Thursday, May 22, 2008

Gosh darn it; this being at home and going to work hasn't created much content for the old blog.
Usually I can depend on taking some decent photos that lead into a bit of a story, but this month has been really quiet work-wise, and the weather has mostly been cool and wet.

The snow has been slow to start melting, so when it finally does get really warm, there could be some flooding and high water levels in the area. This has already resulted in some long term closures of the Trans Canada highway in Glacier National Park on the long weekend due to a persistent, annual mudslide. Perhaps these latest closures will convince someone that more extreme measures to control the slide would be in order?

Most of the snow has melted at least in the valley bottoms, so I took the opportunity to check on an old long-abandoned warden patrol cabin in the Bow valley. This one was the (Mt) Hector cabin, that was built long before there was a road between Lake Louise and Jasper. There does not appear to be a lot of horse graze in the area, so I suspect it may have been primarily a winter patrol cabin. Like most cabins of the era, it had a forestry telephone and the remains of the wires can still be found in the area.

At work, I try to keep an eye on the beaver activity in the McNair pond area.
The ice is just about off the pond and the beavers are doing their best to flood out the road.
I guess the biggest news (if you have been following the blog over the past few years) is that the dependable old 4x4 that has carried Harley and I far and wide has now been replaced.

This truck has carried Harley and I and the camper far and wide over the years, from Yellowknife, NT all the way to the tip of Baja Mexico. For a while we made annual pilgrimages to Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo, and to the Merritt Mountain Music Festival. Lately, it has taken us on extended trips down south in the winter, and to Mexico for the last three winters. And it has served us equally well through raging blizzards and deep snow, to the heat of the desert in Death Valley.

It had accumulated almost 300,000 km (180,000 miles), and may not have been up for some of the new challenges - which might include a 5th wheel rig, as I get closer to doing the traveling thing full time. But in spite of it's age and mileage, it was still the perfect truck, so when the chance came to upgrade, it is not surprising that the new one could be it's younger twin.
Here's the two of them comparing notes at the dealership in Calgary.
The new one is also a GMC Sierra, 3/4 ton 4x4 extended cab, short box - and blue!
It also has leather interior and power seats, etc.

But the new truck has a big 365HP Duramax turbo diesel engine that promises lots of power, improved fuel economy, and years of dependable service.
I have not been a fan of diesel engines, partly because of some of the problems with the older ones, the smell, and the NOISE! But these new ones are hardly any louder than a gas engine, but have lots more torque for pulling and for braking. And as far as cold weather starting, I hope that most of those are in Arizona , or Texas, or Mexico.
Unfortunately, I have likely excluded myself from Mexican road trips for a year or two - or at least until Mexico can guarantee the Ultra low sulphur diesel required by all the new engines :-(

In the meantime, I have an appointment to have belly-bars installed on the new truck, so I can put the camper on and hit the road for short road trips at least.

Stay tuned and it hopefully will not be nearly so long till the next update with some new photos and adventures - or at least more details on outfitting the new rig.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Since returning home (or at least that place where I stay between road trips), the weather has finally started to turn around with some warm and sunny days after a string of new records for cold temperatures.

So, I was out hanging around the Bow Valley. And I mean quite literally hanging, with nothing but air under my feet. And nothing above me but a rope and a rescue helicopter.

Once again, as we do every year, we were practicing our rescue techniques for reaching stranded or injured hikers, climbers, and skiers. Rescuers, and a search dog if required are lowered to the ground by the helicopter in areas too steep or rough to land. They carry all the first-aid gear needed to stabilize the patient and package them into a flyable stretcher. Then the helicopter returns and picks up both the rescuer and the patient , and they are flown to where the helicopter can land, and usually a waiting ambulance.

This year, the practice session was held only a day or two after we had flown a very seriously injured snowboarder, who had fallen in some very rough terrain just outside the boundaries of the ski area.

Both the pilots and the rescuers have to be re-certified each year in this rescue technique.

Helicopter returns to pick up a rescuer and a patient in the orange bag.
And off into the wild blue yonder - to a waiting ambulance.
Everyone contemplates this 'training patient'.
And in this scenario, the patient is moved onto a stretcher inside the helicopter for a direct flight to the hospital or a waiting EMS unit.
The 'patients eye' view of the process, as I volunteered to be rescued this year!

The bears have been a bit slow appearing this year, not that I blame them with the weather we have been having. But we are still getting a few calls about agressive wildlife behaviour.
Although some people have been quite alarmed by the random attacks from out of nowhere, it was a bit hard to take this attacker too seriously!
Scoping out the next victim.
Moving in for the peck, or wing-strike.

And if you think that this bird was guarding a nest, it must have been on all sides of a 4-way intersection, as she (?) was following people all over and not just in one location!

And we've had a big black wolf traveling in the area for the last few days. I had seen him the day before, but well out of range of a decent photo. Today I found him roadside, and managed a few snaps. He was not as close as the grouse!