Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall snow in Western Montana

The "indian summer" we've been having this last month appears to have snapped in Western Montana. Looking at a few of the webcams on the passes, snow is falling this morning. Wooot.

Local news is saying: If El Nino reaches moderate strength - as expected, temperature and precipitation effects over the United States should strengthen in late fall and winter.

That would mean near normal precipitation, but below normal temperatures, through October in western Montana - followed by above average wintertime temperatures and drier forecasts as El Nino took over.

And according to the National Weather Service, the summer of 2009 was a record-setter.

Western Montana accounted for 10 daily records from June through August, six of them in the maximum rainfall category. Kalispell accounted for three of the rainfall records.

The new marks, starting in June, included:

July 27, Missoula, record rainfall of 0.6 inches (old record, 0.39, 1927)
Aug. 8, Missoula, record rainfall of 2.03 inches (old record, 0.44, 1999)
Aug. 14, Missoula, record low high temperature of 64 (old record, 66,1978)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Extreme MOP (Montana Otter People) Competition

Extreme MOP (Montana Otter People) Competition

X-posted from Flyfish Journal

It’s 5:30 a.m. here on the East Gallatin River about a mile from Manhattan, Montana, and Brad Colter is already in the water. Though the river is chilly with early-July run-off from the Bridger Range, Brad Colter is not wearing a wetsuit. In fact, Brad Colter is not allowed to wear anything. That’s one of the primary rules in the upcoming MOP competition. Brad files his teeth one last time, places his regulation MOP file by a beaver-chewed stump, then ducks under the deep water by a log jam.

A minute passes, then two, and just as I am about to head up to the Colter farmhouse to phone for help, Brad flops up on the opposite bank with a three-pound sucker in his jaws.

Brad is in training for the bi-annual MOP (Montana Otter People) competition to be held this August on the Smith River outside of White Sulfur Springs. While Brad holds the sucker to the grassy bank and strips its carcass with his teeth, he answers a few of my questions.

Keeler: How long have you been participating in the MOP competition?
Colter: Gack, hack, hack, spit, chew, gack.
Keeler: Brad?
Colter: Gobble, hawk, glorp, crunch, guzzle, spew, spurt. I’ll be right with you, spit, smear, wipe. Okay, what was the question?
Keeler: How long have you been doing this?
Colter: Doing what?
Keeler: Participating in the MOP competition.
Colter: This should be my fifth year, though officially it’s only my fourth. I was disqualified last year for biting an endangered west-slope cutthroat. The water was a little turbid and I couldn’t tell what she was till I had her in my teeth. I let her go but she left a blood trail and one of the officials spotted it.
Keeler: Who won?
Colter: Mildred Spunk. She ate four small whitefish, two medium suckers and a large brown trout.
Keeler: I notice you said, “ate” instead of “caught.”
Colter: Yes, catching is the easy part. Eating is where the skill comes in. You have to keep your teeth sharp, your stomach expanded and your digestive system in shape. In the WOP (that’s World Otter People) finals, a Japanese guy, Ken Nagano, ate ten large carp.
Keeler: Besides not wearing clothes and not eating endangered fish, what are some of the other rules for the MOP competition?
Colter: Well, we aren’t allowed to use our hands to catch fish, just our mouths, though on shore we can use our hands to hold them down while we tear off the flesh with our teeth.
Keeler: You mean you’re only allowed to swim up to a fish and bite it?
Colter: Pretty much.
Keeler: How is that possible?
Colter: Usually, I can do it by trapping them against a log jam or an undercut bank, though sometimes I’ll catch one sleeping, bite its tail and hold on.
Keeler: What prompted you to mimic otters in the first place?
Colter: I can’t say as I remember. Maybe boredom. Me and some of my friends used to get drunk and throw full beer cans from the sundeck of the Crystal Bar in Bozeman to see who could bean the most tourists, but that was too easy, and after a while we got tired of wasting good beer. Then one summer, maybe ten years ago, while I was jumping out from behind logjams to moon McKenzie boats, I watched an otter catch and eat a fish, and I thought, “Hey, I can do that.” After I tried it, it got to be kind of addictive. Then one evening while I was surfing the net, I typed in “barely legal,” and I found all these other otter people. Hurk! Hurk! Hurk! Buick!

At this point, I have to terminate the interview because Brad is blowing sucker chunks. It appears that Brad Colter still has some arduous training to do if he is to make a showing at the MOP competition this August.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gone baby gone - middle toe partial amputation

More exciting news about my toe.....On Wednesday, I met with the orthopedic Dr. and the surgeon to see whats up my broken toe. The Dr. consulted with the surgeon and told him that I wanted to get this thing healed up as quickly as possible and avoid complications in the future. And after a lengthy discussion, the best option we came up with was to amputate the end of my middle toe (basically starting at the bottom of the nail).

I didn't have to think to long about this, as I need to get it healed up for hunting season (see 4 weeks away) and of course ski season. My thinking is I can't live in the post op shoe for 8 weeks (and take off work) and risk it not healing properly.

Enter Thursday (the next day). Hot damn, well I went ahead with the surgery to remove the end of the middle toe at the knuckle. The procedure was pretty quick, taking about 2 hours from the initial IV to me coming out of my stupor. I've got a sweet Xray of the result (see below) and its all bandaged up.

The surgeon told me that he basically took some flaps of skin and the fatty toe pad to "reproduce" the toe. I should be looking fairly solid after about 2 weeks. The great thing I understood is now all I'm dealing with is a wound (albeit kinda serious) instead of loose bone.

I asked if they could put the toe in a little bottle of formaldehyde, he kind of laughed and asked if I was serious. He told me a story about a guy that had to have his lower leg amputated. He wanted to keep it, seem reasonable right? For the hunters out there, you're probably familiar with Big Sky Beetle Works. You might know where I'm going with this. So he took his leg and had it "beetled" and now I guess has it hanging on his wall. That is hardcore or sick or funny, something.

Anyway, all there is to do now is heal this wound up. I've been ordered to keep my foot up and try to stay off of it. Going kind of stir crazy around the house here with this forced vacation. But I guess the good thing is that it could have been a lot worse, like multiple broken toes or even my foot.

note: the official term for this procedure was a middle toe tuft amputation.

Here's a nasty shot of my nasty toe after the amputation. You might also be wondering what is going on with my big toe. Thats from a hike I did the month before, lost the toe nail. The amputation went pretty smooth and was sutured up with about 10 stitches.

As far as recovering from the amputation, there weren't many issues. I ended up hiking when we went antelope hunting (see post), only 1 week after the little sucker was cut off. I was easily hiking 5+ miles a day for 3 days and it gave me no problems. I just made sure I changed the dressings and keep my socks dry. The biggest worry was getting an infection. Overall it doesn't seem to affect the way I walk at all, and there's only been a few phantom pains.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mutants of WalMart

Holy crap, you'll either love this or you'll hate. Chances are you'll at least have a few chuckles and possibly roll across the floor peeing yourself. We know we've all been in Wal-Mart and seen one of these specimens, only wishing you had your camera. Well, these guys over at People of WalMart CLICK HERE have the ultimate repository of humor. This site will save you from having to stalk that dude with the sweet mullet, risking getting caught taking a picture and busting your grill.

Just one of the great mutants on the site. Make sure you read the captions, brilliant. I'll be taking my camera out next week :-).

It’s simple: We, uh, kill the Batman.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bow hunt teaser

Recently, a good buddy of mine finished a fantastic hunt in southwestern Montana. He was out for redemption after striking out with is bow on the ranch last year. This year his luck was much better. I'll be editing the hour and half of footage down to manageable video over the next couple weeks. Stay tuned for the final cut. Enjoy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bad month for toes

The silent war against my toes has peaked (I hope). As I mentioned in the Hellroaring trip report my big toenail on my right foot got thoroughly worked over, with its last hurrah a week ago (the toenail fell off). It was quite a gnarly process. First the swelling around the nail-bed. Followed by the use of a sterile 1/16 drill bit, drilling into the nail to relieve pressure and fluid. And then finally a quick pull, removing the entire big toenail. It feels fine now, but it is not pretty, not one bit.

This entire summer and spring I have lived in flip flops and my bare feet making it a point to have as little on my feet as possible, enjoying the warmth while I can. I caffeinated, chased the twins and planned out the day. I decided to get my stuff together and sight in my rifle. As I pulled the targets from the cupboard in the garage, I struggled with something heavy on top of them. I pulled harder and out fell one heavy ass piece of metal. The trailer hitch (10 lbs of steel) fell directly onto my middle left toe. A flurry of expletives and grossly exaggerated faces sent my twin girls into a screaming/crying mess.

I gritted in severe pain and tried to assess the damage to my middle toe. After the initial pain blast died down, I attempted to bandage and stop the bleeding on that toe. The tip of the toe had a 1" laceration near the nail and something (either the cuticle or bone) was poking up through the skin. About 20 minutes later the blood started to really come on strong. I headed for the emergency room.

With a very short wait, I was admitted to a room for assessment. Luckily, I was treated with some liquid Loritab (highly recommended) which took most of the pain away. Shortly after, the x-ray techs took some photos of my foot. The doctor deduced that I had an open fracture of the distal phalanx. He put in two stitches and did a bit of reduction to try and place the bones back together. I have to follow up with the orthopedic specialist next week to check on the healing process. Sounds like there is a good chance the tip of the toe may not heal back together, but with supposed little consequences.

If you got any tips (no pun) on healing a broken toe, holler at me.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ahhhh winter

A random photo from the interwebz. I love it. The photo is reported to be from the Kitimat area in northwestern British Columbia.