Sunday, August 31, 2008

Barack Obama on science.

The Scientists and Engineers for America, an organization I proudly support, has created a list of critical questions on science which have been posed to all candidates   running for federal office. The congressional candidates are asked 7 questions on Innovation, Climate Change, Energy, Education, Water, Research, and Health. Via the SEA web site you can search for the responses from your local candidates. Find your candidates here. The site also provides a side by side comparison of your candidates responses.

Innovation 2008

Find your candidates,
ask where they stand.

Brought to you by Scientists & Engineers for America

Surprisingly three of the four candidates from my district in Idaho have answered the questionnaire.

Senate:
Larry LaRocco (Candidate D-ID)
James Risch (Candidate R-ID)

House:
Deborah Holmes (Candidate D-ID-2)

For the presidential candidates there are 14 questions on Innovation, Climate Change, Energy, Education, National Security, Pandemics and Biosecurity, Genetics Research, Stem Cells, Ocean Health, Water, Space, Scientific Integrity, Research, and Health. Last week Barack Obama submitted his answers so that you can read them.  John McCain has not yet submitted his responses.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

The curse of the 4 day vacation

This has been a difficult year for 4 day vacations. Last month our Magruder Corridor mountain tandem tour was cut short due to a mechanical problem with our trailer.  Earlier this month, our 4 day trip to Maine was shortened to 2.5 days. This weekend, our planned 4 days in the mountains was canceled as Karyn has a significant case of what appears to be the flu. Thus, I am declaring that there will be no more 4 day vacations for this household. I guess I just have to take an extra day to make it 5!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

First week of school!

I survived my first week of school. It was an exciting time, full of new experiences, old memories, a few surprises, and some great learning.

As I mentioned in my previous message regarding the first day of class, my technical communications course is uneventful for this first week. I submitted my assignment early and am now waiting to hear back on the score.  I have the second week's assignment complete, but will not submit it until I receive my results from the first assignment.

The main excitement for the week was my biology lecture and lab on Tuesday night. I went to campus early as I was excited to get started. I also wanted to time myself for riding my bike to campus, locking it up in the bike barn and then walking to class. The result is a 10-15 minute bike ride then a 5 minute walk to class.  I passed through the student union building to see about food options. I had brought my own sandwich to eat before class, but I won't always have one. When I finally arrived at the lecture building I realized that there was a coffee shop, sandwich shop, and cafeteria in that building as well. Wow, things have changed since my original school days. Granted that Boise State University is over 10 times the size of my alma mater Willamette University. I would later find a sandwich shop in the science building as well!

As I entered the lecture room for class, I could tell I was hanging out with a bunch of science geeks.  There were 40 people in the room before anyone actually spoke to anyone else. I resemble that remark! I liked the professor and the class.  The professor was very animated and engaging. He not only presented the material from the textbook, but also applied personal experiences and perspectives on the content.  He made his expectations for the class very clear. One surprise is that our quizzes will cover chapters from the text which were covered in the previous lecture and the chapter that has not yet been covered in class. I haven't experienced this approach before.  It clearly sets the expectation that you should keep up to date on your reading.  Not to worry, I am already 6 chapters ahead, but can I stay that way. This first lecture focused on the study of biology, the definition of life, and the philosophy behind the scientific method. Interesting topics since there has been quite a lot of debate recently about the definition of life. Virus' have always been a topic of discussion as they are considered not technically alive from a biology perspective. With the recent discovery of a virus that attacks other viruses, this becomes even more contentious.  The textbook is clear that the cell is the building block of all life, our professor is not so sure.

After the lecture I proceeded over to the lab class. The graduate student teaching the lab is studying raptor biology, he indicated that we could talk raptors any time we wanted. The lab was fast moving, covering 4 different topics today and setting up our semester long experiment into population and resources.  My lab team is a diverse group with a junior chemistry major, a student returning to classes after a few years off, and a non-traditional student like me.  It should be interesting.

I had an interesting experience on my way home. After the lab I rushed over to the bike barn to get my bike, minutes before they close.  Hopefully that 10pm closing isn't a problem for me this semester.  My lab gets out at 9:50pm. Anyway, I was riding home through the park.  This path is narrow and twisty with posts, curbs, and sections of dirt here and there. I have a light on the bike, but it gives a sense of tunnel vision restricting my ability to see beyond what is right in front of me. I didn't know the path well enough to predict which turns were coming.  Of course, I was traveling a little faster than I should have been! No crash, but a close call here and there. I will have to be a bit more careful next week.

On Wednesday night I spent way too much time writing up my pre and post lab assignments for lab 1 and the pre lab assignment for next week.  I will have to get more efficient.  I am confident that I put more effort into mine than anyone else in the class. Definitely more effort than I would have put into it when I was first in school.

Thursday's biology lecture covered the chemical building blocks of life. This was mostly a refresher for me as I had a year of chemistry in college. Next Tuesday we have our first quiz. I actually plan to study for it.  The professor is also giving us 50 extra credit points for participating in a scientific survey twice this semester.  That's just over 5% of our grade.  I will of course be participating in that.

In another sign that the world has changed, each professor and each syllabus has clearly stated the expectation regarding academic conduct. Sometime more than once. I don't know if this is because cheating has become a bigger problem or if they are just more sensitive to it. I don't remember this being emphasized or being an issue when I was in school.  Maybe its just my memory fading.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

First day of class!

The first day of classes is finally here! Today is my first official day back in school pursuing training for my Encore Career in Biology/Ecology. I have been waiting for 6 months for this day to arrive.

It seems to me that I have been blogging a lot about this topic, but I cannot help myself. This is the most significant career step I have taken in the last 20 years and I cannot wait to get started. I haven't given up my previous career just yet, but it feels liberating to be working on a new path.

I made the decision nearly six months ago to finally take the leap back into school.  I had thought about it for a while, but the time had come to make it happen. With my interest in birds and wildlife, Biology was the natural focus. I chose Boise State University due to its proximity to my house.  I can walk or ride my bike! They appear to have a fairly strong program, especially in Ornithology. The acceptance process was quite easy as they have no testing requirements for seeking a second bachelors degree. I am officially enrolled in a degree program for a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology.  I will need 52 credit to graduate.

Since I have no official Biology background, the first year will involve getting some of the key requirements out of the way.  The foundation of my first semester is General Biology 191 and Lab. I am also completing the communications requirement by enrolling in ENGL 202 Technical Communication.

The first official day of school is a bit anti-climactic. I won't actually travel to campus. My Biology class doesn't meet until Tuesday. My communications course is a web course so there are no classes to attend. In fact over the weekend I completed the assignments for the first two weeks of the communications class. It doesn't hurt to be ahead of the game.  Tomorrow is the first big day with my Biology Lecture followed by the Biology Lab.

I traveled to campus last week to reserve a spot and a locker in the bike barn (indoor locked bike storage, way cool!). While filling out the paperwork the lady repeatedly referred to me as a faculty member.  I had told her twice that I was a student. Probably won't be the last time. I appear to be older than my advisor as well. I do expect other non-traditional students in my Biology class as it was the only evening section.  I will soon find out.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gotta Love Blue

As I get ready for the beginning of school next week I am still thinking about what my emphasis will be. I am enrolled in a Bachelor's degree program at Boise State in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology, but I must still choose a taxonomy focus of my ecology work. The choices include Entomology, Ornithology, Vertebrate Natural History, Mammalogy, or Aquatic Entomology.  I might take more than one.  The likely choices include Ornithology (birds) or Mammalogy, although my recent fascination with parasites could influence this.

ResearchBlogging.org

I have started to monitor the new research coming out in these areas looking for interesting papers. This will help me understand what the research is like and what I might be most interested in. This has been aided by the fact that I now have online access to a very large selection of scientific journals through the university library.  One of the many perks of being a student, free bus passes being another!

I have found a few papers on interesting topics, but some have been way over my head. One interesting Ornithology paper I found in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology is titled Maternal investment in eggs is affected by male feet colour and breeding conditions in the blue-footed booby, Sula nebouxii.

Dentressangle, F., Boeck, L., Torres, R. (2008). Maternal investment in eggs is affected by male feet colour and breeding conditions in the blue-footed booby, Sula nebouxii. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology DOI: 10.1007/s00265-008-0620-6

The research builds on previous research regarding a female's ability to manipulate the resource investment in eggs when the health of her mate is in question. Reproduction requires a significant investment in resources.  It was hypothesized that if a female knew that her mate's health was in question, that she might decrease the investment in subsequent egg production. In blue-footed boobies the male helps to feed the chicks.  If the male were not to survive, or his health was declining due to lack of food, then the chicks survival would be in question. Decreasing resource commitment to a second egg could increase the survival rate of the first egg.  This seems like a reasonable hypothesis, but does the female observe this and does she have the physiology to control the resource investment in subsequent eggs?

The study tracked many mating pairs of blue-footed boobies in two separate years, one with good breeding conditions and one with poor breed conditions. They captured males from each of the experimental pairs within 24 hours of the first egg being laid and painted their feet to decrease the brightness (11.18% decrease in maximum reflectance and 46.4% decrease in total reflectance). The decrease in brightness was still within the natural color ranges of blue-footed boobies. They also established a control population with no color modification in the male's feet. The study then tracked the egg size, egg density, yolk androstenedione and testosterone and compared the experimental group against the control group.

The results were significant.  Female boobies whose mates had duller colored feet decreased egg size, decreased egg volume, and delayed the laying of the second egg as compared to the control group.  The androgens and testosterone were not statistically affected (although breeding conditions year to year did have a significant effect).

All three factors are believed to affect the survivability of the chicks. Smaller, low density eggs have a lower chance of hatching. The smaller size and the delay in the second egg will make any chicks that do hatch less competitive with the first chick from the brood, giving the first chick an advantage and the second a disadvantage. This likely increases the chance that in poor conditions that at least one chick (the first) will survive.

I found this a very interesting study which opens the door for even further research - does this truly increase survivability of the first chick (evolution would indicate that it is highly likely), which other environmental factors have an effect, how common is this among other species of birds, etc.

Maybe Ornithology should be my focus. I'll have to find a Mammalogy paper to balance this out...

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Visiting the Mainers

Last year our close friends John and Bonnie moved from Idaho to Maine. John has family in the area and found a good job which instigated their abandoning of Idaho. We have missed them over the year so we decided to head out for a visit.

The trip was originally planned for four full days in Maine, but was shortened to two and a half days. Still it was a great time. It was Karyn and I's first time to visit "the Pine Tree State".

After a full day traveling on "Screw 'U' Airlines", we arrived just after work on Friday. Bonnie took us on a quick walk along the Portland waterfront to work off some of the jetlag. Sailboats in the harbor, lots of birds I didn't recognize, the cool salt air, it was beautiful. Our first evening was spent with a home cooked meal catching up with our friends.

The next morning we headed out for some sea kayaking in Casco Bay with Maine Island Kayak Company. The weather varied between partly foggy and mostly foggy, but good enough for a great time. We first caught the ferry across to Peaks Island. Here we met up with our guides, received our safety briefing, and headed out on the water. Karyn is in the white boat, Bonnie in the orange, and Johnny closest in.

We headed South around the tip of Peaks Island before crossing the channel to Cushing Island. It was a little foggy crossing the channel so we had to stay close together to decrease the chance of being hit by a boat or ship. No problems. When we reached the outside of Cushing Island the water and wind started to make it a bit more difficult. We chose to retreat back to the inner islands. We circled around House Island (not pictured on the map) where one of the old forts in the bay is located. We then crossed over to Little Diamond Island and circled it. In all it was about a three to three and a half hour paddle. There were tons of birds and beautiful sights. The fog moving in and out added to the experience. The red line on the map highlights our route.

Here is a picture of the fort on House Island.

The kind folks at Cycle Mania, whom we have never met, loaned us a tandem bicycle for the weekend. We planned a quick ride in the afternoon, but the "Severe Thunderstorm Warning" changed our plans. That night we traveled over to Johnny's brother's house for wood fired pizza. I had been hearing about this homemade pizza oven for more than a year. Tony had built a brick pizza oven in his back yard and apparently gets lots of practice. He fired it up at 1 pm, so it was fully ready when we arrived at 7. We made our own pizzas, handed it to Tony, and he expertly cooked it. The crust was perfect! I once read that the Esposito's (John and Tony's relatives?)invented pizza in Naples in the 1800's. I believe it after eating Pizza out of Tony's homemade oven. Johnny's parents came over as well making it a family affair.

The next day greeted us with beautiful sunshine. John and Bonnie led us on a 50 mile bike ride. The borrowed tandem worked great. We left their house, headed through the Portland waterfront and South to Black Point, then back around Cape Elizabeth to Portland Head (lighthouse photo above). We stopped for bunch on our way back through Portland. It was a beautiful ride, perfect temperature, crystal clear air, it couldn;t be better.

To finish the weekend we had dinner at Cinque Terre an Italian restaurant rated by Epicurious as one of the top 10 farm-to-table restaurants in the USA. It was spectacular. We spoiled ourselves by ordering the 6 course Chef's Tasting Menu. I highly recommend it. What a way to finish the weekend. Early Monday morning Karyn and I flew back to Boise.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Save Our Seas

Thanks to The Other 95% Blog for this lead. Click the poster to enlarge and read the fine print.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

More Decreases In US Driving

Reuters is reporting that Americans have scaled back their driving for the 8th straight month. The miles traveled in June are estimated to be 12.2 BILLION miles fewer than the same month a year earlier or a nearly 5% reduction of total miles traveled.  This has essentially "erased 5 years of growth".

In Idaho the drop appears to be in line as the State's fiscal year 2008 fuel tax revenue dropped around 2.4%. The month by month numbers probably look more dramatic.

I have a few observations here. First is that the market system works. Higher prices do decrease demand.  This is one reason I have always supported a fuel tax to fund more effective and less polluting forms of transportation.  Even with prices at their current levels, I still believe a fuel tax increase is warranted.

Second, I have been hearing for years that a reduction like this is not possible. People say, I can't decrease due to to where I live, where I work, etc. The high prices have shown that there are significant although sometimes painful trade offs available. This reduction is actually closing in on Kyoto targets.

Third, I hope that these higher prices will start causing significant lifestyle changes and not just temporary ones. I hear some people talking as if these prices are just temporary. Significant shifts that would cause other positive effects would be decreased demand to live in the suburbs, increase housing density, increased interest in public transportation, carpooling, bike commuting, more efficient cars, etc.   Higher housing density is more efficient in natural resource consumption, increases the ROI on public transit, decreases capital investment required for bigger and bigger roads, etc.  Of course, it would have been 10 times easier to build transit infrastructure during the good times than it will be when everyone's finances are pinched, but that would have required some leadership from our state government which has been significantly lacking for years.

Here's to another 5% reduction in the next year!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Way to Go Kristin!!!

Gold medal in the Olympic Cycling Individual Time Trial for Idaho's own Kristin Armstrong!!! What an outstanding performance!!! Congratulations Kristin!!!

This is a tremendous accomplishment for Kristin, but should also have very positive benefit on Idaho. This excellent result, combined with the nationally recognized junior cycling development program (the BYRDS), our nationally recognized race calendar (Twilight Criterium & BYRDS Stage Race) , and the soon to be completed velodrome and cycling park can help make Idaho one of the cycling centers of the country. Greater cycling awareness should also make cycle commuting safer as well.

More local perspective from the Idaho Statesman, the Idaho Business Review, Red State Rebels, and indirectly from KTVB.

Update 8/14/2008: Boise celebration with Kristin on Saturday August 16.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Crimes Against The Environment (and Ultimately Humanity)

I was speechless a hour ago as I sat listening to the evening news. President Bush plans to destroy the foundation of the Endangered Species Act by removing independent scientific review!  As if destroying our economy, our reputation in the world, our trust of the position of the president, the country of Iraq and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians wasn't enough for his presidential legacy.

Yes, I immediately contacted all of my congressmen. With their dismal environmental record, I am not optimistic. Remember it was our ex-governor who made the announcement today - Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back to School

Its down to two weeks before I head back to college to pursue my encore career in Biology/Ecology. I liked the way one of my blog friends over at The Other 95% blog put it in a recent comment on my blog.  One of the blog authors is a "recovering computer scientist turned marine biologist".  Except for the marine portion, its a pretty good fit.

The timing couldn't be better (well maybe I should have started a few years back!). Rumors, rumors, and more rumors indicate the possibility of significant layoffs at my current job.  It's comforting to know that I have a very good plan B and need not concern myself about the layoffs.

In getting ready for school I have purchased my textbooks, have my student ID, bought some supplies, and have even started working through the material.  The biology is fascinating. I have worked through 6 chapters so far. The first two to three chapters were mainly review for me, but chapters 4-6 dove in deep - cell structure, membranes, and energy/metabolism. All of the concepts are coming very easy for me, but I continue to be concerned about memorizing all of the terms. Overall, my confidence has increased with the work. The cell is a remarkably complex foundation for life. It seems very specific in its needs, yet puts up with everything we throw at it. Very cool.

One of the blogs I monitor, Webware, had a post highlighting the most important web applications for students. I have already been using some of them such as Google Docs, Calendar, and gmail. After the Webware post I signed up for Remember The Milk, Facebook, Courses 2.0, and Study Groups. Wow, I should be set for almost anything now!

Its amazing how different this school experience will be than my original take now over 20 years ago. The web is used for everything. One of my classes is delivered over the web. I registered for classes and paid my tuition over the web. I discovered I have access to all of the science journals in the library over the web.  Working for a high tech company I was thinking I might be taking a back step with regards to technology, but the university appears to be miles ahead.

On completely different notes, I have some Olympic related storied.  Ok, only partially related.

First is the Olympic edition of the I and the Bird #80 blog carnival including submitted bird and bird related stories from around the world. BTW, a newer version of I and the Bird #81 blog carnival is now available as well (not Olympic themed).

The second is some blog coverage at the Not Exactly Rocket Science blog regarding the inclination of referees in tae kwon do matches to award more points to the competitors wearing red. It appears there might be judging controversy before the matches even start.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Luck, Unluck, and Unload

Not necessarily in that order!

For years I have been toying with the idea of a mountain bike tour across the Magruder Corridor/South Nez Perce Trail through central Idaho. This trail originally used by the Nez Perce Native Americans is now a corridor which travels rough terrain between two wilderness area.  The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness on the South (largest wilderness area in the United States outside of Alaska), and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness on the North. We almost tried it about 5 years ago as a 4 day one way supported trip, but that fell through.  This year, looking for an adventure tour, Karyn and I decided to try it solo on our mountain tandem. (click on photo to enlarge).

We have been planning this for months. We originally planned to take the tour last weekend, but the road was still closed due to snow. Delaying a week caused our excitement to grow.

Leaving after work, we drove most of the way to the start of the tour.  We camped that evening next to the South Fork of the Clearwater River. Just before dark a few dozen bats started flying overhead. We were mesmerized watching their acrobatic flying.

The cycling trip would take us from Red River Idaho over many passes to the Selway river, about 60 miles each way. Two days over and two days back. Each day would include over 3000 feet of climbing with the third day reading in about 6500 feet.  It will clearly be a difficult trek.

With no services available we had to pack all of our gear and food for 4 days of tough riding. The BoB Trailer is rated at 70lbs and we weighed in just below this threshold. Good thing the trailer would get lighter each day. We suffered through all of the pre-tour stress - did we bring everything, did we bring enough food, were we tough enough to complete the route, etc. It was a relief to get underway, committing ourselves to the journey.

The first day would take us from Red River Ranger Station to Poet Creek campground. Twenty five miles and 3800 feet of climbing. We expect this day to be the third hardest of the four day trip. We decided to take it easy on the climb, especially on day one! The first eight mile climb was fairly gentle compared to our expectations. We climbed through fairly dense forest by Idaho standards.  When lunch time came around we stopped and ate right at the edge of the road. We definitely didn't want to get behind on calories on the first day.

Over the top of the first summit we descended down to a beautiful campground. This would be a great place to stay, but we still have many miles of riding left for the day.

We realize later in the day that the availability of water will be a challenge. As this road tends to hang on high ridges, it was remarkably dry. We arrived at Granite Springs just as our water bottles were empty. We refilled here before the long descent down to Poet Creek.

Arriving after four hours of travel we find a beautiful campsite next to the creek. The day was a bit easier, but took longer than we had expected.

We spent the afternoon refueling and resting for the tough days ahead.  Tomorrow is expected to be the second hardest day.  Thirty five miles with over 6000 feet of climbing! We met some other people in the campground. They of course thought we were crazy. They are probably a good judge of character! We walked around a bit, but all the trails seemed to head up so we stayed close to camp.

The next morning starts with a relentless 3000 foot climb up to Dry Saddle. We crossed Bargamin Creek, then headed up!

We started a few hours earlier today to beat the heat. We had the road to ourselves. Due to our concern over water we decided to over hydrate and refill all of our bottles at every chance we could. We stopped twice on the climb to refill as we passed small streams cascading down the mountain. The road passed in and out of an old burn area. We could hear the sound of woodpeckers echoing through the forest.

About half way up we came across wolf tracks! At least three wolves had gone up the road today. The tracks were so fresh that the dust was still discolored from the disturbance. There were some elk tracks intermixed. Coincidence? We were passing near some of the wildest places in Idaho. Our spirits soared at the knowledge that wild wolves had been here less than a few hours before. Very cool. This is one of the reasons that I have been attracted to this place.

After two and a half hours we reached Dry Saddle, 7920 feet above sea level. 3000 feet above our camp the night before. Wow, that hurt!

This was the point of commitment. Descending down the other side means that we would be no longer able to return to Poet creek today. We were committing ourselves to go forward to the Selway River which would result in a very hard day with an even harder day tomorrow. We were tired already and had only completed half of the climbing for the day. We seriously considered turning back here. After discussing our options, we decided it had to be done. We were going forward!

Since we were still in reasonable moods and the deep rooted misery hadn't set in yet, we had to get the lovin' out of the way. Here is our best self portrait from Dry Saddle.

With that, we launched ourselves down the rough rocky descent into the Sabe drainage and toward the next summit at Sabe Mountain.

About a mile down the other side we hit a rock and immediately knew that something was wrong. The sound from behind was definitely not normal. Had we lost a bag? Blew a tire? No, we had lost the entire trailer! The Bob trailer had broken in half! The tongue of the trailer had broken off. Maybe that is why they now make a beefier off-road version! Our trip had come to an immediate and screeching halt.

We regrouped, cleared the debris from the road, and contemplated our fate. This was not our lucky day. I explored options for fixing the trailer. No good options presented themselves. We could stash the gear, ride to the van, and drive in to retrieve it. That would be a very long day.  We could wait for someone driving out and ask them to take the gear.  How long would that take.  It was already noon and we had not seen a single vehicle headed that direction. We thought about our options as we ate our lunch. An Olive-sided Flycatcher sang out nearby.

In the distance I spied a vehicle headed our way! What luck! We flagged them down and asked where they were headed. They were going out the road past our van to Elk City. We asked if they would take our gear and drop it off next to our vehicle. They agreed. Frantic scurrying occurred as we dug through the bags to pull out the essentials. Food, water pump, minimum first aid supplies, went into our jersey pockets.  The rest was on its way out.

It seemed like a long day of riding so far. We still had 35 miles and over 4000 feet of climbing to make it out back to our van. We started on our way.

Back at Dry Saddle we twisted the chain on the tandem. Dang!  The tools and spare links were stored in our bags currently being hauled out. We were now further crippled, but still rideable. It would take us hours longer to make it out. Making it worse, I broke my multi-tool trying to fix the chain. This was not our lucky day.

We descended off Dry Saddle and back down to Poet Creek where we stopped to filter some water. Can you believe it!  The couple carrying our gear had stopped here for lunch. We retrieved the tools and fixed the bike. Our spirits lifted once again.

Now we only had a full days ride ahead of us. Up the hill we climbed. More wolf tracks in the road! They may have passed near our camp the night before!

We continued the climb. The deep rooted misery presented itself along the way. We finished all of our food, refilled the water bottles again, and slowly peddled on. We suffered from the eight hours on the bike with over 7200 feet of climbing. We hadn't really rested all day. Back ache, neck ache, leg ache, hands, arms, shoulders... It all ached. The van was a welcome sight as we rolled back onto the pavement. Our gear was stacked neatly beside the vehicle.

Was it good luck or bad luck that caused our initial breakdown? What would have been presented by the rest of the trail? Clearly we could have done much worse. It was definitely good luck that the couple drove by at the exact right time to pick up our gear. One of only two vehicles traveling that direction that day. Bad luck that we twisted our chain.  Good luck that the couple had stopped for lunch which allowed us to fix it. Definitely good luck that we made it back out with only deep rooted misery. We will recover from that.

The Magruder Corridor remains a mystery to me. We turned back before reaching the best part. I might give it a second chance some day, but only with a better support strategy. It's rough and unforgiving territory, not to be underestimated. We were humbled by it.

Heed the sign!

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