Friday, December 31, 2010

Snow Shoeing, Wilderness First Aid and 127 Hours

No real hikes or anything to speak of lately, but did get in to snowshoeing recently. Since quitting smoking, I have added a few pounds, and with what I have planned for next Spring/Summer, I need to get a jump on some conditioning. I did do a hike of the Mary's Peak Northridge trail a few weeks back, but a week later found out just a few miles on snowshoes on flatter terrain is even more of a workout! I went up to Black Butte for a few days this month, my boss's folks have a cabin there. I wanted to hike to the Black Butte fire lookouts, but the road up is already under a few feet of snow, so I left my truck on the FS11 road and snowshoed up a mile or so and back. Someone had gone up in a rig at one point, whatever it was had some seriously wide tires, so there was a few decent ruts to walk in going up. Having never used snowshoes before, I went up in the ruts. Nothing too steep, but a decent workout. After about a mile, I hit the Black Butte Loop trail system sign, looks like a good all day trip around the Butte. I turned back there, and decided to walk the powder back down. There was almost two foot of powdery snow, and holy crap, what a difference! It was harder and more exhausting going downhill in powder than it was going uphill in the ruts.

In February or March, I'm looking at taking the two day Wilderness First Aid class in Portland or McMinnville. With the amount of time I've been spending outdoors, and in some more remote locations, it started to make more sense. I've been wanting to get back into school, started on a law enforcement degree 18 years ago and then had a change of heart on choosing that as a profession, but have always wanted to be able to help people in some way. Being better trained (last first aid class I took was in 1993) in first aid, as well as potentially working my way up to Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT has kind of started to motivate me back into schooling of some sort. Besides those classes, I've also started looking in to some other hiking and mountaineering classes sponsored by REI and a few other places. I'd LOVE to do the NOLS Outdoor Semester, but don't quite have the $12K and 78 days to spare. To get a head start on taking classes, I picked up copies of Conditioning for Climbers and Medicine for Mountaineering & Other Wilderness Activities.

I also picked up a copy of Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston after watching the movie 127 Hours a few weeks ago. Incredible movie, but I almost couldn't watch the last 10 minutes. Because of Aron Ralston having still and video cameras with him, he was able to document his situation to where the filmmakers could duplicate every last detail. I'd heard of Aron after his ordeal when his story was all over the news, and after an article came out in People magazine, my mom mailed it to me. I learned my lesson several years before that about letting several people know where you are going, when you'll be back, and if plans are going to change, they don't change unless you can inform the people you told what the change is. I stick to those rules every time I go out in the woods, even just hiking Mary's Peak. I learned from my dad when I was a kid this important life truth: Shit Happens. I've had a few of those moments in my life, falling through ice into a creek and soaking myself, getting pitched from a skiff in the ocean because the fuel tanks shifted, falling off a log 20 feet in the air because I stepped on the one piece of loose bark. I survived all those things, but they taught me to be more cautious and I had someone else with me at the time. I've been walking through the woods when there was decent wind blowing and heard trees fall within 100 yards of me, whats to say that a tree or large branch couldn't end up falling on me? You have to be aware of your surroundings at all times, and that includes looking up and expecting the unexpected.
Medicine for Mountaineering

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