Man, people are getting out. Summer is here and there’s plenty of people with time off to burn. So a bunch of them are spending that time outside.
But this is Oklahoma. It’s mid-June, and we’re already getting plenty of days with 90-degree temps. Hydration is now a major issue.
Most people who play outside are going to be within reach of some sort of water source or other drinks. If you’re out in the park or on the lake, chances are you should have good access to drinks. Chances are you can easily stave off dehydration with minimal preparation.
But it’s different on the trail and in the backcountry. And it’s no less important.
In these instances, hydration options are limited to two sources: what you can carry and what you can filter. And in some cases, there is nothing to filter.
What you can carry
The amount of water you carry depends on where you’re going and how long you’re out. It also depends on how strenuous the activity will be. But in any case, you should count on bringing at least two liters of water with you on, say, an eight-hour outing. When it’s this hot, I’d bring even more.
Several backpack companies make day packs and backpacking rigs that include pouches and ports for hydration bladders. The best of these will have two+ liters capacity, a tube and a bite valve that allows you sip water as you go. In addition to filling one of these up, I like to bring along a 20-ounce bottle of water or sports drink. I’ve known people who will bring even more, if they can haul it. That makes your day pack heavier, but if you get bogged down, lost or injured, the extra fluids can save your life. At the very least, they’ll stave off some of the minor but irritating effects of dehydration.
What you can filter
In areas with natural water sources – like rivers, streams, ponds and lakes – water can be filtered. Take things like iodine tablets or, better yet, some sort of portable filter that removes dirt, bacteria and other organic matter and gives you fresh, clean water.
I like my MSR filter and pump; others swear by the squeeze bottle filters on the market. You’ll spend anywhere from $40 to $90 on a good filter. Trust me, it’s worth it.
It’s best if you can choose a water source that is flowing quickly over rocks, like a stream. Standing water can be filtered, but it’s much dirtier and more prone to bacteria.
Filters give you the bonus of being able to replenish water supplies if you run out of the fluids you brought. But don’t think just because you have a filter you’re off the hook. Try finding any water sources in the Wichitas during the heat of summer. They’re few and far between and mostly stagnant. Go to Big Bend down in southwest Texas, or the Guadalupe Mountains, and you’ll find nothing.
Staying properly hydrated is key to making sure you’re healthy in the backcountry. Planning is the most important part. Know the terrain where you’re going and plan ahead to know how much water you’ll need to take with you and what you can filter. If you get caught out in this heat too long without water, serious health problems can arise. People die from dehydration every year.
Hopefully a mistake in this area will be nothing more than a pesky headache. But if that happens, it’s a sign. Listen to your body, drink early and often and make sure you have a hydration strategy before going out this summer.
Looking for some good summer activities to do with your kids in the outdoors? You’re a short drive to Norman away from doing just that. Check out this link, it’s filled with activities for kids who enjoy the outdoors and nature.
Got this news release from the state Tourism Department. It could be interesting to see what changes might be in store for the affected area and if other parks might have similar plans in store. Have a read…
The Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department, Division of State Parks, has announced consolidation of nine state park facilities in northeastern Oklahoma into a new Grand Lake State Park.
Bernice, Cherokee, Disney, Honey Creek, Little Blue and Twin Bridges state parks, as well as Spring River Canoe Trails on Grand Lake will now be called Grand Lake State Park.
Grand Cherokee Golf Course, Snowdale State Park on Lake Hudson and Spavinaw State Park below the spillway on Spavinaw Lake are also included in the merger and will be managed under Grand Lake State Park.
“This consolidation is a positive step on several levels,” said Hardy Watkins, executive director, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. “It allows us to take advantage of the strong, well-known Grand Lake brand, combine resources of all smaller facilities which results in cost savings of approximately $130,000 a year, and continue to maintain all public access points to the lake.”
Park areas will keep their current name, but eventually signage will be changed out to reflect the unified Grand Lake State Park name. For example, instead of Bernice State Park, visitors will now know this as the Bernice Area at Grand Lake State Park. Combined revenue for these nine areas in 2009 was $649,084 with a total attendance of 557,689 visitors.
“As a result of the merger, we are able to reduce the need to hire additional employees on a seasonal basis, thereby lowering our overall operational costs,” said Tracey Robertson, manager, Grand Lake State Park. “The day-to-day operations of these areas will not be affected by the consolidation and park visitors will not see any changes to the existing facilities.”
Looking at Robertson’s statement, this looks like a budget-driven move. Hopefully it helps the department, the Grand Lake area and the visitors to the lake.
Today I’ve got a guest writer. Megan Rolland is a co-worker of mine, and like me, she loves spending time outside and enjoying it with friends. On a recent outing, she did some canoeing and camping in Arkansas. Check out her trip report and pics. And remember, if you go somewhere and would like to tell people about your adventures, e-mail me a write-up and some photographs.
Buffalo River canoeing and camping trip
A weekend camping trip on the Buffalo National River in Arkansas offers dramatic views of the Ozark Mountains, clear green water, cliff jumping, waterfalls and hordes of people.
The weekend after Memorial Day proved to be a busy time of year for the river as our group of eight people in four canoes shoved off Saturday morning at the same time as what felt like every church group within a 200-mile radius.
Although we battled a traffic jam of canoes for the first five miles of the river and I saw more beer-bongs than I did wildlife, the beauty of the river was still inspiring.
The seasoned Buffalo River campers who hosted the trip said the upper part of the river is a more technical float with some actual rapids and narrow channels; however, the water was low this June so we started lower on the river at the Pruitt Landing drop.
Still, we had to pull the canoes over a few low-water points.
Canoeing into a campsite runs the risk of being wet and miserable for two days if the canoe tips, but fortunately our group only suffered one tip on the first day and most everything was in dry bags.
Dry bags are essential for those planning overnight camping trips on a river. I’ve been with campers using them twice now, once for an overnight in the Georgia Okefenokee Swamp and again for this trip. The bags can be fully submerged and not leak a drop.
We ate lunch on a sandbar and spent part of the afternoon jumping off a cliff into the cool water. We finished up the day about 7 miles from our starting point.
Camping is permitted anywhere along the river for free or in any of the federally run campsites for a fee. We chose a rocky bank on the river as a campsite. The fireflies provided a night display worthy of mention.
On Day 2, we paddled about 8 miles and enjoyed an almost empty river.
The day started with a river otter sighting on the opposite shore and we spotted several blue herrings and a couple hawks throughout the afternoon.
We survived a harrowing drive out of the canyon and back to the town of Jasper where we had rented our canoes for the trip. It took us five hours to drive home, putting us back in Oklahoma City at midnight, but the trip was well worth it.
– Megan Rolland
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park officials say they continue to search for a 25-year-old Oklahoma man who may be missing.
Park officials say Peter Louis Kastner, of Oklahoma City, has not been heard from for some time. Rangers believe it’s possible that Kastner has been in the Yellowstone area for two weeks and may be using a fake name.
Kastner is described as 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes.
The National Park Service says he’s a former Marine who was injured twice in Iraq.
Rangers found a rental car registered to him at the Hellroaring Trailhead, but searches by ground and dog teams have failed to find him.
They believe Kastner remains in the park.
Exploration, or in more recent times, adventurism, is all about pushing new boundaries. It’s the only way people can see what their limits are, find something undiscovered, or test the technology of the day.
I get that. In my own way, I’ve seen times where I’ve had to go outside my comfort zone or push through fatigue to accomplish certain goals. This is the way we grow personally or, as a society, how we innovate.
A lot of things come to mind. First ascents on difficult peaks. Mapping the depths of the ocean floor. Walking on the moon.
There are times, however, that I wonder if modern-day attempts to set records stray from the realm of exploration and adventurism and go headlong into hunting accolades.
In this space, I’ve written about Jordan Romero, the 13-year-old Californian who successfully climbed Mount Everest. In doing so, he became the youngest person to ever accomplish the feat.
I also included a post about 16-year-old Jessica Watson, the young Aussie who became the youngest person to ever circumnavigate the world in a sailboat solo.
These are serious achievements, regardless of age. But because of these kids’ ages, they also set records. That could lead to a degree of fame and potential riches in the form of book deals and such.
So a couple of questions come to mind.
First off, what’s next for these kids? We know Romero is also seeking to bag the Seven Summits, which means he has one more to go, Vinson Massif in Antarctica. I’ve also seen reports of how he wants to climb Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth-highest peak.
I’m not sure about Watson’s future plans.
In any case, it will be tough to top what they’ve already done, at least in terms of notoriety. There are tougher deeds out there to be had, but it will be difficult to match the publicity these two received lately. Have they hit their prime too young? Can you grow past childhood achievements as you age, or will you forever be marked by what you did as a kid?
The good thing is that both will live to figure these questions out. But this brings up the next question: What now for these records?
Surely the temptation will arise for someone to break the records set by Romero and Watson. Some plucky 12-year-old will want a shot at Everest, or a 14-year-old will helm the next solo voyage around the globe. Where will it end? When is too young?
The question can be asked of a lot of similar ventures, such as the Nepalese man with no arms who wants to climb Everest. Pick your challenge (no legs, blind, oldest, youngest, etc.) and it will be attempted, either to stroke an individual’s ego or to somehow monetize the feat.
Here’s what would impress me. Find me some 12-year-old kid who climbs a big mountain, but doesn’t tell anyone about it except his friends and family. Find me a seventh-grader who sails the world, but does it just to see if she can. Or some guy with prosthetics who attempts El Capitan and succeeds. And all he gets is the satisfaction that he did it. It would be adventure for adventure’s sake.
There’s a lot of times on this space where I’ve talked about hiking, climbing, camping and other ways to explore the outdoors. But I’ll have to admit my total ignorance on caving. I’ve explored a cave or two in the past, but nothing like the stuff caving enthusiasts do. Generally speaking, caves are interesting places that draw a lot of attention from curious folks.
But caves are dangerous places. They are dark, rocky, muddy and at times quite wet. People can become easily disoriented once deep inside. Caves are an easy place to get hurt, and no one will know what’s wrong with you if no one knows you’re there.
I’m posting this because we had a caving death reported earlier this week in eastern Oklahoma, near Fort Gibson. The man was solo caving before he met his end.
I’ll probably get into this more later, but I did want to post some caving safety tips I found recently. Read these before you think about crawling around in some new cave you find…
CAVING SAFETY TIPS
Leave no trace.
Never cave alone and always tell somebody where you’re caving and when you’re out.
Never cave after a rain.
Each caver needs three light sources, spare food and water, warm clothes, and good boots, gloves and a helmet.
Sad story about a man who died in a caving accident. Read on, and take care when exploring caves…
FORT GIBSON, Okla. (AP) — Searchers have found the body of a 31-year-old missing hiker in a 10-foot-deep pool of water in a cave near Fort Gibson.
Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault says the body of Joseph Rolands was found about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, about 12 hours after the search began for Rolands. Chennault says Rolands had drowned.
Rolands’ family says he had experience exploring caves but had always returned from previous trips within 24 hours.
One of the men who helped search the cave, Jeremey Roberts of Oklahoma Task Force One, says the cave was about 100 acres in size with pillars about 50 feet wide located about every 100 feet or so.
He says that when a person is in the cave “even just 100 feet” there’s no point of light to give a person a point of relevance.