Reproachful roommate; a deceased politician is victorious; helpful hiker

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

 

THE WEST: Be wary of those post-holiday discounts.
Carol Fey

COLORADO
A self-proclaimed “redneck” spelled out exactly what kind of roommate he wanted in a classified ad in the Durango Herald: “No meth heads, no man buns, no BS. Horses OK. No cats. No couples. NO chicken-chasing dogs. Serious background check, no eviction notices, you will be bodily thrown out the door.” And what’s the rent for sharing his 40-year-old-trailer on its own 40 acres, should you qualify? “$600/month plus one-half utilities.” Housing is tight in this southern Colorado college town.

THE WEST
No state has more airports — 282 — than Alaska, and the northernmost one is the Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport in Utqia˙gvik. Once the snow falls, wildlife can’t help wandering onto the runway, and over the years workers have had to shoo away oxen, caribou, a wide variety of birds and the occasional polar bear, reports The Associated Press. But another critter made its first-ever appearance on the runway recently: a bearded seal, which humped its way inland for a mile from the Chukchi Sea. The animal was so docile it didn’t need to be tranquilized, but it was so plump — at 450 pounds — that it took a snow machine and sled to haul it off.

In Montana, meanwhile, the vandals allegedly targeting a Stevensville golf course turned out to be a grizzly bear lusting after earthworms. The bear snapped flag sticks and dug a huge hole on the green over several days. Yet it remained elusive: Golfers played through its visit but never reported glimpsing it. A culvert trap placed by state Fish and Game staffers corralled the 2-and-a-half-year-old male, which weighed close to 250 pounds and sported what one observer called “a massive head.” The bear was released close to the Rattlesnake Wilderness, reports the Missoulian.

NEVADA
Perhaps only in Nevada could Dennis Hof, a Republican candidate for the state Assembly, win election despite being dead for two months. Hof, 72, a proud self-proclaimed pimp, owned every legal house of prostitution in his county, and gained even more notoriety by appearing in the HBO reality series, Cathouse. Hof wielded political heft; when a ballot initiative would have banned his brothels, his opposition to it proved decisive — only 4,000 voted in favor, while 16,000 voted against. Rolling Stone, which said Hof called himself the “Trump of Pahrump,” concluded that “Though pundits have long believed death to be one of the quickest ways to sink a campaign for office, conventional wisdom doesn’t have much of a foothold in southern Nevada.”

Nevada is definitely paradoxical, agrees the Center for Land Use Interpretation, a California think tank. On the one hand, researchers say, Nevada is the most urban state. Close to 95 percent of its 3 million residents live in either the metro areas of Reno or Las Vegas, two cities that take up only 2 percent of the land in the state. That means Nevada has the most people living on the least amount of land, “making it the most urban state and most rural state at the same time.” Nevada is also the most “open” state, given its 85 percent of publicly owned lands. Yet it contains the U.S. military’s largest and most secretive restricted areas: “Go through that gate, pardner, and your freedom is likely to diminish considerably.” Nevada’s relative emptiness is drawing the interest of Southern California businesses, thanks to its “inexpensive land and permissive development atmosphere.”

WASHINGTON
Katharina Groene is alive today only because she met a day hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail, the 2,650-mile trek made famous by Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild. The 34-year-old had been hiking alone since May, and was determined to reach Canada, less than 200 miles away, when she met Nancy Abell, an experienced backpacker from nearby Sultan, Washington. The two women hiked together for two hours, and Abell began to worry. She told the Washington Post that she urged Groene, who lacked snowshoes, to turn back before heavy snow hit the difficult upcoming part of the trail. Groene could not be dissuaded. That week, three feet of snow fell, and Abell, more worried than ever, finally called 911. “I just kept thinking of her being up there alone,” she said. Groene was in deep trouble: Her clothes and tent were wet, her only food was a Pop-Tart, and without snowshoes she floundered in the snow. She recorded farewell messages on her phone to friends and family, “apologizing for dying on the trail,” but rescuers — guided by Abell’s predictions regarding her whereabouts — set out to save her. After 10 abortive tries, a helicopter was able to land and rescue the hypothermic hiker from Munich, Germany. Groene said at a press conference that she had wanted to hike the trail because she “felt like she was losing faith in humanity. My faith in humanity is definitely restored … box checked.”

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected] or tag photos #heardaroundthewest on Instagram.

High Country News Classifieds
  • SEASONAL SAN JUAN RANGERS
    Seeking experienced crew members to patrol Colorado's most iconic mountain wilderness.
  • ENDANGERED SPECIES STAFF SCIENTIST
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a staff scientist to advocate for the conservation of endangered species. General position overview: The position will involve working...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY - ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM
    The Center for Biological Diversity - a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of imperiled plants, animals and wild places - seeks a dynamic...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a Staff Attorney to join our team of attorneys, scientists, campaigners who are working to protect America's public lands...
  • SOUTHWEST CONSERVATION ADVOCATE
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a Southwest Conservation Advocate to join our team of attorneys, scientists and campaigners who are working to protect America's...
  • OCEANS PROGRAM CAMPAIGNER
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks an experienced campaigner for its oceans program. The aim of the position is to campaign for the protection of...
  • CLIMATE LAW INSTITUTE ATTORNEY
    The Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute is looking to add an attorney to its team and will consider applicants at both staff attorney...
  • FULL-TIME CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a full-time Campaign Director in our Climate Law Institute to join our campaign for progressive, urgent government action to...
  • WESTERN WATER PROJECT MANAGER
    National Wildlife Federation is hiring NM-based position focused on riparian corridors, watershed health. Learn more and apply online: https://www.nwf.org/about-us/careers
  • ASSOCIATE PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Associate Program Director Location: New Mexico; flexible in state Position reports to: Senior Program Director Position Closes: March 13, 2020 GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The...
  • DEAN, W. A. FRANKE COLLEGE OF FORESTRY AND CONSERVATION, UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA
    Dean, W. A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, apply http://bit.ly/2548umjobs. AA/EEO/ADA/Veterans Preference Employer
  • GRAPHIC DESIGNER
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a creative and driven graphic design professional to design high quality print and digital collateral. The Graphic Designer will bring...
  • STEWARDSHIP SPECIALIST
    San Isabel Land Protection Trust seeks experienced person to manage its 133 conservation easements in south-central Colorado.
  • CAMPAIGN REPRESENTATIVE
    Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign is hiring an experienced campaigner to lead our work challenging the oil and fracked gas industry on the Gulf...
  • AG LANDS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Oregon Agricultural Trust (OAT) seeks passionate relationship builder experienced in coordinating agricultural conservation easement transactions.
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • FINANCE DIRECTOR
    Mountain Studies Inst (MSI) is hiring 4+ positions: Finance Director; Coms/Engagmnt Mngr; Dev/Engagmnt Dir; Americorps vol
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND ENGAGEMENT MANAGER
    Mountain Studies Inst (MSI) is hiring 4+ positions: Finance Director; Dev/Engagement Dir; Coms/Engagement Mngr; & Americorps volunteer
  • SEASONAL TRAIL CREW LEADERS
    Lead the nation's premier volunteer-based trail crew programs on the spectacular Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. This is a great career-building opportunity for rising professionals....
  • ORGANIZING AND TRAINING COORDINATOR
    Is this your dream job? Are you looking to join a nationally recognized organizing network, live in a spectacular part of the West, and work...