A Chronology of Day to Day Life at Shalom
April 21,2017 - The Moose is Loose!
A bull moose sauntered by a couple evenings ago. He is sporting about 5" of new antler growth. He hung out for half an hour, giving me plenty of time to watch. Great fun!
We got a few inches of new snow last night which is just what the doctor ordered to enable me to snowmobile out on thle melting road and head to Colorado Springs for a couple of weeks. Its been a great winter and I look forward to returning on May 9 with a whole new greening outlook.
April 1, 2017 - Bighorn Rams in Taylor Canyon
I got lucky and spotted three Bighorn Rams on my way to Gunnison the other day. Majesty in motion.
Meanwhile, back at Shalom, Spring continues its slow approach. The last series of storms disappointingly produced only a few inches of snow. One more storm appears on the horizon next week, then I believe the season (and ground) will quickly reveal itself.
One other sign of the seasons' tide has been the return of several feathered friends. In addition to the stoic trio of jay species that stuck it out all Winter, we now have white crown sparrows, a white-breastednuthatch, gray-backed Junkos, pine siskins, Cassin's finch, and the villainous cowbird who lays its eggs in others' nests and if the host kicks out the offending egg will raid the nest, killing the original nestlings. The first chipmunk of the year showed up today.
The gray jays are apparently nesting as predicted, with only one of the pair showing up for feedings. I think this solves the mystery about the male/female markings. The one with no black dot on its white head must be the male.
March 25 - Reading Expands Time
One of my favorite things to do here at Shalom is to read a great book by the fire in the evening. I am amazed by the skill of great writers. Hard copy only, please. I lean toward historical accounts, fiction or not, that convey a strong sense of place in the world. I have my favorite place which helps me understand connections to other geographies. Not only my place in the world, but to other times, as well. As my knowledge begins to include expanded time and space, so does my self.
Thank you Joyce and Gary and your discerning eyes for keeping my bookshelf well stocked with opportunity.
March 14, 2017 - Spring on the Way
I have been remiss in updating the website, but part of that is due to being too busy taking advantage of the last days of winter. That is, unless we get a late storm, which is entirely possible, but not on the weatherman's radar. In fact, it is unseasonably warm and sunny (48° today) just like most of the rest of Colorado, even though nights remain in the 10°-14° range. I will try to get recent photos of high altitude snowmobile trips posted soon. It just seems like work!
While there still is/are three feet of snow on the ground at the cabin, and much, much more in surrounding higher terrain, I can see that the road to the Trading Post, which is exposed to sun and wind will melt off quickly, maybe in the next week or so. That will leave me with the inverse dilemma from the Fall when trying to figure out the switch between snowmobile and 4WD. There may be a transition period when the lower part of the road becomes 4WD passable, but still need the snowmobile for the last miles. Just to be safe, I went to town yesterday for groceries in case I get stuck in the season's swing and have to sit tight for a while.
In other signs of Spring, I have additional feathered visitors. The pair of Gray Jays feel like friends and I give them special handouts. They should be nesting soon. Is it normal to talk to birds? I finally got a good count on the Steller's Jays, of which there are 14. A single Clark's Nutcracker was an occasional visitor all Winter, but suddenly there are four. A handful of White Crowned Sparrows has joined in over the last couple of weeks. And, in the surest sign yet, two tiny Pine Siskins showed up today. Looks like I need to restock on bird feed.
Yes, the above is an actual photo taken today, not a Windows stock background.
March 1 - Back Home
Business accomplished and enjoying being back at Shalom the last few hours. I unpacked the groceries. I suppose it was an opportune time to be away, as it was mostly stormy until today for the trip back in. Missed getting to watch the storm rage, though. We got about 8" of much needed fresh snow and today is bright and sunny. Looking forward to more adventure during this warm spell between March storms. March is typically the snowiest month. Whoa!
Feb. 24 - Away from Cabin
I am making a quick trip to Colorado Springs Sat. Feb. 25 - Wed. Feb. 26. I'll be anxious to get back to Shalom and will update then. Thanks for all the great comments and welcome to several new subscribers. Note that I only send update emails when posting a new blog on the Home page. Other minor updates to Day to Day or other elements are just there for you to find if you wish. I'm not in to oversharing and don't want to bug you with too many emails in your overflowing inbox.
A series of storms has been rolling through, but only produced light snowfall. The storms are still lined up in the Pacific and headed our way. Here is hoping for a white March, typically the snowiest month.
Feb. 15 - First Light 5° - below at 7:00 am.
Watching the early morning sun strike the peaks remains my favorite part of the day.
Click an image to see a larger view.
Feb. 12 - Stovewood
I have lots of firewood split and ready to go - almost. Getting a little short of medium sized wood to help get the fire started in the morning. So, I split a small pile to keep things going. With the mild temps as of late, I don't bother to keep a fire going all night. It's usually about 58° in the morning (in the house) and warms right up to mid-60°'s for the day. This is my under-the-deck work and snowmobile storage area. Perfect for gray, blustery days like today.
Feb.10, 2017 - Fixed the Snowmobile Problem
After weeks of frustrating mechanical issues and dependence on friends, I solved the transportation issue with a trip to the show room floor. That's a big smile!
Feb. 4, 2017 - January Thaw Arrives in February
We have had an extended warm spell, which has seen a continued settling of the very dense snowpack. Several days have hit the mid-30 degree mark, enabling me to get rid of most of the ice on the deck. Major ice dams on the roof have developed equally major ice-cycles. Finally had a little snow last night, with a more significant storm on the way Monday-Wednesday. Jack and daughter, Erin, are here for a spell at their nearby cabin. Continuing to enjoy the company of Tincup folks and am looking forward to an actual Superbowl party tomorrow. I made a carrot cake! The snowmobile situation remains frustratingly unresolved. A couple of mid-winter White-crowned sparrows now drop by every day for leftovers. This is a very happy time!
January 24, 2017 - Tincup Population Doubles!
Two couples arrived today at their cabins in Tincup, doubling the current residential population. Welcome back Ted, Annie, Roger and Karen! Opportunities for social events are boundless, as is the snow. We've received 15" in the last five days, with possibility of more tonight. Joe and I attempted to mark the Tincup road with stakes and orange flags with the hope of staying on the road in whiteout conditions. The road was pretty well obliterated over the last couple days by the wind. Three moose are also wondering how they will survive the winter.
January 19, 2017 - No Report :)
December 18, 2016 - Frigid
The digital thermometer reads 26° at 6:15 a.m. Oh, wait! There is a minus in front of that number! The cabin makes horrendous booming noises through the night as the logs contract.
The photo at right shows how to keep your hands warm in sub-zero temps. Fleece and down liners under old-school fur-backed Army surplus mittens with leather palms or down liners in Outdoor Research Gore-Tex expedition gloves.
December 16, 2016 - First Big Storm, Snowshoes, and Inconvenient Technology
Woke up this morning to heavily falling snow and intermittent brief power outages. I left a brief message for the power company - when the power was on - but realized I may need to break out my old fashioned backup phone that does not require electricity. Oh ... right, it does require AA batteries, which I don't have. After a few blips, the power stayed on. Add item to shopping list.
This is our first storm to outperform, or at least equal, the forecast. About 18" snow on the ground at this writing. For fun, I broke a snowshoe trail down the creek and across to a neighbor's cabin. They aren't here, but will be in a few days. Doesn't look like the trail-breaking effort is going to last long. Have shoveled twice today, already.
Upon return, I found the Internet down. After trying everything possible from a keyboard, I found out it was pre-determined that I had to go up on the roof to check for snow build up on the satellite dish. That was it - now I know.
December 24, 2016 - Santa's New Sled
Santa is experimenting with a new mode of transportation and made a test run to the cabin. He said that his new GPS system was indispensable in finding Willow Creek. The reindeer are negotiating a new contract.
December 23, 2016 - All Quiet
Snow came all night and for a couple of hours this morning. It is startlingly quiet when snow falls on snow. There is no person within seven miles today.
A moose crosses the meadow in front of Shalom, hock deep in white, looking back just once before crossing the creek. Later, down the way, a pine marten eyes me from the top of the dumpster, which I have shoveled yesterday. His three pounds will not lift the 40 pound lid today.
December 27, 2016 - Turkey Soup
With temps this morning at what could only be described as "when hell freezes over," it seemed like a good morning to stay inside. Let's see ... what is better than turkey and dressing for Christmas? I know! Turkey soup! I went to work boiling, de-boning, simmering, and chopping and now have a delightful aroma permeating the place. Should be ready by lunchtime. The jays had a great time with the fat and gristle scraps, as did I, watching in comfort from behind glass. Blue skies portend a more generous afternoon.
December 29, 2016 - Gray Jays Again. I finally noticed a distinguishing mark to differentiate our pair. One has a tiny black mark on it's crown, while the other is mostly gray. Now, which is the male and which is the female?
January 1, 2017 - New Years Eve Bonfire. We had a heckuva time getting the 12th Annual Bonfire to ignite. There was much heroic digging of windpacked snow and many gallons of kerosene employed. We managed to get a couple sections of the massive slash pile to burn, but never caught fire to the main pile. The effort was only matched by the numerous theories for our pyro-maniacal failure. Temps were comparatively mild and we had 11 people in attendance, all of whom, being of advanced age, retired by 9:30.
Resolved: (1) Next year start fire earlier to take advantage of the great sunset on Ice Mountain and get to bed on time, and (2) Bring food!
January 5, 2017 - Weather Report: Buried. About 17" so far, with more on the way today, tonight, and again in a couple of days. Gotta go dig.
Just for fun, here is a clip from the NWS Winter Storm Warning:
SNOW ACCUMULATION...ADDITIONAL 6 TO 12 INCHES WITH STORM TOTAL SNOWFALL FROM 20 TO 40 INCHES. THE SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS WILL LIKELY SEE 2 INCH PER HOUR SNOW ACCUMULATION RATES BETWEEN 6 AND 10PM THIS EVENING. UP TO 50 INCHES STORM TOTAL POSSIBLE IN THE WEST ELK AND SAWATCH MOUNTAINS BY FRIDAY MORNING.
Yes, we are in the Sawatch Mountains
January 9, 2017 - Epic Winter Storm Continues - Even more buried. After shoveling the deck for the third time in two days, I may have to abandon the notion of keeping that real estate clear. There are many other more fun things to do. For now, will just shovel a path to the bird feeding area and the steps to the firewood stored under the deck. With twice the normal amount of snow for this time of year, things look good in Taylor Park for the next several seasons. Oh, and snowmobile troubles continue. Battery is dead, dead, dead and will not generate a spark, even with the pull rope. Have to figure out how to get one.
Update Jan. 10 5:00 PM - Two more storms predicted by Friday.
January 12, 2017 - Snow, cont'd - Recorded 64" snow since Jan. 3. The Taylor River Road down to Almont has been closed for 3 days due to avalanches and ice on the road. Monarch Pass, Monarch Ski Area, and Crested Butte Ski Area have been intermittently closed due to too much snow and for safety reasons. The Winter Storm Warning has been extended to Saturday Jan. 14 5:00 PM.
Just back from skiing down to the main gate. The moose have been walking in my ski tracks, and after a night of snow, I walk again in theirs. We are saving energy. In this way I encountered a shaggy mama moose with her equally shaggy twins who gave me the right of way and plunged through chest deep snow into the woods. No time for a camera, but I did get this shot of the snow enveloped footbridge.
January 16, 2017 - Gone Skiing