We overcome adversity
We almost didn’t make it. We knew weeks ago that a snowy spring meant our cold frame at the 12,500’ Barcroft Lab wouldn’t be accessible. We came anyway, to work on our bristlecone pines twisting project. We brought our new photovoltaic system intending to store it at Crooked Creek until the snow melted.
But, once at Crooked Creek (10,000’ elevation) we learned that we might be able to get up to Barcroft after all! This put us in a tailspin because we had left some important irrigation fittings and parts at home.
To complicate matters, the staff at the White Mountain Research Station didn’t want us to drive to Barcroft in our own vehicles. They thought we would get stuck in the mud, and they were probably right about that.
Dave Stockton kindly put our heavy photovoltaic system in his high clearance four wheel drive truck and delivered it to Barcroft. We hiked the two miles uphill from the locked gate. Our view was stunning, but we certainly felt the 12,500’ elevation!
A big mess greeted us. A storm had ripped the University of California’s solar panels off the Barcroft Lab roof and most of them came down on top of our cold frame in a tangle of panels, rubber, ropes, cables, wires and splintered wood. We had to spend an hour or so clearing it all off. Our cold frame was not damaged.
The winter wheat we planted last September in the left hand chamber was alive and green. The soil was very dry, though. We watered it with melted snow and then heaped some more fresh snow on top of it to melt. Winter wheat is supposed to do well under snow.
Barcroft lacked electricity and running water. We used dirty puddles to water our chambers, but we couldn’t put dirty water into the 70-gallon reservoir. The dirt would clog the plumbing. Instead, we installed our photovoltaic system (guaranteed not to blow down!) and 12-volt pump and filled the reservoir with clean white snow. We set the pump to turn on in one week. We hope that by that time the sun’s rays on the green plastic exterior of our reservoir will melt enough snow for the pump to have something to pump.
We added manure and planted radishes, Swiss chard and peas in the central and right hand chambers. That was really all we could do until we return. Our work done (for now) we hiked back down the mountain.
Marmots were everywhere. One of them gnawed on the battery terminal of the Sicroff’s Honda Pilot, but no harm was done. We also saw “Campito”, the feral horse who lives alone up here.
What we learned:
- Where there’s a will, there’s a way
- Winter wheat can survive the cold season here