Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hiking Beautiful British Columbia

Encouraged by our Half Dome conquest, I wanted to do some more hiking during our stay in "Beautiful British Columbia".
The possibilities there are endless IF you have a high clearance 4x4 car... With our family car though, options were limited ;-). I didn't believe this at first and gave some back roads a try but very soon realized that that wasn't a good idea.
But nevertheless, there were a few hikes in our reach and they gave us a little taste of British Columbia's amazing nature.

The first outing was to Cliff Lake, the access is a well maintained gravel road, a funny sign at the beginning points out some radio frequencies...and we soon discovered why the road was so well maintained and what the radio frequencies are about...it is a logging road. As a huge dust cloud came closer and closer I quickly pulled over to one of the many pullouts and just in time as a huge, loaded to the brim, logging truck came blasting by. In lack of a radio, every time I was spotting a dust cloud I was pulling over and waiting for the truck to pass. Not for the faint hearted...and our car looked like a camouflaged military vehicle by the time we were back home...

...the short and serene hike to Cliff Lake and it's back country though was sure worth the trouble....

On our way back we shared the road with some Big Horn Sheep ewes and their offspring.

The next adventure lead us to Wild Boar Lake, we didn't see any wild boars here, but the "road" sure was wild...

Unfortunately one can't hike around the lake, so we took a side trail and paid Maechen Falls a visit:

Here a close up from the top of the waterfall, wild and beautiful!

Done with the rough roads, this next hike was promised to us as one with a really easy access near Premier Lake. A tranquil hike that normally loops around three little lakes. But due to the flooding this year, we only could access Yankee Lake, where the trail then vanished under water.

A recent storm victim in the clear lake water ...

But the absolute best hike was the climb up to Mt. Teepee via the Mt. Stevens summit. With an elevation gain of 4900 ft it is equal with the Half Dome trail, but with half of the mileage to reach Mt. Teepee, we knew we were in for a rather steep ascent. The trail guide says: "long, steep, forested trail; extensive elevation gain to moderate exposure on alpine ridge; two high Rockies summits." (1)
The boys gave me that hike for my birthday, since they knew I really wanted to go, and on the hike I got this rather unique birthday card!

And it was steep! Once we reached Mt. Stevens ( 8717ft ) though, we had a fantastic view over the Kootenay Rockies.
Here a self portrait with the Rockies in the background.

Already quite exhausted we looked at the trail ahead to Mt. Teepee...not so steep anymore but on the ridge a fierce wind was blowing...

After a short break we took the challenge and made it up to Mt. Teepee ( 9100 ft )!

The "Gipfelstuermer", cold but happy.

After a nice lunch break we only reluctantly left our mountain top with it's spectacular views


A memorable hike, a great birthday gift, an exhausting adventure and Skipper even experienced his first snow...

Hikes in the East Kootenay of Southeastern British Columbia 
by Janice Strong

Sunday, July 29, 2012

ICP Awards

I'm proud to announce that the following image won a honorable mention award in the 2012 ICP (International Conservation Photography) awards:

Rolling Hills, Production or Destruction?

Palouse, Washington June 2010

Rolling hills in the Palouse, a popular destination for photographers. BUT the monoculture agriculture there requires more and more fertilizer and pesticide use. The seemingly beautiful landscape is irrevocably altered with soil erosion problems among the worst in the US. As a photographer I want to capture the beauty but also raise awareness....Can we change the mindset and go back to a more sustainable agriculture before it is too late?

Please see the ICP winners gallery for more mind boggling images

Navigation Note for the galleries on the ICP website:
Written information and navigation regarding each image is available if you place your cursor over the main image. If you would like to simply run the slideshow without these tools, then move your cursor off to the side.
To take more time with each image, simply click the pause button on the lower right navigation.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

July Conservation Tip

Preserving Summer's Bounty
Maybe due to the mild winter and late rain, everything seems to be in abundance this year. I haven't eaten that much cherries in years and strawberries are everywhere. To bad that the season will be over before we know it, and only the  far away, bland tasting fruit will be available.
But there are plenty of possibilities to preserve the bounty: freezing, drying, canning or making jams and jellies...
I'm learning more and more about canning and drying, but I have been making jam since years and would like to share my favorite strawberry jam recipe with you:

You will need:
fresh (organic) strawberries
a vanilla bean
gelling agent

The exact measurements depend on which kind of gelling agent you use. But regardless which one you use, just follow the recommended amounts of fruit and sugar provided by the manufacturer.
I use a low sugar pectin gellant.
If you don't use your own grown strawberries, try organic or local strawberries, they are usually better in taste. 

Give them a good wash

Then, instead of cooking them to puree, try pulsing them in a blender...

...to get a nice blend but not a total mush.

Give the "puree" in a big stock pot and add the mark of one vanilla bean, or a tablespoon of vanilla extract, if you prefer.
Then cook the jam as recommended by your gelling agent.
If you want to compete with your jam or plan to sell it, you probably will have to preserve your done jam with the boiling water-bath canning method. For friends and family I usually use dishwasher clean jars, swish them out with water and then put them in the microwave for 6 min at full power. I leave the jars in the microwave until I'm ready to fill them. Meanwhile I dunk the lids of my regular mouth half pint jars in some strong alcohol (Schnaps, Gin, Whisky or whatever is around).
Once the jam is ready, fill it into the hot jars leaving a good half of an inch at the top. Once all jars are filled, put the lids on, careful not to touch the inside and secure with the ring.
Turn the filled jars upside down for a few minutes. Although not the ultimate way of preserving your preserve, I never had a spoiled jar.

Enjoy your homemade jam, best with fresh baked bread, if you need the recipe for that one check out the May Conservation Tip.

And, if you feel like it, try entering it to your local county fair, who knows, maybe you might end up with a winner...;-)

Here some great books on making jams and jellies and other ways of preserving fresh produce:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July