Nature and Wildlife Tours / MontanaMontana Travel Ideas
Where are you headed on your next road trip? Check out these great Montana destinations.
Saw fresh bear sign this morning. Thought it would be a good idea to re-post this article.
Information from a pamphlet produced by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, the Wyoming Game and Fish Dept., and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
No matter where we live in Bear Country we're never too far from bears, spectacular animals that, unfortunately can get into trouble with humans. Homeowners, remember that bears have an extremely good sense of smell and will check out anything that smells like food. They also have good memories - once "rewarded" with food, a bear will return with regularity to sites where they once got a free meal. The best approach is to 'bear-proof' your property by storing food, garbage and other attractants away from bears.
Stored garbage often attracts bears. Once a bear uses human garbage as food, it is very difficult to persuade the bear to leave the area. Bears that are drawn to stored garbage but are unable to obtain feed will usually leave and not return.
Some Garbage Care Tips
Bears are intelligent creatures. It doesn't take long for a bear to realize that improperly stored garbage is an easy source of food. The pattern of events is predictable: A bear feeds on garbage and people enjoy the spectacle. After a few visits, the bear loses its fear of humans because the lure of garbage is greater than its natural tendency to avoid people. When the bear no longer fears humans, someone usually gets hurt and the bear is destroyed.
'Garbage bears' are often killed because it is the only practical option available. Transported bears often return from great distances to their home territory, and those that don't return take their raiding habits with them to new areas. The adage that "A Fed Bear Is A Dead Bear!" is usually true.
Bears are very opportunistic and eat basically everything that humans and their pets and livestock do.
The following is a breakdown of typical bear attractants and what you can do to avoid inviting a bear to your home:
Electric fences (the more strands the better) have been used successfully in a variety of circumstances where bears are attempting to access human foods or garbage. Properly constructed fences can deter bears from attractants including garbage storing facilities, beehives, orchards, gardens and even sewage lagoons. Electric fences are relatively inexpensive to install but take regular maintenance. It is not recommended that electric fences be used around human dwellings, as some bears have been known to jump or push their way through an electric fence when startled by the electric shock.
Chain link has been used to successfully keep bears out of landfills, sewage treatment areas, and trash collection centers. Chain link fence alone has been used successfully in areas of low bear concentrations and where bears have not been exposed to food sources. Occasionally, bears have dug under or climbed over fences to reach food sources. It is recommended that the chain link fence be buried 3 feet in the ground. A concrete pad under the gate may be necessary.
Shed construction should consist of a material strong enough to prevent the bear from chewing through it, and be fitted snug enough to prevent the bear from getting their claws underneath the material. Bears are very strong and have been known to tear siding off when they have been able to get their claws under it. Good bets for wall materials are concrete block, bricks, steel siding, or heavy wooden siding.
"A tree is a wonderful living organism which gives shelter, food,
warmth and protection to all living things. It even gives shade to
those who wield an axe to cut it down" – Buddha.
There are probably hundreds of majestic and magnificent trees in the world – of these, some are particularly special:
(Image credit: bdinphoenix [flickr])
(Image credit: mikemac29 [flickr])
Buffeted by the cold Pacific Ocean wind, the scraggly Lone Cypress [wiki] (Cupressus macrocarpa) in Pebble Beach, Monterey Peninsula, California, isn’t a particularly large tree. It makes up for its small size, however, with its iconic status as a stunningly beautiful tree in splendid isolation, framed by an even more beautiful background of the Pacific Ocean.
As a hobby, bean farmer Axel Erlandson [wiki] shaped trees – he pruned, bent, and grafted trees into fantastic shapes and called them "Circus Trees." For example, to make this "Basket Tree" arborsculpture, Erlandson planted six sycamore trees in a circle and then grafted them together to form the diamond patterns.
Basket Tree (Image credit: jpeepz [flickr])
The two-legged tree (Image credit: Vladi22, Wikipedia)
Ladder tree (Image credit: Arborsmith)
Axel Erlandson underneath one of his arborsculpture (Image credit: Wilma Erlandson,Cabinet Magazine)
Erlandson was very secretive and refused to reveal his methods on how to grow the Circus Trees (he even carried out his graftings behind screens to protect against spies!) and carried the secrets to his grave.
The trees were later bought by millionaire Michael Bonfante, who transplanted them to his amusement park Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy in 1985.
(Image credit: Humpalumpa [flickr])
Giant Sequoias [wiki] (Sequoiadendron giganteum), which only grow in Sierra Nevada, California, are the world’s biggest trees (in terms of volume). The biggest isGeneral Sherman [wiki] in the Sequoia National Park – one behemoth of a tree at 275 feet (83.8 m), over 52,500 cubic feet of volume (1,486 m³), and over 6000 tons in weight.
General Sherman is approximately 2,200 years old – and each year, the tree adds enough wood to make a regular 60-foot tall tree. It’s no wonder that naturalist John Muir said "The Big Tree is Nature’s forest masterpiece, and so far as I know, the greatest of living things."
For over a century there was a fierce competition for the title of the largest tree: besides General Sherman, there is General Grant [wiki] at King’s Canyon National Park, which actually has a
larger circumference (107.5 feet / 32.77 m vs. Sherman’s 102.6 feet / 31.27 m).
In 1921, a team of surveyors carefully measured the two
giants – with their data, and according to the complex American Forestry Association system of judging a tree, General Grant should have been award the title of largest tree – however, to simplify the matter, it was later determined that in this case, volume, not point system, should be the determining factor.
There is another sequoia species (not to be confused with Giant Sequoia) that is quite remarkable: the Coast Redwood [wiki] (Sequoia sempervirens), the tallest trees in the world.
The reigning champion is a tree called Hyperion in the Redwood National Park, identified by researcher Chris Atkins and amateur naturalist Michael Taylor in 2006. Measuring over 379 feet (
155.6 115 m) tall, Hyperion beat out the previous record holder Stratosphere Giant [wiki] in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park (at 370 feet / 112.8 m).
The scientists aren’t talking about the exact location of Hyperion: the terrain is difficult, and they don’t want a rush of visitors to come and trample the tree’s root system.
[Image: The Stratosphere Giant - still an impressive specimen, previously the world's tallest tree until dethroned by Hyperion in 2006.]
That’s not all that’s amazing about the Coast Redwood: there are four giant California redwoods big enough that you can drive your car through them!
The most famous of the drive-through trees is the Chandelier Tree[wiki] in Leggett, California. It’s a 315 foot tall redwood tree, with a 6 foot wide by 9 foot tall hole cut through its base in the 1930s.
Chandelier Tree. (Image credit: hlh-abg [flickr])
Chapel-Oak of Allouville-Bellefosse (Image credit: Old trees in Netherlands & Europe)
(Image credit: dm1795 [flickr])
(Image credit: Luc Doudet)
The Chêne-Chapelle (Chapel-Oak) of Allouville-Bellefosse is the most famous tree in France – actually, it’s more than just a tree: it’s a building and a religious monument all in one.
In 1669, l’Abbe du Detroit and du Cerceau decided to build a chapel in (at that time) a 500 years old or so oak (Quercus robur) tree made hollow by a lightning bolt. The priests built a small altar to the Virgin Mary. Later on, a second chapel and a staircase were added.
Now, parts of the tree are dead, the crown keeps becoming smaller and smaller every year, and parts of the tree’s bark, which fell off due to old age, are covered by protective oak shingles. Poles and cables support the aging tree, which in fact, may not live much longer. As a symbol, however, it seems that the Chapel-Oak of Allouville-Bellefosse may live on forever.
Quaking Aspen (Image: Wikipedia)
Aspen grove (Image credit: scottks1 [flickr])
Quaking Aspen in winter (Image credit: darkmatter [flickr])
Pando [wiki] or the Trembling Giant in Utah is actually a colony of a single Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) tree. All of the trees (technically, "stems") in this colony are genetically identical (meaning, they’re exact clones of one another). In fact, they are all a part of a single living organism with an enormous underground root system.
Pando, which is Latin for "I Spread," is composed of about 47,000 stems spread throughout 107 acres of land. It estimated to weigh 6,600 tons, making it the heaviest known organism. Although the average age of the individual stems are 130 years, the entire organism is estimated to be about 80,000 years old!
The Tule Tree Towers over a church next to it (Image credit: jubilohaku [flickr])
Close-up of the tree’s gnarled trunk. Local legends say that you can make out animals like jaguars and elephants in the trunk, giving the tree the nickname of "the Tree of Life" (Image credit: jvcluis [flickr])
El Árbol del Tule [wiki] ("The Tule Tree") is an especially large Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) near the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. This tree has the largest trunk girth at 190 feet (58 m) and trunk diameter at 37 feet (11.3 m). The Tule tree is so thick that people say you don’t hug this tree, it hugs you instead!
For a while, detractors argued that it was actually three trees masquerading as one – however, careful DNA analysis confirmed that it is indeed one magnificent tree.
In 1994, the tree (and Mexican pride) were in jeopardy: the leaves were sickly yellow and there were dead branches everywhere- the tree appeared to be dying. When tree "doctors" were called in, they diagnosed the problem as dying of thirst. The prescription? Give it water. Sure enough, the tree soon recovered after a careful watering program was followed.
The Banyan tree is named after "banians" or Hindu traders who carry out their business under the tree. Even if you have never heard of a Banyan tree (it was the tree used by Robinson Crusoe for his treehouse), you’d still recognize it. The shape of the giant tree is unmistakable: it has a majestic canopy with aerial roots running from the branches to the ground.
Banyan tree (Image credit: Diorama Sky [flickr])
Closer view of the Banyan aerial root structure (Image credit: BillyCrafton [flickr])
If you were thinking that the Banyan tree looks like the trees whose roots snake through the ruins of the Ta Prohm temple like tentacles of the jungle (Lara Croft, anyone?) at Ankor, Cambodia , you’d be right!
Banyan tree (or is it silk-cotton tree?) in the ruins of Ta Prohm, Ankor, Cambodia
(Image Credit: Casual Chin [flickr])
One of the most famous species of Banyan, called the Sacred Fig [wiki] or Bo tree, is the Sri Maha Bodhi [wiki] tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is said that the tree was grown from a cutting from the original tree under which Buddha became enlightened in the 6th century BC.
Planted in 288 BC, it is the oldest living human-planted tree in the world, with a definitive planting date!
(Image credit: Images of Ceylon)
(Image credit: Wikipedia)
Methuselah Grove (Image Credit: NOVA Online)
Bristlecone pine grove in which Prometheus grew (Image credit: James R. Bouldin,Wikipedia)
The oldest living tree in the world is a White Mountains, California, bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) named Methuselah [wiki], after the Biblical figure who lived to 969 years old. The Methuselah tree, found at 11,000 feet above sea level, is 4,838 years old – it is not only the oldest tree but also the oldest living non-clonal organism in the world.
Before Methuselah was identified as the world’s oldest tree by Edmund Schulman in 1957, people thought that the Giant Sequoias were the world’s oldest trees at about 2,000 years old. Schulman used a borer to obtain a core sample to count the growth rings of various bristlecone pines, and found over a dozen trees over 4,000 years old.
The story of Prometheus [wiki] is even more interesting: in 1964, Donald R. Currey[wiki], then a graduate student, was taking core samples from a tree named Prometheus. His boring tool broke inside the tree, so he asked for permission from the US Forest Service to cut it down and examine the full cross section of the wood. Surprisingly the Forest Service agreed! When they examined the tree, Prometheus turned out to be about 5,000 years old, which would have made it the world’s oldest tree when the scientist unwittingly killed it!
Stump of the Prometheus Tree. (Image Credit: James R. Bouldin, Wikipedia)
Today, to protect the trees from the inquisitive traveler, the authorities are keeping their location secret (indeed, there are no photos identifying Methuselah for fear of vandalism).
The amazing baobab [wiki] (Adansonia) or monkey bread tree can grow up to nearly 100 feet (30 m) tall and 35 feet (11 m) wide. Their defining characteristic: their swollen trunk are actually water storage – the baobab tree can store as much as 31,700 gallon (120,000 l) of water to endure harsh drought conditions.
Baobab trees are native to Madagascar (it’s the country’s national tree!), mainland Africa, and Australia. A cluster of "the grandest of all" baobab trees (Adansonia grandidieri) can be found in the Baobab Avenue, near Morondava, in Madagascar:
(Image credit: Fox-Talbot, Wikipedia)
(Image credit: plizzba [flickr])
(Image credit: Daniel Montesino [flickr])
In Ifaty, southwestern Madagascar, other baobabs take the form of bottles, skulls, and even teapots:
Teapot baobab (Image credit: Gilles Croissant)
The baobab trees in Africa are amazing as well:
Baobab in Tanzania (Image credit: telethon [flickr])
Baobab near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (Image credit: ironmanix [flickr])
There are many practical uses of baobab trees, like for a toilet:
A toilet built inside a baobab tree in the Kayila Lodge, Zambia
(Image credit: Steve Makin [flickr])
… and even for a prison:
A "Prison Baob" tree in Western Australia (Image credit: yewenyi [flickr])
Legend has it that the Tree That Owns Itself [wiki], a white oak in Athens, Georgia was given ownership of itself and the surrounding land by Dr. William Henry Jackson in 1820! The original tree had died long ago, but a new tree (Son of The Tree That Owns Itself) was planted at the same location from one of its acorns.
The Tree of Ténéré in the 1970s, before a truck crashed into it (Image credit: Peter Krohn)
The Tree of Ténéré or L’Abre du Ténéré was the world’s most isolated tree – the solitary acacia, which grew in the Sahara desert in Niger, Africa, was the only tree within more than 250 miles (400 km) around.
The tree was the last surviving member of a group of acacias that grew when the desert wasn’t as dry. When scientists dug a hole near the tree, they found its roots went down as deep as 120 feet (36 m) below to the water table!
Apparently, being the only tree in that part of the wide-open desert (remember: there wasn’t another tree for 250 miles around), wasn’t enough to stop a drunk Libyan truck driver from driving his truck into it, knocking it down and killing it!
Now, a metal sculpture was placed in its spot to commemorate the Lonely Tree of Ténéré:
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that this list is far from complete: there are many more magnificent trees in the world (for instance, see the List of Famous Trees [wiki]). If you have any addition of noteworthy tree (and stories about trees), please leave it in the comment section.
It has been a late spring. The snow remains low on the rocky slopes. Today my mining partner and I, backpacking up Two-Mile Creek near Saint Regis, Montana, stumbled upon disgusting evidence of poachers. Although I am not a hunter myself, big game hunting is a Montana tradition I respect. I would not be troubled if someone poached a deer in a time of hunger. This scene was beyond forgiveness. Two mule deer, illegally shot, lay dead on the side of the mountainous logging road; the head of the buck, severed and removed. Obviously, the shooter required a trophy mount; proof of the kill. The complete carcasses of the noble buck and the gentle doe positioned on the embankment, indicated these magnificent animals were shot for sport, not the meat.
These human predators lacked a moral compass. Their campsite yielded further evidence of an arrogant attitude. Garbage, beer bottles and toilet tissue littered the forest floor, a defiant affront to those who support responsible stewardship of the environment.
The poachers, were apparently, also hunting bear. A few hundred yards away from their camp, we discovered plastic bags of rotting meat, dripping blood. There was still liquid in the bags, so the "bear bait" was fresh. The stench in the air was noxious, a sour stench of death and decay. Human feces littered the ground just a few feet from the fire ring. How can humans like themselves and live in such squalor?
I followed the bait trail for a distance, then decided, unarmed, we should not proceedl. Would we find more garbage, odorous bear bait or maimed carcasses? Was a cougar above us in the trees, investigating the scent? We didn't know if the human "vermin" that left this blight on the land were around the next bend.
I have difficulty fathoming how anyone could violate the land in this manner. Both humans and animals share our fragile world, yet only man "desecrates his own nest and defiles his habitat." The area where this "noxious demonstration of studity" played out, borders a pristine wilderness; breath-takingly beautiful. The site was hauntingly quiet. Not a bird sang nor a squirrel moved. I was in presence of evil. The poachers perpetrated a violent rape of nature. I am exceedingly angry.
The poacher's campsite is located at the mouth of Two-Mile Creek. The incident has been reported to the USFS Game Warden. We will return with gloves and garbage bags.
Please show Mother Nature respect. The next time you go to the woods, remember to leave only footprints.
When you head for the woods or the desert, do not forget the bug spray. Mosquitoes, ticks and flies can take a lot of the fun out of prospecting. Plan ahead and avoid the irritation.
Mosquitoes, biting flies, chiggers and ticks can be annoying and sometimes pose a serious risk to public health. In certain areas of the United States, mosquitoes can transmit diseases like equine and St. Louis encephalitis. More recently transmission of West Nile Virus has become a major concern. Biting flies can inflict a painful bite that can persist for days, swell, and become infected. Ticks can transmit serious diseases like Lyme disease (the north western corner of Arizona is classed as a low risk area, it is only in this part of Arizona that the vector exists at all) and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. When properly used, arthropod (insects, ticks, mites, etc.) repellents can discourage biting arthropods from landing on treated skin or clothing.
Insect repellents are available in various forms and concentrations. Aerosol and pump-spray products are intended for skin applications as well as for treating clothing. Liquid, cream, lotion, spray, and stick products enable direct skin application. Products with a low concentration of active ingredient may be appropriate for situations where exposure to insects is minimal. Higher concentration of active ingredient may be useful in highly infested areas or with insect species which are more difficult to repel. Where appropriate, consider non-chemical ways to deter biting insects — window and door screens, bed netting, long sleeves, and long pants.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends the following precautions when using insect repellents:
EPA recommends the following precautions when using an insect repellent:
DEET (chemical name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is the active ingredient in many insect repellent products. DEET’s most significant benefit is its ability to repel potentially disease-carrying insects and ticks. Products containing DEET currently are available to the public in a variety of liquids, lotions, sprays, and impregnated materials (e.g., wrist bands). Formulations registered for direct application to human skin contain from 4 to 100% DEET. DEET is designed for direct application to human skin to repel insects, rather than kill them. After it was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946, DEET was registered for use by the general public in 1957. Approximately 230 products containing DEET are currently registered with EPA by about 70 different companies. Skin sensitivity to DEET can develop after repeated use. EPA is no longer allowing child safety claims on product labels. These claims currently appear on certain products containing a DEET concentration of 15% or less. Use lower levels (<6%) of DEET on children and apply to clothing not onto skin. Do not use DEET on infants or if you are pregnant.
A chemical repellent that has been used in Europe for over 20 years, IR3535 was approved for use in the United States in 1999.
It is recommended that personal insect repellents such as citronella and oil of lavender not be used on children under 2 years of age.
Registered citronella oil repellents protect people against mosquito bites for less than one hour. The registered lavender oil repellent protects for half an hour or less.
The citronella-based repellents tested protected for 20 minutes or less. Slow release products do not provide significant added benefit.
Based on animal studies, citronella-based products appear to be potential dermal sensitizers. Therefore, allergic reactions may occur in some individuals .
Products containing eucalyptus oil were the most effective herbal repellents tested and lasted as long as low concentrations of DEET!!
As a treatment for clothing only. Use by itself or with skin applied repellents. Permethrin is a contact insecticide. That is, it kills ticks or other insects when it comes in contact with them. It is used on clothing and materials only. It uses the same active ingredient used in hair shampoos for head lice. Skin contact should be avoided and deactivates Permethrin within fifteen minutes. As a clothing, tent or sleeping bag application, Permethrin is very effective at keeping ticks from attaching to you and at reducing mosquito bites. Permethrin is an effective repellent against mosquitoes and flies and can be used in conjunction with a skin based repellent. Spray applications of Permethrin can remain effective up to 14 days of exposure to light or oxygen, or through two aggressive washings. By storing the treated clothing in black plastic bags between uses the fourteen days of protection can be extended considerably. If necessary a heavier application can remain effective even longer. Bed nets can be treated with permethrin.
Product data has been taken from:
Fradin MF, Day JF. Comparative efficacy of insect repellents against mosquito bites. New England Journal of Medicine. 2002. 4;347(1):13-8.
Triatoma protracta dorsal
Triatoma protracta ventral
Triatoma recurua dorsal
Triatoma recurua dorsal
Triatoma rubida dorsal
Triatoma rubida ventral
by Filip Tkaczyk
How can you tell the different types of evergreen trees apart and which ones are your best allies in a survival situation? Where are they found and what do they look like?
In the Pacific Northwest we are blessed with a variety of evergreen trees. Three stand out as some of the best for survival purposes. These are species that you will want to get familiar with, so you can count on them if you get into a survival situation. These three types of evergreen trees also happen to be common and widespread in their preferred habitats and are often found growing together. The types of evergreen trees we are talking about here are Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Western Hemlock(Tsuga heterophylla).
TYPES OF EVERGREEN TREES:
Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)
Overall: a statuesque tree which can grow to a incredible size of up to nearly 200 feet tall and with a massive, buttress trunk that can be up to 19 feet in diameter.
Leaves:The leaves of these types of evergreens are easily distinguished from the needles of other evergreens. They are compressed and scaly, closely hugging the stem. If closely observed, leaves can be seen growing in opposite pairs in 4 rows so that leaves in the first pair are folded, the next pair is not and so on.
Cones: Female cones are small, around half an inch long and formed of 8-12 large scales. The cones stand up on the branches. Male cones are minute, numerous, reddish and found at branch tips.
Habitat: Prefers moist to wet forested moistly in lowlands, but also up to mid-elevation.
Known as “the tree of life” by many, this incredible tree has provided a wealth of use to many Native people throughout the Pacific Northwest. Many of the peoples of the coast collected cedar bark in the springtime for many purposes. Cedar bark was then dried, pounded and separated into layers. Then these materials were used to make many different articles including: baskets, ropes, mats, blankets, canoe bailers, and clothing. The wood of red cedar was used to make things that included: dishes, arrow shafts, harpoon shafts, spear poles, barbecuing sticks, fish spreaders and hangers, dipnet hooks, fish clubs, masks, rattles, benches, cradles, coffins and paddles.
Red cedars make amazing tinder bundles for starting fires. Even when it is raining, you can collect the bark and then scrape the inner part of it back and forth with a knife or stone so that it forms a fluffy bundle of fibers. You can then ignite this bundle with a spark, coal or flame. It helps to make this bundle large enough to fill both of your hands. The wood of red cedar is also one of the best and most reliable woods for making friction fires using the bow-and-drill. The spindle, fire board, handhold and a temporary bowline (using a long, thin cedar rootlet) can be created from the wood of this wonderful tree! Hollow bases of standing old-growth trees and old stumps can provide good temporary survival shelters. This tree is arguably the most important of all the types of evergreens to know for survival.
Douglas fir (Psuedotsuga menziesii)
Overall: Potentially a tree of tremendous height, up to 300 plus feet and with a maximum diameter of over 15 feet. Almost matches the coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) as one of the tallest trees in the world!The bark of this tree is very thick, fluted, rough, with ridges and often dark brown.
Leaves: Flat needles that are green to yellowish-green, with pointed tips and about 1 inch long. Needles have two pale bands underneath and one groove on the bottom. Needles spirally arranged, though depending on the tree and location may appear more flattened in arrangement when viewed in cross-section. The buds are pointed.
Cones: Female cones 3 to 4 inches in length. Green when young, and at flowering, but browning with age. Scales are papery and overlapping. Papery 3 forked bracts project beyond scales. Can be described as hanging out like the bottoms of trapped mice (hind legs and a tail in between). Male pollen cones are small, reddish-brown at branch ends. The cones on these types of evergreen trees hang downward.
Habitat: Adaptable and found in a variety of locations including extremely dry and low elevation areas to moist mountain zones. Of the 3 types of evergreen trees mentioned here, Douglas firs are the most fire-resistant
Comments:This is an iconic tree of the west coast, found growing among the dry ponderosa pines of the eastern Cascade slopes and many other drier mountain areas. Just as much it is a part of the sopping, wet coastal temperate rainforests where it is often one of the towering giants.
Native peoples used Douglas fir for many things, including: fishhooks, caulking for canoes and water bearing containers, harpoon heads, spear shafts, torches from heartwood, spoons and spear handles. The pitch was used to make healing salves for wounds and skin problems.
The pitch of Douglas fir makes for an excellent asset to have when starting fires. Gather some of the pitch on a stick and carry it with you for easy fire starting with a lighter. The needles make a good, vitamin C-rich tea.
Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)
Overall: A very tall tree of up to nearly 200 feet, with a fairly narrow crown and often a drooping leader on top. The largest western hemlocks have a diameter at breast height of up to 8 feet. The bark of this tree is scaly, rough, reddish-brown to grayish and furrowed, especially with age.
Leaves: The needles are the key to identifying these types of evergreen trees. They are yellowish-green, short, flat, blunted tips, of variable lengths, widely and irregularly spaced. The needles have 2 pale lines underneath.
Cones:The cones are also a useful key to identifying these types of evergreen trees. Males cones are small and numerous. Female cones are also numerous, around 1 inch long, starting out purplish but maturing to a brown. Scales are rounded and papery.
Habitat: Moderately dry to wet areas. This is the most common coniferous tree you will meet in the coastal temperate rainforest. This tree is shade tolerant and also creates a great deal of shade when it matures, to the extent where a dense hemlock forest may have little undergrowth.
Comments: These types of evergreen trees are a classic part of the Pacific Northwest scenery, whether towering over you in the rainforest or growing as tiny seedlings underfoot. Much of the deep, mysterious shade you experience in the rainforest is provided by these wonderful trees. Hemlocks grow well on humus and decaying wood, and it is a common sight to see lines of hemlock seedlings growing in rows on top of decaying logs. These will eventually straddle the log as they mature.
Native people used hemlock for a number of things, including: wood for spoons, combs, wedges, children’s bows, hemlock-bark solution for tanning, dye for basket materials, and feast bowls. Hemlock branches were seen as a great bedding material, and were also used to collect herring spawn. The pitch was used as salve when mixed with deer tallow to prevent sunburn, made into poultices or poultice coverings.
You can chew young branch tips for short term hunger suppressant. The young growth of these types of evergreen trees contains a fair amount of vitamin C. Western hemlock is another great source of fire materials in survival situations. Because of the density of the foliage, the lowest branches are often shaded out and die back. This leaves very fine, dry materials for very fine kindling. This is especially useful when it is wet and rainy outside and you are struggling to find any dry wood anywhere. Under those conditions, it helps to look for dry wood on the trees, rather than under them.
Evergreens Are Your Friend
Whenever you are exploring the wonderfully lush forest of the Pacific Northwest, remember these types of evergreen trees. They are your best friends and assets, especially in a survival situation. Consider all the many things they provide, from fire and shelter to medicine and tools. Remember to practice good harvesting ethics, and take only what you need and when you need it.
Next time you see any types of evergreen trees, go and introduce yourself. The best way to get to know them is to fully immerse yourself with all of your senses. Feel its needles against your hands and face. Smell them. Run your hands up and down the trunk of the tree. Notice the shape, texture and look of all parts of the tree. Look at the way the light plays on the tree's overall form. Maybe sit under it for a while and enjoy its shade or protection from the wind or rain.
Go out and meet an evergreen tree today!
Learn survival uses of evergreen trees and other wilderness skills at theWilderness Survival Skills Intensive.
Courtesy: Alderwood Wilderness College
Yesterday the price of gold hit $1438.90. When I first started prospecting in 92', it wasn't even half that amount. I love finding gold. The high price now just makes the discovery "sweeter !" I have spent this week sorting out my gear and watching the snow melt. I have a bad case of "gold fever, complicated by "cabin fever". I put my dependable old 91' Jeep Grand Wagoneer in the shop for a tune-up. The roads will be muddy and I depend on "Jessie The Jeep" to get me up and down the mountain. Reports from the USFS advise that the snow pack at high elevations is as deep as the winter of 1996-97. The spring melt in 1997 roared down the creek, moving huge boulders and tearing out giant cedar trees. Looks like this year will be a repeat. I am excited and can't wait to discover what Mother Nature has reveled. The following photos show the melt for the past couple of weeks.
A couple of my mining buddies have made it up Cedar Creek as far as the Wildcat Claim. I am most appreciative of their efforts to break open the road and remove downed trees. They went in on an ATV - I thought of trying it, but was sure I would get stuck. The following photos were taken just a few days ago.
We also attempted to reach The Gray Lady Down Claim on Ward Creek. The road is still snow packed, but melting fast.
If you haven't made your plans for prospecting, check out the claims for sale. There are still a few slots for those that want to lease a claim for the 2011 season. If you decide to purchase, the lease amount applies to the purchase. These are great claims in a proven gold bearing area.