Most people probably wouldn't appreciate it as much as I do, especially those folks that have lived here their entire lives *cough MACE cough cough*. Its always been around them so they don't think about the beauty and wonder of it all the time. See coming from Cheyenne the surrounding area looks like this picture over here on the left. Now don't get me wrong. I love where I grew up. I loved feeling the wind (and there is plenty of it) blow against my ears when I would walk my dog in the praire above my house. I loved the sunsets and the rolling hills. I loved that you could see for miles over the waving long grasses. But my love for the forrest developed fairly young. My mom and dad tell stories of going camping with before I'd even turned 1. They plopped a box on the floor of the camper and made me a bed. As I got older, 4-5 yrs old, I couldn't wait till the spring and summer rolled around because it meant going up to the Snowies and camping for the weekends. It meant being in the woods. It meant hiking, chopping firewood, getting to shoot dad's .22, and cooking on the coleman stove. I still love the smell of white gas in the stove and lanturns. It meant playing cards with mom and dad when it was pooring rain out. It meant taking my dog and dumping her in the lake up at Lake Owen and Rob Roy. The woods held this special place in my heart and I wanted to be there as much as I possibly could get away with. The older I got the more I loved it too, since I was able to do more.
So once I had the career of my dreams working in the woods and working with criters how could I really complain. Well I still complain about Trout Creek itself but thats just a minor detail. The country is truly spectacular. One place that I've spent quite a bit of time in this past year has been the Cabinet Moutain Wilderness Area. This pic here on the right is the view from the other side of Freezout Creek up over Vermillion Pass. Actually Vermillion in general is where I've spent a great deal of time since thats the latest area for Old Growth Stand Exams. Basically that just entales going into specified stands and making sure they meet old growth criteria for protection. The forest in my district pretty much all burned out in the 1910 fire so we really don't have much for old growth and the Forest Service Forest Management Plan says that we should have at least 11% old growth forest for species habitat. HA HA HA... thats a joke. When you are dealing with a single story stand as the remainder of the forest I'd be shocked if we actually had 2% old growth. So what do we do about this? Well thats where I come in again and perform Common Stand Exams on "potential old growth" stands. Meaning I look for indicators in a stand that within the next 50 or so years that the stand would make suitable old growth habitat. If we have "potential old growth" that goes toward that 11% I was talking about earlier. I know I know... it seems kind of like a cheat but its the best we can do in a single story stand that evironmentalists wont let us thin and make at least multi-story. But I digress again here. The point was that the scenery actually is quite lovely even if it isn't the healthiest forest in the world. I see that as one of my goals. Making the forest healthier for the critters that live in it. Dad would be proud of that bit of forestry intellect I have in me.
The picture you see right above is another view of the Cabinet Mountains but from on top of Chicago Peak. I took this in the middle of May so you can tell we had a lot of snow over the winter and a late spring at that. In a lot of ways it made for a great year. I got to do a lot of winter work and hiked my buns off (unfortunately not literally... still have more buns that I'd like) with a set of well loved aluminum snow shoes.
Anywho, thats enough from me for now. I'm going to go enjoy the weekend. Its Huckleberry Festival Y'all! Tootleloo.