Thursday, September 24, 2009

Completion of Phase III

I have now wrapped up the 3rd of 4 Field Training Phases for my new permanent career. I finished up phase III back in Bishop, CA. The mountains are slowly turning from summer to fall. I was able to get up into the higher mountains a couple of times. Highlights included hiking on the PCT past alpine lakes en route to Devils Postpile National Monument.

My work activity was quite varied. The most intense part of it was an inter-agency marijuana eradication operation to 5 different gardens on public land near Bishop. I assisted with the removal of over 14,000 plants! It was a crazy event, but it feels good to be protecting our public lands from the devastating environmental and social impacts of these large marijuana gardens.

I am now back home along the Pacific. It is cool and cloudy today (a nice break from the mid 90's near Bishop). I will stay home for about 2 weeks, then finish up my training back in Yucca Valley, CA.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Burning Man

I spent the rest of Phase II and the first half of Phase III of Field Training working in the hot, dusty Black Rock Desert in NW Nevada. Here, nearly 50,000 people came to the desert to camp and be free to do whatever they wanted to do in the Burning Man Event. I got some great experience and all in all had a really good time. There were about 45 BLM Rangers working the event, so the comraderie was excellent.
For now, I am back in McKinleyville with my wonderful wife. I will finish Phase III back in Bishop in mid September. I'll then be back home in late September and early October. Then, finally, I will finish up Field Training in Yucca Valley in the middle of October for about 2 weeks.

Summer in the high Sierra

Ahhh!!! The Eastern front of the mighty Sierra Nevada met my eyes as I drove into Bishop, CA in late August. I ended up spending a week working out of Bishop as part of Phase II of Field Training. I had several opportunities to patrol in and have some time off in the mountains surrounding this beautiful town. The biggest highlight was a hike up to Bishop Pass (over 11,200 feet), which is also a back entrance into Kings Canyon National Park. The high mountain lakes glistened like sapphires in the crisp mountain air. It's hard to beat summer in the mountains!

Summer in the California Desert

When the temperature gauge on my patrol vehicle topped 120, I knew I was in a different world. I have spent quite a bit of time in deserts before, but never in the summer. When I stepped outside of my vehicle, I felt an overwhelming heat that was almost suffocating. I can't believe people live in a place like this! Despite my initial impressions, I ended up spending a very fun couple of weeks getting to know the desert in Yucca Valley (near Joshua Tree NP) in Phase I of Field Training. I figured out early on that there were some great hiking hours in the mornings and evenings. The rest of the day, I would try to spend as much time as possible in air conditioning. Now, it's on to the eastern Sierra Nevada!