Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back Country Forest Service

laccolith - Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :
Laccolite \Lac"co*lite\, Laccolith \Lac"co*lith\, n. [Gr. ? a
cistern + -lite, -lith.] (Geol.)
A mass of igneous rock intruded between sedimentary beds and
resulting in a mammiform bulging of the overlying strata. --
Lac`co*lit"ic, a.
[1913 Webster]

A Giant Laccolith stands sentinel at the Southernmost edge of the Great Basin, overseeing the timeless meeting of three grand formations. Safely behind her, the Great Basin and its Rocky Mountain peaks rise proudly into thin, cool air. To her East, the Colorado Plateau boldly intrudes with its flattering array of thrones and slot canyons. Zion National Park graces this triune meeting with ambassadorial pomp and Plateau style. Gazing South, Pine Valley Mountain and Zion's Kolob formations look down upon the unlikely third member of this forced meeting, a fire breathing dragon. The Mojave Desert's furnace bellows a refining fire and forges its own needled beauty that warns, Just Look, Don't Touch! The geologic battle of these three titanic personalities has produced gold medal geography of singular character. To know Pine Valley Mountain and the scenery she lords over, is to love her.

The summit trail divides Pine Valley Mountain's East and South slopes from her West and North slopes. Meandering purposefully through dense forest and wet meadow, this trail follows her reverse L formation, rising and falling against her rugged topography. Nine steep trails climb from below to bisect the Summit trail and provide access to her lofty secrets. Mother Nature wages a constant effort to reclaim and recapture them using fire, flood, avalanche and erosion. It isn't easy keeping them open. Since Pine Valley Mountain is designated Wilderness area, motorized equipment is prohibited. All travel and trail clearing is restricted to primitive methods (ie. no bulldozers, backhoes, or chainsaws.)

One organization thrives on wilderness travel and is well tooled for clearing wilderness trails the old-fashioned way-- the Back Country Horsemen of America. These guys know how to pack a mule and they carry saws that you won't find at your local hardware store. On the third weekend of August, our local chapter partnered with the Forest Service and set up a statewide invitational service project clearing 7 miles of tangled trail from South Valley to the Forsyth/Summit trail junction. 23 people from around the state and 28 stock showed up to help--nine of which were pack animals. We cleared 4 miles of the trail moving south and contributed 1,049 volunteer man hours over the three day work project. We were honored to have Terry Morrison, President Elect for the national organization and his wife Linda, as well as some of our state leaders present.

Even the little ones got to help. Preston and Sunnie came with Chantra and me. They tended horses, entertained camp, and did some small brush clearing of the trail. Fred Leslie, our state's current chairman dropped a green log on his big toe that was so heavy, he couldn't pull loose from it and 5 men could barely budge it after several minutes of trying. He tried not to limp the rest of the weekend.

Freddy Dunn and her husband Larry were there. Freddy, our chapter Chairman spearheaded and organized the logistical details. She also fed us all. Thanks Freddy for the REAL food! It was all from scratch and the product of a lot of work. The evening campfire was warm as Chantra shared her family's journey throught Cambodia's Killing Fields.

We learned a thing or two about packing from Craig Allen, Carol Lang, Larry Newton and Ron and Kathy Jensen. As part of our no-trace camping, someone had to load that panyard with all 45 pounds of solid human waste contained in "Wag bags" onto a pack animal. Glad I didn't have to follow that one out...I guess its possible to carry all kinds of (NO SWEARING PLEASE)on the back of a mule.

Travis and Misti Blake were ready with vet supplies. Two horses got ill with colic and one cut a foot just above the hoof pretty bad. All three ailments could have been tragic losses, but ended up mere inconvenience in their care.

Rochelle Bromley, Debbie Cox, and Laura Lojko made a marathon day out of Saturday. They rode around 27 miles that day, coming up, clearing trail, and getting back off the mountain.

Thanks to Dave Nilson, Frank Callagee, and Roger and Crystal Phillips for their logistical support at the trailhead. They ferried animals, riders, and parked outfits so that we could pull it off. Its amazing what we can accomplish when we get off our asses and work like rented mules! For the Back Country Horsemen, this is the high life!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Eyes Have It

"Mom! Look! There are cracks in the sky!"

The life of any Optometrist is filled with "which is better, one or two?" punctuated with an occasional save that is SO spectacular, that just one patient makes your whole career worth him or her alone. There are a handful of these and I can recount them all.

Over the past two weeks, I met young Sara (HIPPA forbids me from giving her real name.) At the age of five, she had never seen her world. Her eyes were so far-sighted that she had never been in focus and her brain had never learned to see. Even at the exam when I put the proper lenses in front of her, she didn't know how to process the suddenly-focused detail--still only seeing 20/400.

Her mom has been back in our office a couple of times already, full of emotion, stunned at the change in her daughter. Yesterday, it was to share the "lightning" story. She is horrified that she used to berate her daughter for being so blind, never sensing that it was the truth. Now in focus, nature takes over and Sara's brain is learning to see things for the first time. Every day, Mom gets to see things for the first time through five year old Sara's eyes. What a gift!