

Last snow-less picture of the year.

I've never descended Warren without going off-trail.

I’ve never descended Warren without going off-trail.

Then fall came with some rains and it was time for brew season.

Vanilla whiskey porter in the works.

Vanilla whiskey porter in the works.

A typical autumnal bonfire.

Much more controlled than the one in August.

Much more controlled than the one in August.

Our first snow of the season came late September. It would continue teasing me with it’s petty snow/rain until just about now.

Biggest snow of the season so far, September 26.

Biggest snow of the season so far, September 26.

The dogs seemed to enjoy it.

The dogs seemed to enjoy it.

A trip to DC was in order to visit some former colleagues who had moved onto more urban environments, and when temperatures hovered between 0 and -20 for a week early December, I learned that running outside was a very unpleasant experience.

For the moment it’s back to the daily grind and searching out fresh powder while I await the influx of “winterns” to the ranch.

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