Sunday, August 30, 2009


I'm getting tired of this heat. The promised cool-down didn't a matter of fact, the Inland Valley is hotter than yesterday...again. How do the TV weather-folks keep muffing their 8-hour forecasts? According to my calendar, it's "Summer in the City" with the same ol'-same ol' forecast on an endless tape loop that's supposed to play from June 'till October. I couldn't write yesterday...I attributed that to the heat, and tried to recover at the end of my truncated scrawl with a quip: Poached.

Like any interesting word, "poached" has many uses and meanings. In the kitchen one can poach eggs-bam! Simple on buttered toast...or fancy, say Eggs Florentine or Eggs Benedict.

There's Poached Salmon...a personal favorite when I catch Wild Chinook Salmon, and it's snowing too hard to do the BBQ thing out on the porch. Halibut is good poached too, though I like it grilled mostly...sauteed, breaded and fried, even Picatta style with lemon juice and capers are all good.

I found a recipe once for "Poor Man's Lobster" That's halibut poached in 7-Up. I had lots of halibut in my freezer at the time, so I took the plunge. It tasted somewhat like lobster, but I deemed it a waste of perfectly good halibut flesh.

Halibut done simply, is as good as it gets. Most people overcook fish, not TruckeeDave. I've made many hundreds of pounds of sushi in my kitchens over the personal home kitchens. I've never cooked for pay...I worked for a week or two in a restaurant doing clean-up overnight, before I wised up and became an apprentice carpenter. In the ensuing years, I did make the time to learn how to cook fish properly, though. Take the fish off the grill or out of the pan just before it's will finish cooking on the plate.

Here near the Coast and the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, there's a newspaper story seemingly every week, reporting on the latest band of Sturgeon Poachers, Black Bear Poachers, Deer or Elk Poachers, and worst of all, Abalone Poachers.

It's a "Little United Nations" of poachers, apparently. Russians or Ukrainians seem to do the sturgeon crime, it's the mullet, meth, and camo set poaching the antlered game and bears from their AstroTurf equiped El Caminos, and various Asian Communities overdoing the Mollusks geometrically...usually selling to the restaurant trade.

California has tough laws on poaching to protect our fish and game resources...I guess the Judges who pass sentence on these offenders don't hunt or fish, or care to view wildlife for that matter. California doesn't have Hanging Judges anymore...I don't understand mercy when it's bestowed on those who show no mercy when they're stealing precious fish and wildlife from The People.

Poaching on my Mountain is serious business. There are several flavors of Poachers on Ski Hills.

Snowmobiles. Two basic families here:

Other workers on the Mountain who never saw the fresh pass of corduroy that didn't need roosting with a snowmobile track. I teach the Guys to get over it, and have an annual word with Dept. heads who's employees ride sleds.

Snowmobile Enthusiasts. Local gearhead types who use our Mountain after hours to "see what she'll do" It's impossible for a snowcat with a top speed of 12 MPH to catch a +65 MPH sled...period. We hope they keep it together enough to avoid all the hard, trees, lift towers, etc. I suspect that these Hot Rods all have an alcohol component...not in the tank...just sayin'...

When our lifts are turning, another poacher comes out to play. These poachers hike up the Mountain and ski the upper chairs, where they're less likely to get ticket-checked...that doesn't work anymore. Ticket checkers are worth what the resorts pay them in these days of over-$60 Lift Tickets. These guys annoy the Brass in the Base Lodge...that's bad for all concerned.

Poach 'Till You Die
This last flavor of poacher is the only one that still raises my blood pressure. Poaching a closed area. This means the poacher intentionally cuts under a closure to ski or ride in an area that's in-bounds but closed by the Ski Patrol. Patrol closes in-bounds ski runs because they can't be 100% certain that the slope in question is safe. This only happens during heavy storm periods, when avalanche loading is ongoing.

All known avalanche paths are "controlled" before our guests can ride our lifts. When the weather is coming in hard and fast, or moderately, but with high winds, Patrol will close the most problematic runs so that the lifts can still open "on time" Once all the scheduled lifts are turning, Patrollers will re-assess the closed runs..."ski cutting" them once again, to try and get any potential slides to go in a controlled manner, without endangering our guests or property.

Way back in the early 80's a couple of skiers cut a closure and triggered a slide that buried them both. I later found out that they had asked Patrol about the closed area and were told the Patrol would re-assess and get back to them. Impatience got the best of them, they poached the run, it slid, and one guy paid the ultimate price. I saw the survivor guy admit to their error in lurid detail on the 11 o'clock news, while I was getting ready to go to work that evening.I found one of the victim's skis 25ft up in a lodgepole pine the following summer.

This kind of poaching is like cooking fish in a way...but the poacher gives up the autonomy to "take the fish off the heat just before it's done" Nature decides when things are done. Poachers, you've been warned.

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