Wednesday, March 12, 2014

snowpack is holding up...

In Cale's world of rafting the Salmon River and the Middle Fork, much depends on runoff from snowmelt. So rafters spend much of their winter huddled around basin snow reports like this:

Here's the real snowpack report. High water is a spring thing, but summer water on the Idaho rivers often arrives with the July 4th launches. In my memory, the launch closest to July 4 was a big double launch and kicked off summer. You could kind of get away with not wearing a wetsuit. Finally. Prior to that though, as in all of June and May, rafting had to deal with cold high runoff. On undammed rivers like the Middle Fork and the Main, runoff can be an amazing thing. When you see how strong high water is during spring runoff, you start to understand how 20,000 foot peaks can be reduced to sand on a beach. On the map above, the Salmon Basin is looking pretty much average, which should make for a decent rafting season. What stands out for me are all the yellow triangle down in the Sierras. Poor California. It's going to be a tough season down there.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Geology, Guns, and Fly fishing - oh my!

In River and Ranch, Cale and Lane are both accomplished geologists as well as artists with a Barrett 50. They are both part of DOESI, a small piece of Special Operations Forces. Initially, their program was global oversight of rare earth development. After 9/11 their mission changed a bit. As terrorists like Boko Haram popped up, it changed some more, but at the heart of their mission was global oversight of rare earths, mostly in Africa. In real life (aka non-fiction; the stuff you read in the newspapers) the US is on the edge of a crisis with rare earth metals. These are real as I found when I began researching. Turns out that the military and high tech electronics are big consumers of the seventeen rare earth minerals. Idaho and Montana share Lemhi Pass, the state boundary is along the crest of the ridge. This Lemhi Pass area, it turns out, really does have some rare earth history. In fact Lemhi Pass is currently being actively explored for rare earth ores and whether or not the ore body is economically viable. I can't remember what thread led me to discover this bit of reality. But in one of those instances where truth is stranger than fiction, what's really there on the ground along the Idaho Montana border is the real life basis for what unfolds geologically in River and Ranch. The ore body even has a name - "the Last Chance" vein.

Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, and many other writers in the thriller genre always equip their heroes with Glocks. Which must be the industry standard for guns used in SOF. Not really sure if there is a standard. But when I started writing I did know that I wanted Cale and Lane hunting Zho Ming with American made weapons. Nothing "made in China" would do for hunting the group of Zho Ming's baddies. One of my favorite characters in fiction is Dirk Pitt, from the wonderful pen of Clive Cussler. Dirk always has a trusty Colt M1911 semi-auto pistol. I wanted Cale and Lane to use that as well, but it is an old weapon, no longer in use. In yet one more happy coincidence, I stumbled my way across an article discussing how US SpecOps had just made a decision to again start using Colt as their weapon of choice. Real life SpecOps guys are using Colt M45s. If its good enough for real life shooters, it's good enough for my guys! The Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifles that Cale and Lane are so attached to are another American made success story. One need go no further than wikipedia. Yes, a sniper rifle has its own wiki entry. I started there and worked my way backwards into figuring out how to include Ronnie Barrett and his company and its products in River and Ranch. Love the story of his self made success. Love how his American made products are part of our American military.

Fly fishing. Or flyfishing. Lots of variants on that phrase. Even Strunk can't make it clear. There really is a smallmouth bass fishery in the Main Salmon. Westslope cutthroat exist in the Middle Fork and up the side streams of the Main. I happened across Andy Wayment somewhere in my Salmon river fishery research. He really does recommend the fly. So I figured including this real life character in River and Ranch would keep things interesting. Turns out Andy Wayment has written a book. On flyfishing no less. And in one more alignment, in real life he lives in Idaho Falls. Who knows? - maybe just down the street from where Dana has her house? Maybe his appearance in my book will help him sell his books? I guess we'll find out!