A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about some proper etiquette to follow when it comes to taking care of human waste when in the backcountry. I mentioned “Leave No Trace” ethics, but I figured that needed a little elaboration. So here goes (courtesy of the Center for Outdoor Ethics, plus some additions by me):
Human waste: For those who have the stomach for it, pack out human waste and toilet paper in a sealable plastic bag. For those too grossed out by that (that includes me), dig a 6-to-8-inch-deep cathole 200 feet from a water source, campsite or trail, bury it and mark it with a dead twig.
Food: Store it in some sort of container that will keep it away from animals. Do not feed animals human food. Any trash associated with food or cooking should be sealed during the trip and packed out.
Campfires: Minimize campfire impact. Make small fires in established fire areas, like an outdoor grill or a fire ring. If you’re in a place that doesn’t have these, or in a place where fires are discouraged, use some other method of heating, cooking and lighting. Don’t make new fire rings; use ones that are already built.
Wildlife encounters: Enjoy these encounters from a distance. Don’t get to close to wild animals if you can help it.
Do unto others: Remember that when your trip is over, others may visit the place where you just left. Leave the wild places in a way that you want to see others leave it for you.
Wastewater: Treat it like you would any other waste. Dishwater, water used for brushing your teeth, water that gets mixed with soaps and lotions — none of this should be within 200 feet of a water source, like a stream or a lake.
Group sizes: Be careful to limit your group’s size when going into the backcountry. If a place puts a limit of 10 people in a group, follow that. Fewer people make a smaller impact.
Hiking impact: Stay on established trails. Otherwise walk and camp in areas where you’re on rock or places where there’s coverage (dead leaves, pine needles, etc.). This will help limit soil erosion. When in sensitive areas, walk in a single-file line and follow each others’ footsteps.
Burning trash: Don’t do it.
I’ll confess to not always following these rules. And I’ll also promise to do better in the future. There’s a good chance that if people going out into the countryside who follow Leave No Trace ethics, those wild places will be better preserved.
My question: Do you follow Leave No Trace principles? Why or why not? Give me a shout with your answers.
There’s a lot more detail than what I’ve written here. For more info, check out this Web site: http://www.lnt.org/index.php
Side note: Episode 2 of “Alone in the Wild” airs tonight. Last week was pretty good. It will be interesting to see how time alone and not eating much affects Ed Wardle. Like last week, I’ll watch it and write about it. Feel free to share your thoughts.
Some recent news and notes from the world of the outdoors…
Saturday concluded a pretty good month for triathlons here in Oklahoma. Earlier in the month was the Red Man, a pretty difficult race by anyone’s standards. On Saturday, Norman hosted the Tie Dye Tri, an event where several of my friends competed and enjoyed the race very much.
There’s still time, by the way, to get involved in the upcoming Spirit of Survival event in Lawton. There’s several races there (many of them are qualifiers, including one Boston Marathon qualifier) and a walk/run for fun. Proceeds and fundraisers connected to this event go toward fighting cancer and helping cancer patients in southwestern Oklahoma. And participants get to run in a beautiful area.
Sad news from the Himalayas over the weekend.
Clifton Maloney, husband of New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, died a day after reaching the summit of Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth-highest peak at 26,906 feet.
Clifton Maloney, 71, became the oldest person to ever reach the summit of this Himalayan giant, according to The Associated Press.
It was said that he was in excellent health during the climb. “I am told that his last words were, ‘I am the happiest man in the world. I just climbed a beautiful mountain,’” AP quoted Barry Nolan, a congressional aide who works with Carolyn Maloney.
No word yet on what caused his death, but it doesn’t appear to be from a fall, avalanche or anything like that.
Speaking from experience, weird things happen at high altitudes. Condolences to his family.
A few months ago, I posed a question about what readers thought about the legalization of a bear hunting season in Oklahoma. As reported in The Oklahoman on Sunday, black bear season starts this week.
A recap: Up to 20 bear can be harvested per season. Hunting seasons will be limited to archery and muzzle-loaders, and will be permitted in just four counties. The bear population in southeastern Oklahoma (transplanted from Minnesota and Canada years ago) has grown to at least 500 bears in Oklahoma. Some locals have said the bears are becoming a nuisance and their population needs to be controlled.
I’ve received a lot of comments on this one from a past post. Obviously, the debate will continue. Would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
Next weekend: the Spirit of Survival Marathon in Lawton!
If you’re participating, gear up. This one won’t be easy. But I’m sure everyone who is participating is already signed up. So this is a call for people to head down to Lawton to support the runners.
I’ll give you two reasons. First, it’s a tough race and competitors would like the encouragement. Second, it’s for a good cause.
Many of the runners are raising funds for the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma through a program called Run for the Ride. Money raised will go to buy three vans which will be used to take cancer patients to and from treatment. This is a huge deal to people who are fighting the disease.
The competition includes the Mountain Marathon (a Boston Marathon qualifier), the 13.1-mile Holy Half Marathon, the Deer Creek Canyon 10k, the Lake Elmer Thomas 5K and the Mount Scott 5k. The Mount Scott race will have runners race to the top of Mount Scott and back. All the races will go through the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
So there’s great races through a great place for an awesome cause. Past races have raised money for cancer centers in Altus and Duncan, and another cancer center is being completed in Lawton.
Events are being held next Saturday and Sunday. If you do not want to compete but would like to run, there’s a 5k Spirit Walk and Family Fun Run.
Want to know more? Go to www.spiritofsurvival.com.
I decided when watching “Alone in the Wild,” I wanted to write about what could be learned from the program rather than just review the show. I enjoyed the first episode quite a bit, and the opening scene where you see Ed Wardle at the end of his stay is such a marked contrast to the upbeat, healthy, clean-shaven man who gets dropped off by a bush pilot weeks before. At the end of Wardle’s journey, he looked haggard, gaunt and sounded sick. And, more than that, he sounded like a beaten man. I guess that’s what spending several weeks in the wilderness will do to you.
Did you see the show? What did you think?
My take (SPOILER AERT):
He had some luck fishing. Looks like he cooked up three grayling, a trout-like fish common to western Canada. Was it enough to live on? Hardly. I was reading a book called “How to Survive in the Woods” and it noted that the average man bushwhacking in the woods needs at least 3,000 calories a day to maintain weight, including muscle. Four-thousand would probably be more advisable.
So how many calories are in each of those grayling? I can’t be totally sure, but they look like pan-sized trout. If that’s the case, they’d be about 200 calories apiece. In other words, you’d need to catch and eat 15 to 20 of them a day just to get the minimum calories you need. Can you see where this is headed? Salmon is another story. They’re larger and much more calorie-dense. Still, food suddenly becomes a HUGE priority, as in something you think about and work for all the time. Now you know why it is that when you see animals in the wild, they’re constantly eating or looking for something to eat.
He seemed squeamish at first about killing squirrels and porcupines. Glad he got over that. You take food where you can. It’s a good thing he’s got a gun. The snares didn’t seem too effective yet.
One really smart move Wardle made: consulting with an expert on edible plants. The difference between life-saving calories and vitamins and being poisoned.
Something else I found interesting: His reaction to seeing a plane flying overhead. He became very emotional. It’s as if he was reacting to the extreme isolation he was in, really realizing how off the grid he was. I could see a lot of people, who upon getting lost, could lose it when they hear or see a sign of other people come and go. Wardle did the smart thing by continuing to make decisions instead of wallowing in his plight.
And then there the bears. Funny how quiet the wilderness is. Yet you know there’s things out there. And some of them could be hunting you. Unnerving.
Bottom line: Wardle put himself in a situation of constant stress. Not work stress, not relationship stress. But real, life-or-death stress. And it never goes away.
Something to think about on your next foray into the backcountry.
Got a hodge-podge of news and notes today from the great world of the outdoors…
Tonight’s the night for the premiere of “Alone in the Wild,” a National Geographic Channel program which follows the adventures of Ed Wardle as he attempts to last as long as he can in the wilds of Canada’s Yukon Territory. Wardle was there on his own, doing his own filming, and having to catch/gather his own food, build his own shelter and avoid the pitfalls of living in bear country.
I posted some videos of Wardle during the summer, but the episodes should include quite a bit more. Should be interesting.
The program airs at 8 p.m. Central on Nat Geo. Check in later on for a discussion of the episode.
Speaking of Wardle, did you know he was a photographer on Discovery’s “Everest Beyond the Limit”? He went on the most recent filming this spring in Nepal.
In any case, the third season of “Everest Beyond the Limit is supposed to air starting in December. After the 2008 climbing season was pretty much wiped out by the Chinese government (sensitivity over issues in Tibet and the Olympics), the show was on a one-year hiatus.
It’s back with the same outfitters, Russell Brice and his Himex crew, but now they’re tackling the mountain from the south face in Nepal rather than their normal North Face approach from Tibet.
Short bit of history: It’s the south side from which Everest was first climbed by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay more than half a century ago. If you’ve read John Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air,” that drama unfolded on Everest’s south side.
It should be cool to watch the show in Everest’s classic places — the Khumbu icefall, the Balcony, the Hillary Step, the South Col. Probably some of the most anticipated adventure TV for me this year.
Still getting some good tips on staying warm in cold weather camping. A few more suggestions:
Put the clothes you’re going to wear in the foot area of your sleeping bag. This will prevent you from putting on cold clothes in the morning.
Bring your dogs. The term “three dog night” comes from somewhere. If they’re good outdoor dogs, they’ll be good to have around. Extra body heat never hurts.
Bring a sleeping bag liner. Flannel or fleece, this will give you something soft and warm against your body versus the cooler fabric of most sleeping bags. And it’s another layer of insulation that won’t add much weight or take up too much space in your pack.
Finally, this video on making a quinzee, a kind of snow shelter.
Check out this video. Got the book now, and plan to start reading it soon. The video gets me pretty pumped up about it. Watch this, and be looking for the book next month.
Got several responses to the post I made about camping in the cold. Some deal with what we might expect here, others are intended for places that get considerably colder and have more snow. But here’s some suggestions I gleaned from reader responses:
Stay dry. Sounds like a no-brainer, but when you don’t have a house, car or camper in which to take refuge, this requires some preventative strategy. Your clothing should be synthetic fibers that shed moisture. Cotton does the opposite, so leave it at home. Have rain gear with you. And prepare your tent site. Find a place that doesn’t turn into a gully if the rain gets heavy. If you fear water may flow down to your site, dig a water trough around your tent to divert runoff and keep it from coming underneath. Keep your sleeping bag dry; if you think your hike may involve getting rained on, be sure to wrap your sleeping bag in a trash bag or some other waterproof sack before it goes into your backpack. And that sack may come in handy here in just a bit.
Stay hydrated. Water does the body good. And hot drinks warm your core temperature.
Eat fatty foods before going to bed. Again, to help your body stay warm.
Avoid alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates you, slows things down and makes you colder. Even if alcohol makes you feel warmer, don’t be fooled.
Get into your sleeping bag when you’re warm. It’s easier to stay warm than it is to get warm. Also, for the same reasons, put on extra layers before you get cold.
Make a hot water bottle. Got a Nalgene? Or some other water bottle? Boil some water, fill the bottle and put the bottle in your sleeping bag. Make sure it’s sealed tight so it doesn’t leak. This will warm up your bag. If you wear pants to sleep, you can keep the bottle in the bag with you to help stay warm. A hot fireside rock wrapped in a shirt can do the same thing, but be careful with that one.
Share a tent. A tent that has the maximum amount of people that it’s designed to shelter can be significantly warmer inside than outside. Body heat, plus the warm exhales of your breathing, will help keep the inside of a tent warmer. And that trash bag to keep your sleeping bag dry? Slip it over the bottom of your bag to help insulate the bag’s footwell.
Don’t hold it. If you have to pee, take care of business. If you don’t, your body will expend heat trying to keep the fluids in your bladder at body temperature. If it’s really cold outside, have a pee bottle inside so you don’t have to go out. Ladies, bring a funnel. Make sure the bottle is sealed tight when you’re done.
Wear a hat. Something like a knit cap or beanie. You lose a lot of heat through your head. A hat will retain that heat.
Lastly, my wife’s advice. I was recently using a sleeping bag I’d bought for her that, shall we say, didn’t meet her expectations. I found it wanting as well. Her words: “Don’t buy an $80 hell bag to sleep in!!!”
Got more suggestions? Keep ‘em coming.
This, from the state Tourism Department:
Autumn’s beauty makes Oklahoma a great driving destination which is why the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department has mapped out 14 different driving routes perfect for viewing the fall color change across the state. The Oklahoma Fall Foliage Tours brochure is now available to visitors for free in all 12 Tourism Information Centers statewide, by clicking on www.TravelOK.com or calling 800-652-6552.
“Late summer rains in practically every quadrant of the state have primed our trees for gold, orange and red hues this fall, and this brochure will help travelers find the best routes to enjoy Oklahoma’s fall beauty,” said Hardy Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.
The foliage brochure includes famous drives like the Talimena National Scenic Byway through the Ouachita National Forest in southeastern Oklahoma, or western Oklahoma’s Red Rock Canyon route, near Hinton, which showcases striking color contrasts due to the area’s sugar maples. Other paths are also charted in the brochure, helping visitors find and experience unique treks where the vibrant foliage may surprise them.
Optimal viewing times for Oklahoma’s foliage are late October and early November, but these vary depending on weather conditions. For up-to-the-minute information about a specific drive, call the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department at 800-652-6552.
“The changing of the seasons means new opportunities for rest and recreation in Oklahoma. From harvest festivals and pumpkin patches to outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, horseback riding or camping, there are so many ways to enjoy the state’s wonderful fall weather and beautiful foliage,” said Watkins.
For more information on foliage tours and other great Oklahoma fall getaway ideas visit www.TravelOK.com. Discounts on vacation packages can be found under the “Hot Deals” section, or call 1-800-652-6552 to speak to an Oklahoma Travel Counselor.
So the weekend that I was last in the Rockies proved to be pretty instructive. Even with cooler than normal temperatures here in Oklahoma, it’s still pretty mild compared to what the high country is getting right now during the nighttime hours.
So here’s my story. Me and my friends had just hiked four miles up a trail to about 11,400 feet and set up camp. I started feeling a bit chilly, so I stayed close to the campfire.
In time, it was time to put the fire out and crawl into our tents. The next day was going to be a big one, as we were going to get up early to begin our ascent of Uncompahgre Peak.
I’d loaned my 20-degree sleeping bag to a friend. I was using a 30-degree bag and sleeping alone in a small two-man tent.
I was pretty chilly, so I wore my clothes that night, which included long johns, two pairs of socks, hiking pants, a T-shirt, a thin pullover, a fleece and a knit cap. I stuffed my tent sack with some other clothes and used that as a pillow.
And I proceeded to freeze my butt off.
I never fell into a deep sleep, just occasionally dozing off for a few minutes at a time. The whole night, I might have gotten an hour’s worth of “sleep.” In the morning, frost covered my backpack and some of our water froze.
That made for a long day on the mountain. I don’t want to make excuses, but I think I might have had an easier time of it had I just gotten better rest. Needless to say, I wasn’t looking forward to my second night’s stay.
Not wanting to stand pat, I changed my sleeping strategy (yes, there was strategy used here). The day-pack went inside the tent. On top of that went my makeshift pillow, which was now a little thinner as I’d removed my rain jacket. I decided to wear that, then put the fleece over that. My thinking: The jacket would add insulation, and putting the fleece over that would give me something warm and soft instead of cold to touch.
Helping matters was the fact that it stayed overcast that night, trapping some daytime warmth.
A gentle rain pelted my tent, and I could hear Nellie Creek flowing nearby. That night, I slept a solid seven hours. Dare I say, I was actually comfortable.
I’ve heard some people say that to truly stay warm, you should shed your clothes once inside your sleeping bag. I’ve tried that in cold weather and it never seems to work. At all. Maybe at certain temps with a really well insulated bag it would work, but otherwise, I think it’s a myth.
I bring this up because fall is on its way. Camping in the cold is just around the corner.
Another member of our group had similar experiences: Cold one night, good sleep the next after changing the way he slept (he didn’t have the benefit of a sleeping pad; I had a Thermarest, which helps insulate you from the cold of the ground).
The other two guys never had a problem with cold. They had thicker sleeping bags, sleeping pads and shared a three-man tent.
So here’s a few conclusions:
- You can mitigate the effects of cold by sharing a tent. Sorry if you’re squeamish on that one, fellas, but it’s true.
- Sleeping pads prevent cold from the ground getting to your body.
- A comfortable headrest helps, even if it’s improvised (I don’t pack camp pillows).
- Keeping your feet warm is a must.
- Have the right sleeping bag for the conditions.
- Using a good strategy of layering your clothes can help trap heat close to your body and in your sleeping bag.
So there you go. A few things I learned. I’m curious how other people solve the problem of warmth while going cold weather camping. Comment here or e-mail me with any input you might have.
Couple of notes from the world of the outdoors…
You can remember some of the posts I made about Ed Wardle, a filmmaker who is the star of the upcoming National Geographic show “Alone in the Wild.” I had some videos posted with that one, and a Nat Geo Web site allowed viewers to follow his exploits in the backcountry of the Canadian Yukon.
The news: “Alone in the Wild” premieres at 8 p.m. Central on Sept. 23. The program will follow Wardle’s attempts to make it in the wilderness by himself. In “Survivorman” fashion, he does all the filming himself and has no on-site assistance. He did, however, keep in touch with his producers, and malnutrition forced him to end his experiement earlier than the planned three months.
Should be interesting stuff. Check it out Saturday night, ir record it on your DVR. I’ll be watching weekly, and will share my thoughts on each episode.
Anyone up for some serious adventure reading? On Oct. 13, American mountaineer Ed Viesturs’ new book comes out. Viesturs is arguably America’s finest high altitude mountaineer, having reached the summit of all 14 of the world’s 8,000 meter peaks. He’s also reached the top of Mount Everest numerous times. His previous book, “No Shortcuts to the Top,” chornicled his journey from a beginner climber to one of the world’s legends in mountaineering.
One thing he didn’t go into much detail about was his ascent of K2, the world’s second-highest mountain and considered by many to be the most dangerous. He’s does that now, and in a month everyone will be able to read about his journey to the top as well as stories about other, sometimes tragic tales from this Pakistani giant.
“K2: Life and Death and on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain” looks like it will be intriguing. I’ve got an advance copy and will be reading it soon. I’ll do a review here when I’m finished.
I’ve got high expectations for this one. I enjoyed Viesturs’ first book, and there just doesn’t seem to be a much out there about K2. Stay tuned…
Some info on Viesturs and his latest book: