Friday, October 28, 2016

Palouse Falls and Hills

Palouse Falls
On the way to the IMTUF 100 we stopped at Washington State University to meet with one of Apryle's committee members and were first exposed to the unique Palouse Hills. Most people would not look twice at this region and pass it off as boring and uninteresting but I found it to be quite fascinating. Although I will always be partial to the mountains and high desert regions, the steppe also intrigues me. My fascination in the region was further heightened because I had been reading a book called Steppes which highlights the Columbia Basin Plateau.

Giving Up Density Experiment
So about five weeks after our first visit, Apryle and I made the trip back to the Palouse hills to perform a series of Giving Up Density (GUD) tests with the captive deer at Washington State University. After our work was finished we were able to further explore our surroundings. Our hotel was situated right on the Washington/Idaho border and right across the highway from the Palouse Trail. Therefore, I decided that the 7.1 mile trail would be a great place to capture the essence of the unique ecosystem. I made the out and back plus a few more for a solid 15 miler in 1:43:00.

Palouse Trail (Moscow to Pullman)
The Palouse trail was developed in 1998 shortly after the Palouse River Railroad shut down operations after 113 years of activity. This was the work of one of my favorite programs - Rails to Trails, which has been responsible for many of my favorite places to run (Similkameen, John Wayne, and Ferry County). 

Palouse River Canyon
The trail parallels Paradise Creek and crosses it 12 times with the aid of wooden bridges. The trail heads are located in Pullman, WA (2535ft) and Moscow, ID (2555ft). Although the trail parallels State Route 270/State Highway 8 and traffic can be seen buzzing by nearly the entire time, the corridor is surrounded by dense riparian vegetation, providing a since of seclusion. Much to my dismay the trail is asphalt and there is only a 180ft elevation difference, but it is still a worthwhile journey.

Apryle & Zach
The Palouse region of southeastern Washington and Central Idaho is major agricultural producer in this country. It experienced a population boom greater than that of the Puget Sound region in the 19th century. This was due in large part to the introduction of Wheat and Legume farming. Today this region remains the most important Lentil growing community in the world. Unfortunately, due to the farming this is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the U.S. with only 1% of the original plants remaining.

Upper Falls @ Palouse
The Loess hills that predominate the area may resemble sand dunes, but their development is far different. Most loess/calcrete dunes are formed by moving currents but the alternating layers of loess/calcrete that make up the Palouse loess hills originated from air fall of wind-silt from suspension. This stark and unique landscape is in the heart of the Columbia Basin Steppe.

The second adventure of the weekend was a side trip to the iconic Palouse Falls State Park. This 105-acre park features a 198 foot waterfall and about 3 miles of unofficial trail (though plans are in the works for trail creation). The main falls are located about 4 miles upstream from the rivers confluence with the Snake River. The upper falls are less dramatic and located about 400 meters northwest. The 377 foot canyon surrounding the falls exposes a cross section of the Columbia River Basalt group (which is basically a large accumulation of igneous rock).

Palouse Falls Trails
The surrounding area is channeled scablands created by the Missoula floods that were a periodic occurrence about 1,800,000 to 12,000 years ago. Originally the Palouse flowed through the Washtucna Coulee (currently dry) to the Columbia River, but the floods ultimately diverted it to the Snake. The formation of this area is very similar to that of Sun Lakes Dry Falls SP and Steam Boat Rock SP, with features including: coulees, potholes, pinnacles, buttes and kolks.

Apryle & Palouse Falls
Ultimately, I believe I am most intrigued by Eastern and Southeastern Washington because it is the exact opposite of the traditional picture of the Evergreen State. Though given its formation, geographic location, and weather patterns, it is not surprising that the landscapes of this state are so polarized. Although, I love exploring Mount Rainier, the North Cascades and the Salmo-Priest Wilderness; I highly recommend taking a moment to also explore the less glamorized scablands and steppe.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Peru Part 1: Nazca Lines & Acueductos de Cantalloc

Acueductos de Cantalloc
Apryle and I arrived in Peru after a series of flights taking us from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale to Lima. Peru’s capital city was dark and hazy when we touched down. After customs we were herded out into the gauntlet of cab drivers, one of which transported to the bus station. We caught a bus that traveled through the night to the town of Ica and from here we caught a local bus to Nazca. 
Plaza de Armas from Hostel

This bus stopped on several occasions, stretching out the travel time, but also allowing us a chance to observe the villages of the northern reaches of the Atacama Desert. As soon as we arrived in the town of Nazca we were swept up by a man wanting to sell us a flight over the famous lines north of town. Ultimately we accepted the offer and purchased our tickets with Air Majoro.

The Whale
We were given access to a hostel near Plaza de Armas where we could store our things and rest for a while before a shuttle would take us to Aerodromo Maria Reiche. From the small airport we would board a small six-seat plane that would fly us about 2500ft above the lines. The shuttle bus was about an hour behind and the plane was running few hours behind as well, but we were not concerned about the time, just excited to see one of archaeology’s greatest enigmas. We were told not to eat for a few hours prior to the flight, and that was sound advice. 

The Humming Bird
Although we had a tremendous pilot and informative guide; the banked turns and quick sweeping maneuvers caused me to dry-heave several times. I still managed to catch a glimpse of each figure on the tour and am grateful that we had the opportunity to see the impressive work of the Nazca civilization.

The Astronaut

The Nazca Lines are geoglyphs that were created between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500. They encompass an area of over 450 square kilometers and were believed to have had astronomical significance. The lines that we were able to see on our fly-over consisted of the: Whale, Trapezoids, Astronaut, Monkey, Dog, Humming Bird, Spider, Condor, Alcatraz, Parrot, Hands, and Tree. Apryle’s favorite figure was the whale, while I was most impressed with the Humming Bird. The final leg of the flight was an aerial view of the Acueductos de Cantalloc, which were an impressive network of aqueducts not far from the lines.  

Post Flight
After the undulating flight over the Nazca Lines, I took a quick nap in order to sleep off the nausea and dizziness. Our next move was exploring the town and surrounding area. We ran from our hostel through the city streets and across the slowly trickling Rio Tierras Blancas onto Paredones road which led us to the ruins of the same name. Unfortunately we did not have the 10.10 soles to enter, so we ran back to the hostel, got the money and returned. The interpretive ranger at the visitors center was quite knowledgeable and seemed passionate about his job and recommended that we check out some other ruins nearby as well.

If my sources are correct, Paredones is actually an Incan built structure that post-dates the Nazca culture by over a 1000 years. The structure was built as an administrative edifice for the area and it garnered its name because of the meticulously fitted walls. A trail led us around the ruins and offered us a chance to marvel at the stone work and starkness of the surrounding landscape.

After we thoroughly examined Pardedones we ran along Carretera Interoceanica until we reached a sign for Geoglifo El Telar. This sight was more akin to the Nazca Lines and featured a short climb up a ridge that afforded views of the geoglyphs below. After a short stop here (an anticlimactic sight after flying 2500ft above the Nazca Lines) we made our way northward toward the Acueductos de Cantalloc. This was the spectacular network that we observed from above a few hours earlier.

Acueductos de Cantalloc
The aqueducts were impressive, created by the Nazca over 1500 years ago, and they still remain functional today. The stone work is unmatched, with no use of mortar these wells have stood the test of time. Apryle and I wandered down into the depths of some of them and were enamored with their precision and intricacy. As an avid stone wall builder, I was thoroughly impressed and enjoyed this destination the most of our Nazca adventure.

Acueductos de Cantalloc
Stringing all of these places together was a challenge at times, though they were all pretty close, we were always concerned about the stray dogs and reckless drivers. Running through the town was interesting, many of the buildings were crumbling or unfinished, dogs roaming the streets outnumbered the people and appeared to loosely belong to certain families. 

Acueductos de Cantalloc

Many of the roads were dirt and lined with trash and feces, and it is no wonder that the water is undrinkable after observing the conditions of the river. There were sections where cars were driving through, people were washing their clothes and dogs were splashing about. Additionally trash was continuously lining the banks threatening the water quality.

Geoglifo El Telar

Many of the destinations were on small roads with inconspicuous signage and required vigilant navigation. Geoglifo El Telar was only a few kilometers from Paredones, but required navigation through a densely populated neighborhood. Then from Telar, the Aqueducts were not far but after being chased by a vicious dog we were forced to cut through a small dirt path through a field of Prickly Pear Cacti. 

Acueductos de Cantalloc

We finally made our way toward the entrance, but it was directly across from a long driveway guarded by several dogs that came out to inspect us. I guess we were able to pass through, but on our way back from the Aqueducts we were chased by another pack of dogs. In this case a few Peruvian men were laughing and prompted us to think the dogs were not that dangerous.

Prickly Pear Cacti Field

After a dry, hot, dusty day navigating around Nazca, we made our way back to our hostel and relaxed for a few minutes before heading back out to explore the town markets. We also made the decision to purchase our bus tickets to Cusco, which would allow us to reach our next destination and have a place to sleep since it was an overnight ride. 

Apryle in the Market
Prior to leaving town, we had dinner at Restaurante Los Angeles and were fortunate enough to be a part of a three person concert. The owner’s son was an avid Rolling Stone, REM, Guns N Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pink Floyd fan, so he played guitar while Apryle and I sang the lyrics. After a 10-12 song set list, we reluctantly left for our winding and precarious bus ride to Cusco, ending our one-day Nazca adventure.

3.46 miles Plaza de Armas to Paredones, back to Plaza de Armas and back to Paredones
.40 miles around the Paredones Ruins
1.28 miles from Paredones to Geoglifo El Telar Entrance
2.20 miles from Geoglifo El Telar to Acueductos de Cantalloc
2.28 miles from Acueductos de Cantalloc to Plaza de Armas
10.14 miles and three points of interest without spending a sole on transportation.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Birding in the Western Hemisphere

Since I was a child I have been interested in wildlife, but not until meeting Apryle was I ever the least bit interested in birding. However, after a summer of Snipe hunting, bird banding at the YMCA of the Rockies, and a move to the birding paradise of Texas I developed an interest. This year after watching The Big Year, my competitiveness further fueled the fire for my new hobby. Though I will never give up running in order to become a serious birder, I now have a new stat to collect each year. Birding has allowed me to better connect with the environment around me and pay closer attention to detail. I have collected several bird species over the last few years, below I have a pictorial list of birds ranging from Peru, Oregon, Ohio, Colorado, Texas, and Washington.   
White Crowned Sparrow in Shoreline, WA
Stellar's Jay at UW, WA

Bullock's Oriole in Nespelem, WA

Pie-Billed Grebe Union Bay, WA

Osprey Union Bay, WA

Anna's Hummingbird Shoreline, WA

Savannah Sparrow Union Bay, WA

House Wren Tiffin, OH

Northern Cardinal Tiffin, OH

Eastern Bluebird Tiffin, OH

Nighthawk Carter Mountain, WA

Eastern Kingbird Sinlahekin, WA

Caspian Tern Sun Lakes Dry Falls, WA

Cedar Waxwing Sinlahekin, WA

Clark's Nutcracker Larch Grove, WA

Western Tanager Sinlahekin, WA

Spruce Grouse Pasayten, WA

Great Blue Heron Sinlahekin, WA

American Dipper Sinlahekin, WA

Common Merganser Snake River, ID

Golden Eagle Similkameen River, WA

Northern Shoveler Union Bay, WA

Puna Ibis Nazca, Peru

Long-Tailed Mockingbird Nazca, Peru

Vermillion Fly-Catcher Nazca, Peru

Vermillion Fly-Catcher Nazca, Peru

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl Ollantaytambo, Peru

Stripe-Faced Wood Quail Machu Picchu, Peru

White-bellied Hummingbird Mach Picchu, Peru

Rufous-Collared Sparrow Machu Picchu, Peru

Ruddy Duck Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

Andean Goose Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

Andean Ibis Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

Giant Hummingbird Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Many-Striped Canastero Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Tit-Like Dacnis Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Inca Tern Lima, Peru

Many-Colored Rush Tyrant Villa Marshes, Peru

Cinnamon Teal Villa Marshes, Peru

Neotropic Cormorant Villa Marshes, Peru

American Oystercatcher Villa Marshes, Peru

Snowy Egrets Villa Marshes, Peru

Great Grebe Villa Marshes, Peru

Black Vulture, Villa Marshes, Peru

Common Moorhen Villa Marshes, Peru

Great Egret Villa Marshes, Peru

Striated Heron Villa Marshes, Peru

Black-Cowned Night Heron Villa Marshes, Peru

Wood Ducks Union Bay, WA

Bufflehead Union Bay, WA

Black-bellied Whistle Duck Brazoria, TX

White Ibis Brazoria, TX

Bald Eagle Olympic Peninsula, WA

Crested Caracara Austin, TX

Scissor-Tailed Fly Catcher Austin, TX

Yellow Warbler Cape Arago, OR

Pigeon Guillemot Cape Falcon, OR

Monk's Parakeet Austin, TX

Red-shouldered Hawk Columbus, TX

Barred Owl Columbus, TX

Greater Roadrunner Austin, TX

Pelicans Port Aransas, TX

Spotted Towhee Horsetooth, CO

Western Meadow Lark Horsetooth, CO

Hairy Woodpecker Larch Grove, WA

White-breasted Nuthatch Larch Grove, WA

Clark's Nutcracker Larch Grove, WA

Common Loon Beaver Lake, WA

Red-tailed Hawk Berea, OH

Great-horned Owl Estes Park, CO

Belted Kingfisher Beth Lake, WA

Mountain Bluebird Estes Park, CO

White-tailed Ptarmigan Chasm Lake, WA

Brown Pelican Port Aransas, TX

Great Blue Heron Port Aransas, TX
Killdeer Nespelem, WA

Western Kingbird Nespelem, WA

Lazuli Bunting Sinlahekin, WA

Carolina Wren San Bernard, TX
California Quail Tonasket, WA
Mallards Arboretum Seattle, WA

Turkey Vulture Guadalupe, TX

Bird Common Name Location Day/Month Year
American Crow 826 House Yard N/A 2000
Blue Jay 826 House Yard N/A 2000
Northern Cardinal 826 House Yard N/A 2000
American Robin 826 House Yard N/A 2000
Red-Winged Blackbird 826 House Yard N/A 2000
Bald Eagle 151 & Forrest NP N/A 2000
Kestril 151 Wires N/A 2000
Red-Tailed Hawk Fields near 151 N/A 2000
Barred Owl Rocky River Reservation N/A 2000
Turkey Vulture Roadside 16/151 N/A 2000
Mallard Duck St Francis Avenue Creek N/A 2000
Canada Goose Flying over 826 House N/A 2000
Ring-Neck Pheasant Crawford County N/A 2000
Killdeer 151 S Walking Dogs N/A 2000
Great Blue Heron Van Meter Creek Eden Township N/A 2000
House Sparrow 826 House Yard N/A 2000
Mourning Dove 826 House Yard N/A 2000
Ruby Throated Hummingbird 826 House Yard N/A 2000
Mute Swan Maumee Bay SP N/A 2000
House Finch 826 House Yard N/A 2000
American Goldfinch Indian Trail Campground N/A 2000
Chipping Sparrow 826 House Yard N/A 2000
Field Sparrow 826 House Yard N/A 2000
American Tree Sparrow 826 House Yard N/A 2000
Raven Beaver Meadows VC RMNP January 2013
Black-Billed Magpie Beaver Meadows VC RMNP January 2013
Pine Siskin YMCA of the Rockys Bird Banding June 2013
Western Meadowlark Horse Tooth Ridge Fort Collins April 2014
Clark's Nutcracker Turquoise Lake Leadville August 2013
Ruffed Grouse Black Canyon Trail RMNP July 2013
White-Tailed Ptarmigan Chasm Lake Trail RMNP May 2013
Northern Goshawk RMNP June 2013
Osprey Moraine Park RMNP June 2013
Wilson's Snipe Moraine Park RMNP June 2013
Belted Kingfisher Moraine Park RMNP June 2013
Stellar's Jay Endo Valley RMNP June 2013
Great Horned Owl Estes Park Library July 2013
Mountain Bluebird Near Greenhouse RMNP June 2013
Northern Flicker Moraine Park RMNP June 2013
Spotted Towhee Horse Tooth Ridge Fort Collins April 2014
Common Nighthawk RMNP April 2013
Evening Grossbeak YMCA of the Rockys Bird Banding June 2013
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet Gray's Peak Climb June 2013
Broad-Tailed Hummingbird RMNP Apartments July 2013
Pygmy Owl Aspen Grove near Mary's Lake July 2013
Snow Goose Flying over Ephrata, PA November 2014
Sandhill Crane UCF Campus Track Spring Break February 2010
Muscovy Duck Coastal Carolina University SC March 2012
Ring-Billed Gull Myrtle Beach, SC March 2012
Laughing Gull Myrtle Beach, SC March 2012
Crested Caracara McKinney Parkway Austin, TX September 2013
Golden Eagle McKinney Parkway Austin, TX September 2013
Peregrine Falcon Montezuma Rd Columbus, TX August 2015
Scissor-Tail Flycatcher McKinney Parkway Austin, TX September 2013
Barn Swallow Port Aransas May 2014
Cave Swallow Guadalupe NP, TX July 2015
Mexican Jay Chisos Mountains Big Bend, TX November 2013
Black Vulture McKinney Parkway Austin, TX September 2013
Roseate Spoonbill Paddling in Port Aransas, TX May 2014
American Oystercatcher Padre Island National Seashore, TX October 2013
Greater Roadrunner USA Austin, TX August 2013
Brown Pelican Port Aransas, TX May 2013
Western Scrub Jay Lady Bird Wildflower Center Austin,TX N/A 2014
White-Winged Dove Trelawney Lane House Austin,TX N/A 2014
White Ibis Brazoria NWR July 2015
Yellow Bellied Flycatcher Padre Island National Seashore, TX October 2013
Black Bellied Whistle Duck Brazoria NWR July 2015
Great-Tailed Grackle HEB Parking Lot Austin, TX August 2013
American Grackle HEB Parking Lot Austin, TX August 2013
Royal Tern Brazoria NWR July 2015
Carolina Wren San Bernard NWR July 2015
Great Egret McKinney Falls SP February 2014
Monk's Parakeet Redrick Drive House Austin,TX November 2013
Red Shouldered Hawk Columbus, TX August 2015
Bufflehead Union Bay Seattle, WA January 2016
Wood Duck Union Bay Seattle, WA January 2016
Double Crested Cormorant Union Bay Seattle, WA January 2016
Mew Gull Richmond Beach WA April 2016
California Quail Nespelem Bunkhouse WA May 13th 2016
Rock Pigeon Richmond Beach WA April 2016
Downy Woodpecker Whitmore Lookout Nespelem May 2016
Black Capped Chickadee Sky Nursery Shoreline, WA April 2016
Brewer's Blackbird Neseplem Bunkhouse May 2016
Dark-Eyed Junco Sky Nursery Shoreline, WA April 2016
American Coot Sun Lakes Dry Falls SP May 14th 2016
Western Kingbird Neseplem Bunkhouse May 13th 2016
Eastern Kingbird Neseplem Bunkhouse May 13th 2016
Bullock's Oriole Neseplem Bunkhouse May 13th 2016
White-Crowned Sparrow Sky Nursery Shoreline, WA April 2016
Song Sparrow Edmonds Marsh WA April 2016
European Starling Edmonds Marsh WA April 2016
Anna's Hummingbird Sky Nursery Shoreline, WA April 2016
Spotted Sandpiper Edmonds Marsh WA April 2016
Caspian Tern Sun Lakes Dry Falls SP May 14th 2016
Glaucous-Winged Gull Edmonds Marsh WA April 2016
Hooded Merganser Union Bay Seattle, WA May 20th 2016
Pie-Billed Grebe Union Bay Seattle, WA May 20th 2016
Cinnamon Teal Union Bay Seattle, WA May 20th 2016
Gadwall Union Bay Seattle, WA May 20th 2016
Savannah Sparrow Union Bay Seattle, WA May 20th 2016
California Gull Cape Falcon Oregon May 26th 2016
Bewick's Wren Cape Falcon Oregon May 26th 2016
Brandt's Cormorant Cape Falcon Oregon May 26th 2016
Pigeon Guillemot Cape Falcon Oregon May 26th 2016
Yellow Warbler Cape Falcon Oregon May 26th 2016
House Wren 826 House Yard May 29th 2016
Pacific Loon Cape Arago Oregon May 27th 2016
Tree Swallow Tiffin, Ohio May 29th 2016
Violet-Green Swallow Cape Falcon Oregon May 26th 2016
Eastern Bluebird 826 House Yard May 29th 2016
Brown-Headed Cowbird Garlo Nature Preserve May 31st 2016
Baltimore Oriole 826 House Yard May 29th 2016
Purple Martin Hedges Boyer Park Tiffin, Ohio June 1st 2016
Mountain Caracara Cordillera Hauyhuash Peru June 2016
Ruddy Duck Cordillera Hauyhuash Peru June 2016
Andean Goose Cordillera Hauyhuash Peru June 2016
Andean Ibis Cordillera Hauyhuash Peru June 2016
Puna Ibis Nazca Peru June 2016
Lessor Goldfinch Ollantaytambo Peru June 2016
Cuzco Brush Finch Machu Picchu Peru June 2016
Ochre-naped Finch Cordillera Hauyhuash Peru June 2016
Fawn-Breasted Tanager Ollantaytambo Peru June 2016
Rufous-Collared Sparrow Ollantaytambo Peru June 2016
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl Ollantaytambo Peru June 2016
Tawny-Crowned Greenlet Ollantaytambo Peru June 2016
Vermillion Flycatcher Nazca Peru June 2016
Stripe-Faced Wood Quail Machu Picchu Peru June 2016
Great Grebe Villa Marshes Lima Peru June 2016
Neotropic Cormorant Villa Marshes Lima Peru June 2016
Snowy Egret Villa Marshes Lima Peru June 2016
Andean Condor Cordillera Blanca Peru June 2016
Common Moorhen Villa Marshes Lima Peru June 2016
Giant Hummingbird The Hoff Peru June 2016
Long-Tailed Hermit Ollantaytambo Peru June 2016
White-Bellied Hummingbird Machu Picchu Peru June 2016
Torrent Duck Cordillera Blanca Peru June 2016
Striated Heron Villa Marshes Lima Peru June 2016
Black-Crowned Night Heron Villa Marshes Lima Peru June 2016
Inca Tern Miraflores Lima Peru June 2016
Long-Tailed Mockingbird Nazca Peru June 2016
Hooded Siskin Ollantaytambo Peru June 2016
Grayish Saltator Cordillera Blanca Peru June 2016
Many-Striped Canastero Cordillera Blanca Peru June 2016
Tit-Like Dacnis Cordillera Blanca Peru June 2016
Many-Colored Rush Tyrant Villa Marshes Lima Peru June 2016
Bright-Rumped Yellow Finch Cordillera Blanca Peru June 2016
Ash-Breasted Sierra Finch Cordillera Blanca Peru June 2016
White -Browned Ground Tyrant Cordillera Blanca Peru June 2016
Plain-Tailed Warbling Finch Ollantaytambo Peru June 2016
Cedar Waxwing Pine Creek Road Tonasket, WA July 4th 2016
Cassin's Finch Tonasket, WA July 5th 2016
Mountain Chickadee Tonasket, WA July 5th 2016
Varied Thrush Salmo-Priest Wilderness WA July 9th 2016
Common Loon Beaver Lake WA August 5th 2016
Western Tanager Fish Lake WA July 16th 2016
White-Breasted Nuthatch Lost Lake WA August 5th 2016
American Dipper Sinlahekin WA September 5th 2016
Common Merganser Salmon River WA September 16th 2016
Yellow-Headed Blackbird Sidley Lake July 2016
Lazuli Bunting Sinlahekin WA July 2016
Western Bluebird Sinlahekin WA July 2016
Spruce Grouse Pasayten Seven Pass Loop WA August 2016
Northern Harrier Sinlahekin WA July 2016
Say's Phoebe McClauglin Canyon WA July 2016
Cooper's Hawk Tonasket Airport Road WA September 2016
Hairy Woodpecker Lost Lake WA August 5th 2016
Northern Shoveler Union Bay Seattle, WA October 8th 2016
Pileated Woodpecker Whistler Canyon Trail October 14th 2016

Yearly Totals
<2000 - 24
2010 - 1
2012 - 3
2013 - 31
2014 - 8
2015 - 7
2016 - 94
Total - 168