January 23, 2013

Spared from a frigid hike out of Herman Creek area; beware of ice covered creek crossings

Icy creek along Herman Creek
The cat-like “quicks” are gone (if they ever existed). Not yet a sloth, I move more like the aging old dog that I am. That is why I nearly took a bath in an icy stream in the Columbia Gorge recently. Fallen logs over rushing Casey Creek, ornamented with dangling icicles, hinted at a potentially slick crossing. Testing one of the creek’s ice-covered boulders by stepping on it with little pressure also told me that trying to cross the creek on boulders would most likely land me flat on my back in the middle of the rushing, frigid creek – quite uncat-like.

January 20, 2013

Chances of seeing wolves in Northeastern Oregon while on a hike growing

End of 2009
End of 2010
End of 2011
End of 2012
Imnaha Pack
8 *
Wenaha Pack
11 *
Walla Walla Pack
8 *
6 *
Snake River Pack
7 *
Umatilla River Pack
4 *
Upper Minam River Pack
Minam Pack
Sled Springs pair
Individual wolves
Radio-collared disperser
Minimum Total

  These are the latest stats issued by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as of the end of 2012. The number of wolves in Oregon nearly doubled in 2012. These are minimums, which are determined by ODFW staff through direct evidence, so it is likely the actually population is greater.


January 18, 2013

Hiker stumbles across a unique item while hiking near Hong Kong

English: Photo of Mount Davis
Mt. Davis
Here’s one for the “You Never Know What You May Come Across on a Trail” file. A hiker walking a trail in Hong Kong spotted something peculiar Friday - an unexploded World War II-era artillery shell.

Officers evacuated 22 people from a nearby hostel and cordoned off the area after the expatriate hiker discovered the Japanese artillery shell on Mount Davis at the western edge of the Hong Kong island.

Television news footage showed a large dark green metal object protruding from the muddy ground amidst dense tree coverage.

Last year hundreds of people were evacuated by police when a British artillery shell was found in Hong Kong, which was the scene of fierce fighting between Japanese and British allied forces in 1941.

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January 14, 2013

Plunging temperatures and a wrong turn prove tragic for father and sons

This story is tragic on so many levels and contains numerous lessons for people entering the outdoors.
An Air Force veteran known as an experienced hiker died along with two of his young sons after apparently getting lost on a desolate Missouri trail in heavy rain and plunging temperatures, according to a Fox News report.
David Decareaux, 36, of Millstadt, Ill., and his 8- and 10-year-old sons were found Sunday, a day after they ventured out with their 4-month-old yellow Labrador retriever on the Ozark Trail, about 110 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Decareaux died at the scene, and the boys were declared dead at a hospital after efforts to revive them failed. It is believed the three died of exposure to the elements, though autopsies were planned.
The dog was found near the victims and survived.

Apparently, Decareaux knew the popular trail but apparently took a wrong turn and was ill-equipped for temperatures that sank from 60 degrees to the 20s as the day progressed. Decareaux had been wearing only a light jacket, while one of his sons was clad in a fleece pullover, and the other a sweater.
A passer-by spotted the hikers more than three hours into their journey and asked if they needed a ride back to the Brushy Creek Lodge near Black, where Decareaux's wife and their three other children - ages 12, 4 and 2 - were staying. But Decareaux declined, telling the man they could make it back.

"They just missed their turn back to the lodge," a sheriff said. "By that time, their light played out. You don't have any ambient light down here because there are no cities or towns. When it's dark you can't see the back of your hand."
Officials at the lodge called the sheriff's department about 7 p.m. Saturday, concerned that the hikers had not returned. A search involving more than 50 volunteers on foot, horseback and in vehicles lasted until about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, when flash-flooding in creeks forced searchers to back off until daylight.

The bodies of Decareaux and the boys were found soaking wet Sunday morning, their dog beside them.

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January 10, 2013

Oregon man fakes being lost on hiking trip, may face criminal charges

Map of Oregon highlighting Malheur County
Malheur County Oregon
According to the Ontario Argus Observer, the Malheur County Sheriff's Office started a search and rescue effort – complete with a plane and 16 volunteers - on Jan. 8 after receiving a call that a man, on a 10-day hiking trip in the area, was lost. It just so happens that the man, 68-year-old Gene Pratt of Sandy, Ore., was sitting in a motel room, playing a prank on his wife, who worried that he might be lost.

USA - OR - Malheur County Sheriff (old style)

"These types of situations we're not really happy about," said Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe. "We had people out in the dark, the National Guard about to take off, and lots of people on slick roads."
Apparently, police are going to bill the man for their work and are considering pressing criminal charges for the hoax.

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January 6, 2013

Lost hikers found in Columbia River Gorge near Nesmith Point

Two hikers from Portland got lost above the snow line on Nesmith Point on Saturday afternoon, prompting a search and rescue operation, according to reports. The two Portland women were found just after midnight.

The husband of one of the hikers reported he received a call from his wife around 3 p.m. Saturday. She told him they were at the top of Nesmith Point and had become disoriented while backtracking after the snow fell, covering both the trail and their footsteps.

Search and rescue crews staged at John B. Yeon State Park hiked uphill to an elevation of 3,800 feet in icy conditions and extreme weather.

The women were experienced hikers and had dressed appropriately for the conditions, packed food and water and stayed put until rescuers arrived.

They were brought down and reunited with friends and family members at about 3:45 a.m. Sunday morning.

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Coyote drags sweater-wearing, unleashed dog from trail, suggesting a leash would have kept it alive

After hiking with unleashed dogs for a few years, it became apparent over time that, despite the minor hassle of holding a leash and keeping a dog from either hugging my legs or dragging me down the trail, a leash was probably the appropriate course to take. Two incidents finally steered me toward this conclusion. One was when my dog ran off into the forest after smelling a deer in eastern Oregon’s Elkhorn Mountains. The other was when the same dog ran up to oncoming hikers and jumped on them playfully but in a way some hikers could perceive as menacingly.

A recent incident out of Utah suggests that keeping your dog on a leash might save its life.