December 30, 2012

Rescued in Oregon - how much you might pay out of pocket

English: An AS-332 Super Puma, of the Hellenic...
Search and rescue helicopter
To pay or not to pay?

That is the question increasingly posed when hikers, or anyone else for that matter, are rescued. Should those rescued pay the cost of their own rescue? It is a sticky question, where a black and white answer is possible, but varying tones of gray seem most reasonable.

Horse rider leaves southern end of Molalla River Rim Trail a muddy mess

Mossy trees in the Molalla River corridor
I am a firm believer that horses, where appropriate, should be allowed to carry people along Oregon’s trails. Not all trails, but many. Exceptions would include fragile areas where horse traffic damages trails and certain times of year, when wet conditions and the weight of a horse can tear up a trail. Unfortunately, I recently witnessed the damage a horse can do to a trail, obviously caused by a negligent rider who either couldn’t read or didn’t care. I’m willing to bet it was the latter.

December 28, 2012

More walks inside the Molalla River corridor

Saturated, mossy trailway in the Molalla River corridor
After having familiarized myself more with the short and abundant trails along the Molalla River corridor, I have come to the conclusion that these trails (and logging roads) resemble what I would describe as “nature trails.” That is not a bad thing, but the experience offered by this trail system is limited – far more restricted than the nearby trails in the Table Rock Wilderness.

December 25, 2012

Zigzagging short climb up Wahkeena Falls Trail in the rain well worth the effort

Wahkeena Creek rumbling and tumbling below the bridge
while water falls plunge above the bridge
After 28 switchbacks (my own unofficial count) up the side of the Columbia Gorge’s steep canyon walls, the top of the Wahkeena Falls Trail is reached. There, it intersects with the Vista Point Trail. This is a bittersweet point of the trail, because it marks the spot where the wonderfully scenic trail ends, but, even at only 1.6 miles, a sense of accomplishment can be had.

December 22, 2012

Molalla River corridor trails' low elevations suitable for winter walking in the woods

Typical Oregon second-growth forest

Low snow elevations and decent weather prompted a hike along the trails of the Molalla River corridor. This labyrinth of paths along the slopes above the upper reaches of the Molalla River rise from 800 feet up to 1,400 feet in elevation.

December 20, 2012

Woman finds shelter away from cougar inside stink box

A woman was out hiking with her dog recently near Boulder, Colorado. A mountain lion crept up on her to the point where she discovered the cougar only three feet away. So, what did she do? While making noise and raising her arms in the air, she slowly made her way over to an outhouse about 50 yards away and hid with her dog inside the honey bucket. Despite her attempts to scare away the mountain lion, the young cat apparently stuck around for several minutes before wandering off. Being young, it was probably more interested in the dog than her.

December 19, 2012

Fee-free days announced for National Parks

Fee-free days at U.S. National Parks in 2013 will be as follows:
Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 21;
National Park Week, April 22-26;
National Park Service Birthday, Aug. 26;
National Public Lands Day, Sept. 28;
Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 9-11.
The fee-free designation applies to entrance fees only and does not affect fees for camping, reservations, tours or other special uses. Park entrance stations will have interagency senior and annual passes available for purchase.

December 18, 2012

Cover all your bases and you still might get clubbed by a falling tree

I realize it’s a far cry from sitting at home on the couch watching a football game or raking leaves in the yard or writing for a blog, but the number of folks that wander into the wild and subsequently get lost or hurt is staggering to me. Maybe, in all my escapades outdoors, I’ve just been fortunate. I had no idea so many people took ill-fated turns or slipped on wet rocks in the wilds – until I began searching for these incidents on the internet.

December 17, 2012

Lost fishermen resort to cannibalism in the Russian taiga

Back in November, two Russians were rescued after being lost for four months in the taiga wilderness. How did they survive? In part, apparently, by eating their comrade.
The taiga is found throughout the high norther...
The taiga is found throughout the high northern latitudes, between the tundra, and the steppes.

December 12, 2012

Education, not restrictions the conclusion of bear attacks review in YNP

Grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park
Grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park

After a recent review of grizzly bear attacks, Yellowstone National Park managers have decided against establishing new backcountry use restrictions in the Hayden Valley. The review was in response to two fatal bear attacks within the park in summer 2011, the Yellowstone Gate reported.

December 11, 2012

Longer in the tooth means a shorter stride and I can't count anymore

All hikers have diversions. Their thoughts turn away from the trail at various times and focus on other aspects of life. How can this not happen. The outdoors is a perfect setting for the mind to wander. This can often be the case when hiking mile after mile along a low elevation trail bordered with seemingly nothing more than ferns and firs.

The green and brown shapes among the ferns and firs

December 8, 2012

Story of survival, tragedy and tenacity in the Sierra Nevadas

Too many “hikers” get lost or stuck or hurt to want to list or report on this site. Now and then, however, a story stands out for its uniqueness or importance. Although not about hiking, here is a story about a woman able to survive harsh conditions and her brother who would not give up looking for her.

December 7, 2012

Brains of high altitude climbers show signs of bleeding

Brain MRI T1 movie
Brain MRI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You knew that climbing the world's highest mountains and the havoc it must wreak on the body could have lingering effects. Just like the NFL is discovering more about brain damage caused by concussions, a new study has now come out about mountain climbers who have suffered cerebral edema. Scientists have recently proven that people who have suffered from cerebral edema bleed from the brain well after suffering from the malady.

December 6, 2012

Trail Science 106: The trail corridor

The final entry in the Trail Science series is the trail corridor, which includes the trail’s tread and the area above and to the sides of the tread. According to the Forest Service’s Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook, hiking trails should be cleared of brush 6 feet wide and 8 feet high.

The Pacific Northwest Trail
A Pacific Northwest Trail

December 4, 2012

Trail Science 105: Other trail elements

Switchbacks (Photo credit: QuintanaRoo)
Switchbacks, climbing turns and retaining walls are common in trail construction; however, they are often relatively difficult to design and construct correctly

December 3, 2012

Trail Science 104: Stream crossings

Natural looking stream crossing

“Stream and river crossings present a challenge to trail managers who need to balance difficulty levels, safety, convenience, cost, environmental consequences, and aesthetics. Each kind of water crossing has consequences for the recreation experience and the lands being accessed.” – Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook

December 1, 2012

The hairiest hike in the world

English: Hotels on the peaks of Huangshan
Hotels on the peaks of Huangshan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Huangshan Mountain stands in China and has what is considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. Here is a video of that hike along the face of a sheer cliff.
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Bodies left on Everest a morbid reminder of the mountain's unforgiving conditions

Tibet Mount Everest
Mount Everest (Photo credit: Göran Höglund (Kartläsarn))
Mt. Everest is a beast of a mountain; not the most difficult to climb, but the tallest. It takes several days of trekking to get to the mountain and about four days to climb it. Climbers both reach the top and are also forced down the mountain before summitting the mighty peak. Others remain on the mountain, seemingly frozen in time, reminding the rest of us of the perils of climbing such a peak. This is a link with some photos of  folks left on the mountain, reminders of the delicate balance between life and death in such an unforgiving place.  
A warning - These pics aren't for everybody.

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Will we someday be feeding a Sasquatch at the zoo?

English: Generic Wookie, pictured here in 2005...
'Squatch hoopin' it (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The big news in the ‘Squatch world this week is that a five year DNA study will be released soon suggesting that the hairy walker of the wilds is not human or non-human – but a hybrid cross of the two.
Melba Ketchum, a former veterinarian, headed up the research in which three complete ‘Squatch nuclear genomes determined the beasts of the brush come from a male of an “unknown” hominin species and a female Homo sapien. A hominin is a grouping including humans, extinct humans and all the immediate ancestors, apparently including apes.