Inspiring story about a woman who didn’t let her disease keep her from accomplishing her mountaineering goals. Not only did Lori Schneider reach Everest’s summit despite having multiple sclerosis, she has climbed the “Seven Summits,” or the highest peaks on each of the world’s seven continents. Bravo, Lori.
Check this link here: http://www.jsonline.com/features/health/45924582.html
Her link here: http://empowermentthroughadventure.com/
Got a cool e-mail from Out There reader Steve, who says he enjoys “Out of the Wild: The Laska Experiment” on the Discovery Channel. Here’s what Steve said:
I love the show. I can’t wait until the next episode. I even watch the re-run on Saturday morning. No, I don’t think I could ever do what these guys r doing but would have loved to try it when I was younger. I am 56 and I think my window has closed on this. I would love to see Alaska but I think I would be better serve seeing from a cruise ship. I have 4 girls and I do believe they could handle it. One of my girls has traveled to China(when her luggage was lost for the 3 weeks she was there) the mountains of Peru where her luggage was lost for 4 days and 5 months in Ethiopia. I love the fact that the girls have lasted longer then the guys, except for the first girl that dropped out. To much drama for me with her. I can’t wait to see the last show when all the participants are together to hear their stories.
A couple mental notes I made after watching last night’s episode:
When I first started watching this, I thought the producers were overdramatazing the elevation gains, distances hiked and some of the other hardships the people in the show were going through. To me, going from 1,000 feet to 3,000 feet in one day doesn’t impress me much, even with a full pack. Do it above 10,000 feet, I thought to myself, and now we’re talking about something a little more substantial. And the lengths of the hikes were usually just a few miles, maybe six at the most. Again (looking down my nose), I figured once they start doing 16 or 20 in a day, then I’ll leave some room for bellyaching.
I have reassessed those conclusions. And revised them entirely.
The elevations aren’t really a factor, so I was right about that. In my book, elevation doesn’t really factor in until you get to about 5,000 feet. But gaining 1,000 feet, then dropping back down in a matter of a few miles is physically taxing.
And now here’s where we start adding in the factors that DO matter. First, it’s cold: 20s, teens, single digits. The body burns more calories (exerts more energy) in cold temperatures than it does when it’s warm.
Second, almost all of the group’s trekking is off-trail. This matters a lot. Bushwhacking with friends in the Wichitas last winter, we went off-trail and spent about an hour or so covering half a mile as we picked our way through boulders, canyons, trees and underbrush, all the while trying to find the proper route west. Had be been on a trail, we would have covered that distance in less than 20 minutes. These folks were doing that and wearing those dreadful Yukon packs, loaded down with 60-70 pounds of gear.
Last, there’s the problem with food. The cast of the show must hunt or forage for all their food unless they find some spare provisions in the shelters they hike to. So they hunt pretty much anything that moves, fish and pick berries. If they’re lucky, they find some leftover flour left in a hunter’s cabin. Basically, they’re living on less than 1,000 calories a day, but they’re burning much more. Want to know what’s it’s like? Get up some cool winter morning, eat a bowl of cereal and a couple of eggs, then go hike up and down the ridges in the Kiamichis with a 70-pound pack on your back. Camp. Repeat for three weeks. You’ll run down pretty fast.
So I’m impressed with the pluck of this group, particularly Trish, the bus driver. She’s a huntin’ fool and is keeping the group alive. Can’t wait for next week’s installment.
– Bob Doucette
Imagine this: A large group of men, dressed in battle fatigues, marching 20 miles across rugged, rolling terrain. Each of them is lugging around 70 pounds on their backs, their packs loaded till the seams are nearly bursting with gear issued from their government.
Sounds like fun, huh?
No. No, it doesn’t. But if you’re planning on an extended trek into the backcountry, aren’t you, in some way, guaranteed a similar fate?
My analogy isn’t the best, because when I’m using military imagery, you’re talking about soldiers either training for combat or soldiers who are in combat. Backpacking doesn’t have nearly that much at stake. But the analogy does work in one way. Soldiers aren’t given much choice in what’s in their packs. You are. And that’s what I want to discuss.
My early forays into backpacking included a lot of rookie mistakes that ended up with me hauling a really heavy pack. I got in and out OK, but I would have spent a lot less energy and saved my body a lot more grief had I just packed a little smarter.
My last post on this subject talked about making sure you are a “self-contained unit,” meaning you’ve got everything you need in your pack to survive in the wild. But there’s a lot of products out there that probably have an alternative that will do the same job with a lot less weight on your back.
Food is a great example. On my first trip, I packed standard trail mix, but I also had self-heating MREs and a couple cans of tuna. The MREs have water in them, as did the cans of tuna. The packaging also added weight that I didn’t need. Good alternatives: Dehydrated meals (just add hot water) and tuna packets. That right there might shave a couple of pounds.
Another example: camp stoves. You can take one of those Coleman box set stoves with two burners and a fuel tank. And those are great. But they’re a lot heavier than the 3.5-ounce stove I carry. There’s another couple of pounds gone.
And how can I forget my knife? I used to have this huge hunting knife strapped to my belt. No more. A simple pocket knife shaved another pound.
And there’s more. Packing a tent? Go with one that has aluminum poles rather than fiberglass. Pack one that is smaller, rather than roomier. Shop around for sleeping bags made for backpacking (some weigh less than 2 pounds). Take a headlamp rather than a flashlight.
Some backpackers will even go so far as to cut their toothbrushes in half just to cut weight. A little extreme for me, but those ultra-light, ultra-fast hikers know that the more weight means more energy burned unnecessarily. And I can think of plenty of instances (getting lost, getting injured, facing bad weather, etc.) where you might need every ounce of energy you have.
There are exceptions. Steel is heavier than aluminum or titanium, but steel pots and pans cook better. Winter trips often require sturdier tents, more fuel, heavier clothes and thicker sleeping bags. In this case, safety trumps weight cutting. But the overall point is this: Pack what you need. Look for lighter alternatives when practical. And really analyze what you plan to take with you. Chances are, you don’t need to lug around an Army pack to spend quality time in the outdoors. The less sore and tired you are, the more likely you’re going to enjoy your outdoor experience.
— Bob Doucette
A piece of news from the Oklahoma City Outdoor Network. Read on, if if you’re interested, sign up!
Learn “How to Guide” a Rafting Trip on a Colorado River
The Oklahoma City Outdoor Network still has two or three openings for its whitewater rafting trip on the upper Colorado River.
The four-day trip will include safety, group “expedition behavior” rigging boats, reading the rapids on the river, learning about the physics of swift water, rescue, boatmanship, and how to command a paddle raft through rapids and the people skills necessary for a fun trip.
Cooking, serving, and cleaning which are a big part of guiding, will also be included.
Subjects are trained in all aspects of rafting from assembling the boats to reading rapids.
The participants will learn all the skills to run the boats through forgiving rapids, and will be coached by professionals.
At the end of the class, the students will be required to run the river with all the rapids practiced.
The trip will be from June 16-21. Cost is $260 per person, not including meals.
For more information, go to www.okcoutdoornetwork.org.
Interesting story on CNN.com about a sherpa who has successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest 19 times, more than anyone else. You can read the story here:
What interests me is how this man’s life is interwoven with the feats and personalities of many of the most famous names in Himalayan mountaineering, including famed climber Rob Hall and the great Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first to reach the top of the world’s highest peak. What that shows me is just how fresh the history of Himalayan mountaineering really is. And it’s evolved so quickly since Hillary and Tenzig Norgay made their historic climb half a century ago.
There will probably be more stories coming off the mountain in the coming weeks, as this is the prime climbing season for “Big E.” Let’s hope they’re all good stories and not repeats of 1996 or 2006.
– Bob Doucette
It will now be up to President Barack Obama to decide on Sen. Tom Coburn’s legislation that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in national parks.
As it stands, you can have a gun with you in a national park, but it must be secured and unloaded. Coburn’s legislation — an amendment to a credit card measure — changes that. In states that allow concealed weapons, people would be able to carry such weapons in national parks.
We had some debate on this when it first came up. Naturally, there’s quite a bit of emotion from gun control advocates and Second Amendment watchers.
I’m really not into the politics of it. What I am interested in is the practical side of this issue.
As I’ve said previously, I’m a gun owner. Have been for years. I’ve hunted, I’ve shot skeet. I’ve enjoyed shooting with others, particularly those who have a wide variety of firearms that I don’t have. I do not have a conceal/carry permit.
I’ve also been to a number of national parks. At no time in those visits have I carried a firearm with me.
So now I’m going to step into a gray area. Here’s a couple scenarios:
— You’re strolling through downtown Oklahoma City and decide to take a walk through the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Is this an appropriate place to have a loaded firearm with you? Why or why not? (QUICK UPDATE/EDIT — the memorial is a private site. See Nancy Coggins’ comments below, and substitute in some other urban national park site.)
— You’re in Wyoming and are planning to do some heavy-duty backcountry exploration of Yellowstone National Park. Is this an appropriate place to carry a loaded firearm? Why or why not?
I’ve been to both places, though I haven’t been in the backcountry of Yellowstone. My thinking on this, I must admit, may not be very logical. So bear with me.
In any trip to downtown Oklahoma City, I’ve felt pretty safe and didn’t feel the need to have a gun with me. Others may feel differently, and I’d like to hear from you.
I have been bushwhacking alone in Montana and felt extremely vulnerable, knowing that the northern Rockies are home to grizzly bears and mountain lions. Despite the discomfort that backpacking with a high-caliber sidearm might cause, I’d never again go deep into grizzly country without being armed.
I’m sure there’s a bunch of other issues out there worthy of discussion. And I’m sure that discussion is already heating up.
— Bob Doucette
Looking for a list of sites in Oklahoma that are part of the National Park System? Check this link: http://home.nps.gov/applications/parksearch/state.cfm?st=ok
From the First Ascent video blog:
With temperatures rising and summer well on its way, many of us are starting to make plans for some backpacking adventures.
You know who you are. And if you’ve done a lot of it, there probably won’t be much said here that you don’t already know.
If you don’t have a lot of backpacking experience but would like to try it, perhaps I can offer a bit of guidance based on my own hard-won experience.
Be a self-contained unit
OK, so that sounds like something out of “Star Trek.” Kinda nerdy. But the idea behind backpacking is going somewhere a vehicle can’t take you. We’re used to going to the lake, forgetting something, then hopping into our car and buying what we need at the nearest corner store. Cars equal speed and convenience, neither of which is possible when you’re on foot, several hours or even days away from civilization. So you have to have everything you need with you, in your pack.
Your list should include some basics: Food. Shelter. A means of water purification (notice I didn’t say “water”; NEVER try to haul all your water in). A compass, knife, first-aid kit, matches and a select change of clothes are also musts. And a map of where you’re going.
Other needs will depend on the type of area you’re heading into and your own desire for creature comforts. Stoves are nice, and I pack mine every time I go. But if I’m backpacking in the summer here or in another Sun Belt state, it’s not something I absolutely need. You can go a long way on trail mix, peanut butter and tortillas. However, if I’m heading into a cold, snowy environment, the stove becomes a necessity. I’ll need it to melt snow for water.
I’d also include a cell phone in this list. Wild areas aren’t great for reception, but you’d be surprised how many bars you can get from a high point, such as a hilltop or ridgeline. Having some emergency form of communication with the outside world can be a lifesaver, and there’s no sense in leaving a cell phone behind. Just keep it turned off until you need it.
Other tools come in handy, and can even be lifesavers. A headlamp comes to mind as one such item. You can imagine being lost in a hot environment where trekking around in daylight hours could be deadly. So you move at night. In that case, a headlamp will help you find your way through the darkness.
There’s a lot more that can be said on this topic, so I’ll be back with other installments soon. And of course, I’m happy to hear your views/advice on this subject.
Ed Viesturs and his team are making their summit bid today. Follow the action here: http://www.greatoutdoors.com/everest-2009/dispatches
This is a story we ran in Wednesday’s Oklahoman about an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn that passed the Senate the day before:
So this brings up the question: Do you carry a firearms when you’re out in the woods? When you go campaing, do you bring a firearm? Fishing? Hiking? Climbing?
I’ve seen a lot of debate on this on other forums. If Coburn’s amendment becomes law, it would allow people to carry loaded firearms into national parks in states that have conceal-and-carry laws.
So many questions. If you carry, why? If not, why not? Comment here, let me know what you think.