Weekly Dispatch 03/2016

Back from the first week of field camp out near Burns, OR. I didn’t shoot much video while out there, have to do more the next time. Fun trip – mapping was much more enjoyable this go round, not feeling rushed or overwhelmed with difficult hiking conditions. I’ll be out in Harney Co. twice more in the coming weeks, one week for another field camp session, and the other to start looking seriously at some hot springs. I was able to collect data on a few springs within the quad we are mapping in, but none have been hot springs so far. Learning a ton, and having fun, couldn’t ask for more.

Had a bit of “lack of quiet” shock when I got back. The first day was overwhelming, but I feel back on track now. I’ve been working on vids, chilling with Mary,  catching up on artwork, and trying to finish out Season 6 of Game of Thrones. I’m halfway through – The Door episode was so very well done. Wow. Oh, and… Brienne and Tormund forever!


This week we’ve been processing some of the rock samples we brought back. We used the Braun Chipmunk to crush the rocks, then sieved the chunks to 991-425 micrometers, then we had to pick out individual feldspar crystals under the scope, and mount them on sticky tape to embed in epoxy. Next week we will cut billets for thin sections, polish the epoxy and view under SEM. We are trying to determine if our samples are Rattlesnake Ash Flow Tuff or Dinner Creek Ash Flow Tuff. Since there are only four of us in field camp it’s very hands on, which is nice. Feel like i’m really getting the hang of this – at least until next week 🙂

Crushing rock samples with the Braun Chipmunk.
Crushing rock samples with the Braun Chipmunk.
Sieving the rocks samples.
Sieving the rocks samples.
Dinner Creek tuff under the scope, picking out the individual plag. crystals with tweezers.
Dinner Creek tuff under the scope, picking out the individual plag. crystals with tweezers.
Harrowing! Tweezing 1/2 mm sized crystals into tiny cup.
Harrowing! Tweezing 1/2 mm sized crystals into tiny cup.
All crystals in place
All crystals in place
Placing individual crystals in the curing cup. One sample per quadrant, with an ideal Rattlesnake plag. in center
Placing individual crystals in the curing cup. One sample per quadrant, with an ideal Rattlesnake plag. in center
Epoxy used to set crystals
Epoxy used to set crystals
Epoxy mix formula
Epoxy mix formula
Stirring the epoxy mix
Stirring the epoxy mix
Crystals set to cure in epoxy
Crystals set to cure in epoxy

That’s about it for now. Looking forward to visiting with my sister and Dan later in the week, and going to the B-52s show next weekend! Yes!

See you next week!

Weekly Dispatch 02/2016

Just a quickie update of some of the things we’ve been up to this week – it’s been a busy one! I’m about to head out for Field Camp in Eastern OR, so look for pics from there on Instagram throughout the week as service permits. Won’t be getting an update here until mid next week. Sorry I don’t have time to post more pics here, but will try to get more up next week.

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Fourth of July!

So much sadness… RIP Bill Cunningham

Is it Jill Stein’s year to get noticed

We went to the Black Sheep Gathering, Eugene OR where Mary bought some fibers, and we petted some sheep.

Jay Keeree’s animated geometric GIFs

The Rossby Whistle

After our enthusiastic response to the start to the season, OITNB we are done with you! We are not going to finish Season 4, and we will not be watching any further seasons. Enough is enough. Frankly i’m pretty done with T.V. To paraphrase Mary “Recreating injustices in such a violent “shock and awe” manner is not making a purposeful political statement”.

I have started One Book July 2016. Third year of participating.

I have been Vloggin Summer.

Ate at Lovely’s Fifty Fifty and had an amazing pizza experience.

Took a quick road trip to Olympia WA via Hoquium on the 3rd-4th. Ate some clam strips, bought some beads, slept in.

Weekly Dispatch #1- Summer 2016


Welcome to the first weekly dispatch of Summer 2016. I’m going to try to regularly post throughout the summer (and maybe beyond). Here’s what has been going on so far…

June 12, 2016 Commencement
June 12, 2016 Commencement. B.S. Geology Cum Laude! Woot!

After 3 busy and somewhat difficult years I graduated with my second B.S. in Geology (Cum Laude to boot). Proving that you’re never too old to kick butt! My officially official admission to PSU finally came through and I’ll be starting a M.S. in Geology in the Fall researching hot springs in Harney County, OR. Can’t escape water it seems. I’m excited to be working out in the high desert of eastern OR in some adventurously remote areas that are absolutely beautiful. I’m heading out there for 2 weeks in July to do some mapping of a quadrangle for a field camp class – and hopefully pick up a dozen spring samples not in my database already along the way.

We are Orlando
We are Orlando

The morning of graduation I woke to the news of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. My heart was torn in half…half excitement, half grief…shock and disbelief. Not again. Not my family. This country has a lot of hard work to do ahead, I just hope we can stand together strong to get it done.

I didn’t realize how completely burnt out I was until a couple days after the commencement ceremonies. I had amassed a full days worth of sleep deprivation in the last two weeks of school. At first I couldn’t even stop, I had to literally tell myself, ok, time to slow down. No, really. Slow way the eff down. It took a solid week of essentially doing nothing to unwind. To cement the retreat back to normalcy we headed to the Olympic National Park for some serious nature therapy.

Camping at Oly NP
Camping at Oly NP

We landed at a mostly empty North Fork Campground near Quinault, WA. It’s one of two primitive campgrounds on the western side of Olympic N.P. We stayed there one fall a couple years ago and really enjoyed the remoteness. Just us, a couple other quiet campers, and birdsong, waking us in the morning and singing us to sleep each night. We slept (a lot), ate s’mores (did you know a girl scout leader invented s’mores?), hiked a bit, lit 3 in a row 1-match campfires, and just chilled out for 4 days. We didn’t see any bear or elk this time though, but heard lots of owls and woodpeckers!

Hiking in the temperate rain forest
Hiking in the temperate rain forest

Came back almost fully refreshed and definitely back on a more normal sleep schedule. No lie it’s been really nice wandering around in my pajamas for the past couple weeks with almost no stress, and essentially nothing due or to do.

Aside from field camp and hopefully finishing up some volcanic lightning research that I started in the spring, the summer is all about project managing a whole bunch of house repairs, and doing as much outdoors adventuring as I can squeeze in. I’ve already started the house project planning which includes replacing the foundation for the house, getting new flooring installed upstairs and in the downstairs bathroom and kitchen, getting gutters repaired, and a bunch of other things including negotiating a refinance on the house. In the end it will all be worth it – and we don’t have to lift the house or move out for the foundation repair which is a huge relief. My next big adventure is tackling the jungle that has grown around the house this spring. Ugh.

I do plan on starting up Wondrous Field Guide videos again for the summer as soon as I get my energy levels back to full steam ahead, and get some other stuff organized. I’m posting regularly on Instagram (link above) if you want to follow along there for more “daily” type picture posting. Now onto some other fun things that I now have the time for…

TV & Movies
Game of Thrones: I finally caught up to the latest season, but I’m only on the 2nd episode. I’ve already heard some spoilers, but I’m trying to avoid any more. Parts of season 5 were rough – and unnecessary, but I’m enjoying the show overall – although as many others I wish he would just finish the next damn book!

Outlander: We are also caught up on Outlander. Kind of obsessed with the show. I plan on reading some of the books this summer. I hear they are even steamier. Love me some kick butt Frasers.

The Lobster: If you want to go somewhere bleak, unforgiving, and ultimately terrible that will leave you wondering if you should have walked out, go see this movie. It was awful. I consider myself a movie buff, but this was beyond dreadfully depressing. I didn’t care at all for any of the characters, and the story became mush about halfway through. Really deceptive marketing on this one. One word: avoid!

Orange is the New Black: We are only two episodes in – rationing it. But already so good. The first episode was outstanding. The writing and acting are tight. Eager to see where this season goes… someone mentioned it being trauma-porn, hopefully not too much so… really sick of all the bleakness on T.V. these days, which is why we don’t watch very much any more. Anyway.

Beyonce Lemonade: we watched Lemonade several weeks ago, but I hadn’t gotten around to listening to the album sans visuals. Well I have now – about a dozen times. And Beyonce is back – bye-bye Mrs. Carter. Thankfully that era is over, and she has found her voice again. Sandcastles is my favorite song off the album, but there are several others I’m seriously digging. May be my favorite Bey album to date. Here’s an excellent cover of Sandcastles:

Art Supply Posse Podcast – for you art nerds out there. The podcast we’ve all been waiting for – Art Supply Posse. It is exactly what it sounds like… head over for a listen if you need some art supply enticement (er porn).

Books (can find links to books under What I’ve Been Reading)
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer: Fantastic collection of short autobiographical vignettes by a native american botanist. If you need to slow down a little and take a deeper longing look at the world around you, her stories are a good motivator. It was a peaceful book, full of love and tender affection for the world around us, in us, and with us.

Mindfulness by Ellen Langer: “Most of us are mindless virtually all the time” I’ve been interested in Ellen Langer’s work for probably the past year or so. Her deceptively simple experiments illuminate for me two major shortcomings in being mindless – one: we are who we tell ourselves to be (for good or bad, mostly bad), and two: we are on autopilot a majority of the time with preconceived notions (often egregiously wrong) of the world around us, missing the nuance and beauty in front of us most of the time. A quick read, not so much a road map for how to be more mindful as much as a “hey wake up, here’s what you might be missing!”.

Science News
It’s only going to get worse from here, unless we start waking up, and making change in our own lives, and our communities.

CO2 hits 400 ppm for the first time in 4 million years. 

About a week before this article came out, I was wondering how many critters have gone extinct due to human induced climate change. Probably countless that we don’t have a good scientific lock on. But now climate change has taken its first mammal victim with rising sea levels causing the extinction of an island-dwelling rodent. Sounds small no? Small things leave big ripples.

Until next time,
PDX 0:39 6-25-2016

Following the Yeti

On the 26 of January I started a second round of The Artist’s Way. I’m doing it along with a couple other folks on Youtube. After each days set of morning pages I draw a really quick 4-panel comic – quick as in under 2 minutes. Mary and I have been following along with Lynda Barry’s tumblr where she shares her current class assignments. We have been using a group Tumblr to share some of our work, but I thought it would be fun to post these here too. So here are the first 12 comics. Doing quick panels like this is fun, loose and without judgement. Some of the stuff that comes up is current day stuff, some is daydreamy type stuff, and some comes from things I’m working on. There’s been a lot of chaotic and nervous energy around and that’s definitely reflected in a number of the panels. We are having fun working along with some of Professor Yeti’s assignments.  I’ve done quite a bit of drawing so far this year, and it feels good. It’s a nice counterpoint to the intensity of these last 2 quarters of school. Stay tuned more is afoot.

And i’ve started running again…

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Happy New Year!

Happy 2016!

And here we go, another new year. I’ve chosen my driving word for the new year – METAMORPHOSIS. 2015 was about diving a good bit deeper and maintaining, 2016 is about using what I’ve learned so far to begin to metamorphose. I’ve made no resolutions for the new year, only goals.

I was about 50/50 with last years goals, and generally speaking i’m good with that. We do what we can do. To name a few I’m pleased to say I managed to lose a few pounds over the course of the year, got in around 500 miles of hiking and walking, read over 30 books, and maintained and even improved some personal relationships. The failures and goals not attended to are not worth mentioning, or dwelling over painfully. There is more work to be done in 2016!

And that’s where the idea of metamorphosis comes in. Taking the old, evolving it into something new. Change is hard, but there are several aspects to my personal mythology that need alteration. They have become irritating, frustrating, and obsolete, continually fighting against me rather than for me. So i’m working on altering / altering my perception of these frustrating things to better suit me. The biggest challenge i’m working on this year is the work/play/life balance. Fall 2015 was a work/life/play nightmare. Everything imploded and exploded simultaneously leaving me completely drained and down. Way down.

And I lingered there for a bit, and it was fine. And then I went home to visit family and friends and that was the start of lifting me back up. And then I started putting together lists of things I wanted to work on in this process of metamorphosis, and that is exciting. Or excites me. Or what have you.

I have several themes I’m running my goals under, each theme has 10-20 items, each month I pick one or two items under each theme to focus on, and then I check in with those on a daily basis. At the very least I’ll be checking in with my goals on a monthly basis, rather than saying woohoo it’s a new fricken year here I go here are my goals…YAH! And then it’s December 31st (or January 2nd) and I’ve not tended to any of them.

So here I am on the 5th day of January. School just started back up, I have a minimum of two more quarters left. On one hand I’m ready to graduate, on the other i’m still contemplating completing a math minor. On one foot I’m going to apply to at least one grad program, on the other I missed the boat for applying for Fall 2016 for a couple others. That’s okay, i’m trying to make the process of more school going forward feel like an organic process instead of a PITA as much as possible. Applying to grad school and organic…hahahah, that might be a pipe dream. EFF that, I will make it so, because I need it to be so!

And changing my story, I will make it so, because I need it to be so! Always moving forward in mirth and merriment as much as possible. Go 2016!

Do you have goals you wish to accomplish this year? What are they? What are you doing to make them happen today?


AFG2WT: Episode 3 – Part 1 – Everybody Has a Story

A Field Guide to Wondrous Things Episode #3: Everybody Has a Story

The first part of Episode #3 is up on the toob. Episode #3 is all about storytelling, and the importance thereof. In this video I tell my/our story of Alvord Lake, an experience I had that deeply influenced me almost exactly one year ago. I also leave you with a question. In Part 2, which will hopefully be finished by next week, I will talk about what researchers/storytellers and others have discovered about the importance of stories (and not telling stories), and will leave you to ramble on another Tiny Adventure. So without further ado here’s Episode #3 – Part 1…

Thanks for watching AND…

If the project excites, stimulates, intrigues, or makes you do a happy dance please consider supporting the channel in some fashion. I’m specifically looking for any or all of  the following:

  • gas or equipment $
  • a GoPro camera
  • a 10 sec introductory tune
  • collaborators & other creative wanderers
  • smiles, encouragement and spontaneous dance parties!

Contact me if you would like to donate equipment, or you can donate directly through my Youtube channel or right here! Thanks for your support!

You can find AFG2WT on the web at :

A Field Guide to Wondrous Things (Youtube)

WondrousFieldGuide (Instagram)

AFG2WT on Hargie.com (PDFs & Links to other content)


Volcano Adventure Part I

The Goal: Visit as many of the Cascade volcanoes this summer as possible.
This Mission: Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier

Barely a week after returning from the North Cascades trip I packed up the car for another adventure. A goal for the summer is to visit as many of the Cascade volcanoes as I can. I initially headed out to hit the four major peaks in Washington on this trip, but got sucked into the beauty of the Baker-Snoqualmie N.F and only made it to two. Having never been to either Baker or Rainier the idea was to try to get a general feel for a couple different sides of each mountain and just wander.

A fully packed BooCoupe ready to roll.

I packed a tent, but this trip was for lazy camping, and I slept in the car  for half the trip. I have perfected the back of the car sleeping situation and the amount of gear I need to take after last summers adventures. I headed out and drove up to Twin Lakes Trailhead in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie N.F.  Twin Lakes is about 7 miles up up up from the Mt. Baker highway, directly east of Bellingham, WA about 3 miles as the crow flies south of the Canadian border. The last couple miles absolutely require a high clearance vehicle, but I’ve been on much worse roads too.

The top of the road with Winchester Mountain looming.

There were 4 people camping and fly fishing on the lakes when I arrived, but we were widely spread out around the two lakes. The first night was a peaceful, majestic night in the clouds. There are level pads to camp on, and a few picnic tables scattered around the lakeshore, but I slept in the car.

Camp pads and picnic tables at Twin Lakes.

The wildflowers are pretty much gone round our parts, but the elevation and higher latitude meant there were a few bursts of color around. Didn’t spot any critters, but they do say that black bears frequent the area and to keep any food/smelly things stored properly.

Lupine still in flower.

After a fitful night of sleep I set my goal of the morning to climb Winchester Mountain to the decommissioned fire lookout at the top. It’s about a 3.5 mile roundtrip with 1300 feet of climbing with the peak sitting at 6521 feet. The temp was perfect, the sky was looking friendly, and I set off!

Winchester Mountain.
The actual trailhead lies about .25 miles from the sign at the top of the road, between the two lakes.
On the Winchester Mountain trail.
View of Twin Lakes from Winchester Mountain.

I had to stop frequently to catch my breath, but with panoramic views from every angle that was fine. The trail was a series of fairly long switchbacks with a couple challenging and/or steep sections, but the views… huff puff huff.

The view from one of the more challenging sections where you climb over a saddle.
Twin Lakes from above the saddle.
The trail turned North and I caught a golden ground squirrel eating berries on this section.

The bottom half of the trail was lined with huckleberry and wild blueberries. There were a few blueberries left to scavenge, but they’d been pretty picked over by critters and people. Super tasty treats for the hike up/down. Climb Kiri climb!

Tiny bit of snow left in a cirque near the top.
The view north. Can you see Canada? That peak in the middle back is the American Border peak.

Finally reached the top. Walked all around and took pictures from every angle. There were 3 guys up at the top, and I had passed a group of 4 others coming up, busier than I expected for the adventure road it takes to get to the trailhead.

A view to the East from the peak of Winchester Mountain.

The fire lookout was built in 1935, and is kept open to the public by the Mt. Baker hiking club. It is well stocked and you can spend the night, just hoist the flag to signal it’s occupied. I was just there for a visit, but there are a couple cots, desk, stove, sleeping bag, maps, guest register, a lightning stool, and a bottle of whisky amongst other things. And did I mention the views…


Winchester Mountain lookout.

I spent a good 45 minutes alone on the top enjoying the views on each side of the lookout. The North Cascades are spectacular from every angle.

You can swim and/or fish in the lakes after your hike.

I ate a quick lunch at the picnic tables along the late and deliberated staying another night at the lakes, but decided I wanted to see more of the area and set my sights on Artist Point at the end of the Mt. Baker Highway.

Columnar basalt from flows near the Mt. Baker ski area.
Artist point with the thrust fault block Mt. Shuksan in the distance.

Artist Point is straight off the road, and has easy graded trails for excellent views of Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker. That meant it was packed, and pretty hot up there. It sits above the Mt. Baker ski area (have to go skiing here some day!). There are tons of trails off the highway in various places, so there are lots of people, and lots of amenities (flush toilets!).

The clouds refused to clear the summit of Mt. Baker!
Almost clear summit… but not quite.
Another view of Mt. Shuksan. Beautiful!

I drove down from Artist Point, checking in at a couple campsites in the area, but couldn’t find any open spaces. I picked a gravel road and ended up at the Heliotrope Ridge trailhead and shot some awesome video of snow melt from the glaciers, but didn’t capture any good photos. I was going to spend the night at a climbers bivy above the trailhead, but decided to start heading south. Mt. Baker I’ll be back! I finished the day in North Cascades and spent the night at the Newhalem campground.

The next morning I drove down to Mt. Rainier – final destination Mowich Lake. Unexpectedly I happened to drive by the enormous Oso Landslide along the way. Wow – very scary site. There’s a small place to park to observe the landslide along the side of the road and a huge log memorial at the toe of the slide, but I didn’t stop.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned how much I loathe Seattle traffic, so I’ll not explain that clusterpoop on the drive south. The drive was otherwise uneventful and the weather had turned beastly hot overnight. Finally reaching Mowich Lake I never expected finding a parking lot full at the end of  17 miles of gravel road. Fortunately there were only 2 people camping at the Mowich Lake campground when I arrived, even though the parking lots and trails were packed. I quickly set up my tent, and set out for a hike. The campground is free, but the tent pads are practically on top of one another so don’t expect it to be too quiet!

I headed up the Tolmie Peak Lookout trail (7.5 miles r/t) but was exhausted by the time I climbed up to Eunice Lake, and didn’t climb the last .9 mile to the top of that ridge from the left in the picture below to the fire lookout. 5 miles was plenty! The view up there is supposed to be amazing, so I’ll have to go back.

Eunice Lake, Mt. Rainier.
Glacial scour along the edges of Eunice Lake.

After relaxing on Eunice lake for a bit I headed back down to my tent on Mowich Lake and to make some dinner. By the time I returned there were 3 other groups of campers at the campground including a very whiny teenager – joy!

Mowich Lake.

It was pretty noisy in the campground overnight, but I managed to sleep okay, until the guys next to me broke camp at 6:30 in the morning with loud “effing this, effing that”  after proudly pounding red bulls and other general puffoonary. I made sure I gave them the evil death glare on the way to the toilet, but was kinda of thankful they woke me up early. I set off for the first come first serve White River campground within Mt. Rainier N.P. on the other side of the mountain – 50 miles away after breaking camp.

I arrived at the White River camp by 11 and quickly found a quiet bower of a campsite. I set up my tent and hammock and proceeded to have a rest day. I read in the hammock for the afternoon watching chipmunks making circles around my site, which had a small stream flowing through it. Also found a frog hopping across the access plank. Very relaxing.


Bridge across White River.

Towards sunset I walked down to the day use area where many climbers also park to head up the White River valley for summit attempts. The Wonderland trail crosses the White River here, and there are wood bridges to aid in crossing. The river level was very low, but the water was flowing briskly and very coldly!

Caught a couple watching the sun set behind Mt. Rainier.

The campground filled overnight – and they allowed fires! Bummer that I didn’t have any s’more making materials. This was the first campground I’ve camped at this summer that actually allowed fires. This wildfire season has been brutal. I hit the sack early, and read for a while. Some children in the campground decided it would be cool to play hide and seek around my tent! Fun times. I managed to finally get to sleep pretty earlyish for another early start in the morning.

Mt. Rainier from Burroughs Mountain Trail.

The weather was calling for 90s so I planned to get up to the trailhead at 9 the next morning. I planned to loop hike Burroughs Mountain I and Sunrise rim trail, most of which was at an elevation > 6000 ft and totally exposed. I broke camp and drove up to the Sunrise Visitor Center arriving just at 9, and started the hike up to Burroughs mountain 1. The climb up  was a definite huffer and puffer for everyone except one trail gazelle couple who were running it!

Rainer from the top of Burroughs Mountain I. You can see the trail up to Burroughs Mt. II in the distance.
Sunrise Rim Trail.

I sat at the top of Burroughs I to catch my breath and have a granola bar and some water. My stomach had lingering upset from the night before and I was feeling groggy and dehydrated. The views were incredible. The trails were fairly crowded and there were a lot of rangers hiking around probably because of the extreme heat they were expecting.

One tricky section on the Sunrise rim trail had lots of helicoptering crickets  flying around and amazing views of the glaciers on the mountain. Halfway down the back half of the loop I was starting to feel really terrible. I had a can of coke that I had smartly packed in my bag to calm my tummy. I sat for a while at an overlook and enjoyed the views of the mountain. A couple ladies in front of me had set up their hammock there and were enjoying a swing with a view. At this point I was very thankful I started so early, it was getting really hot.

View of the west side of Mt. Rainier with the glacier fed White River Valley below.

Passed a ton of people on the trail back to the visitor center. Super busy trail, but with the views of the mountain that’s hardly surprising. Once back at the plot I filled my water bottles and downed two more pints of water – tummy was not feeling good at all. Hit the road and headed south for home.

Heading back to the Sunrise Visitor Center. Finally some shade!

I took the southern route 123 through the park – an absolutely beautiful drive, then head back to I-5 through Packwood and Randle. All in all a fantastic first introduction to Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier, 4 nights under the stars, and ~15 miles of hiking. I’m absolutely bonkers for all things North Cascades and Mt. Baker region. I’m not done with Mt. Rainier yet either, but it is so much busier – definitely a place I would rather backpack.

There is one major volcanic edifice in that area that I have not visited yet, and that’s Glacier Peak. If anyone wants to go backpacking up there, lemme know! (it’s not accessible by vehicle)

I’m working on an AFG2WT video companion to this post, but it’s going to be a couple weeks till that is ready. Stay tuned for that and a blog post on Volcano Adventure Part 2, as well as a couple other trip reports.

Happy adventuring all, get outside!