Do you love the outdoors? Looking for an opportunity to volunteer? Here is something. If you’ve frequented the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, you know what a cool place this is. The folks there are asking for volunteers to take part in a clean-up day at the park. Here’s some information about the clean-up day. If you’re free and ready to do some work, this will help make one of the state’s great outdoor recreation sites that much better.
SULPHUR – The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is seeking energetic volunteers to roll up their sleeves and devote one morning to cleaning up the area in and around Rock Creek, just west of Vendome Well in the park. Interested volunteers should meet at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Sulphur Chamber of Commerce/Visitor Information Station, 717 W. Broadway.
“Spring is the time to roll up our sleeves and prepare the park for the summer season,” said Park Superintendent Bruce Noble. “We invite those of you who frequent the park to assist in our spring cleaning of Rock Creek.”
Volunteers are encouraged to wear long pants, sturdy shoes and bring work gloves. The park will provide trash bags, work gloves and tools, if needed. Refreshments will be provided. For more information, contact Park Ranger Eric Leonard, (580) 622-7282.
Some big news for fans of the book “Three Cups of Tea” and its author, Greg Mortenson. The former mountaineer, now a builder of schools in central and south Asia, will be in Norman at the University of Oklahoma next week. Here’s some information about his appearance here in Oklahoma…
NORMAN — Greg Mortenson, author of the New York Times’ No. 1 bestseller “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One Day at a Time,” is scheduled to deliver a free, public lecture 4 p.m. April 21 at the Lloyd Noble Center.
No reservations are required for the lecture. Backpacks will not be allowed.
Mortenson has established or significantly supports more than 130 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, providing education to more than 58,000 children, including 48,000 girls, where few educational opportunities existed before.
“Greg Mortenson has dramatically demonstrated that one person can make a difference,” said OU President David L. Boren. “His experience reminds us that the fight against terrorism is not primarily a military struggle, but one to win minds and hearts.”
He is co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit Central Asia Institute and founder of the international service-learning program Pennies For Peace. “Three Cups of Tea,” which has sold more than 3.6 million copies, been published in 41 countries.
The book also has received numerous awards in the United States and abroad, including selection in 2006 as Time Magazine’s Asia Book of the Year and People Magazine’s Critics Choice and in 2009 with Italy’s Gambrinus Giuseppe Mazzotti Literary Prize.
His sequel, “Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” was published in 2009 and debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times bestseller list.
For disability accommodations, call the OU Office of Special Events at 325-3784.
Something for all you rock hounds out there. Looks like Southwestern Oklahoma State University is making an annual deal out of this, a regional rock climbing competition scheduled for May 1 at the university’s Weatherford campus.
It also looks like there will be a strength competition and a movie which sounds pretty interesting. If you’re into rock climbing, have a competitive streak and you’re free on May 1, trek on down Interstate 40 to Weatherford and be a part of this event.
Here’s some information about the competition:
SWOSU planning regional climbing competition May 1
A regional climbing competition is planned May 1, at Southwestern Oklahoma State University’s Wellness Center rock wall in Weatherford, and the event will have more than $5,000 in prizes.
The competition is open to anyone and will include divisions for men and women with separate classes for beginner, intermediate, advanced and open. Morgan McNeill said beginner levels are designed for people who have never climbed on rock walls.
Entry fee is $15 and no early registration is required. The competition starts at 9:30 a.m.
McNeill said a SWOSU Iron Palm Pull-Up Contest is also planned that evening at 6 p.m. If a person did not compete in the climbing competition, the entry fee is $5.
At 6:30 p.m., Chuck Fryberger’s new film “Core” will be shown. McNeill said the film shows an international cast of the sport’s most dedicated athletes and is a study in the landscapes and lifestyles that define the sport.
“Get ready to see every detail of some of the nastiest pieces of rock ever climbed,” McNeill said.
All events are being sponsored by Redbull. There will be free Redbull and a free late lunch will be served during a competition intermission.
“Come join us for the biggest climbing competition in the state or just hang out and enjoy the movie,” McNeill said.
Here’s a trailer from the movie “Core”….
Looks like ski season is winding down. Many places are closing up shop. But there’s still time to get in some good skiing, free of crowds and for much cheaper rates. And by the way, Colorado got POUNDED with fresh snow. Here’s some reports:
New Mexico: http://www.skireport.com/newmexico/
I first read about this festival in Oklahoma Today magazine. What I didn’t realize was that there were a number of other interesting activities associated with it. I got the information below from the state Tourism Department. Good stuff if you’re into birding, wildlife and conservation.
Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival
The second annual Lesser Prairie-Chicken Festival will be held in Woodward April 16-21, giving Oklahomans a chance to see and hear a symbol of the American prairie.
The lesser prairie chicken is a bird that was once so abundant “old timers” claim they used to see them blacken the skies in western Oklahoma. Since the 1800s, however, the bird’s numbers and home range have significantly declined, due mostly to human influences like conversion of native rangeland to cropland, fencing, overgrazing by livestock and extensive use of herbicides.
The Oklahoma Audubon Council, along with Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension and the Woodward Tourism and Convention Bureau, have formed a partnership, working to showcase the Lesser Prairie-Chicken and its importance to Oklahoma. Headquarters for the Festival will be the Northwest Inn in Woodward.
Many activities are planned for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Festival, including viewing the birds on their booming grounds, owl prowls, geocaching, caving and stargazing. Multiple tours will be available to view prairie dog towns and the Shattuck Windmill Museum as well as tours dedicated to birding Black Mesa and prairie ecosystems. Workshops will also be conducted on topics such as the ecology of the lesser prairie chicken, bird painting, bats, and the impact of wind development on prairie species.
Guest speakers will be on hand to give presentations, including nationally known bird artist and author Julie Zickefoose as keynote speaker.
For more information about the Festival or to download a registration form, log on to okaudubon.org or call John Kennington at (918) 809-6325.
If you’ve done much reading of this blog, you’ll know I’m all for getting kids off the couch, away from the video games and into the outdoors. But what to do? Well, here’s an idea worth checking out.
Folks with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are offering a kids’ program called the Wichita Mountains Nature Quest. The program is designed for fifth- and sixth-grade students (and those promoting from fourth to fifth or from fifth to sixth) and will take place June 21-25 at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Included in the program is a three-day, two-night campout.
Best of all, it’s free.
Some of the other highlights:
•Use a GPS to hike through the wilderness
•Learn digital nature photography
•Learn camping and wilderness skills and take a night hike
•Go fishing and learn archery
Meals are provided, and if you live in Comanche County, transportation from your school to the refuge will be available.
You need to apply to be a part of this program. Students selected to participate will be notified. Organizers say they’ll be posting more information about the program pretty soon. You can find more information and print out an application form by clicking here: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/oklahoma/wichitamountains/current.html
From the page, go to the link under “2010 Nature Quest announced.” That will take you to a pdf file that you can print out, which includes the application form.
Want to learn more? Contact Nick Plata at the refuge headquarters or call (580) 429-2195.
Five days in the refuge? Beats the heck out of five days in front of a computer screen playing “Halo” or “World of Warcraft.”
‘The Lost People of Mountain Village’: Mock-umentary takes a stab at displays of wealth in the mountains
Spend any time in the Rockies and you’ll see it — huge mountain chalets on expansive plots of wooded land, some even with pure, beautiful streams running through them. Millions are spent building these places, which slowly eat up prized mountain acreage and cut off access to the rest of us. In return, a very small number of people expend vast resources on places where they might spend a few weeks here and there annually. The gentrification of the West is, in my mind, a tragic, gaudy waste of money and land.
But there are times when you have to laugh. The economic bust has led many to flee their mountain hideaways and run to the refuge of bankruptcy, leaving behind vast monuments to their folly. These two videos, courtesy of The Adventure Life Web site, deliciously make light of this. Watch and enjoy.
Video No. 1:
Video No. 2:
News and notes from the outdoors…
From the local scene
In case you missed this earlier this week, there are some good outdoor opportunities popping up now.
For starters, guided hikes through the boulder field near Elk Mountain in the Wichitas are being offered this month. For more information on that, check this link: http://blog.newsok.com/outthere/2010/03/31/guided-hikes-offered-in-the-wichita-mountains-during-april/
Great Salt Plains State Park and Wildlife Refuge is also offering up a lot of activities this month. Crystal digging, camping, fishing and more. Check out that bit of news here:
And lastly, here’s a story about a couple of Tulsa men attempting a climb of Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth-highest peak and one of just 14 8,000-meter peaks in the world. More on that here: http://blog.newsok.com/outthere/2010/04/02/tulsa-men-to-attempt-cho-oyu-climb-in-the-himalyas/
Sir Edmund Hillary’s ashes to be spread on Everest
An interesting bit of info from the Himalayas. If you remember, Sir Edmund Hillary died in 2008. One of his wishes is that some of his ashes be spread over Mount Everest.
If you aren’t familiar with his story, he and climbing partner Tenzing Norgay were the first people to ever successfully climb Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.
In the years that followed, Hillary became a huge advocate for building schools and helping the Sherpa people of Nepal. But for us common folks, the New Zealander will always be remembered for his iconic climbing feat in 1953.
Nepalese climber Apa Sherpa will make the climb with Hillary’s ashes in May, according to a report from Reuters. If he succeeds, it will be his 20th summit of the mountain. He already holds the record for the most summits of Everest, but something tells me this one will be a bigger deal to him as well as the many Sherpas who not only remember Hillary’s legendary climb, but his goodwill to the people of Nepal.
Here’s a link to the story: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/01/2863080.htm?section=world
A sad story from California. Two buddies went climbing up that state’s Mount Shasta, but one of them didn’t make it down alive.
According to published accounts, Thomas Bennett, 26, died after suffering from altitude sickness.
At 14,179 feet, Mount Shasta is pretty high by American standards. But this fatality is, from what I’ve learned, unusual.
I’ve suffered from altitude sickness before, at least to varying degrees. At that elevation, it’s generally limited to headaches. Only one time have I suffered worse, but that was because of previously unknown, underlying health issues that cropped up.
Other people suffer worse symptoms, but death from altitude sickness from being at 14,000 feet is very rare.
In any case, it’s a sad story. Bennett’s climbing partner, 26-year-old Mark Thomas, tried to get his friend down, tried to help resuscitate him eventually had to leave him in a snow cave they’d dug out to ride out the winds.
You can read more about this here: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100402/NEWS/4020324
Interesting story in today’s Tulsa World about a couple of Tulsa guys going out to climb the world’s sixth-highest mountain, Cho Oyu.
The peak stands at 26,906 feet above sea level, one of the world’s 14 8,000-meter peaks. These guys will be making the attempt in May.
Did I mention the fact that both men are more than 70 years old?
Yeah, you heard me right. They’re both over 70. I’m plotting my own climbs this spring and summer, but the peaks I”ll be targeting will be a little over half as high as Cho Oyu. So I give it up these guys.
It’s rare but not unheard of that people in their 70s attempt climbs such as these. Such feats are made more possible with the increased sophistication and capability of professional guiding services. Many of the mountaineering skills required for unguided climbs are mitigated by fixed ropes installed by guide teams prior to any commercial expeditions being launched. This doesn’t happen much on the less frequently climbed peaks, but it does on Everest and Cho Oyu.
Cho Oyu is considered by most in the climbing community to be the perfect introductory Himalayan peak, meaning that before people try tougher mountains like Everest, they do Cho Oyu.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. It’s still more than 8,000 meters high, still tops out over the “death zone” and still has all the challenges of altitude, crevasses, wicked storms and avalanches. There are harder peaks in the Himalayas, but none of them are easy.
The story doesn’t say much about their climbing experience, other than the fact that they’re training a lot on the hills west of Tulsa and getting a lot of cardio in. One of the guys got his start in mountaineering by going up Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. Hopefully the stuff they’ve done in the past 15 or 20 years has prepared them for this trip.
So I’ll be eagerly awaiting word on the outcome of their trip. Good luck, guys!
Another good sign of the changing seasons: More outdoor recreation opportunities:
I was reading a story from the Enid News and Eagle newspaper about how the Great Salt Plains Wildlife Refuge and State Park is opening today.
This is an interesting place, and we had one of our writers put together a good piece on this a little over a month ago. You can check that link here for photos and a story: http://places.newsok.com/places-eagle-roost-nature-trail-salt-plains-national-wildlife-refuge/article/3440229
Some of the highlights pf the park and the refuge from the Enid paper’s story I read:
- Crystal digging.
- Kids’ activities, which includes making bird feeders this Saturday.
Concerning the fishing, here’s a quote from the story:
“Moms and dads or grandpas and grandmas can take their kids out there to fish” said Becky Wolff, Great Salt Plains outdoor recreation planner. “Ninety percent of the kids out there catch their first fish there. They aren’t little fish either, they can catch some pretty big ones. We have largemouth bass. They are great for a kid to get to hold up for their first catch. Even though they have to release it, you always remember the first fish you catch.”
Same story, but talking about crystal digging:
“It is a family fun event. Where else can you go and dig and get muddy and get crystals?” Wolff said. “It is very rare for a national refuge to allow people to take a part of the refuge home with them. Usually the motto is, ‘Only leave footprints.’ It is great to see the kids digging and it is like finding buried treasure. The looks on their faces is great.”
Wolff explained that digging helps some of the birds native to the area in building nest sites.
And a last bit of information from that story concerns some activities going on later in the month:
The last weekend in April will be Great Salt Plains’ Birding and Heritage Festival, which will celebrate the reopening of the areas, as well as star gazing, birdwatching, crystal digging contest, antique tractor pull and live music.
For information go to http://saltplains.fws.gov.
Sounds like this could be a fun month to head to the refuge and park. Go check it out.