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My Expedition Vehicle & Trailer

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A 2017 Desert Renewal

The recent rains have turned the deserts a shade of green I've not seen in a long time but that is not all that was renewed this spring. I have a number of friends that I worked with for many years and they have been hosting a large campout every spring since before I first met them. I've missed a number of the get togethers but this year I was able to join them for the telling of stories both old and new, campfires, great food, hiking and more.

I decided to head out a day early and set up some full-on glamping with the trailer and all of the toys I could pack into it. That gave me extra time to explore and try out my hand at a few things before my friends arrived.

It is always exciting to be out in the high desert and this was the first time I brought the expedition trailer to this area.

 Sunshine, blue skies and mountains on the horizon.

Pretty soon I had Camp Teotwaki set up in a nice spot just up the canyon from the main gathering area.

High frequency radio antenna deployed? Check!
Solar power system operational? Check!

How about hot water and a shower tent? That's glamping! (Glamour Camping)

Did I mention the natural spring water in the canyon? Long ago ranchers tapped it to provide water for their cattle. The ranching operation is long defunct but a local group has re-purposed the system to provide water for the local wildlife.

Here is where the ranchers drove a pipe into the source of the spring water.

This tank was refurbished to pool the water before it travels via piping to water feeders.

I measured the flow rate at the inlet at roughly 10 gallons per hour.

I captured water in a bucket I suspended on parachute cord inside the tank and below the pipe inlet.

I drew the bucket up and poured the water through a cloth to get rid of small debris that fell into the bucket. I easily filled two 5 gallon containers. It was nice to know of such a good source of water.

My next project was to start collecting firewood for the first group camp fire the next night. There are lots of downed pine trees available and I processed this tree's wood into a modest pile of fire ready logs.

That night I cooked a simple meal and went to sleep not too long after it became dark. I woke up with the sun, cooked breakfast and followed that up with a hot shower. 

Late in the morning I heard a truck engine and met some folks from SWCA Environmental Consultants. Mike and Clint were there on contract for state and federal wildlife agencies

 They were setting up temporary acoustic logging systems to survey the number of bats that frequented the area's water source.

Bats hunt insects by making ultrasonic calls and using the echo to find prey while in flight.  2010 research in Panama shows that bats can recognize the calls of particular bats, similar to how humans recognize voices of friends and family.

The next day around mid afternoon the gang started to arrive!

 They quickly started setting up their various forms of abodes and there was lots of space for everyone to spread out. Counting myself we had 12 people attending this year.

We had a great group dinner and a long evening at the camp fire. It seems that there were new generations of their families in attendance so introductions were made all around. 

Here is a great shot of Gary, his son Michael and Gary's grandson Nathan.

The nights proved to become gradually colder each night so the campfires were a welcome way to stay warm. The lowest temperature I measured inside my roof top tent one night was 36 degrees F but I stayed warm with a light sleeping bag and large synthetic quilt over me. We were camped at 5300' in altitude.

Next thing I knew it was dawn and time to look forward to the group breakfast!

Gary and Walt plan the meals and members of the group take turns cooking and cleaning.

Hash browns! 

French toast!

LOTS of life sustaining bacon!

Besides consuming tons of great food every day for breakfast and dinner we had lots of other activities planned such as star gazing.

What can you do with leftover potatoes? Launch them at 100 MPH!

Short video of Nathan turning a tater into a speeding starch-bullet.

This was great terrain for hiking and offered views back to camp and also the expansive desert vistas.

Nathan opted for a brightly colored FIND ME FIRST orange hiking shirt.

I tried out some military issue "earth tones"

Craig went for a long day hike on a quest to summit a local peak

The rest of us set up a firing range to work on weapons handling, marksmanship and just plain fun.

You could call this target a "bang stick" of sorts.

On second thought maybe BOOM stick would be more accurate!

I had a special hike planned using a military Alice pack frame to haul my target out beyond 500 yards. All of the hardware for the stand and also my GPS and laser distance meter. Dang, it was heavy.......

Can you spot the orange steel plate on the hillside? It 1/4" thick, 16" x 16" square and at a distance of 567 yards or roughly one third of a mile. It is also elevated about 246' above my firing position.

Yup! I whacked it pretty good with my rifle.

It was hard to capture so much of what went on over the five days and if I receive some pictures from other folks I will add them in. Keep an eye out for updates! Thanks for coming along on another adventure with good friends out in the great expanses of nature. See you on the next trip!