Hardened Alpinists Don't Complain
ASC's newest staff member Mike Kautz joined the organization in September after several years working in Yellowstone National Park. Like many of us who have moved to Montana Mike was drawn here by the wild and mountainous backcountry. As he relates below, Montana is a place where weekend trips can feel like expeditions. These local mountains are still places we know little about and our explorations can contribute valuable data on everything from wolverines to diatoms.
Like many mountains in southwest Montana, the approach to Hilgard Peak begins by driving up a road better suited for a jacked-up pickup than the Subaru station wagon we are riding in. As our party of four slithers around snowy corners and bottoms out in frozen wheel ruts we bounce around the interior with kid’s toys, coffee mugs and car seat pieces.
We are not a group of hardened alpinists, though we wish we were. My brother and our friend Ed are new fathers who run their own businesses. They have not slept in months. Our friend Andy works in Billings where the air is embarrassingly thick for a mountaineer. I work at ASC and ride at the back of the pack in a weekly cyclocross race. But, we each love the mountains and the camaraderie of high places.
Zand, the Elusive White Worm and the Success In Failure
Alexander "Zand" Martin is a teacher, writer, and explorer. He is a senior instructor and program supervisor at the National Outdoor Leadership School and just finished a 408-day, 20,000 km personal expedition around the world. For the last leg of that trip - a canoe traverse of Mongolia, Siberia, and the Russian Far East - he teamed with ASC on our high alpine lichen project.
We didn’t find what we were looking for. Heads down, nose flirting with flowers and grasses, hands sinking in sphagnum, we crawled about the taiga floor in wonder at the Lilliputian world at ground level. It is easy to miss, operating six feet up, and easier to pass by with motion blurring the Seurat-scape of color and texture underfoot. So, we resorted to toddlerhood and crawled, taking care not to drag or put too much pressure on anything too beautiful to withstand it.
Diatoms, Mountain Peaks and Enhancing Adventure
Craig Weiland is a mountaineer from Seattle, Washington who loves to get off the beaten path frequently hiking and climbing in remote areas of the Pacific Northwest. Craig has been an ambassador for ASC collecting diatom samples from high mountain lakes and encouraging other adventurers to get involved. He even has a species named after him: Encyonopsis weilandii. ASC sat down with Craig to pick his brain and hear about his adventures collecting samples and making a difference while he played.
Catching Wildlife in a Lens: Camera Trapping Top 10
By Kim Hightower
Your fingers begin to freeze instantly as you remove your gloves and mount the camera onto the lower trunk of the tree. The wind blows and you’re enveloped in a cold, sparkling-white powder as it billows up and swirls around you and the high trees, whispering through the branches. You spend the day trekking, satisfied with having put a distinctive start to this project, and look forward to returning in the coming weeks. As months go by, you check your camera mindfully to ensure that it is still holding on, both physically and functionally, amidst the depths of winter’s grasp.
You return many days later to finally retrieve your weather-battered camera and rush home to see what you’ve caught. Thumbing through hundreds of photos, you finally find what you were looking for. Among countless images displaying the same view, empty save for thick vegetation and marked by changing weather, you spot your prey. You watch it move and change as you pan through the photos, like a character in a children’s flip-book. Whether it’s a common white-tailed deer or an imposing grizzly bear, the excitement of having caught life with a camera trap is all the reward you need for the hours spent outside.
Paddling for the Ocean (and the Earth): Margo Pelligrino and Her Work with ASC
Paddler Margo Pelligrino humbly under-sells herself as a "stay at home mom who paddles for the ocean". Beneath her laid back personality Margo hides a dedicated ocean activist who undertakes enormous challenges to raise awareness for important ocean issues. Margo has paddled her outrigger canoe along the coasts of the Atlantic, Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico and is now preparing for an epic journey from Hudson Bay through the Great Lakes. Beyond her ocean activism Margo also works with ASC on our roadkill, banded gull and marine microplastic studies. ASC recently sat down with Margo to talk about her love of the ocean and her love of protecting nature.
ASC: Tell us a little about yourself, who you are and the nature of your adventures.
MP: I am an ocean advocate and mother of two who came to be an ocean activist out of concern for my children's future. My father's sudden death provided the "kick in the pants" I needed to throw myself into a life of activism. You only get one shot at this life, so you have to make it count. I love adventure and I love the outdoors, so I figured I'd "paddle for the ocean." What's kind of funny is that I thought Miami2Maine would be the only adventure I'd have. But it turns out that that was not the case! I mean, you can't start something and not complete it, right? So I guess I'm in this until the country as a whole wakes up and gets behind ocean conservation. After all, our kids' futures (as well as ours) depend on it, right?
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