Wednesday, December 30, 2015

December 2015

El Nino? Things have been snowy in the Missoula Valley and a decent start to skiing beginning last week. Ran across this in the Missoulian:

Jeff Kitsmiller, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Missoula, said the city met the definition of a “sunny day” twice in December. Two sunny days are predicted in January while fog dominates the weather headlines. But that’s winter living in a valley bottom.

Unfortunately, I may miss a bit of Montana January. We'll see what ol El Nino does! Laters.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hunt Right Montana

I just happened to run across this and thought it was great to see an organization promoting solid hunting ethics. Just as they state, a few can ruin it for the many.

Hunt Right link here

I took the girls out hunting this weekend, staying in a FS cabin and really immersing ourselves in the activity at much as possible. Both were as excited as I've seen them in a long time. They had a great time and the laughs were a plenty. While we didn't lay eyes on any legal elk or deer, we did manage to harvest a large ruffed grouse. I shared my views on hunting and some mistakes I've made over the year, touching on ethics.

We all walked away with some great memories and Mama had a little quiet house for the two days :-).

Not sure what was going here, maybe a pissed off neighbor?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Where ya been?

Been a while since there's been a post on the old kneetopia. Life's been busy and I've fell off the writing habit. The Campbell clan had a busy summer and fall. I spent 3 weeks in the woods on fire in August, greatly accelerating summer. It always goes by too fast. Summer was hot as Hades. But fall has been awesome, if not unseasonably warm. But you gotta enjoy the Indian Summer. I had 2 great archery hunting trips, one down towards SW MT and one over in the Missouri Breaks. Both were awesome, lots of bugling bulls but just 20 yards short.

Quick ride up Blue Mtn

William and I's first bow hunt

Will and I saw these elk on our first hunt together

Bear skull that I found on a hunt

The Missouri Breaks!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A break from the brutal heat

We woke up to some much needed rain this morning in Missoula. Its been hotter than hell for what seems like the last 4 to 6 weeks. The weather Office reported that April May and June were the second driest on record. So far no real big fires in Montana. Canada on the other hand is burning up and sending smoke signals down this way, could be a message? ;-)
The temps have been in the 90s consistently for weeks. The rivers are record low and fire restrictions are pushing close to stage 2 soon. The rain feels nice.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Magruder Corridor motorcycle ride

Let me start by saying how much I love my wife! She is the best and is willing to put up with my sometimes impulsive hobbies.

As of late the adventure touring on my KLR 650 has haunted my brain. I had been wanting to do the Magruder Corridor road for the last few years. Each year there had been excuses, fires, life etc. A three day window opened up and I seized the moment. Leaving the house I felt somewhat rushed, having packed just the night before. But I knew I had a operational moto, fuel, food, shelter and anything else could be dealt with a long the way. It was nice to be rolling towards the wilderness with such a minimal amount of gear (compared to what is required for camping with 3 kids).

I busted south from Missoula, following hwy 93 to Conner, MT, then up the West Fork of Bitterroot. The Magruder road was in good shape and was approximately 110 miles from end to end, the majority of it being dirt. Finding nothing too exciting to camp at along the way, I continued onto to Red River Hotsprings. What a great find, if you are ever in that area, you should go. I overnighted at the campground just down the road.


The next day I continued on into Elk City and had a big breakfast and got fuel. I was having an issue with my radiator fan (bike almost overheating at low speeds) so I decided to detour to Grangeville to see if it could be fixed. No such luck, both mechanics said....well could get to it next week...thanks buddy. So I bagged out on the remaining planned route (Lolo Motorway) and headed for Missoula. A ice cold beer at the Lochsa Lodge refreshed me and I hit up the Elk Meadows road back to Hwy 12.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Forest Service Chief predictions on wildfire season

Clear your brush, pack  your bags and hope you don't have asthma!

Link article

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell presented the Forest Service forecast on the upcoming 2015 fire season in testimony today before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Forest Service researchers expect 2015 to continue the trend of above average fire activity.

"Above normal wildland fire potential exists across the north central United States and above normal wildland fire potential will threaten many parts of the West this summer," said Chief Tidwell. "We anticipate another active fire year, underscoring the need to reform our wildfire funding."

The forecast indicates there is a 90 percent chance that this year's Forest Service fire suppression costs will be between $794 million and $1.657 billion, with a median estimate of $1.225 billion, potentially forcing the diversion of funding from other vital programs to support suppression operations. Any costs above the median is greater than the "10 year average" and would force the Forest Service to leverage funding from other land management programs. Diverting funds to cover the cost of wildfire suppression affects other critical Forest Service programs and services, said Tidwell, including efforts to reduce wildfire risk through mechanical thinning, prescribed fires, and other means.

Wildfire suppression costs have increased as fire seasons have grown longer and the frequency, size, and severity of wildfires has increased due to changing climatic conditions, drought, hazardous fuel buildups, insect and disease infestations, nonnative invasive species, and other factors. Funding has not kept pace with the cost of fighting fire. Over the last 10 years, adjusting for inflation, the Forest Service has spent an average of almost $1.13 billion on suppression operations annually.

The President's Fiscal Year 2016 budget includes a proposal to reform the way that wildfire suppression is funded. Aligned with the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, these reforms are necessary to ensure the Forest Service continues to deliver the full scope of its mission.

Chief Tidwell said the Forest Service has the capability and responsibility to protect life, property, and natural resources. The responsibility to respond to wildfire is not isolated to the Forest Service. It works extensively with partners within the Department of Interior (DOI) as well as State, tribal and local firefighting organizations to support wildland fire management operations. These cooperators are essential to ensuring that every wildfire receives an appropriate, risk informed, and effective response regardless of the jurisdiction.

Within the Fiscal Year (FY) 15 appropriation for Wildland Fire Management, the Forest Service will be able to mobilize approximately 10,000 firefighters for the upcoming fire season, as well as up to 21 airtankers available for operations on exclusive use contracts, additional air tankers available through "Call When Needed" contracts, and the capability to mobilize cooperator air tankers, if available, through agreements with the State of Alaska and Canada. In coordination with the military there are also eightMobile Airborne Firefighting System-capable C-130's available to meet surge requirements, as well as an extensive fleet of more than 100 helicopters available to support operations.

The Forest Service has worked collaboratively with its partners to develop the National Cohesive Wildland Fire ManagementStrategy, of which fuel treatment is an essential component. In 2015, $32 million of the Hazardous Fuels appropriation was allocated to 50 projects in areas with a likelihood of high intensity fire within populated areas or near important watersheds for municipal water supply.

The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program also assists in the agency's work with partners to conduct hazardous fuel treatments and ecosystem restoration that encourages economic and social sustainability, leverages local resources with national and private resources, reduces wildfire management costs, and addresses the utilization of forest restoration byproducts to offset treatment costs and benefit local economies.

The mission of the Forest Service, part U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.
Tavis Campbell
IAFF Local 271
406.546.2956 :
Stepping Up: A Guide to The Ridge at Bridger Bowl

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring time

Just as in years past, I continue to speculate and watch the fire weather forecast in the spring. Why? I don't know exactly. But I usually find myself with extra time on my hands during Spring time. I also think it's some sadistic thing that carries over from my days with the Forest Service. I only did 6 seasons with them, but it left a lasting mark. I enjoy my city fire job much more than the dirty days of the FS, but somehow I still like fighting a good old fashioned forest fire. The vagrant wandering style, camp food, monotony and some hard earned cash is sometime fun.

While I am not hoping for smokey skies this summer, things are still looking a bit ominous across the West. California continues to face serious drought and lack of snow pack. As Unofficial Networks put it:  "Tahoe had one shitty season. Squaw Valley received a measly 79″ at their base this entire season. . As of today, April 23th, 2015, Lake Tahoe’s snowpack is at 0% of average. Other regions have not faired much better with Central Oregon at just 9% of average, Northern Washington’s Cascade Mountains at 6% and Utah having the statistically worst ski season in history." That is some scary shit right there. 

The spring has been nice here in Missoula. We've had some very nice weather and quite a bit of it dry. The family and I have been able to enjoy some hikes and mountain bikes rides. Make hay while the sun shines right? Will turned 3 on Easter and we celebrated with a crazy amount of candy. I ducked down to the Paradise Valley for some shed hunting with my good friends. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Showing my age?

I guess it's probably a true sign of getting old when your conversation (or writing) is dominated by weather and your kids?

The past week was another spring like nirvana. Weekend temps were pushing 60 and blue skies made for good sliding up @ Discovery. Everyone is making great progress on skis, with Will skiing off the Goldbug chair for the first time and girls now feeling confident on intermediate runs. No tears again on the mountain!

We stayed at a friend's cabin, the kids talk about every stay like it's Disneyland. It truly is a special place, modeled after a forest service lookout. A growler a  Philipsburg Brewery topped the night off and pancakes fired the morning up. We explored the woods for antler sheds, but found only decaying bones (elk?). Kids tracked the moose by the many piles of fresh scat in the area. We even snuck in some target practice with the BB gun (or if you are Payton.. the "baby gun"). It's so refreshing to look at things through your kids eyes.

My general lack of motivation towards skiing this winter was not helped by the 65 degree temps this week. I dusted off the mountain bike and dodged piles of defrosting dog poop at Blue Mountain. The lack of skiing showed up in my pedal power, out of shape. But hey, i guess that's all the more reason to get the KLR moto ready!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Summer in the Winter time

Everyone in the West is talking about the lack of winters presence with snowfall in West almost non-existant in some places. Oregon and Washington are reporting anywhere from 18 to 50 of average snowpack. Alaska is reporting around 36 percent of average. The water content of the snowpack in the Sierras, ranged from a paltry 17 to 41 percent of the average on February 26. 

Around Missoula, the lower elevations from my guess have got to be below average. The college rag ran this graphic recently. We haven't really had any substantial snow in the valley to speak of. Let' s hope this isn't a developing trend.

I rolled the dice and opted not to get a Snowbowl pass this year (did the same last year). It's been odd not to have the coveted piece of plastic to rely on when I'm bored or feel the need to stretch my legs. But I have to say, this might be one of those years to be okay missing (at least considering the total number of deep days we've had this year). I've been lucky enough to hit 2 good deep days (12" plus). 

Tracy and I also were able to con my parents (just kidding) into watching the kids while we had a insanely refreshing vacation in the Puerto Vallarta/Sayulita area. It was everything we wanted and then some. Now we have to deal with remaining dreams of buying a house down there. Anyone have a couple hundred $k you can spare? 

We've been getting out with the kids and they've been having a blast. William is wedging to a stop and we've had 2 days at Discovery so far with NO CRYING! Not a tear shed by one of them. And another milestone was reached, Payton and Gwynn got on the chair and rode it all by themselves! Almost brought a tear to dear old Dad's eye ;-0.

 I leave you with this funny little note that wrote to old man Winter. 

Dear Winter:
Hey man. How’s it going? A few of us were just talking about you. And by “just,” I mean for the past two months. Wondering what you’re up to, where you’re at, if you’re going to make it out West this year, or if we should just put the skis and stuff away until December.
I saw via a couple people’s Facebook and Instagram feeds that you’ve been spending some time and precipitation in the Northeast—that’s cool, please give those folks a high-five from us and tell them to enjoy it. I don’t want to sound entitled or anything, but it seems like you’ve kind of blown your whole wad out there this year, don’t you think?
I mean, I could be wrong, but I don’t think the people in Boston are that stoked about you dropping five feet of snow on them this month. Vermont, yes. Boston, well, that’s a lot of shoveling, and not a lot of skiing.