Return to Kupreanof–2019

May 4th, 2019

After leaving the Tetons–spectacular Spring weather here on the road up to Jenny Lake–my old haunting grounds–it’s back to Seattle to get the Alaska homestead back up to snuff.

I stop for 5 days in Seattle to the new Ranger Doug’s Intergalactic Headquarters and install a new ladder to our mezzanine.  I put the trailer to ‘bed’ and store the Sequoia.   The Katahdin is only 1/4 mile distant so I can walk over to the boat yard (Thomas Boat Repair–a fantastic wooden boat repair yard) to inspect the damage of 16 years in Alaska.  Not bad actually so it’s onward and upward with repairs.

The stern took the brunt of dampness but the excellent construction of this boat in 1899 (with Port Orford cedar stern counter) saved this vessel….again.  We’ll insert graving pieces and install new covering boards and rebuild the bulwarks again.  No problem for John Thomas Boat Repair.

Here a new knee will be installed, then the decks again will be rebuilt and the steering rams re-installed.  She’ll be ready for her 120th birthday this fall!

On Friday, I take the Columbia from Bellingham to my hometown of Kupreanof–which lies just west of the old City of Petersburg (now a Burough).  We’re the smallest incorporated city in Alaska with just 23 citizens.  It’s suffered with 22 all winter but now I’m back……

En route, one of the prettiest parts of the trip–the Bella Bella light house.  The weather is perfect for the whole trip–I’m homesick and who wouldn’t be.

Dinner on the Columbia, with white tablecloths and waiters is a thing of the past.  The State of Alaska DOT, in their infinite wisdom, has cut 80% of the ferry budget and there are no planned ferries past the end of October.  Sad day for true Alaskans–but what can you expect with Republican oil money siphoned out of the state.  Alaskans refuse to tax themselves for essential services and the entire SE transportation system is being shut down after 60 years.  Yet, TARP money continues to build new ferries (and Aleutian major airports) and meanwhile the two new fast-ferries (Fairweather and Chinega) are being sold after only 10 years of service.   Go figure…..

So here is home after a winter of complete closure (the piano is still in tune!).   Here, I’m rebuilding each raised garden bed–this one for sugar-snap peas.  Today, I did the bed beyond with another pea variety.   One day at a time.

Put out the rain barrels under all the eaves of the house and greenhouse.  Hummingbird feeders are up (they’re just arriving), all electrical/generation systems are up and running (after a day of replumbing), all Yahama’s and Toyotas started within seconds.  Boats are all on line–rebuilding the out-haul with a new pulley.  Woodshed is full and looking forward to another wonderful Alaskan summer.

Driving home tonight from Petersburgs took this shot of the new Munson and the “homestead.”  Light rain intermittent today.

My bench on the point looking out to Devil’s Thumb and the Stikine Icefields.  Great to be back home!     Stay tuned……






Winter Respite

April 14th, 2019

Arrived late December in JH and this what greeted me.  A view from the front porch.  Not long ago, this Ridgeline was virgin territory but Jackson Hole is getting divided up especially among the wealthy.  I built my cabin in the mid-1970s with a chain saw and a horse.

This view never changes.  The North Face of the Grand Teton is one of the great alpine ascents in America.  I climbed this with Craig McKibben in 1968–a jolly good time we had.  About 6 years later, Roger Johnson and I did the North Ridge (the skyline on the right).  In 1967 Roa and I did the complete Exum Ridge, named after Glenn Exum who did the first ascent.

Snake River Overlook is the location where Ansel Adams took his famous photograph and is a balm for sore eyes.  Left to right are Buck Mt., Wister, Static Peak, New Perce, Cloudveil Dome, South Teton, Middle Teton Teepee Spire (named after Frederick Teepee who died there in 1925), Grand Teton, Teewinot and on the right border is Symmetry Spire behind the tree.   The Snake River cuts river terraces through the “Hole” and has for eons.

While the Parks are closed due to the Government Shutdown, the mice will place and I catch this fellow lighting off his drone at Snake River Overlook.  I step in and take issue and suggest (ranger-style) a better location.  What folly to shut down our parks, yet keep the DOI oil leasing office open……true story.

….and it’s clearly marked.

There is nothing like a hike up the Butte above my house with commanding views of  Jackson Hole.  This winter was one of the heaviest snow years I can recall–perhaps since 1972.

The view toward Sheep Mountain which the locals call Sleeping Indian.  I once climbed the belly-button.  My uncle, David Abercrombie owned a 3000 acre ranch just to the left of this mountain called the Gros Ventre Ranch.  His brand was the A Lazy D which I now own.  The Jackson Hole Elk Reserve is at the very bottom and has recently become controversial with chronic wasting disease making inroads in Wyoming.

Of course, I must get a ski run in–it’s only been 10 years.  With good friends at Targhee Ski Resort–a 45 minute drive from Jackson and worth the effort.  Powder here is exquisite.  The Tetons have a reversed profile from the west.

After, it’s dinner and friendship…..and a warm fire.

Dornan’s Bar in Moose hosts a hootenanny or however you spell it much of the year.  Bill Briggs hasn’t missed a night in 60 years and was and continues to be a bit of local color.  He made the first ski descent of the Grand Teton nearly 50 years ago.  He’s hell on wheels with a banjo or autoharp too.  Catch him at the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson any Sunday evening in Jackson.  Thanks, Bill for all the years of music and interesting conversations.  It’s on to Tucson and Northern Arizona for the rest of the winter.

The Great Phytosaur Femur Recovery

April 7th, 2019

After my Phytosaur femur assembly (see three blogs back), I could not assemble the proximal and distal heads of this particular bone which demanded a field trip back to the site.

I can’t be too specific where this is, but one can get very lost in country like this.

My paleontology mentor is Indiana Chuck–do you think Hollywood would be interested–and here he studies a jacket of plaster moulded over some bone fragments to preserve their relationship.  Water is precious there and has to be carried in to mix the plaster.

Once the plaster sets, the jacket is flipped over in larger cases a lid is plastered into placer–a full jacket.  We fill in our divots.  While the plaster is setting, I take a 1/4 mile hike around looking for more bone fragments.

I’m now on the next summit–do not go into these hills alone.  I wonder if Forrest Fenn’s treasure lies anywhere near here?

This our treasure–bone fragments and we scramble around looking for that missing Phytosaur femur…..and find what we think is the right piece.  Indiana Chuck is a great teacher–I should have stayed in geology.  My last coursework was in the late 60s and much has changed since then; not the geology itself, but the knowledge base….and computers.

The scenery around us.

The hard debris tumbles downhill in clumps;  here 220 million year old logs

The larger pieces create their own pedestals.   This is a popular hiking trail just below the Desert View Museum at the north end of the park–one of my favorite NPS park buildings (see previous blog).

The second museum is located at the southern end of Petrified Forest National Park–and focuses on paleontology.  Here a CCC diorama–one of the very few left in the NPS system–depicts two Phytosaurs fighting to the death–an actual dual discovered by paleontologist Jim Camp back in the ’30s.  The Phytosaur’s were anything but plant eaters–check out this jaw:

This is both halves……

And relative size to my hat……

A Phytosaur skull still in it’s field jacket.

To finish up with my earlier blog, I drove out the south entrance and found the site where they were mining logs–these people are serious and only a few feet from the park boundary.  This, folks, is why we have national parks.

Some local color.  Very little decays in the northern Arizona sun, including dinosaur bones.  (Recall the Phytosaurs, Metoposaurs and Aetosaurs are not real dinosaurs, but their precursors.).   Oh, below is the last piece of bone glued in place….and now we know the length of this femur (it is inverted from the earlier blog photograph).

Stay tuned!