April 28, 2013

Hike Review: East Fork Canyon of Mountain Home Creek

There is not much of a trail here.  We followed what appeared to be a trail that would disappeared and then quickly reappear.  The going was slow.  The canyon walls are steep. In April the water runs strong and surprisingly we encountered the darting glitter of fish dashing beneath rock shelters.  The poison ivy is not that abundant, but there are variety of different types of trees, shrubs, flowers, and ground cover along this trail.  Also, much rock scrambling and unfortunately no snakes. But we were greeted with the flutter and song of a few quail.  Prepare for a lot of rock scrambling and creek jumping.  All this with my boy T to the E.

April 20, 2013

Yosemite Death Averted at Vernal Falls

The Deadly Vernal Falls in Yosemite Valley
In 2012, three people died when carried over and down the 300 foot Vernal Falls in Yosemite Valley. In 2013, with the Yosemite camping and hiking season just beginning, this number is zero as of the date of this writing thanks to action taken on April 14 by Alec Smith, a 16 year old San Jose high school student.

From a story posted at Fox 26 kmph-kfre:

Smith said he and his family saw the boy being dragged along the fast-moving Merced River. That's when Smith said he made a split-second decision.
"When I reached him, he reached me he looked up at me with like the craziest look in his eye like just please help me,"recalled Smith who jumped over a fence to rescue the boy. "I held out my hand at the same time he grabbed my hand and . . . he didn't really say anything. I just grabbed his hand and pulled him out."
Smith said the boy began to shake after he pulled him to safety. Smith says his uncle gave the boy a poncho and other dry clothes to wear. "He came up to me with his head held down he was just like thank you for saving my life you know," Smith said. "That hit me when he said that." It was a close call for the 9-year-old boy. Last year, three people died after being swept away by the river's rapids. Smith says that he was happy he was in the right place at the right time.

April 14, 2013

About Black Bears and Black Bear Encounters

Black Bear Facts

Black Bear in Campsite
Black bears are the most populous bear in North America.  These bears have lived almost everywhere in North America where there is some sort of large area of wilderness that is other than desert.  However, beginning in the early 1900's, the distribution of the bear began to wither.  In the past 25 years, bear populations have again been growing.  It is difficult to say how many bears there are at any one given time, but according to a study by Wildlife Conservation Society and the Nevada Department of Wildlife, in 1931, black bears were extinct in Nevada and today there are almost 300 bears living in the state.

Black bears eat almost anything.  Usually, less than 10% of a bears diet is "meat", and usually this meat is bugs or larvae.  The other 90% of the bears diet is vegetation or fruits that the bear can find in its habitat.  Like humans, bears love to eat, and like humans, bears like convenience.  Bears are lazy, but very smart.  Bears are usually shy.  Bears learn and will grow to not fear humans if they associate humans with food.  When bears learn to no longer fear humans, many times, the bear will have to be put down or removed to a more desolate area in order to prevent potential problems in the future.

Black Bear Encounters

Bear encounters, for the most part are best to be avoided.  If there are bears in the area, the best way to avoid a dangerous encounter is to plan accordingly.  First and foremost, properly store food.  Ensure that all food is stored in a bear canister or bear locker.  Do not leave food in your car.  A locked door will not stop a bear.  Do not eat where you sleep.  If hiking make noise so as not to surprise a bear.

If a bear does wander into your campsite or onto your trail, scan the area for cubs and observe the temperament of the bear.  In most instances the black bear will run as soon as it has seen or heard you, but if it does not back away slowly.  Do not get between the mother and her cubs.  Talk calmly and firmly.  If the bear looks or steps in your direction continue to back away and wave your hands speaking firmly.  Do not run.  Bears will outrun you and running may trigger predatory instincts.  Give the bear space and continue to live your happy life.  If the black bear does attack fight back.  To be safe, it can't hurt to have FRONTIERSMAN Bear Attack Deterrent with Hip Holster - Maximum Strength & 30 Foot Range .

April 6, 2013

Hikers Lost in the Cleveland National Forest

Holy Jim Falls
Proper planning prevents piss poor performance...and getting lost in the woods and almost dying.  That being said, if you are going to hike Holy Jim Trail in Trabuco Canyon and you are an 18 and 19 year old athlete and your name is Kyndall Jack and Nicholas Cendoya, is planning even necessary?  Does one have to plan properly for a walk in the park?

Holy Jim Trail is a 2.8 mile round trip hike with a 650 foot elevation gain.  For those of you who do not know, this is a very easy venture.  As the cliche goes, it is a walk in the park.  At AllTrails.com, in the member provided description, Jennifer Johnson writes, "this is a fun trail and easy for kids."  And Steven Davies wrote, "trails are clearyly marked...I had a group of kids ages 5-10.  None of them had a hard time."  Personally, I have not completed this hike, but if I were hiking this trail I see no potential danger of getting lost or dying. 

There was something else going on other than two innocent kids trying to enjoy a hike.  Only if you leave the trail into the thick impassable vegetation is the terrain steep and rough. Two teenage athletes almost dying in this particular area can only raise questions.  Why leave the trail?  Were they doing something illegal?  At best, this ordeal is due to complete negligence and at worst, there was some illegal activity.  I do believe that there is something more to this story as it does not all add up.  That being said, it is good news that both kids were found alive.

Karin Klein rightly asks the question in her LA Times Opinion piece, who should pay for this massive search and rescue effort?  Much of the search was conducted by volunteers, but there is no such thing as a free lunch .