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As previously noted, I spent a couple of days last week in the Trans-Pecos, doing some work and visiting friends in Marfa. There are endless amounts of things that I love about that part of the country, but the one that stays with me after I get back east is the wonderful Marfa Public Radio. There’s loads of great programming on the”Radio For A Wide Range,” but for Cold Splinters, we thought we’d point you towards Nature Notes. Here’s some more info:

Why do rattlesnakes rattle and hummingbirds hum?
How do flowers market themselves to pollinators?
Why do tarantulas cross the road?

Nature Notes investigates questions like these about the natural world of the Chihuahuan Desert region every week on Marfa Public Radio. Through interviews with scientists and field recordings, this Marfa Public Radio original series reveals the secrets of desert life.

Listen to a few episodes here (they’re very short), and learn about that handsome javelina, pictured above.

July 10, 2012 | Flora/Fauna | Continue Reading | Comments { 0 }

How Does Moss Work?

If you’ve ever been hiking through the woods and thought, “Ya know, I don’t know much about the moss that’s covering all these trees around me,” then the newest installment of CS favorite, Stuff You Should Know, is going to be your huckleberry. And if you’re normal and have never had those thoughts while out hiking, well, you’ll still find “How Moss Works” pretty darn interesting. Download it for free here.

MP3: Tomas Barfod – November Skies (ft. Nina_Kinert)

June 6, 2012 | Flora/Fauna | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }

California Condor

According to an article in The Oregonian posted a few days ago, the California Condor has reached a new population milestone: More than 400 are alive today, 226 of them wild in California, Arizona and Baja, Mexico, and 179 living in zoos and four breeding centers. The Condor, which is largest bird in North America, was almost extinct just 30 years ago.

A few weeks back, while spending a day hiking up to Tin House in Big Sur, CA, three (!) of these handsome birds flew over us for close to a half hour, soaring back and forth, getting so close that you could hear the flap of their wings. We had just gotten high enough above the redwoods that the coast was in full view, making it nearly impossible to lose sight of the birds in the thick of the woods. I was by myself during the entire thing – I had walked ahead – laying down on the trail, too happy to care that I had left my phone in the car to take pictures.

Thank you Obi for bringing your camera.

MP3: Little Joy – The Next Time Around

May 23, 2012 | Flora/Fauna | Continue Reading | Comments { 2 }

Black and White Sage

As mentioned below, Cold Splinters spent the last week in California with our friends/lovers/teachers/healers, Juniper Ridge, cleaning trail and learning about coastal plants and flowers. Long drives filled with endless discussions of power pop, the manager at a local Chevy’s, and of course, coastal flowers and plants (I bet your grandma never started a sentence with, “If the Salvias were the Beatles, black sage would be…”), made for one of the most enjoyable adventures I’ve had in a long, long time.

Next week is going to be the real recap (see: photos) of said trip, but for now, if you’re going to be out in California camping, make sure you know your Salvia apiana and Salvia mellifera. Because I have truly found very few things in life better than rubbing a piece of black sage between your fingers on a hike to a backcountry sunset.

MP3: The Beat – Rock N Roll Girl

MP3: Brendan Benson – Tiny Spark

May 2, 2012 | Camping, Flora/Fauna | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }



(Thx AAPC. More here.)

October 4, 2011 | Art/Photography, Flora/Fauna | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }

Isle Royale Wolves

NPR did a piece last week about the alarmingly dwindling gray wolf population on Isle Royale which is definitely worth reading. Isle Royale, for those unfamiliar, is a large (200+ sq. miles) island in Michigan, off the northern shore of Lake Superior near Ontario. Isle Royale boasts no roads, flying or floating its visitors in by small bush planes or via ferry. The island also only provides year round home to a very small handful of people. Less people visit Isle Royale National Park in a year than the Smokies get in a day.

Isle Royale sits 15 miles off the shore from Ontario, its location playing an important role in the island’s moose and wolf relationship. This predator-prey relationship has been studied for quite some time, virtually untouched by human interaction. The island’s location allowed moose to swim to the island, it is suspected, sometime around the turn of the 20th century. This distance does not allow other “similar” predators or prey to swim to the island, like deer or coyote. It is thought that wolves then traveled an ice bridge from Canada as soon as 60 years ago, and numbers flourished to near 50+ until recent years. Wolves tend to prey on the weakest of the moose, allowing both species to in turn grow stronger and more vital.

Recently, because of “parovirus, bitter winters, hunger and warfare between packs” the Isle Royale wolf numbers have dwindled to 15, with a suspected one or two reproducing females. If both of these females were to die without raising a healthy litter of pups, this would spell the end of the gray wolf on the island.

Cold Splinters is hoping to make the jaunt to Isle Royale later this summer. Beautiful place.

April 14, 2011 | Flora/Fauna, Public Lands | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }

The Language and Music Of The Wolves

Some of the information that this 1971 Museum Of Natural History record presents are now somewhat inaccurate (*), but there is nothing wrong with hearing Robert Redford talking about wolves in North America while you hear them howl in the background. Download the record below and click the image above for much more info. Side B has no Sundance Kid, just howling. The most perfectly terrifying sound from the “comfort” of your tent. 

MP3: The Language and Music of the Wolves – Side A

MP3: The Language and Music of the Wolves – Side B

April 4, 2011 | Flora/Fauna | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }


When you’re out this spring gettin’ your land legs back, keep an eye out for the Ramp, or Wild Leek (Allium trioccum). These small wild onions have a strong garlicky odor and flavor. You can munch ‘em raw, sauteé them, add ‘em to a pesto, or make a ramp and wild morel quiche. This stinky veggie is getting some serious street cred at many restaurants these days (in the near shadows of the Morel mushroom). Ramps grow best on hillsides, in sandy, moist soil. Try checking close to the banks of small streams or rivers. The leaf of the ramp is broad, tender and bright green in color, fading to purple near the stalk. Before pulling up and chowing down you can verify it as a wild leek by tearing a leaf in half. You’ll know it’s a ramp by the smell. Holy onions. See ya at the Cosby, TN Ramp Festival?

March 16, 2011 | Flora/Fauna, Food | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }

Eating Season

The mid-February thaw here in the Great Lakes and the visit from our ol’ pal sunshine got me breaking out the Peterson Field Guide and brushing up on my local wild edibles. I know I’m jumping the gun a bit (a lotta bit), but seeing grass for the first time in months in bits and patches will tide me over. Cold Splinters toured Prospect Park, NY with “Wildman” Steve Brill (pictured above) a while back, but duck over to his website and get lost. The highlight of his site (aside from his real wealth of knowledge) is his archive of media surrounding his arrest in NYC in 1986 for “eating a dandelion”. Spring!

February 15, 2011 | Flora/Fauna, Food | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }


While Bald Eagles were removed from the endangered list in the U.S. in 1995, and from the threatened list in 2007, it is noted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in a recent report that an alarming number of Bald Eagles are being found dead on roadways here in Michigan. As the winter sets in and lakes and streams freeze over, fewer available fish pressure bald eagles to scavenge roadkill, be it deer, coyote, fox or raccoon. Don’t know if this increase is true the nation over, but wherever you are, be careful out there.

January 20, 2011 | Flora/Fauna | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }