Digger's Notes from the Road

Travel, ideas, adventures, and mishaps, written down just for you.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Dinner is always nice by moonlight, and pesto always tastes better after a twelve mile hike. As for atmosphere, it is tough to beat a glacial lake in the high sierra surrounded by twelve thousand foot peaks.

There really isn't much you can say about a trip like this. The only way to appreciate the stunning beauty of the Yosemite back country is to go and see it for yourself. Emily and I set out from the backpackers at T
olumne meadows and followed the John Muir trail up Lyell canyon. The sand in the creek bed was flecked with gold, and we wished we had brought a pan.
Emily and I camped at Ireland lake the first night. We had spent more money than we meant to on food for the trip, but we sure ate well, and there is no one I would rather have shared s meal by moonlight at 11.000 feet with(image 2).

Our second day we hiked cross country to Vogelsang lake (image 3),
through Vogelsang pass, and camped near the creek on the other side. The skylines were spectacular, but the hike was a bit rougher than we had thought it would be. This was my own fault, as I had only casualy looked at the contour lines on our trail map before we set out. The contour lines showed some hills, and I simply told Emily "there will be a little uphill, but mostly down".

What I had failed to notice was that the contour lines were in fact 200 feet apart. Hours later, when we were taking a rest break on the top of the 12,000 mountain rage we had climbed over (image 4), I made a mental note to study maps more carefully in the future. Throughout the climb , Emily trucked along with infailable grace and good humor. I was duly impressed, but vowed not to put her or myself in such a situation again if I could avoid it.

We had a restful night and the next day Emily decided to take a shower, so I decided to go climb up on the rocks above our campsite to soak up some sun. While I was up there, a coyote ran through the campsite, unseen by anyone but me. It came up onto the rocks, stopped and looked at me. Now everyone knows that when a coyote stops and looks at you like that, you are supposed to follow it. I did. It ran over the rocks and up the mountain, stopping periodicaly to see if I was still following along. What happend on that adventure, and what transpired after, is a story for another time.

Anyway, after I returned to camp we hiked up past Merced lake and camped near clouds rest. On the way there, we got hit by a thunderstorm. It was kind of scary, as we were at high altitude, at times on exposed rock awash with torrents of runnoff. Still, we pushed on and were rewarded with a stunning view of a double rainbow. And once the sun came out, everything was sparkling. When the raindrops caught the light the forest turned into a surreal place, and the sun warmed us, and the world felt brand new.

The next day was to be our last on the trail. We reached the base of half dome around three in the afternoon, hid our packs, and headed for the summit. It was a steep climb, but without packs we felt weightless. However, when we reached the last section of the climb, a steep sheer rock wall with cables attached to anchors pounded into the rock, Emily decided she had had enough climbing . She waited patiently while I topped out. It was a sight to behold, but I knew we had to finish our hike before sunset, becuase the last miles of the the trail were steep and treacherous.

We passed little Yosemite and headed tward Nevada falls. We hit the falls but it was already sunset so we had no choice but to keep on going. Descending the cliffs in the dark would have been very difficult. Passing vernal falls(image 5), we remembered the time we had spent there on a previous visit. But now, in the dusk, we kept trucking, silently, then singing. Down down down we went. At last, in the dark, we hit pavement and civilisation.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Tom and I decided to make cider from the apples growing on my dads tree.

Since we had never made cider before. Tom and I began by trying to build a cider press from parts laying around in the tool shed. We decided to use a screw vice to create pressure to crush the apples. We made a metal plunger out of some scrap metal to push down. Dad found us an old brass shell casing from a giant tank shell to use as a bucket. We cleaned it thoughly. As we were bolting the pieces to a stout oak board, Jeff appeared freshly risen from his mid day nap.

He asked us why we were building a cider press instead of borrowing one from our uncle who lives down the road.

We stopped working on our press shortly after.

While we were waiting for my cousin to bring the cider press over, I went online to read up on the cider making process. I found out you don't even need a press to make small batches. Go figure.

So here it is:


1. Collect the apples. We made sweet (aka. unfermented) cider. To make sweet cider you can use any type of sweet apple. If you want to make fermented (aka. hard) cider, it is traditional to use a combination of sweet apples, sharp or sour apples, and fragrant apples.

2. Clean the apples. We filled a giant metal bowl with a mild bleach solution. Then we tossed the apples in. Tom scrubbed them down and threw out any rotten ones. If you wouldn't eat it, discard it.

3. Turn the apples to mush. Once they were clean, I cored the apples and cut them into quarters. Then they went into the blender. Then we blended them to a pulp.

4. Squeeze out the cider. We poured the apple pulp into a clean pillow case. Then we squeezed the pillow case till all the cider came out into a pitcher.

5. Drink the cider. If you make a small batch, at this stage you are done. Cider is safe to drink raw as long as you make it with clean hands and equipment. However, if you plan to store the cider it is best either to pasturise it or freeze it. Or you always have the option of fermenting it... Thats the old fashioned way to make it keep all winter.

But fermenting will be a project for another day. we'll keep you posted.

Digger and T-bone


Hi! After a two year break I have decided that it is time to start posting again! I envision this blog serving as a place for two things. 1. A place to post up to date info from trips, adventures, etc, so friends can keep up with whats going on (which is the reason this thing was started in the first place). 2. A record of different skills and projects. I envision this blog as developing into a series of short how to articles on various outdoor skills.

It all starts now.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006



This past shift i was privleged to work with the great mike b, (stone buffalo), reigning master of desert life and the most knowlegable individual i have met regarding primative skills. We knapped stones and discussed the intricicies of the paute deadfall, with stone buffalo explaining many small refinements it would have taken me litteraly years to figure out on my own. Unfortunately, it was stone buffs last shift at redcliff, as he is returning to Boss to spend the summer living wild in the desert and show those truly adventurous souls who come his way how to live off this harsh land with litteraly nothing but your own wits and what tools you can devise from what nature provides.

before he left, stone buff and i disscussed his ongoing project, known as red hands, an honor society of sorts which draws student leaders from the groups in the redcliff field and brings them together for a week of advanced skill and fieldcraft work the other students do not get. He also used redhands as an oportunity to share leadership ideas and disscuss concepts beyond the normal redcliff program.

I feel honored to say that he has asked me to help him develop a story program to help future redhands staff discuss the values red hands is supposed to teach. This project gives me the oportunity to help create the program we use with our students, a responsability i take very seriously. I am very excited about this new endevor and will post more on this subject soon.

Also, i have aquired a digital camera with my first paycheck, so keep an eye out for pictures after the next shift.

I have discoverd that i am losing weight again. To counteract this i have made 7 lbs of lynx balls to eat on the next shift. For those who do not know(probably everyone) lynx balls are made by mixing oatmeal, peanutbutter, and honey to form dense, tasty balls of goodness. Lynx balls are supposedly named after the famous redcliff guide mountain lynx, though lynx himself tells me that he is not particularly fond of them, and in fact rarely makes them himself.


After hours of late night walk and talk, my date expressed some abivilence about dating again. Out of respect for the fact that she had just gotten out of a long relationship, i offered to cancel our date for the time being (this is what we shall call, from here on "The usual"). However, we decided to spend the day together anyway and I had a very enjoyable time. I feel that this situation was handled the right way. At the same time, i am still feel there may be some ambiguity about the nature of our relationship. However, this may be wishfull thinking. At any rate, i have a funny, extremely intelligent, and exquistely attractive new friend, which is not ideal but is far from a bad thing.

Sharah has just discovered that i have a blog and it suddenly occured to me that she has not yet been given adaqate space here. So:

Sharah Rhomberg is the coolest. She was my trainer when i first arrived here, and we have worked together several times. She opened her home to me when i was living on the streets, is going to be my room mate begging in may, and, in her own words, we are now "BFF". She is very open, outgoing, and courageous, and she knows EVERYBODY. She knows one of my friends from fredonia state. She knows the DR. BRONNERS FAMILY!!! She is an amazing human being and i am gratefull to have met her. Am considering a more extensive bio with photos.


Sunday, April 16, 2006


As of 2:13 am mountain time, i officialy have a date with the hotest girl in st george (yes, that would be the same irish girl with the fiddle mentioned earlier). How did this come about you may be wondering? Well, of course my wit and charm had everything to do with it. It went a little like this:

Me - (very aquardly) so... would you mind doing me a favor?

Her - (in pajamas, brushing teeth before bed) sure, what?

Me - (quickly thinking up something incredibly romatic and witty) Err... uh... well you see, i have this problem with low self esteem.

Her - (confused) what? really?

Me - Yep, and it would really help me out if you went on a date with me.

Her- (laughs and spits toothpaste on everything)

Just wanted to share. More posts coming up in a day or two.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Not to brag, but I am now officialy making pretty phat bank (well... for a person whos only expense is food, anyway. Let me tell you, I eat some really, REALLY good food now adays). Making monely sounds like a good thing, but is actualy proving oddly frustrating. I feel like now that i have plenty of cash, it should be pretty easy to find a place to live.

This is not the case.

As my potential room mates and I are discovering, the saint george housing market is completely saturated by wealthy retirees from california. These people are drawn in droves by this areas, sunny, pleasant climate and the alure of escaping from the crowds and fast pace of the western coast for a "quiet, rurual" life.

What this means for us is that if you wish to find a place to live in southern utah, you must compete with litteraly thousands of people who:

a. Are from cali and thus are used to spending two grand a month to live in the hole under the sink in a crack house. Thus they consider a grand and a half a month for the same hole in st geroge a good deal.

b. Are retired and thus have absoloutely NOTHING to do except scan the internet looking for places in st george to rent, often snatching up homes within literaly minutes of the listing.

Consequently, I am still living on the streets, not due to poverty, but becasue of things like this:

(This really happened) Amber Hawk and I went to look at a newly listed appartment, decided we liked it, and immidiately started filling out the paperwork to rent it while still on the premisis (spelling? #*#@! spelling). While we filled out the forms, sitting INSIDE the pad, some people, found out about the place, and before were even done with the form, they had called the agent and signed a year lease. My head hurts.

Aside from homlessness, all is going well. I went on a camping trip yesterday night with some friends and got to sleep in a cave (which i am thinking semi- seriously about moving into rather than trying to navigate a housing market that won't take my money even if i ask nicely), and tenatively plan to spend this evening with the folks from the local RCA house trying to leap over the fence at the hilton in order to gain acces to the hot tub.

The girl sitting at the computer next to me has just mannaged to correctly identify my place of employment simply by sniffing me. She informs me that she used to work at Anisasi (one of Redcliffs sister/ competing companies) and the reek eminating from my general direction makes her wax nostaligic for her own days around the campfire.
I think i may need to do laundry again.
I love this town.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Yay! I finished my last shift of internship and i am now officialy eligable to be a utah state theraputic guide. Apparently work likes me because they have offered my a one year contract. Good pay, awsome co-workers and a six and a half day weekend were compelling reasons to sighn on for the long haul, and the fat contract bonus was too much to resist. I never thought of myself as the type of guy who would sign a contract to work for a corporation. Then again the great basin desert is my office, and it isnt every day that you find a company where you will hear people say, with no hint of sarcasam, "I love our administrators".

This shift in the field i made a wheel of cheese to enter in the primitive crafts contest at the seasonal "shindig", which is held at the single outpost in the middle of our field. I took a two pound powederd milk ration and boiled it with some salt till the curd seperated. I then strained the whey into a nalgene using a bandana. Of course, without retin the cheese would not harden, so i baked it at a low temperature in a pot till nearly all the moisture had been driven out. Everyone said it was a shoe in for first prize becauase it was so different (most people entered things like stone knives they had knapped or nicely whittled spoons) or at least would get a good laugh. But shindig was postponed due to snowstorms, so i ate it.

Life goes extremely well on most fronts. I have a great job. My friends sarah, johanna and i are appartment hunting in st george this week (soon i will have a place to live!). I am looking forward to a hike this weekend with the beautiful young woman i met st patties day. She in quite intiuging in that she knows hot to make hundreds of string figures and knots. She has also been known to play sad songs on the fiddle her uncle carved her.

Yet in spite of all this, i still feel slightly malcontent. I am not sure what it is that causes this unease. Perhaps it is all the paperwork i need to finish before i can officialy qualify for guide status, or perhaps it is because I am still living on the streets, but it is tough to shake the sense that even now somthing is still not quite all right. Ah well. So it goes.

May the sun shine upon you all, and may the lord smile upon you, my friends, till we all meet again at the great cheesewheel in the sky.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Friday I spent all day looking for a place to live. Many people have been generous and welcomed me into their homes, but it has been nearly a year since i have had an adress or a bed to call my own. I desperately want my own base of opperations. However, endevoring to find even a cheap rat hole appartment call my own proved frustrating. By dusk I was tired, angry, and wanted nothing more than to curl up in a ball and be left alone.

But of course it was St Patricks day! No sooner had i arrived at my crash pad for the evening (a friend was letting me sleep at her house, which was suppostedly going to be empty for the weekend) than a stout, hearty, bushy bearded man wearing a battered fedora burst through the front door. He had a large sack of beer and liquor and small, shy, comely lass in tow. In a buisnesslike way he set about celebrating the holiday. He tossed me a brew and ordered in a silly accent "Drink er up, boy!"

On a nortmal day i would have declined, or had just one drink out of courtesy. But I was in just the right frame of mind for some self abuse. "may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows your dead!" I declared. Fifteen minutes later we consumed two foul tasting beers and two or three shots of good whiskey apeace. Then the girl offered me a glass of the irish cream which she had produced from somewhere. Soon we began to dance.

The radio blared cheftains as we hopped about in merry fashion, ryan (the bearded gentleman) and i clumsily and the girl Emily rather more expertly. A short while later one of the residents of the house arrived with some friends in tow. They joined us. We danced and shouted and played euchre and egyptian ratscrew till the early hours. As I lay on the soft carpet drifting off to sleep, two thoughts passed through my head:

1. Drinking makes me sleepy but st. patricks day is still a pretty good holiday
2. It would be easier to sleep if the large, burly, bearded man in the battered fedora would stop shouting my name and trying to wrench my arm off in an effort to get me to play more drinking games.

There is yet more to this story, as we declared teh next day st. Paties day extension. But I will not divulge much about that here. I will say only that saturday included a trip in an ancient van to see some belly dancers, the bohemian rhapsody, and a run in with the police. If you want to know the rest, you will simply have to call me at my new phone number:

435- 313-1591

And of course, if you could not tell, i think i have made some new friends

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Hi everyone! Yes David, i am still alive and back from my third shift in the great basin. Sorry i have not posted more regularly, read on and you will understand why. I have kept entries for each of the last three weeks in my notebook and am posting them all now. Here is the Report yall:


My first shift with a student group. It was awsome! I was assigned to the adult student group, ages 18-25. The students had a variety of problems: drugs, gang affiliation, depression etc. On the whole were slightly more mentaly stable than the kids I worked with at boyscout camp.
The senior guide Jordan (aka lynxy) gave the group a short talk about knapping stone and pressure flaking, an art I quickly discovered I have a tallent for. Stone fell away like butter beneith the pressure flaker. Hertzian fracture cones ripped through the chirt and obsidian we found and by the end of the week i had a fair size collection of very keen stone arrow points, blades, and scraper tools. If only friction fires could be this easy! It was almost as if some partial memory from a past life was a wakened.
I have coveted nice stone points since i was young and quickly discovered that others did too. However, trading equipment with students is against company policy. to compensate, I began dropping a point or two around the campsite or on the trail as gifts to others who might pass the same way.
Friction fires are an important skill at redcliff. Probably the most important skill. All fires are started by friction and the ability to procure certain food items is dependant on the ability to create fires each week. Good fire starters take pride in thier skills, and are treated with much respect.
At the end of my training session i was the only person who had not yet lit a single friction fire. For the first six days of this session i was not able to start one either. I would patiently spend hours carving away wood from my fire board to make a notch (Using stone tools only, I vowed not to touch a metal tool till after I got my first fire), only to have the fireboard break in half when I tried to use it. Students around me lit fires with ease, while i patiently spent each day getting nowhere.
Finaly it was the second to last day of the shift. It was cold and rain was pouring down. The group was huddled under a tarp working on various skill projects, while i worked on improving my painstakingly cut and crafted handmade fire set. I bowed and bowed. Wind whipped rain under the tarp and soaked my spindles. Smoke and punk poured from the fire board. The rain turned to sleet. A burning coal fell from the latest notch I had carved. I placed the coal carefully into a nest of fine bark and gently blew. the coal grew stronger and brighter. I blew harder. The ball of bark burst into flames! The entire group cheered. I lay on the soggy ground, the rain soaking into my already muddly clothing, and smiled. It had taken me three weeks to get fire. It was worth it.


At the end of the shift the staff went on an overnight retreat to Zion national park. We played paint ball in the labrynth canyons near Hurricane, utah, then proceeded to enter the borders of zion itself. Zion is aptly named. It is a glorious land full of high plateus, dizzying cliffs, and spectacular rock formations framed against the bluest sky i have ever seen. No words can properly describe this holy place, it must be seen to be belived.
In a canyon in the heart of this sacred place captains of industry have built a strip of luxury hotels, discount shopping outlets, and wilderness themed overpriced resturants. In my whole life i have wanted only a few things more than I wanted to see this strip naplamed and burnt to the ground.
The retreat was awsome but when it ended i was faced with a dilema. I had no place to live and almost no money. I needed to find a way to spend the next five days till work started again. I spent my last few bucks on a cheap hotel, called a few friends, and then slept like a dead man for the next 14 hours. It was the first time i had seen a bed in almost four weeks.
The next morning I awoke bright and early at noon in Cedar City, where staff director mark had dropped me off. I had been invited to a potluck supper in St. George that evening, and having only four dollars left I decided to save my cash for a dish to share and hitched a ride to St. George.
Riding the thumb is in my opinion the finest way to travel ever invented. Within minutes of reaching the on ramp I was hurtling tward my destination. I was lying in the bed of a pick up truck, soaking up the sun and staring up at the soft clouds above. I felt completely free. I could travel by thumb to california if i wanted, or to mexico, or to boston, or anywhere. America was completely open to me.
Two hops later I stood on St. George Blvd, a new city at my feet. I failed to find my friends house in time, but it hardly mattered. St george was 70 degrees. Palm trees swayed in the breeze. I layed my sleeping bag on the ground among some pines behind the local college ball field. For the next four days, that was my home.
St. George is a town of many marvels, and i spent my days exploring every nook and cranny. I eventualy caught up with the friend i had come to see and she invited me to stay with her. I said I felt bad about imposing on her. She smiled and said "dont worry, it all comes around".
This degree of generosity made me uncomfortable. I am well adapted to living in the dirt and being spit on (litteraly and metaphoricaly). Perhaps so well adapted that I do not know how to deal with much else.
I stayed with amber hawk and her friends a few nights and discoverd that we had much in common. Her roommates Johanna and Ben both play capoeira, and we had a fun time exchanging moves and playing jogo bonitia in their large living room. It was good to play and we all agreed that we had to get together again next off shift.
Life in st george is cool but my stay here has been weird. Example: I stopped at a resturant to buy a burrito one day. After I had ordered, the man behind the counter informed me he could not accept a credit card. I had no cash till I got my first paycheck. We both stared at each other for a minute. "dont worry amigo," He said. "you can pay me next time you come here, if you ever come here again".
I began to protest, feeling very bad about taking the food without paying.
"Its ok" he said, shoving the burrito in my hand. "it will come around".
I have heard that sometimes when there is a lesson for us to learn, that the lesson will come up again and again in different forms untill we learn it. I have a feeling that this has been happening to me a lot lately.
Ben and I discussed this idea on our way back to Enterprise the next day. He was very incitefull and pointed out that it was unfair that i wanted to give freely to people, yet would refuse any help others had to offer. This is an interesting concept and I continue to struggle with it.


Amberhawk, Ben, Johanna, and i returned to enterprise together. base sent me to the adult group again. Just before I hit the desert, ben gave me a small, crumpled piece of paper. "give this to your co-guide" he whispered. When I arrived where the group was camped, it was snowing hard. The outgoing guides looked hungry, soaked, and angry.
It is redcliff policy that there are never more than three students per guide. As an intern guide, i do not normaly count twards the guide to student ratio. However, due to mysterious reasons the office had assigned for this group of ten students to be staffed only by Suzie, a very tired, grouchy looking girl who was working a double shift and had been with the group eight days already, and myself. "where is the rest of the staff?" she demanded.
"just me" I replied. I offered her the notes i had taken while meeting with the students therapists earlier that day.
She gave snort and turned back to the group.
The week turned out to be awsome. By the second day suzie calmed down and we began talking. She turned out to be very mellow and personable. She and ben had been secretly dating for the last few months, but they had ended up on oposite shifts and could only see each other at odd moments or at staff change. She had opted to work a double so they could spend their off shifts together. She talked about him with much enthusiasm and was very excited when i told her he had given me a letter for her.
On my off shift I had read up on stories about the stars: the origin of orion, the big and little bears, the pleadies, casiopea, etc. I was nervous that the students would think these stories were boring. However, the first night carl (student names changed for privacy) asked why the north star always stayed in one place. I told the group the hindu legend of the lotus eyed, which explains how the polestar came to be. After a moments pause several students asked in unision "are there any more stories about the stars?"
We told stories and sang songs every night that week. Cat came back, long black veil, and rattlin bog echoed off the lower teatons while we hiked.
One particularly nasty night sleet was pouring down. Suzie had the group build a type of tarp shelter she called the lions den. Inside,students shivered around the fire, trying to get warm. Then, slowly, a sing along began. Bhemian rhapsody emerged, then i lead a hipster version of cat came back, then carl and eddie started to beat box. Both had been drug dealers and gang members, and they began to freestyle about life on the streets, then about life in the desert. Soon suzie took a turn. Then, in the middle of the high desert in a snowstorm, everyone began to freestyle.

I love my new job so much.

I like the idea that i am making a difference, though often this happens in ways I dont expect.

One day carl came to me and said "guess what, i made four fires this week".
"cool man, good job"
Carl had been in the desert for six weeks. Till that day, he had yet to finish any of his phases. The first time i met carl, he had become enraged because he could not start his cooking fire on solo campout. He hurled his fire equipment into a ravine and screamed loudly enough that Lynx ran to his campsite, fearing he was attacking someone. Carls first fires meant that, finaly, he was making progress twards graduating from the program.

"anyway," said carl "I wanted to say thank you."
"for what man? I suck at fires."
"I know. I suck at fires too. The whole time i have been here I never got any. I would get frustrated and quit. But then you showed up and i watched you try and try to get fires and never get any."

"You really sucked at making fires. But you never got mad. You just kept trying. And I was like 'if that guy can get a fire, andbody can'."

"uhh... thats great man, no problem".

It all comes around.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I love being in strange places, and Enterprise, Utah is deffinately one of stranger places i have stayed, in both senses. I have spent the last few days eploring this tiny metropolis in the desert, and by far the greatest thing about this town, or any town for that matter, is a barrel located in the general store/ gas station/ game room. From this barrel you can choose and purchase USED lassos. This town is AWSOME!
Unfortunately outside of the used lasso bucket there isn't much going on here. In the yard of every house there is either a shed full of dirt bikes, a corral with at least one pony in in it, or in the affluent part of town, both. From this I derrive that the major enterprise in Enterprise may be racing across the desert, probably to a town where something is acctualy going on.
The people are very friendly here. As I walked to the library today a pickup truck full of high school kids pulled up along side me. The kids inside were hooting and hollering. They poured out of the truck at me, four or five big farm kids all whooping up a storm. I was just about to break the biggest ones nose when he stuck out his hand and introduced himself.
They had never seen me in town, and since i was walking by myself, the figured i had to be new. So they stopped to... walk me to the library so i wouldn't be lonely. This gave me the creeps for some reason. A good old fasioned red neck brawl i was prepaired for. This degree of civility felt just plain wrong. Say what you will about country folk and mormons, but the citizens of Enterprise are some of the friendliest and least pretentious people i have ever met. I still get the willies thinking about that truck tho.
I would offer to post more about enterprise, but there is little more to say. There is a church, a hardwear store, a food store, and a resturant. The public library is so small they dont even have A book about the myths of the constelations. They were very appologetic about it, and offered me the new harry potter, which i promptly accepted.
I cant wait to get paid so i can get an apartment in a town where it takes more than five minutes to walk from one end of the paved sidewalk to the other. Still, enterprise is a nice place. There is just nothing to do. Unless you like racing ponies. Or dirt bikes.