Where predator meet prey, and they both meet the road at Yellowstone National Park. It’s getting that time of year where bears are desperate to fatten up before they hibernate, and that may be what you see in the provided photo and link.
What a startling picture! One more reminder where the top of the food chain starts, and it’s no fun to be on the lower rung.
With the leaves beginning to turn and the weather cooling off, here’s a good opportunity to visit a beautiful area of the state this weekend. The following information is from The Nature Conservancy, http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/oklahoma/events/events6526.html
Have a read, and see if you can go.
Date: Friday, Oct. 29
Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Overview: Hike through the Looney Unit of the Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge. Participants will meet at the Mary and Murray Looney Education and Research Center near Colcord for an extended hike through one of the most scenic and pristine areas of the Oklahoma Ozarks. The hike will begin with a visit to the entrance of an extensive cave that protects endangered Ozark cavefish, cave crayfish, gray bat and a suite of cave-dwelling salamanders.
The group will follow a primitive path along a narrow forest stream into bottomland hardwood forest. The path will lead to a sunny sandbar on Spavinaw Creek, where participants will learn about conservation efforts to protect the watershed. Refuge biologist Shea Hammond will provide a glimpse into the site’s history, its ecological significance, and future plans for public visitation. Bring a lunch to enjoy on the covered porch of the historic log cabin. Bring snacks, bug spray, and plenty of water.
Reservations: Contact Steve McGuffin at (405) 858-8557 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a lonely stretch of highway somewhere in Oklahoma’s eastern Panhandle, I realize I’ve got a problem. With nary a town in sight and the gas gauge on the “E” line, there’s serious doubt as to whether I’ll be driving this little rig much longer.
Seems that even my gas-sipping Honda has its limits. And I have pushed them too far.
Running out of gas on a long solo road trip? A bad thing, right? Well, it’s all part of the fun.
That’s right. I said “fun.”
The road trip is something that is typical Americana, and even though the kitschy roadside stands of the pre-interstate days are mostly gone, let’s just be honest: It’s the bumps in the road that add the adventure.
Stressful, to be sure. But oh so cathartic.
During the work week, I drive 90 minutes, round-tip, every day. I’m used to prolonged periods of time in the car alone, with the sounds of the radio blaring, the tires humming along the pavement, and little else but my thoughts to occupy my mind as I motor along at 70 mph. But each trip is the same – to work, from work.
Road trips are different. Road trips are long. Destinations often interesting, if not just a tad exotic (at least compared to the mundane nature of our everyday surroundings). And we’re blessed to live in a country where you can jump in a car, point it a certain direction and drive. For hours. Even days.
Inside the tedium of the drive lies that blessed down time that’s somewhat similar to what you might get on a long hike in an isolated place. You get time to think. Or just shut down and give your brain relief from the stress that accompanies things like work, home life or other pressing issues.
I can remember five years ago when a small group of friends and I took off to the mountains to do some camping, hiking and fishing. All of that was accomplished, and it was all very fun. But what really stood out?
Discussing a rather deep book on spirituality. Even deeper discussions about life. And an awesomely bad experience at a Montrose, Colo., fast food joint that still brings huge laughs from our group years later. All of these experiences happened on the road, in a van, going from Point A to a distant point B.
Another trip four years ago saw the driver of the car in which I was riding abruptly pull over and stop. That driver, longtime friend and avid hunter Ben Grasser, had spotted a pheasant in a recently cut corn field and decided to give chase. On foot. Through a muddy field. He had no gun and wouldn’t have poached the poor bird, but I guess some instincts are just too strong to suppress. All of us got a got laugh out of that stunt.
The road trip takes on a whole other feel when you’re going it alone. With no one to talk to, it’s just you and your machine. The radio is there, sometimes. And even when it is, you never know what you’re going to get.
It could be Spanish radio. Country. Disco. I sang along to some pretty groovy ‘70s funk at one point between Clayton, N.M., and Guymon. And there’s a rock station out of Woodward that flat out got after it. Head-banging music will keep you awake.
Sometimes I pray when I drive. I keep my eyes open and all – I think you can talk to God without shutting your lids.
But no road trip is complete or even memorable without a challenge. On my last trip, I filled up in Castle Rock, Colo., and took off south on Interstate 25. Crossing into New Mexico, I turned east toward Clayton, then into the Oklahoma Panhandle. There will still plenty of gas left in the tank.
Driving east, I had a chance to fill up in a little town called Hardesty. With a quarter tank left, I really wanted to see if I could get to Woodward.
But not long after that, as the gas gauge slipped ever lower, I saw a sign that told me Woodward was still 73 miles away. No chance of making it there with what I had left.
What had been a trusty station in Elmwood was shuttered. I’m on the E-line.
Next I hit Slapout. There’s a station there. But it closed an hour before.
The following few minutes, a couple things are happening. I’m looking for farm houses, judging how long it will take to walk the distance from my car to the nearest homestead to beg for some gas. And I’m saying a few audible prayers, asking God that the next town would have an open gas station. My eyes bounce between farmhouses, road signs and the gas gauge.
In the distance, I see a group of trees. Out here, that means a town is close. Will the next little burg have what I need?
As I drive up to the town of May, the first service station I see has long been abandoned. I keep going, the gas needle below the E-line. And then I spot it. A gas station still open, still pumping that golden elixir of automotive life.
I am saved. Saved from the humiliating walk to a strange ranch house to beg for gas.
The experience would have been more nerve-wracking if I had passengers. But alone, it’s just part of the experience, like biting into an unexpectedly hot pepper in an otherwise bland bowl of chili.
I express my gratitude to the store clerk for being open (the place had planned to close 10 minutes after I arrived), buy a drink and head off, my tank now brimming with freshly pumped gasoline. I will make it home.
As surely as I remembered the things I did on my brief mountain getaway, I’ll remember the drive just as much.
I need road trips. The journey has a healing, settling affect on my life. Those little things – a great conversation, a crazy act of whimsy, or a close call – build on the story of life beyond the norm.
Thank God for the freedom of the road.
This just in from the Denver Post: The Loveland ski area opened today. That’s right. Loveland opened its ski season today.
And Arapaho Basin opens tomorrow.
These two places are always the early risers of Rocky Mountain skiing, but it’s a good reminder that for those of us who love skiing and snowboarding, the time is now at hand.
Expect most places in Colorado to open sometime after Thanksgiving, with northern New Mexico ski areas opening in December.
Dust off your ski gear, break out your winter garb and get ready for ski season. We’ll be with you along the way with snow reports and some helpful tips on how to get ready for winter.
I saw this video posted on the Adventure Journal website. Steve Casimiro, who runs the site, definitely has his take on what the filmmakers are trying to do here. You can read it here: http://www.adventure-journal.com/2010/10/dumb-and-dumberer-how-not-to-jump-rope/
I say to each his own. But there is a line somewhere close to crazy. And I’m not too thrilled about drilling bolts, chopping down trees and chunking cans/rocks into canyons for the sake of visual effects. But the video is also pretty amazing in what these guys do. Watch the video and tell me what you think: cool stunt or folks who are screaming “look at me!” as they fling themselves over the rim of a canyon?
This is a story from The Associated Press about a mountain goat that killed a hiker in Washington state. My only close encounters with mountain goats were on the east slopes of Quandary Peak in Colorado. The goats were unafraid of hikers on the mountain, but they were anything but aggressive. Strange case of wildlife acting out in unpredictable ways. Have a read…
By PHUONG LE
Associated Press Writer
SEATTLE, Wash. (AP) — A mountain goat that fatally gored a hiker, then stood over the man and stared at people trying to help, had shown aggressive behavior in the past, Olympic National Park officials said Monday.
Robert Boardman, 63, of Port Angeles, died Saturday after he was attacked by the goat while hiking on the subalpine Switchback Trail in the park. The trail is popular with residents of nearby Port Angeles, which is about 85 miles west of Seattle.
Park rangers later found the goat, observed blood on it and shot the animal.
Rangers have been tracking the goat and others for the past four years because they have followed people or approached hikers without backing down, said park spokeswoman Barb Maynes.
“It has shown aggressive behavior, however, nothing led us to believe us it was appropriate to take the next level of removal,” she said. “This is a highly unusual. There’s no record of anything similar in this park. It’s a tragedy. We are taking it extremely seriously and doing our best to learn as much as we can.”
Park officials have posted signs at trailheads warning hikers to be watchful of all goats and to stay at least 100 feet from the animals. Hikers are also warned not to urinate on or near the trail, because goats are attracted to the salt.
A necropsy, or animal autopsy, was conducted on the goat Sunday night by a private certified veterinary pathologists. Park officials are awaiting test results of blood and tissue samples, which may take a couple weeks, Maynes said.
“We’re looking for anything to indicate any presence of diseases, which might shed light on the animal’s extremely strange and unusual behavior,” she said.
Boardman was hiking with his wife, Susan Chadd, and their friend, Pat Willits, and had stopped for lunch at an overlook when the goat began acting aggressively toward them, the Peninsula Daily News reported.
Boardman urged the others to go ahead while he tried to get rid of the goat, according to the paper. The two heard him yell and ran back to help.
Hikers who came upon the group radioed for help. But it took nearly an hour before rescuers could reach Boardman because the goat stood over him as he lay motionless on the ground, according to the Seattle Times.
“The mountain goat was terribly aggressive,” Jessica Baccus, who was hiking with her family, told the Times. “It wouldn’t move. It stared us down.”
She and her husband, Bill Baccus, a park scientist, tried to lure the goat away by pelting the animal with rocks, shouting at it and using a silver reflective blanket to distract it. It finally moved away, and Jessica Baccus tried to give Boardman CPR until a local doctor who came upon the group took over, she told the Times.
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter airlifted him out of the park.
Boardman, a locally-known musician and diabetes educator, was an avid hiker who also worked for years as a nurse for the Makah and Lower Elwha Klallam tribes, according to the Peninsula Daily News.
About 300 goats graze the park’s alpine meadows and roam its rocky peaks. The animals are not native to the park and were introduced in the 1920s, before the park was established.
Maynes said the park had a two-year live capture program in the late 1980s to remove the goats by helicopter because of the damage the animals wrecked on the park’s fragile alpine areas and soil. That program was ended after two years because it was determined to be risky for operators and was less effective, she said.
Wild animals are unpredictable, and thus dangerous.
In Alaska, moose encounters are common, even in urban settings, but rarely do they turn deadly. The last known fatal attack occurred in 1995, when a 71-year-old man was stomped by a cow moose apparently protecting its calf. The moose was killed a week later when it tried to attack another person.
A Michigan man was killed and two others injured when an undernourished grizzly and her three cubs marauded through a crowded campground near Yellowstone National Park on July 28. The mother bear was euthanized, and the cubs were taken to a sanctuary.
A month earlier, a botanist in Wyoming was killed by a bear shortly after the animal woke up from being tranquilized by researchers.
In New Mexico this year, more than 80 bears that were roaming too close to people and searching for food have been killed.
Associated Press Writer Rachel D’Oro contributed to this story from Anchorage, Alaska.
Fall in Oklahoma is one of the best times to get outside for a good hike. This is especially true in the Wichita Mountains near Lawton. I’ve got some information here about a planned group hike of Elk Mountain that is happening this weekend. Have a read and see if this is something you’d like to do.
Here are the details for the October Backwoods hike.
Where: Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton.
When: Saturday, Oct. 23. Meet at Backwoods in Norman at 7:45 a.m. to sign waivers and organize carpools. We will leave promptly at 8 a.m. There is also the option of meeting the group at the Visitor’s Center at 9:30. If you choose to meet us at the park, please RSVP so organizer know to look for you there.
Details: The hike will go to the top of Elk Mountain by way of a well-maintained, but steep and rocky trail (about 1.5 miles). At the top, the group will eat lunch, explore the boulder fields, relax and enjoy the panoramic views of the wildlife refuge. Afterwards, the group will descend to the trailhead.
What to Bring: A daypack with 3 liters of water, snacks, a lunch (the group will eat on the trail), personal first aid items/medication, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Wear good hiking shoes or boots. Also, the weather is unpredictable this time of year and the mountain-top can be very windy, so dressing in layers is your best bet. Dogs are allowed on the refuge, as long as they are on leashes at all times and any pet waste is removed responsibly.
Elk Mountain is one of my favorite hikes in the refuge, and it’s one that’s doable for just about anyone. Best of all, the views from the top are pretty spectacular. If you’d like to do this, contact Pam Cherek at Backwoods, 573-5199. You can also find out more here: http://backwooders.ning.com/group/normanbackwoodshikingclub
If you want more information about what the hike is like, check this link from a past trip report: http://blog.newsok.com/outthere/2010/04/20/trip-report-elk-mountain-trail-wichita-mountains-lawton-oklahoma/
Rumble the Bison, Oklahoman writer David Zizzo and everyone else who participated in Over the Edge’s rappelling fundraiser Wednesday to help Special Olympics have one over on me. Can’t say that I’ve ever come close to a 300-foot rappel!
For me, we’re talking maybe 40 feet. If that. These people did it from the top of the SandRidge building in downtown Oklahoma City. If you’re not sure which one that is, it used to be the Kerr McGee building and is the most prominent structure on the northeast side of downtown.
You can read David’s story here: http://www.newsok.com/rappellers-take-big-leap-to-help-special-olympics/article/3504186?custom_click=pod_headline_life
What’s your biggest rappel? I’ve already confessed my rather unimpressive roped descent best. Give me a shout. Tell me where it was and how far you rappelled down. And if you can, send photos!
For me, it’s more of a case of really not having the time to test every piece of gear offered to me. But in the time I have spent roaming around the outdoors, I’ve picked up some equipment and apparel that I have found noteworthy. Call this my outdoor gear all-star list, and the “review” I’m giving here is based solely on my observations through extensive use.
Tent: Kelty Teton 2. This is a three-season, two-person tent that I’ve used for six years. I bought it for about $100. It’s light, easy to set up and compact. I’ve crawled in that tent in sub-freezing temps and have endured long nights of nonstop rain. The tent has never had a rip or hole and has never leaked. Kelty is one of those bang-for-your-buck brands. The Teton 2 and an external frame pack I own from the same company prove that, at least to me.
Backpack: Lowe Alpine Contour. This is The Beast. It’s good for multi-day or even multi-week backpacking trips. The internal frame is adjustable and the pack has a narrow profile, making it easier to get around off-trail. For mountaineers, it has ice axe loops and lots of straps to tie other things down, like pads, trekking poles and other gear. This is an awesome pack, though I wish it had a sleeve for a hydration system. Picked it up for less than $150, which made it a pretty good buy. Nothing on it has broken down. They call that being “bombproof.”
Day pack: North Face Solaris 40. This is a more recent buy of mine, and I’ve made the most of it. Any day hike or climb I’ve done within the past two years, this has been with me. It has three compartments on the body, plus side packets, a hydration system sleeve and port and ice axe loops. I’ve used every feature on this pack. Again, it has yet to break down despite the abuse, and I picked it up on sale for about $80. Maybe one of the best deals I’ve come across, seeing that I’ve been able to use it for hikes, short climbs and bigger mountain forays.
Sleeping pad: Thermarest Trail Pro. This has been a durable, inflatable yet compact sleeping pad that serves two purposes: It takes the bumps out of the ground and insulates you against the cold. It beats foam pads any day. Retail, it goes for about $80.
Boots: Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex XCR. My newest piece of gear. The boots I’d been using were off-brand and pretty much bit the dust on my last outing in the Wichitas last summer. I bought the Merrells shortly before going on my last mountain trip. So I spent some time breaking them in and was very pleased with how they performed during my climb of Matterhorn Peak. Light, tough, waterproof and comfortable. After a couple of days of hard hiking, I didn’t have any foot fatigue, hot spots or blisters. They were good for hiking as well as non-technical rock scrambling and climbing. They cost about $110, but I think this was a good compromise of price and quality, seeing I’d been eyeing some much pricier Asolos that were out of my price range. It’s hugely important that you have happy feet on trips like these. Don’t skimp on the boots.
I have other gear, but I think what I’ve mentioned here represents my most-used and/or best-performing pieces. And please note: This is all gear that I have bought. Nothing here was sent to me for free for testing/reviewing purposes. I got it all retail, just like all of you.
Got any gear that you’ve found to be particularly good? Let me know your story so I can share. Message me here or send me an e-mail.
Now is a pretty good time to do a little hiking in northeast Oklahoma. The weather is good, and fall colors are coming.
I picked up some information on a planned group hike at the J.T. Nickel Wildlife and Nature Preserve near Tahlequah. The hike is being organized by the Nature Conservancy. Here’s some information about the hike, courtesy of the Nature Conservancy and the Oklahoma Outdoor Network:
Thursday, Oct. 21
9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
A five mile hike through Cedar Hollow Forests and Woodlands. Participants will meet at Bathtub Rocks for an extended hike through some of the most remote and pristine areas of the Nickel Preserve. The hike will begin at Cedar Creek, follow the creek bottom for a stretch, and then ascend the wooded slopes to the flats at the edge of the Cedar Hollow Watershed. Hikers will follow a primitive forest road through savanna restoration units where midstory thinning was recently completed. After a break for lunch, the group will continue along narrow ridge tops until eventually descending back to the county road near Goat’s Bluff. Bring a lunch, snacks, and plenty of water.
Level: Strenuous: The hike follow forest roads, but the distance and steepness of part of the route make it appropriate only for those in good physical condition.
Contact Steve McGuffin at (405) 858-8557 or email@example.com.
If this is something that interests you, sign up now. For more information, go to this link: http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/oklahoma/events/events6525.html