Sometimes, you just have to go lose yourself in a wild place for awhile. And that’s what I’m going to do starting Friday. I hope to come back with some good trip reports and some photos of the San Juan Mountains, and if that happens I’ll be sharing with all of you.
I probably won’t be near a computer anytime soon. So posting will be difficult. However, feel free to e-mail me with any ideas you have, or possibly any stories of adventures you’ve had, be it here in Oklahoma or in some faraway place. Send me a story and some photos and I’ll publish it here.
Have an awesome week, folks. Enjoy the great outdoors and I’ll talk to you soon.
Last week I wrote a post asking the question of whether or not people should be charged for costs related to search and rescue. I got a lot of feedback – some here on the blog, more on Facebook, and still more from the 14ers.com forum.
First, the poll results. Ninety-six people took part in the poll, with six saying people should be charged; 43 people saying they shouldn’t; and 47 saying people should only be charged in cases of carelessness or recklessness. Thanks to everyone who voted in the poll!
Now, on to some of the comments I got. First, via Facebook…
From Paula: Only if their stupidity or lack of preparation got them in trouble. If someone is in DIRE need and truly thinks he might die, he won’t care what the cost is and will fire up the beacon. I wonder if the fines will encourage people to prepare more before hitting the outdoors.
From Tim: …how does search and rescue determine whether or not somebody was stupid? You could say that most people who go out and get themselves stuck are people who are inexperienced and stupid.
From Melissa: There used to be signs up at the Grand Canyon warning people that the climb down was hard and if they needed help getting out, there would be a fee of X dollars to come pluck them out. I am not opposed to something like that…..they are warned ahead of time. But then on the other hand, things happen and what might be stupidity to one person may not be to another so that leads to judgment calls that would differ depending on someone’s point of reference of “what is stupidity.” Maybe that is what tax dollars are for….although I do see that some cities are billing accident victims now for something tax dollars are supposed to help pay for.
From Scott: If you buy a SPOT, rescue insurance is about $10 per year. If you buy a fishing license in some states, rescue insurance comes along with it. An insurance company is there to cover the risk and that is why we have it …in case anything goes wrong, we don’t have to pay out of pocket. If you don’t have rescue insurance, you pay out of pocket. Simple.
And from Ouida: When I went hiking in the Rocky Mountains, I bought the fishing license, so that I would have the search and rescue insurance. I guess you can call it that. But with that $10, if I had gotten lost or injured, it would have covered it. Glad I didn’t have to use it.
One more from the 14ers.com forum…
From CO Native: The problem with charging for a rescue for someone who was being careless or reckless is that the fact that they needed a rescue usually is used as evidence that they were careless or reckless. Places that have attempted to charge for these reasons have always ended up charging for all rescues.
Thanks to everyone for their input. This is a hot topic, and it’s not likely to go away anytime soon.
On that note: Have you ever needed search and rescue? If so, were you charged? What happened? Enlighten us.
Talk about an overachiever. Below is a story from The Associated Press about a Frenchman – and quadruple amputee – who swam the English Channel. I’ve got two functioning arms and legs, and I’d struggle to swim a couple hundred meters. Anyway, read this and let me know what you think.
WISSANT, France (AP) — Just days after swimming across the English Channel, quadruple amputee Philippe Croizon is already dreaming of a new challenge: crossing from Europe to Africa in the Strait of Gibraltar.
Croizon, who swims using leg prostheses with fins attached, also has an inspirational message for anyone discouraged or facing difficulties.
“You only need to want (something), and then it becomes possible to go beyond your limits,” he told Associated Press Television News on Monday, two days after crossing the English Channel, which is 21 miles (34 kilometers) at its narrowest point.
Croizon, 42, had expected his weekend swim from Britain to France to take up to 24 hours. Instead, he reached the cliffs of Wissant in northern France on Saturday night after only 13 and a half hours.
He uses specially designed leg protheses, which end in fins, to propel himself through the water. His truncated upper arms go through the motions of the crawl, and he breathes through a snorkel.
Upon reaching the French shore, a wave threw him into the rocks, before being pulled out of the water.
“The guys on the boat were shouting, ‘Get out of there!’ The waves were huge,” Croizon recalled. Then he saw his two sons up on the cliff above, cheering him on.
“I broke down in tears … it (was) pure happiness,” he said.
The swimmer’s arms and legs were amputated after he suffered an electric shock in 1994 as he stood on a ladder adjusting his television antenna, which touched a power line.
While he was recovering, he saw a news report about an English Channel crossing.
“I watched the TV screen and said to myself, ‘Why not me?’” he said. “So 16 years later, the ‘why not me’ became a reality here.”
He added: “I can’t even realize it myself, it’s crazy!”
Croizon said he hopes to be able to cross the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco, perhaps in a year or two after more training to adapt to the different conditions there. While the strait, at about 14 kilometers (9 miles) at its shortest point, is shorter than the English Channel, it has busy traffic and strong currents.
Croizon is an avid scuba diver and also made headlines for going skydiving. He wrote a book about his experiences called “J’ai decide de vivre” (I decided to live.)
He said the main message of his cross-Channel endeavor is that “we can all make it.”
“We all have it in ourselves but it is well hidden, in our daily routine,” he said. “When a big problem occurs, we can still pick ourselves up. If I can show other people that life is not only suffering, I would be happy. We suffer, but we get back up again.”
What an incredible story. I really need to take some swim lessons.
More news on a group hiking opportunity toward the end of this month. It looks like a good one. Have a read, and if this is something you’d like to do, see the contact information toward the end and sign up. (courtesy Oklahoma Outdoor Network, http://oklahomaoutdoornetwork.net/)
Where: Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton.
When: Saturday, Sept. 25. Meet at Backwoods in Norman around 7:45 a.m. to organize carpools and sign liability waivers. Carpooling is the best option, since parking is limited at the trailhead and the tolls add up to about $6.50 per car round trip. We will leave the store promptly at 8 a.m. There is also the option of meeting the group at the Visitor’s Center at 9:30. If you plan to meet at the Visitor’s Center, please RSVP so we know to look for you there.
Details: The Bison Loop portion of the Dog Run Hollow Trail System is a 5.7 mile hike with awesome, varied scenery and the chance to see a lot of wildlife. We’ll hike along creek beds, see towering granite rock faces, gaze over prairie-like pastures, and pass a picturesque ravine – all in one hike! This is an intermediate-level hike, and probably not appropriate for children under 10.
What to bring: A daypack with 2 to 3 liters of water per person, snacks and a lunch (we will be eating on the trail). Wear sticky, supportive trail shoes or boots since the trail is pretty rocky in parts. Bring sun protection and bug protection. Also, bring any personal first aid items/medication that you may need. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome on this outing, as long as you are confident they can hike 6 miles on rocky terrain.
If you have any further questions, feel free to call or shoot me an e-mail at the store.
So there it is. The people I know who have gone on these hikes have enjoyed themselves quite a bit. Enjoy it!
Let me pose a scenario to you.
A young man gets lost in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The weather is bad and his situation is dire. Search and rescue personnel look for him and eventually find him. He’s taken to a hospital for treatment. He’s also given a $25,000 bill for the rescue.
This was a controversial case, to say the least. Many people can identify with the state in terms of holding people financially accountable for search and rescue efforts. This has become a bigger issue with the advent of rescue beacons that some people overuse when they wander off into the wilderness, get uncomfortable with their surrounds and decide they’re too tired to deal with it anymore. People who are that reckless – putting rescuers at risk unnecessarily – should be fined, the thinking goes.
But there is also another side to the argument. Many search and rescue groups adamantly oppose instituting fines and fees for search and rescue. They say if people are afraid of racking up a huge tab for their rescue, they’ll be less apt to call for help when they really need it, thus leading to desperate or even deadly situations that could be avoided.
Outside Online’s blog discusses this subject, citing a case where a Colorado search and rescue group convinced one city there to abandon its policy of charging for search and rescue. You can read about it here: http://outside-blog.away.com/blog/2010/09/no-charge-to-rescue-heats-up.html
But what about the Grand Canyon case where one group used a SPOT locator beacon three times, ultimately waving off a helicopter rescue crew three times after asking for help on rather mundane inconveniences? The rescuers in that case ultimately forced the group out of the canyon. Should they have been charged?
So what do you think? I’m likely to side with the rescue groups who stand against such fees, but I can understand where some would like to see the more careless or reckless types pay for their sins. Give me your opinion.
Looking for another group to do some hiking with? The local Sierra Club has various outings planned, and they’re open to members and non-members. Below is some information on a Sept. 26 outing to the Wichitas. This sounds like a pretty good trip. Read the write-up below (courtesy of the Sierra Club) and get in touch with the contact person listed if you want to go.
Day Hike in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Description: The group will explore upper Mount Scott, check out the visitor center, and hike to the boulder field in the Charon’s Garden Wilderness Area. This trail involves scrambling and boulder hopping in some areas.
Difficulty level: Moderate.
Date: Sept. 26, Activities will run from about 12:45 p.m. to about 4:45 p.m.
Transportation: The Sierra Club encourages car-pooling. For those who would like to caravan or find/offer a ride, we’ll meet at 11 a.m. at the Gold Dome, 1112 NW 23 St., in Oklahoma City. The going rate for carpool passengers is $0.10/mile per passenger. We’ll be leaving at 11:15 a.m. sharp. If you would prefer to meet the group on the refuge, we’ll be on top of Mount Scott about 12:45 p.m.
Food: Pack a lunch to eat in the car or on the trail.
Other available activities: Some may choose to head to Meers for dinner. Bring cash for Meers, as they don’t split checks. For those not ready to part with nature, there is a Bugling Elk Tour at 5 p.m. at a cost of $5. If you are interested in this tour, contact the wildlife refuge directly.
- Lunch and any desired trail snacks.
- Sturdy, close-toed shoes that can be laced/strapped tight.
- At least 1 liter of water per person and a means of carrying your bottle without using your hands (strap, backpack, bum bag, etc.).
- Rain equipment appropriate for the forecast.
- Walking stick/trekking poles (optional).
Leader: Blair Williams, e-mail email@example.com or call (405) 823-8085 (evening only, please) with questions.
Cost: No fees required, however a donation to the Sierra Club newsletter would be greatly appreciated.
Weather: Hike may be cancelled if the forecast calls for significant rain or very windy/cold weather. If you send Blair an e-mail address, you’ll be contacted directly regarding a cancellation. Otherwise, check Sierra Club Outings website for cancelation information. http://oklahoma.sierraclub.org/outings/index.html
Liability waiver: Every participant will be required to sign a liability waiver before beginning the outing. The leader will have forms available at the trailhead.
Children: This hike is not appropriate for small children. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. All attendees under the age of 18 will require a parent signature on the waiver.
Sounds like a good invite to a good event. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows what I think of the Wichitas, so any planned event here has to be pretty good. Join up with these folks and have a good time.
Pretty fantastic video. Accidents happen in the mountains, often through no fault of the climbers or hikers. Some things I took from this video:
- The injured climber is one cool customer.
- Her climbing partner is worth his weight in gold (setting good pro, staying cool and getting the rescue under way).
- Heli rescues are always dramatic, but these guys made it look like they were directing an outdoor barbecue. Wow!
Watch and enjoy.
All right, Tulsa people. Looks like it’s time for another Backwoods outing, and there’s also a planned event for the ladies. We’ll start there…
Women in the Outdoors
Time: Saturday, 2010 all day
Location: West of Sapulpa
Website or Map: http://www.womenintheoutdoors
Event Type: learning
The Tulsa Metro Women in the Outdoors event Camp Okiwanee, west of Sapulpa. This event is for women who are 14 or older. WITO is designed to let women try hands-on outdoors skills, taught by experts, in a friendly environment. We have 24 classes to choose from. This is a one-day event. Classes start at 8 a.m. and end at 7 p.m. We have overnight lodging for those who have to travel. You can download a registration by logging on to womenintheoutdoors.org, and clicking on Events, or contact Pattie Bing at (918) 688-8097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Courtesy Oklahoma Outdoor Network, http://oklahomaoutdoornetwork.net/)
Tulsa Backwoods Hiking Club
Saturday, September 11th
Meet at Backwoods at 8:30 a.m.
Location: Lake Keystone Trail
Join us for our monthly hikes that encourage people of all ages to enjoy outdoor opportunities in the Tulsa area. Hikes will be easy to moderate and anyone with a water bottle and appropriate shoes is invited to participate. Only fees involved are park and vehicle permits, where applicable.
Rain or shine, be prepared and bring plenty of water.
Usually on the second Saturday of every month, location rotates monthly
For more information about our monthly hikes contact Robert at email@example.com or (918) 664-7850.
(Courtesy Backwoods’ Facebook fan page)
There you have it. Go check it out!
I had this information forwarded to me from a co-worker. It looks like the people who put this out are trying to find ways to pump up tourism in McCurtain County, but I’ll take it for what it’s worth.
I have friends who really enjoy geocaching, where you use a GPS to find places or things that are mapped out with coordinates on a map. Call it a GPS treasure hunt, if you will.
Though I’ve not been there, I’ve heard Beavers Bend State Park is one of Oklahoma’s finest. So it’s on my to-go list for sure.
If you’re into geocaching and are looking for some fun in a scenic part of the state, read on. This sounds like a pretty good time.
BROKEN BOW – How do parents get the whole family out to do family activities, especially if you have teens or tweens? The answer is geocaching. Especially geocaching in the Beavers Bend State Park area in Southeastern Oklahoma.
What is geocaching? Geocaching is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasures. Geocachers place…or identify a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache’s existence and location online. Anyone, especially families, with a GPS unit, can then try to locate the geocache.
In the Beavers Bend State Park area, there are hundreds of caches. The park has mountains, lakes, pine trees, rivers and hiking trails.
Before coming to McCurtain County, log on to the official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site:
Type in ZIP code, 74728, or other ZIP codes in McCurtain County and view the descriptions of caches and select several in the Beavers Bend State Park area. Most have a difficulty rating from easy to difficult.
Charity O’Donnell, Executive Director, McCurtain County Tourism Authority, http://www.mccurtaincountygetaways.com/, said, “People love treasure hunts, particularly kids. In McCurtain County, families can enjoy an exciting treasure hunt that combines technology, outdoor recreation and family time together. September is a perfect time to head to our cool mountains, beautiful lakes and refreshing rivers and enjoy fun and challenging geocaching.”
Located in the heart of the Kiamichi Mountains, just across the Texas state line, McCurtain County is home to Broken Bow Lake, Pine Creek Lake, the Mountain Fork, Eagle Fork and Glover Rivers and Beavers Bend State Park. For more information about that park, go to http://www.beaversbend.com/Info.htm.
So there you go. Check out the links and the park. Try geocaching while you’re there and have a good time outside.
Not long ago, I had someone e-mail me about finding groups locally who liked to hike. I think I gave him some information, but now there’s some more. A new group, called the Oklahoma Outdoor Network, was recently formed and has a website up and running.
From the look of it, it appears to mirror social network Internet sites. You can sign up on the site to be a member, and the site includes a calendar of events for all kinds of activities. It also breaks down groups into areas of interest, such as hiking, camping, trail maintenance, kayaking, fishing, and more. It also has the beginnings of an active online forum.
At first glance, this looks like a very useful site for people looking to engage with others in various outdoor recreation activities. I’ve already bookmarked it and will likely sign up.
You can check out the group’s website here: http://oklahomaoutdoornetwork.net/
From past experience with 14ers.com, this site will develop and grow if users contribute and administrators keep it navigable. It sure has that feel right now. So there you go, a social networking site for outdoorsy people!