Tag Archives: bears

Survival Bi-Weekly – 6/12/15…

news

Image: http://www.outsideonline.com/1986496/search-and-rescue-public-service-not-exactly

Welcome to another edition of Survival Weekly, where the real wilderness survival “reality show” plays out everyday, in the wild places around our world. These unscripted stories will give you insight to the true threats and challenges you may face in your outdoor pursuits. So sit back, relax, and read on to get a dose of reality to sharpen your most valuable survival tool. – BPO

Featured – 

Bear attack in my district (and my excuse why Survival Weekly got delayed to Bi-weekly while I worked that incident) – http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2015/06/08/smokies-rangers-plan-euthanize-bear-attacked-boy/28691927/

Great first hand AAR from rescued hiker – http://www.equipped.org/032015survive.htm

News – 

Rescue a public service? – http://www.outsideonline.com/1986496/search-and-rescue-public-service-not-exactly

App for SAR planning – http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/ksar-38065/

Rescue in paradise could cost – http://www.bizjournals.com/pacific/blog/morning_call/2015/06/kauai-considers-making-hikers-who-ignore-warnings.html

Water Safety – 

Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)
Search For Missing River Guide Scaled Back

Efforts to find missing river guide Morgan Heimer, 22, have been scaled back following a six-day search that has turned up no clues as to his whereabouts.

Heimer was last seen on Tuesday, June 2nd, at approximately 4 p.m. around Pumpkin Springs along the Colorado River. The initial park response included searching the area where he was last seen by air and an immediate hasty search by rangers. For the past six days, park rangers have conducted an extensive search of about 14 miles of the river and four miles along its shores.

The search will now be scaled back to a continuous but limited mode in which rangers and pilots will continue to look for clues when in the area. Flyers with Heimer’s picture and description remain posted at various South Rim locations, and all launching river trips will briefed on particulars regarding the search.

Little River Canyon National Preserve (AL)
Man Drowns In Johnnie’s Creek

A Piedmont man drowned in Johnnie’s Creek at a local swimming area known as the Mill Hole on May 27th. The Mill Hole is located within the legislative boundaries of Little River Canyon National Preserve, but is on private property.

Cherokee County deputies, Cherokee County EMS, Cherokee County Rescue Squad, and National Park Service rangers responded.

Witnesses told deputies and investigators that Matthew Frost, 22, jumped into the water and appeared to be struggling. He went under and never resurfaced. Two bystanders had just arrived and jumped into the water, located Frost, and pulled him to the rocks. CPR was started once he was removed from the water. Frost was pronounced dead at the hospital by the Cherokee County coroner.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office investigated.

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area (TX)
Local Man Drowns In Park Swimming Area

A 21-year-old Amarillo resident died at Spring Canyon just below the Sanford Dam on Wednesday, May 27th.

The Borger Police Department received a 911 call around 11:30 a.m. reporting that a swimmer had gone under and had not surfaced.

Rangers arrived on scene within minutes and had a john boat and two kayaks in the water within 30 minutes of the initial 911 call. Search efforts were accompanied by a grid ground search by NPS firefighters in the Spring Canyon swimming area.  The man’s body was found by the Amarillo Police Department’s dive team about an hour later.

SAR for missing rafter – http://www.chaffeecountytimes.com/free_content/search-continues-for–year-old-rafter-on-arkansas-river/article_19bdcfde-104c-11e5-88c2-931d38f74bd4.html

River rescue near Great Falls – http://www.kfbb.com/story/29202894/river-rescue-near-great-falls

Tragic boating accident – http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/search-and-rescue-underway-on-bear-lake/19994/sMqqRIZfNUeXC2yO1FwqVw

Helicopter rescue of infant – http://www.northdevonjournal.co.uk/PHOTOS-Dramatic-helicopter-rescue-month-old/story-26626212-detail/story.html

SAR for canoeists – http://www.derryjournal.com/news/major-incident-declared-after-canoes-capsize-on-foyle-1-6784156

Body of teen recovered – http://www.katu.com/news/local/Search-and-rescue-underway-at-Lewis-River-306423811.html

Boating accident – http://globalnews.ca/news/2044042/rescue-crews-and-rcmp-work-to-recover-boaters-body-after-accident-on-pitt-lake/

Surfer to the rescue – http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/surfers-brave-rescue-attempt-to-save-drowning-perth-man-swept-off-rocks-in-esperance-swell/story-fnhocxo3-1227376221031

Hiking – 

Badlands National Park (SD)
SAR Team Rescues Injured Danish Visitor

On the evening of Saturday, June 6th, the park’s search and rescue team rescued a 23-year-old visitor from Denmark who’d fallen and sustained injuries to her left leg while hiking on the Notch Trail.

The woman was able to crawl a significant distance and descend to the base of a log and cable ladder, where SAR team members found her. Team members employed a rope system to lower the patient in a litter to waiting ambulance personnel. She was then taken to a hospital in Phillip, South Dakota.

This was the second rescue from the Notch Trail this year. In April, a visitor from Russia was also injured in a fall.
Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)
Visitor Injured In Encounter With Bison

A 62-year-old Australian man sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries after an encounter with a bison near Old Faithful Lodge yesterday morning.

According to witness reports, several people were crowding a bison that was lying on the grass near an asphalt path when the man approached it while taking pictures with an electronic notepad. He got to within three to five feet from the bison when it charged him, tossing him into the air several times.

When responding rangers arrived on scene, the bison was approximately 100 yards from the injured man. He was flown to a hospital for treatment.

Bison can sprint three times faster than humans can run and are unpredictable and dangerous. Visitors are advised to always give the animals enough space to avoid crowding the animal.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park – Two Missing Hikers Found in Park

 Rangers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have found a missing woman and her son from Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin who had been reported being lost in the park on Sunday, June 7.

Christy Barns, 40, and her son, Casey, 16, had sent a text message to family members on Sunday evening at 8:38 p.m. stating they were lost and needed help. Rangers were notified and were able to locate the individuals’ vehicle at Clingmans Dome. The ground search was initiated on Monday morning and the pair was soon found in good condition along the Forney Creek trail a little before 2:00 p.m.

The park had mobilized an incident management team and deployed search teams to the trails surrounding Clingmans Dome. The search involved 30 National Park Services employees with 15 of those actively searching in the field. The initial search focused on trails which carried the highest probability of where the pair may have been located.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park – Body of Missing Hiker Found in Park

 Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers believe to have discovered the body of reported missing hiker, Jenny Bennett, 62, of Sylva, NC in the Lester Prong area of Greenbrier above campsite 31 on Monday, June 8. It was reported to park officials on Sunday, June 7 that Bennett was missing and possibly in the park.  Her vehicle was located at the Porters Flat Trailhead later that evening. An area wide search operation of trained man trackers was underway when she was found by rangers.

Bennett was an avid hiker in the Smoky Mountains and maintained a blog about her trips. She was a member of the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club and often liked to hike off trail in the park. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/local-news/body-of-hiker-found-in-smokies-identified-as-jenny-bennett

Body of hiker recovered –   http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Search+rescue+crews+find+body+missing+hiker+Chilliwack+backcountry/11116543/story.html

Lost & Injured hikers rescued –

5579b88323d09.image

Image: http://www.chaffeecountytimes.com/free_content/search-continues-for–year-old-rafter-on-arkansas-river/article_19bdcfde-104c-11e5-88c2-931d38f74bd4.html

Hunter-gatherer – 

Mushroom hunter found –   http://www.kamloopsbcnow.com/watercooler/news/news/Kamloops/15/06/02/Kamloops_Search_and_Rescue_Looking_for_Missing_Mushroom_Picker

Climbing – 

Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Injured Climber Rescued From Garnet Canyon

On Tuesday afternoon, rangers conducted a rescue operation via helicopter for an injured climber who fell on a wet rock slab just above the Meadows area of Garnet Canyon in the heart of the Teton Range.

Charlie Emerson, 31, of Marietta, Georgia was solo climbing a fourth class rated rock slab when he slipped and slid approximately 150 to 200 feet before coming to rest in a snowfield at the base of the rock feature. Emerson was not wearing a helmet at the time of his fall.

Two Grand Teton employees conducting a research project in Garnet Canyon witnessed Emerson’s sliding fall and immediately began hiking to his location. These park employees are certified as emergency medical technicians and they were able to effectively assess Emerson and provide emergency medical care until park rangers could arrive by helicopter.

A separate backcountry party also reached Emerson and placed an emergency call for help via cell phone. That call was received by Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 12:30 p.m.  Because wet, snow sloughs were shedding off areas above the accident site, responders carefully moved Emerson to a more secure area out of harm’s way.

Park rangers happened to be conducting early season training at the time at the Teton Interagency Helibase, located at the Jackson Hole Airport. Their preseason training included a Helicopter Express ship that just came under contract with Grand Teton and Bridger-Teton National Forest to support firefighting and search and rescue operations during the coming season.

The helicopter flew from the helibase to the Jenny Lake rescue cache located near the base of the Teton peaks at Lupine Meadows and picked up two rangers for transport to Garnet Canyon. After the ship landed on a snow-covered area near the accident site, the two rangers traversed about 200 yards to reach Emerson and place him in a rescue litter. They carried him back to the helispot and placed him inside the ship for a quick flight to the Jenny Lake rescue cache. Emerson was then transferred into a waiting park ambulance and transported to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for further care of his multiple injuries.

Emerson did not receive a head injury, which was lucky given the fact that he was not wearing a helmet and that he was crossing wet and likely slippery rock slabs. While rock features in Garnet Canyon can be easy to ascend, they are often more difficult to descend. As these rock slabs melt out, they can be covered with slippery silt or sand, which makes good traction more challenging.

Climbing accident – http://www.piquenewsmagazine.com/whistler/search-and-rescue-comes-to-aid-of-one-its-own/Content?oid=2657258

Vehicles – 

 Off roader rescued – http://www.thewesternnews.com/members/search-and-rescue-pulls-jeep-from-creek/article_73822d22-092f-11e5-a4b5-77d0571dc362.html

Interested in learning skills to handle emergencies like the ones you read in Survival Weekly?  Check out BigPig Outdoors Survival 101 class  – http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/survival-101-1.htm

hiker20204

Image: http://infotel.ca/newsitem/penticton-search-and-rescue-rescue-injured-hiker-at-the-bluffs/it20204
Advertisements

Chaga – Survival Mushroom Powerhouse…

IMG_1693

I got called out the other day..

I haven’t seen much on the blog lately other than Survival Weekly..” said my former field trainer in his subtle, passive aggressive way of telling me I have been sucking as a blogger.

I don’t know if you know this Turdis, but when you have a kid, your life changes..”  I replied in my best smartass tone.

Of course, as a father himself,  he knows that and  was one of the many that uttered that vague statement leading up to the birth of my son. Curtis, or as I affectionately call him “Turdis”, and I have a special relationship. Years ago, when he came onto the hoghunting crew, my partner and I poached his district in a friendly inter-crew rivalry, leaving a wasteland of empty hunts between our districts.

Karma played out years later when I reported to Big South Fork for field training and found out I would be subjected to his authority as my field trainer. He jokingly tormented me, I returned the favor on the wrestling mats, and the cycle continues.

A brother for life  that doesn’t hesitate to shoot me straight, Curtis is right, I have been slacking..

It’s not because I haven’t been getting out in the field, hunting, trapping, foraging, cutting wood, etc., but it’s been due to a bear problem.

015

Well, not those bears, this one..

IMG_0081

While no one could ever really tell me how “your life will change”, I have been able to make some observations over the past couple months for first time dads:

  1. Plan on being late everywhere. If you tell you buddy you will be there at 9:00, it will really be 11:00 because of baby related ordeals
  2. You will get pee and poop on you. No way around it.
  3. Members on both sides of your family will lose their mind and forget you are an adult raising a child and not a child raising one
  4. Your years of purposely sucking at washing dishes is null and void now. Domestic duties now fall on you no matter how bad you suck at that stuff.
  5. Even if prompted, you may or may not choose to acknowledge how much your wife did before the baby as you marvel at how much dirt you sweep up every other day.
  6. You will eat like a bachelor again. If you aren’t a good cook, you will wish you were, so you could feed your wife and yourself something better than grilled cheese.
  7.  If you co-sleep, plan on being exiled. Even if you get a king sized bed, if won’t be big enough. Credit to Jake for telling me that, even though I didn’t believe him. He is still exiled with a one year old!!
  8. Stuff that was important or fun to you before, will melt away as playing with your boy and making him smile is more fulfilling
  9.  You will rank it at the top of the list as “the best thing that ever happened in your life”
  10. Your wife’s robe will become her second skin 🙂

And of course, writing blog posts will get pushed aside for other tasks. That is until Curtis calls you out..

All joking aside, we are coming up on the 4 month mark now and winning against some breastfeeding issues, pumping wars, and restless nights. I can now relax a bit and get back on track with some Chaga Power!!

That weird looking growth on the tree is actually a mushroom called Chaga or True Tinder Fungus (Inonotus obliquus) and grows on birch trees. It is coveted by bushcrafters for it’s firestarting prowess and by herbalists for it’s medicinal value.

Over the years I have gathered and used chaga in several ways:

1. It makes a good bug repelling incense and saved me from bug driven insanity on more than one occasion.

2. It is awesome natural tinder for flint and steel fires or great as a coal extender.

009

011

3. It is a medicinal, anti-oxidant powerhouse. Wild claims abound of chaga having higher ORAC values than any thing on earth.

ORAC Results Fruits and Vegetables per 100g / 3.5oz  USDA & Tufts University (2003)

  • Chaga  Mushroom 3,655,700
  • Acai Berries  80,000
  • Goji Berries  40,000
  • Prunes  5,890
  • Pomegranates  3,370
  • Raisins 2,890
  • Blueberries  2,450

If that doesn’t get your attention, it is also claimed to be the highest in superoxide dismutase and loaded with betulinic acid, a known cancer fighter. Anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-herpetic, anti-HIV, anti-diabetic, anti-aging… if you read the list of Chaga’s powers, you may wonder why Marvel comics hasn’t made it a superhero yet.

While a lot of the claims come from sellers of chaga products, there is a growing body of research coming out of overseas where it has been used for centuries. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=chaga

What interests me is it’s historical use in Siberia and an obscure study back in 1973 that focused on chaga for psoriasis treatment and gut health.  http://www.chagatrade.ru/images/PSORIASIS_chaga.pdf

Being that I have a strong interest in herbal medicine, a love for foraging, and the willingness to self-experiment, I started drinking 16 ounces of chaga tea everyday last week. I have a small patch of psoriasis on my thigh and I am interested in seeing what happens over the next few months of daily use.

There is much debate about extracting chaga’s potent medicine, but I choose the Siberian way (hot water) and easiest (chunks). The key is not to boil it, but keep it at 150-180 degrees for hours, so I use a crock pot.

Leaving it in chunks allows easy, no strain clean up and refreezing of the chunks for the next batch. These chunks are on their third run.

040

This was from an overnight brew. The tea is dark and pleasant tasting. I add a little honey to sweeten it.

IMG_0129

After brewing, I bottle the surplus, freeze my stock, and sip away.

IMG_0131

While chaga may not have a role in a short term, wilderness emergency, it’s potential health benefits make it a long term “survival” prospect for everyday life.

Resources:

Chaga hunt…sleeping on the job.

IMG_0189

Survival Weekly – 8/4/14…

CVSRT_OtleyChevinClimber_00

Bryce Canyon National Park (UT)
Visitor Seriously Injured When Thrown By Mule

On Saturday, July 26th, rangers received an emergency call reporting that a trail rider had been thrown by a mule during a guided trip on the Peekaboo loop trail and been seriously injured.

Rangers assembled a rescue team that included personnel from Garfield County EMS and Tropic Fire and Rescue. A medical team determined that an air evacuation would be needed, as the nearest trauma center is four hours away and the accident had occurred two-and-a-half miles from the nearest trailhead.

A Classic Lifeguard helicopter from Page, Arizona, flew to the park and picked up the injured visitor at a landing zone established by rescuers. The injured visitor was taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, Utah, for treatment for a pelvis fracture and shattered collarbone.

 

Bryce Canyon National Park (UT)

Lightning Strike Injures Park Visitor

The park received a report last Monday of a visitor down and unconscious and in need of medical assistance on the Rim Trail. A storm had recently passed through the area, bringing heavy rain and lightning.

Rangers began a hasty search along the trail and found the visitor suffering seizures off to the side of the trail between Sunset and Inspiration Points. Initial signs and symptoms indicated that the visitor had likely been the victim of lightning side splash, as a tree several feet away had recently been struck by lightning.

An ambulance from Garfield County EMS was soon on scene. The patient was transferred to the burn unit at University of Utah Medical Center for further care.

Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
Missing Hiker Found By Searchers

On the morning of Monday, July 28th, the park received a call advising that a 56-year-old Illinois man was overdue from a climb of Longs Peak.

He’d planned on summiting the peak on the east side on Sunday. Around 4:30 p.m., he called his family and told them that he’d be late getting back to the trailhead. When he failed to show up or call again, they contacted the park.

Members of the park’s search and rescue team began looking for him on Monday morning, retracing what they assumed was his intended route. Just before noon, the man called his family; he said that he was okay, but that he’d had to spend the night on the peak due to severe weather and nightfall. He then resumed his descent in heavy fog in the morning and became lost. He also reported that he might be on Mount Meeker.

A helicopter was brought in to assist in the search and spotted the man below Peacock Pool in the Roaring Fork drainage late in the afternoon. Rangers were nearby and reached him 15 minutes later. He declined medical evaluation and evacuation by helicopter, saying that he wanted to hike out on his own. Ranger led him back to the trail and gave him directions to the trailhead.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)
Missing 13-Year-Old Hiker Found By Searchers

On the evening of July 28th, the parks’ trail crew found a missing 13-year-old boy who had been separated from his hiking party while in the Arrow Peak (elevation 12,959 feet) area of Kings Canyon National Park on Sunday, July 27th.

The boy stayed overnight at the trail crew camp until he was airlifted out of the Bench Lake area of the park yesterday morning. Prior to the flight, a park medic evaluated him and found him to be uninjured and in good condition.

Dispatch received a call about the missing hiker from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office around 2 p.m. on Monday afternoon. The hiking party had departed from Taboose Pass in the Inyo National Forest and was headed for Bench Lake and Arrow Peak in Kings Canyon National Park.

A search began later that day. Among those participating in the operation were 25 National Park Service staff from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks who searched by ground and helicopter, conducted interviews, and planned for the next day’s operation. 

Incident operations concluded yesterday with 28 NPS employees involved, primarily in getting the boy to the helicopter landing zone and returning searchers to their normal work locations.

 

Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River (NY,PA)
Man Survives Near Drowning In Delaware River

On the afternoon Saturday, July 26th, rangers responded to a non-fatal drowning, often referred to as a near drowning, that occurred at Staircase Rapids.

The victim was a young man who’d entered the water to swim from one raft to another. He was not wearing a life jacket and according to his companions was intoxicated. 

A man in the raft that the victim was swimming toward saw him struggling in the water. He did not know the victim (they had only met that day), but asked others in the raft who did know him if they thought he was alright or needed help. They said that he was okay and that he knew how to swim.

The man in the raft saw the victim’s head bob under the water, though, and believed, correctly, that he was in the process of drowning. He entered the water, wearing his life jacket, swam to the victim and brought him to the Pennsylvania shoreline. The victim was conscious but displaying an altered mental state; it is unclear if this was due to the drowning or intoxication or a combination of both.

The rescuer then swam back across the river to the New York shoreline and ran to Kittatinny Canoes’ Staircase Rapids base and had them call 911. 

Park protection rangers responded via patrol boat along with local police constables and fire and EMS personnel. Lumberland Volunteer Fire Department’s boat was first on scene and took the victim to the ambulance that was waiting at Kittatinny Canoe’s base. The victim was transported to Bon Secours Hospital in Port Jervis, where he was treated and released.

The incident is under investigation.

Lake Mead NRA – NV, AZ

Rangers Rescue Kayaker From Lake Mohave

Around 5 p.m. on July 24th, park dispatch received a call reporting that a man was struggling in the water near Nelson’s Landing on Lake Mohave. Rangers responded by boat and found the man floating motionless, holding onto a kayak.

The man said he was trying to swim across to the Arizona shoreline when the wake of a personal watercraft threw him from his kayak. He claimed he became separated from his life jacket, but no life jacket was found. He also claimed he was floating for around 30 minutes and that no bystanders offered to help.

Witnesses said he was floating in the water for between one and one-and-a-half hours and that an individual tried to rescue him, but that he refused assistance. They also said they did not see him wearing a life jacket.

Winds were 10 to 15 mph, creating six- to twelve-inch waves. Attempting to cross the lake while holding on to a kayak with no life jacket available was extremely hazardous to both the man and to boaters operating in the area. The man ended up more than a quarter mile north of his starting location and approximately 300 yards from shore.

Over the course of the preceding three days, three swimmers drowned in the park. None of them was wearing a life jacket.

Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
Seriously Injured Man Rescued From Backcountry

On the afternoon of July 25th, the park received a cell phone call from a 31-year-old man who reported that he’d fallen an unknown distance while glissading down Gabletop Mountain and had sustained numerous injuries.

The Forest Service helicopter employed earlier in the day for a body recovery from Longs Peak was utilized for aerial reconnaissance. Using cell phone GPS coordinates, rangers were able to determine his general location below Gabletop Mountain; the helicopter’s crew provided his exact location. 

A rescue operation was begun. Four rangers and rescue equipment were flown to Loomis Lake between severe thunderstorms. They then hiked to his location, a steep cirque above the lake at an altitude of around 11,300 feet, arriving just after midnight. The injured man greatly aided in his rescue by moving down a steep band of rock, then down a steep snow field toward the rangers.  

The rangers found that the man was ambulatory, but that he was suffering from life-threatening  injuries. They lowered him 500 feet with ropes and then assisted him an additional 700 feet down steep mountainous terrain to Loomis Lake.  A paramedic on the park’s rescue team provided advanced life support throughout the incident.

The man was flown to Beaver Meadows Road, then taken by a Flight for Life helicopter to St. Anthony’s Hospital for further treatment.  

Park rescue team members feel this was truly a life-saving mission. The man was fortunate to have cell phone coverage in this remote location, which has very limited coverage.

Glacier National Park
Hiker Shoots Bear On Park Trail

A 57-year-old Texas man was hiking alone on the Mt. Brown Lookout trail last Saturday morning when a bear charged him from below the trail. The man used his bear spray on him, then shot the bear with one round from a handgun he was carrying. Indications are that he hit the bear, which then ran away.

The hiker then headed back to the trailhead, encountering a volunteer backcountry ranger on the trail along the way. The volunteer notified park dispatch of the incident.

Rangers immediately closed the trial and began an investigation. They also staffed the trailhead in order to advise other visitors what had happened. Rangers and bear specialists began a search for the bear, which may be either a grizzly or a black bear.

The bear has not yet been found and the investigation is continuing. The trail remains closed.

Park visitors are encouraged to carry bear spray as a deterrent for a charging grizzly bear. No single deterrent is 100 percent effective, but compared to all others, including firearms, proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best method for fending off threatening and attacking bears and for preventing injury to the person and animal involved.

SAR for mising hikers – http://www.voxy.co.nz/national/trampers-missing-tararua-ranges/5/198151

Injured hiker rescued – http://www.malibutimes.com/news/article_9e772828-167f-11e4-ad06-0019bb2963f4.html

Injured ATV rider rescued – http://www.nbcmontana.com/sports/atv-rider-rescued-in-gallatin-canyon-area/27181330

Injured climber rescued – http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2014/07/28/otley-chevin-climber-airlifted-after-falling-40ft-while-abseiling

Ultra-runner’s dies from fall –   http://www.durangoherald.com/article/20140728/NEWS01/140729588/Oregon-man-dies-near-Ice-Lakes-

Missing wildland firefighter found – http://www.kaj18.com/news/search-continuing-for-missing-wildland-firefighter-in-montana/

Pilot survives crash –  http://www.vancouversun.com/Search+rescue+crews+look+plane+crash+reported+west+Vernon+updated/10070687/story.html

Birdwatcher forced to spend night out – http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58235942-78/canyon-search-lake-salt.html.csp

Multiple SAR’s in Tonto Rim – http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58235942-78/canyon-search-lake-salt.html.csp

Dehydrated hikers rescued – http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/chp-rescues-hikers-in-rural-napa-county/article_54c1dcb2-2cf0-57b4-9534-a837c7a5ccc5.html

Miscommunication prompts SAR-  http://www.kelownanow.com/news/news/Local_News/14/07/30/COSAR_Search_Big_White_for_Missing_Man

Missing swimmer not located – http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/rcmp-and-search-and-rescue-members-scour-revelstoke-lake-for-missing-swimmer-1.1940831

ATV rider injured and rescued –   http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/article_82a76a16-19dd-11e4-b44c-0017a43b2370.html

Injured climber rescued – http://fox13now.com/2014/08/02/search-and-rescue-crews-respond-to-man-who-fell-in-bell-canyon/

Injured climber rescued – http://www.castanet.net/news/Penticton/120340/Climber-rescued-from-canyon

Injured hiker spotted by Life Flight crew – http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=30988748

Campers rescued from flash flood – http://kutv.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_12968.shtml

Injured camper rescued after fall – http://www.wkyt.com/home/headlines/Wolfe-County-rescue-crews-save-injured-person-at-Red-River-Gorge-269730841.html

 

A Week in the Life of a Wildlife Ranger – Part II…

Image

Wednesday

Same routine, except today it rains. I finish my chicken book, make a few calls, draw some plants, eat, and relax. Tonight I am headed to Doe Knob.

Two weeks ago, while working a problem bear at Birch Springs, I hunted up to Doe Knob. I was stalking a sow and a couple shoats when the wind shifted and I had to back off. Moments later, I watched through the thermal as three coyotes popped up onto the ridge, ran my hogs off, and ruined my hunt.

“Hogblocked” by coyotes, I don’t know if I should count them as allies or enemies. They migrated to the park naturally, so they do not suffer the same fate as the invasive hogs. That night, Doe Knob was theirs, but tonight I am returning to stake my claim.

Hunt, fish, trap, and forage.

When I created my list of desired activities for when I retired, those rose to the top. Not surprising, as when I am engaged in them, it feels right. Maybe it is the sense of freedom or self-reliance, maybe it is hardwired into my DNA, but I have chosen not to wait twenty years to pursue them. There is nothing natural about leaving meat lay on the ground, but hunting hogs is about as close to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle I can get and still get a paycheck. Maybe one day that will change, but for now I have been hitting a wall of federal restrictions on donating the meat.

Foraging in the park is also illegal, with the exception of berries and mushrooms, but I can still look at the menu. As I hunt west I take note of all the edible plants around. Wild cucumber, carrion flower, spring beauty, trout lily, violets, sheep sorrel, toothwort, branch lettuce, Turk’s Cap Lily, greenbrier tips, chaga mushroom, solomon’s seal, false solomon’s seal, blueberry bushes, beech trees, azalea galls, and a nice big patch of chicken of the woods.

Image

About a mile from camp I run into my bear again. He is just down off the hill munching on vegetation, so I slip by him unnoticed, making a mental note for later when I return in the dark. In another two weeks one of my co-workers, “Rambo” Ricky, has to shut down Campsite 13 because of this bad boy. He weighs about 200 now, but later this fall he will be pushing 300. He is the badass on this mountain and knows it. When Rick was camping at 13 to dart him, he said he just rolled in and acted liked he owned it.

I make it to Doe Knob right before dark, just in time to hear the coyotes start howling. If I could interpret coyote, I am pretty sure they are telling me to get lost and that this is still their turf. Damn.

I hunt through mostly old sign and cook my dinner on the back side of the knob. These days I carry a little twig stove that allows me to hike out from camp and set up my kitchen for dinner. I used to cook my dinner in camp before heading out, but some fool tore down my rock oven that allowed me to bake, boil, and grill, so I cook on trail now.

I ate many good meals from this kitchen, even though some Leave-No-Trace fans might object. The truth is, I favor fires and managed correctly, think they are more environmentally friendly. Maybe I leave a fire scar for one season before it fades, but I am pretty sure that the byproducts and industry associated with the production of fancy stoves and fuels are worse and last a whole lot longer.

Image

I hunt the two miles back to camp with no sightings of anything but mice. Glowing white hot in the thermal, the mice run up trees, jump, and disappear like watching some paranormal ghost hunting circus.

Pictured below are a couple deer seen through thermal to give you an idea how animals look. Adding to our effectiveness, night vision and thermal are also a huge safety boon to a program that once sported tractor lights and motorcycle batteries for the night work.

Image

Just before heading down to camp, I see a boar working his way up the hill. It has been windy all week and tonight is no exception, but I have a cross wind that favors me. I rotate the bezel on the Surefire Millenium to the IR mode, allowing me to illuminate the area, when seen through my NVG, but with no visible light for the hog to see. Although I can clearly see the hog in the thermal, the night vision tells me there is a wall of blackberries between us.

It’s almost two in the morning and I am on top of a ridge line eight miles from my duty station. The wild boar that I have been patiently watching through my thermal monocular for the last hour takes another step. I raise my rifle to look through the night vision, but all I see is a wall of vegetation, even though my quarry is less than 30 feet away. The dance continues.

After over an hour of watching patiently, he makes the fatal mistake of stepping into an open area. The heart of a hog is further forward than a deer, behind the front legs. A well placed shot to the heart can also break the shoulders preventing any tracking or trailing. I dispatch another 200 pounder and wonder why I hunted the four mile roundtrip out to Doe Knob, only to shoot one 100 yards from camp.

Image

 

Thursday

 

Same routine, but I today visit the gym, a tree on the bald, to do some pullups, elevated pushups, and planks. Fresh air and free membership.

Image

Early afternoon, I am visited down at the spring by a father and son camping in the area. Caught off guard by a bearded man drawing wildflowers with an assault rifle strapped to his back, my well rehearsed dialogue, badge, and park service hat assures them that I am not some crazy hillbilly. We make small talk and a couple hours later I see them again when I head to the Bald.

I try to call my wife, but my phone is dead. I bought a solar charger for the mountain back in April, but I only get a trickle of juice out of it. Back in the day before I had a cellphone, I could go a week without seeing or talking to anyone. It didn’t bother me, as I am just as comfortable alone or in a group setting, but it is nice to visit with my new neighbors. I eat my dinner on the Bald and chat with Paul and his son Cole about his time with the government, fatherhood, bears, and plants. My table has the best view.

Image

Before leaving the Bald, I listen to the weather channel on my radio about the storms headed my way and watch them roll through the mountains north of me. As I head west, the shift in thunder and the wind in my face causes me to hesitate. I don’t wan’t to hike too far from camp. Crossing the bald in a thunderstorm is not something I want to repeat, as I have learned my lesson before.

I turn around and head east as the thunder draws near. I make it across the bald and hear a hog in the beeches. I stalk closer, kneel down in the trail, and wait for it to cross the trail. It comes off the bank and stops with it’s head and shoulder behind a eight inch tree, effectively covering it’s vital areas at 25 yards. The thunder is right above me now, so I stand up and lean out to the side to get a shot in as tight behind the shoulder as I can.

She crashes through the brush and I hear another one just above me. It grunts, and I see the tops of the beeches ripple as it runs through them. It’s course bypasses the shooting lane I am watching, so I bail off the trail to track the first one down.

Tracking through acres of hog sign can sometimes be an exercise in frustration. A thick layer of subcutaneous fat can seal up a bullet hole leaving very little blood to trail, so here is some hard won advice. Before you shoot a game animal, take note of exactly where it was standing. Reference a tree, a rock, or something, because if you don’t drop it, you’ll be hunting for that trail.

With the threat of rain washing away the blood trail, I don’t waste any time. I pick up a good trail and find her about 80 yards down off the hill. The storm is right above me now. I forgo taking a blood sample and decide to double time it back to camp. As soon as I hit the trail, I run.

A half mile isn’t very far, but when you are on top of a mountain in a thunderstorm, it drags out. I make it under the tarp just as the downpour starts. Lightning is cracking off everywhere, so I spend the next hour squatting on a 1′ x 2′ piece of foam. Even though my chances of getting struck by lightning are about the same as winning the lottery, squatting on the foam at least makes me feel like I am doing something to improve my odds. Truth be told, falling limbs and trees are a greater hazard, but there is something about lightning that gets my attention. I ponder the physics of lightning and hammocks, life insurance, and my unborn son, as I wait for the storm to pass.

The storm moves on, but commo says another cell is to the west of me, so I stay in camp. My phone has 1% battery life, so I text my wife that I am okay, before calling her to tell her about the storm. With her ubiquitous carefree nature she asks me if  “was pretty”. I jokingly reply “Hell no!!” and my phone dies. The rain starts again, so I settle in for the night.

Friday

I wake up early. I have eaten all my food, so I break camp, collect my blood samples that I stored in the creek, and head out. It is foggy and right before the bald, I see a dark animal to the right. Bears and hogs are both black, and by the time my brain processes that the ears are pointy and not round, the hog has winded me and taken off.

I drop down into Campsite 13 and talk with Paul and his boy about the storm. I tell Cole that it was one of the worst I had been through up there and at least he has a pretty good story now. They are breaking camp and heading down the same trail, so I lead the way in case we run into any hogs, which we don’t. I point out a few plants and animal tracks on the way down and enjoy the company.

Back at the truck, I head to the station to process my blood samples and fill out some data forms for each hog. The Dragon’s Tail is littered with branches and broken trees, confirming the power of last night’s storm, and while charging my phone, I receive two texts from Thursday afternoon.

One from my old supervisor asking if I was available to run the boat on a rescue down on Fontana Lake and another one from my current boss that warned me of impending doom. Maybe it is time to start shopping for a new solar charger.

Image

My week is done and I reflect upon it as I head to the house. It may be hard for readers of this blog to believe, but we have had guys quit our crew because they hated camping on the mountain. I even know of one case where a hunter pretended he was up high by calling in and out of service from the station. The “mountain” is not for everyone, but for me it is a good fit.

Even though I am using modern tools, it gives me a glimpse into a primal lifestyle and a peace and relaxation that sings to my soul. An ancient song that is calling us all back…

 

Part I – https://bigpigblog.com/2014/06/18/a-week-in-the-life-of-a-wildlife-ranger-part-i/

A Week in the Life of a Wildlife Ranger – Part I…

Image

It’s almost two in the morning and I am on top of a ridge line eight miles from my duty station. The wild boar that I have been patiently watching through my thermal monocular for the last hour takes another step. I raise my rifle to look through the night vision, but all I see is a wall of vegetation, even though my quarry is less than 30 feet away. The dance continues…

Let me back up and explain how I got there. First, if you are new to this blog, scroll on over to the right and read the disclaimer that this is my blog and not representative of my employer. Next, realize that I am walking a delicate line, so I can’t post pics of dead hogs and have to use my words wisely. Finally, if you are unaware of the damage this non-native species does to the ecosystem, read here. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/dff309-meetexotic.htm  Got it? Great, let’s move on.

So why am I trying to shoot a wild beast in the middle of a National Park, in the middle of the night? Well that’s my job.

Last December, after spending one too many hours behind the wheel of my patrol truck, I quit my career as a Law Enforcement Ranger and switched back to hunting hogs for the Smokies, a job I had previously held for seven years prior to my LEO job. Some people think I am crazy giving up “permanent” status and taking a huge pay cut, but I think it is crazier to work a job that you don’t enjoy anymore.

I have hiked up to Gregory Bald to spend the week hunting hogs. Since my season is coming to an end, I thought I would write about a typical week on the “mountain”.

Spring changes everything. The hogs I have been hunting and trapping all winter have moved up to higher elevation to feed on the abundant spring beauties. When the hogs move up, so do I, and I have been camping Monday through Friday since mid-April. The winter cold is replaced by rain, fog, bears, and bugs, bringing their own set of environmental challenges.

Our division has a series of camps strung out along the Appalachian Trail, so I pick a camp, pack in my gear on Monday and hunt until Friday. The following is an account of what life “on the mountain” is like, at least my life and my camp. The events and pictures are from a week in May, with the exception of a few pics because my phone died and I snapped those during the next.

Monday

Time is ticking away. My shift starts at 1600 and since my wife is visiting family in Florida, I have to get the chickens squared away before I head out. Usually free-ranged, being confined to their run for the week is going to make them real bitchy on Friday, so I let them out while I plant three beds of corn and water the garden.

Our camps have sleeping bags, tents, and a few other items locked in gang boxes, so all I have to take is my food, books to read, my gun, and ammo. I already went grocery shopping over the weekend and pack my food bag with oatmeal, dried fruit, almond milk, clif bars, almonds, llama jerky, coscous and some dried pineapple. Eating only two meals a day when I am camping simplifies my menu. I pack a book on herbal medicine, a book on raising chickens, a wildflower field guide, and the small book I sketch and document plants.

It snowed on me at the end of April, so I throw my primaloft jacket, a pair of socks, a pair of underwear, a merino t-shirt, my rain gear, and a fleece hat into the Wild Things Andinista pack that I am testing out. This week I take my AR chambered in 6.8 SPC, PVS-14 NVG, and a thermal monocular. I usually take my Remington 870 when the mountain “greens up”, but I have a Surefire IR/White light on loan that I want to run with the night vision.

Image

My week begins with death as I pull up to a motorcycle fatality at the beginning of the Dragon’s Tail. I watch as they photograph the body and load it onto the ambulance. Six months ago, as a LE Ranger, I would have been out assisting the medics and deputies, but now I gratefully slide by as they wave me through. I imagine that his family would be consoled by the fact that he was doing something he loved, but it is a good reminder of the fragility of life for me as I continue my commute.

I park at the trailhead and my five mile hike in is uneventful. Lots of hog sign on top of the ridge and I head to camp to set up. When I first came up in April, I set up the raggedy tarp and hung another one under to stop the leaks. The gang box holds a tent, sleeping bags, ground pads, a stove, and a few other things. It doubles as a bear box when I leave camp to hunt, so I can store my food and gear without them tearing it up. My setup is really just wrapping my tree straps around the two trees so when I get back in the middle of the night, I can just hook my hammock to them. The 55 gallon drums are relics from pre-gangbox days and we store the tarps in them at the end of the season.

Image

I ate a big lunch, so I just snack on a clif bar and some almonds. I lock up my food and books, and head out to hunt. If you are unaware of the damage hogs can do, this picture says it all.

Image

The whole top of the ridge is plowed under as they seek out the tasty tubers of spring beauties. I don’t blame them as they are delicious sauteed and pretty good raw. Like four-legged rototillers, the hogs disturb acres of serene mountain tops.

It is windy all afternoon and through the night with steady gusts at 10 – 15 mph. Years ago, I would have call it a wash as your best sense for night hunting, your hearing, is disarmed. Technology has caught up with the hog boys though and a thermal monocular allows me to reclaim the night even more effectively than night vision (NVG). I spend my evening walking the trails peering through the monocular, looking for the telltale white bodies of the hogs. Around 2300, I slip up on a sow and three shoats and wait for an opportunity. Becoming sexually mature at six months means even these juveniles are on my hit list.

Thermal allows you to see the animal’s body heat clearly, but if it is not mounted on your weapon you have to use white light or night vision to take the shot. When I look through the night vision mounted behind my Aimpoint, all I see is brush. The shoats safely root underneath the thick blueberry bushes as I lie in wait just yards away. Eventually they join the sow and wander off the side out of view. I move on, repeating the same frustrating game with a boar closer to camp. At 0100 I return to camp, set up my hammock, call out of service, and go to sleep.

Tuesday

Image

The sun wakes me up. I slide out of my hammock and fix my oatmeal with fruit. I visit the spring to water up and slip back into my hammock to laze the day away, reading books and making a few phone calls until my shift starts at 1600.

I have read accounts where explorers described native populations as being lazy. If one of them rolled into my camp, they might say the same thing. Since my caloric needs are met and I will be hiking and hunting all night, I lounge around during the day and study plants, read, occasionally work out, and make to do lists for when projects back home. I turn my radio on for two hours during the day in case my boss needs to get a hold of me, but my off duty time is my own and I don’t expend a lot of calories.

My boss calls me to see if I want to come off the mountain early for the seasonal employee picnic, but I decline. The afternoon rolls around and I re-hydrate some llama jerky and mix it with couscous for an early dinner. I leave camp and head towards Parsons Bald.

Just before crossing Gregory a boar runs across the trail, but I don’t take the shot. It’s uphill and I can’t see what is over the rise. No hog is worth putting a bullet into a hiker and our rangemaster, “Rambo” Ricky, drilled that into our crew back in the day with his “judgement” course. A ghetto version of a FATS simulator, he would set up tents and mannequins back behind targets on a “jungle lane” shooting course.

I cross the Bald and run into a big bear headed the opposite direction. He doesn’t run off, so I know he may be a problem later. Traditionally, bears have learned to follow us on the trails for free food. Spring is a hard time for bears, so scoring an all-you-can-eat bacon buffet is a pretty good deal. He will later harass the vegetation crew and cause the nearest campsite to be closed in June, but for now he just cruises by with indifference.

I stop in at Campsite 13, introduce myself, and inform the nice couple from Wisconsin that I will be hunting in that area. We chat about bears and I give them some tips on dealing with them.

Just before dark, I catch a 200 pound boar rooting in the trail. This time I have a safe shot, so I slip closer, and dispatch him with a head shot. It is about as humane as you can get and prevents tracking and trailing woes. I take my blood samples, snap a picture, and drag him off the hill.

I head out to Parson’s Bald and wait until dark before hunting my way back to camp. I get in at 0100, after stalking another boar only to be thwarted by the thick growth again.

Image

 

Bears, coyotes, and lightning coming your way in Part II…