Malkolm is cycling on! He is now cycling from Alaska to Washington DC, and then continuing on to the UN Climate Change conference in Cancun in December.
It all started with Bird Year, Malkolm and his parents' year-long, fossil-fuel-free journey in search of birds. Cycling a total of 13,133 miles (21,144 km), they identified 548 different bird species and raised more than $25,000 for bird conservation. Bird Year turned them into confirmed cyclists and taught them that climate change was more serious than they had thought.
In 2009, Malkolm biked from Whitehorse to Ottawa as a part of Pedal for the Planet: the project called for the Canadian Government to become a leader in the struggle to come to grips with climate change. The Harper Government did not even meet with the young cyclists.
Malkolm is now 18 and just finished high school. On August 24, he dipped his foot in the Pacific Ocean in Skagway, Alaska. Then headed up and over the White Pass to the Alaska Highway on his journey to Washington and on to Cancun.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Two Mile High Birding (Wendy)

Sandia Peak is a long mountain ridge to the east side of Albuquerque. In the evening it glows red, like a watermelon. Four “high altitude specialties” can be seen on Sandia Crest. Three of them are Rosy-Finches. These are reliably seen at the Crest House Restaurant bird feeder. This may sound like easy birding.... except that Sandia Crest is a vertical mile above the city. The fourth speciality is Clark’s Nutcracker. This was our last chance to find a Clark’s Nutcracker. We were about to leave its range. Cole Wolf, local teenage bird expert, told us, “If you’re lucky, one or two may fly high above. You almost never get good looks at them”.

Cycling up Sandia Peak was my first experience of exercising at altitude. I gulped for air. My thighs screamed “We need more oxygen!” The sign at Crest House said “Elevation 10,678 ft. “I felt like a hero.

Malkolm ran onto the deck of the restaurant. Within minutes he had identified all 3 species of Rosy Finch: Brown-capped, Gray-crowned, and Black. We walked along a path to the Stone House, built in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Perched on the edge of a precipice, overlooking Albuquerque, it has a wide open door and unglazed windows. It is built of native limestone, the floor and benches worn smooth and shiny. A flat topped buttress on the lee side of the building made a convenient place to cook.

We set up our tent on the edge of the cliff – until the wind picked up. We decided to take down the tent and sleep under the stars. Ken set up our sleeping bags and weighed them down with our loaded panniers.

We ate our supper, the lights of Albuquerque twinkling on the plain below. The wind gusted. Our sleeping bags flew up into the air, and our heavy panniers rolled down the hill –away from the cliff, luckily.

We decided to move into the Stone House to sleep. The wind increased. I didn’t sleep. I listened to the wind. The wind gusted, then died down. Over and over, all night long. During a lull, I’d lie in suspense wondering when it would start again. Then, it built up slowly and roared in through the windows. It swirled around the Stone House like a giant toilet. It snuck into the space between my neck and my bag. Then it flushed out the door, carrying any of our possessions we hadn’t secured adequately. By morning, I was a wreck. How did Ken and Malkolm sleep through that?

In the morning, Cole came up. He politely declined Malt-O-Meal for breakfast. He told us where we could go to look for Clark’s Nutcrackers. As he spoke, he scanned with his binoculars. Suddenly his voice sped up, ”There’s one right there, on top of that tree!.” The bird that never poses posed for us, in the morning sun.


Matthew said...

Alright! The Rosy-finches... I figured you wouldn't leave Albuquerque without an attempt on those guys. Great blog, Wendy.

-matt! Brooks

Patrick Belardo said...

I'm heading to Alb from NJ on Friday. My first stop, barring any flight problems, will be the Sandia Crest. I hope and pray to see all three Rosy-finches!

takhini said...

Testing, Testing, 1 2 3

I've been following your blog as time permits, and would like to congratulate you on your progress so far. What a great project!

Gord Bradshaw

Cole Wolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...

Welcome to Albuquerque! As a 4th and 5th grade teacher, amateur birder and raptor watcher (HawkWatch International), I want to tell you how proud I am of your trip and how impressed I am with your dedication and fortitude. I've been visiting your site with my students for a couple of weeks now. I hope they will be inspired to do something with their free time besides sitting inside all day playing video games and watching movies. Last year a red shafted flicker lighted on the ash tree outside our classroom looking for grubs. I ran to the window to watch, followed by all my students. Judging by their comments after the bird flew off, I was convinced they had no idea that the natural world exists outside of the the wildlife films they sometimes see on TV. Your travels have had the same effect on them. Thanks for making it real for a small group of students in ABQ.