"Feral ~ from feminine of ferus wild: having escaped from domestication and become wild"...

August 27, 2015

Tongue River Railroad & an Open Coal Pit Mine at Otter Creek; Why?

You've read my stories and seen my pictures.

You know
this is Southeastern Montana,

where the wild things are...

nature is still free.  

If you believe what I have shared with you
 that this wonderful community 
we have lived in for the past 5 years

should be destroyed 
in the next 5 years

for the benefit of one private coal company

and no one else, 

then please go away.

But know this:

This private coal company wants to build a railroad
 using eminent domain,
89 MILES worth.

They want to dig an open pit coal mine
next to Otter Creek,
next to us,
20 MILLION tons worth

They want to hook up to the protested coal port terminal
in the State of Washington
to ship this low grade sodium-laden coal
that is not viable in the USA 
China, India, 
other Asian countries.

We have joined our neighbors,
many who are 4th and 5th generation ranchers
like the Alderson family here,

to become members of the Northern Plains Resource Council.

We have donated resources and written letters.

But it may not be enough.

The Federal Surface Transportation Board 
has now released an Environmental Impact Statement 
open public comment have been extended 
until September 23, 2015.

Want to know what we are going through?

Click here for a fact sheet.

If this passes,
there will be no more going west for us,

and you.

It will be gone.



July 20, 2015

Nepal Notes पाँच

October 26, 1989
Thursday am
Seti, Nepal

(continuing from last entry)

The first day, Jiri to Bhandar, was a killer. Going up the second ridge (a 900 meter or 2950 foot climb from Shivalaya) was very slow. That night we thought about hiring a porter. We found out they wouldn't be easily available due to some regional festival.

Between Jiri & Shivalaya

 The trail itself is good; basically a well worn footpath. There are lots of switchbacks to accomodate the elevation changes. Groups of porters are pretty common, generally a dozen or so men (some women) carrying large triangular wicker baskets that look pretty well loaded. Most carry a sort walking stick with  a T-bar handle thus they can sit on it in a semi-standing position.

Looking west over the village of Shivalaya

Yesterday the 25th was much better. We had a nine hour day including an hour lunch break. Our guest house last night included four Israeli's and two Canadians. 

Approx.  9,000 ft ; village of Shivalaya below

That's an interesting aspect of the hike - you meet people from all over. We learned something from the Israeli’s: don’t drink local water that hasn’t been boiled. They had a couple bad days early in their trip. The standard beverages are hot tea or hot lemon (hot water with some lemon squeezed in).

Our guide is a small book, Treking in the Nepal Himalaya, by Stan Armington. We’re staying in small guest houses in the towns along the route to Mount Everest National Park. Thus far the guest houses provide a small room with two beds and an evening and morning meal. 

We’ve usually been able to buy lunch (glucose biscuits) along the way. Being prepared for this our packs include clothes, sleeping bags and our personal effects. 

Terraces for farming purposes everywhere (potatoes & grain mostly)

Not having to carry a tent, lots of food or cooking utensils is a big help. Our packs probably weigh 30-35 pounds. At this point the temperatures are similar to what we’d have in Wisconsin this time of year.  We did bring some warm clothes.

Ang Choti & her worker, Zang Moe (5 year old hired worker!)
No chimneys! The copper pot is for hot water...

The local food, at least what they’re feeding us for supper, is right down my alley; Dal bhat is the staple. It’s some type of lentil based soup that’s poured over rice. It’s simple, filling and it shows up every night every place we’ve stopped so far. At home I’m used to eating rice and ground beef with soy sauce six or seven nights a week; this isn’t a radical change for me. 

- Mr. Foresterman


July 6, 2015

A Yellowstone Christening

On Saturday, July 4th, 2015, I couldnt present a fly to the fish gods if all my life depended on it. My rhythm was all flustery, and I was clenching my fly rod in my right hand with a death grip that certainly wasnt necessary. The slender 8 footer vibrated in protest, wronged, as I tried again. No. That was horse whipping.  I sighed, and pulled in some line with my left hand yet again. The length of lime green line lay mockingly slack on the water, grazing my legs in wide loops where I stood alone, rather then in front of me floating its little dry treasure down the Yellowstone. I wanted to call, taunt and bait to the beast fish that lived within, not scare them away. 

I had lost my cast.

It has been a little over ten years since I went flyfishing.  Back then, the last time was in the Bighorn Mountains, above 10,000 feet and off-trail, where no one goes but the very brave or the crazy.  The fish were generationally wild beasts, dropped decades ago by Forest Service helicopters and grew such good genetics to wonderful proportions that it got ones heart thumping when they would rise in crystal blue clear waters. I remember crouching a lot, using soft footsteps and no shadow, and once caught a cutthroat so large that when I went to tell Mr. Foresterman afterwards, I was still trembling.  There was a hatch going on that early August, a blessing from mother nature after a brief snow that had melted quickly in the rising temps. I could tie on an orange humpy and be guaranteed a strike if I wasnt caught trying to do so, or if the Sun wasnt directly overhead to reveal the outer magical world of pure mountain air.  Those fish were tricky but honest. Those are flyfishing memories. 

These moments were definitely not.

It certainly wasnt because of where I was, thats for sure.  With her waters caressing my thighs, I was standing in the mighty Yellowstone River, near Pray, Montana.  Her history runs deep and long. She carried the First Nation on her waters to many places, and she now irrigates those same places for those who live and work on her banks. The lack of dams to impede her waters aids her so she can reach all the way to the state of North Dakota with her determination.  If I wanted more adventure, I could float all the way to visit our youngest and her fly fishing husband if I wanted to.  He, this native Montanan Son in law of ours, was the reason we were here in the first place.  His love of the Yellowstone runs as determined as her waters, and he wanted to share this passion with us. Like a potential new relationship we too were enamored by her beauty now, but we were becoming frustrated more and more by our own inadequacy with each cast; will she love us back somehow, eventually, and reward us with her hidden gifts?

The Yellowstone is most famous for her Blue Ribbon status as a Class I fly fishing stream.  She is considered one of the best in the world, and many cast off her waters for trout; cutthroat, rainbows, browns in the cold waters, and fish paddlefish, sturgeon, walleyes and bass in her warmer waters. Shes over 690 gorgeous miles long, flowing north out of, you guessed it, Yellowstone Lake located in the famous Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.   It took over 200 million years to build her; and it was definitely well worth the wait.  Although it took time, She is beautiful from beginning to end.  

Like all things, it takes time. 
Just like presenting the fly.

It was then I began to get my cast back.  With each cast, the line flow was starting to smooth out.   It was beginning and then began as part of myself, my fishing soul, ending by landing in the spot I selected, but only if the wind didnt have her way that time.  Nature wanted to play.  The rhythm was there and it wasnt hard work, it was becoming instinct. The silent swish overhead, once, twice, three and the constant giving of line. There. stare. wait.  And then repeat.

It felt so good.

But then it didnt.  I was startled by a large splash to my right; a man had come down to the river with his dog, and was throwing a large stick into the cold waters. In his defense he probably couldnt even see me in the river with her thick green willows covering her banks.  Everyone needs to give space to those fishing on the river, but the dog leapt into the water as if his whole heart had already done so, and who could begrudge him?  And so my time was broken.  

Standing thigh deep,  I turned to move off of the slippery rocks under my feet to move on, away, and I slipped. Feeling my right shin hit a greasy boulder,  I felt the pain make its mark and knew I was bleeding into the river before I could even wade out to the dry bank. I was wet up to my shoulders, and my leg stung, but it was only a scrape and the bleeding soon stopped after a few washings of the Yellowstone's waters.  It was time to go, and I quietly wrapped my flyrod and reel, as the others began to show up at the vehicle. No fish were caught, but it was time to move on to celebrate our Nation's Birthday in a different way, elsewhere.

And so the mighty Yellowstone River had christened me, and it seemed appropriate that I had given her my only decent offering I really had to give that day.

Maybe it will be different next time.