Wildlife Encounter in Colorado: Kill or be Killed?

I am hiking across acres of Southwest Colorado with my fabulous best friend, a Black Mouth Cur that I named, appropriately, “Blessing” on our morning “walk” through the fields and woods of the farm where we now live.  It is out … Continue reading

Hundreds of California cattle feared hurt, dead as massive Rim Fire scorches region

130902-rimfire-10a.photoblog600The monstrous California wildfire that has scorched an area nearly the size of New York City doesn’t just loom over hundreds of homes — it’s also threatening one of the cornerstones of the regional economy: cattle.

Many of the thousands of grass-fed cows who have grazed on lush land in the Stanislaus National Forest — where the massive fire sparked Aug. 17 — are now feared displaced, wounded or dead, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

As local ranch hands deal with their potentially decimated stock — and with the future of grazing in the forest area unclear — the regional cattle industry may take a big hit, according to the newspaper.

“They go out every day, gathering the cows they can find, the ones that have made it into the green areas,” Susan Forbes, a national forest staffer, told the Chronicle. “They’re finding pockets of livestock and concentrating on removing them as fast as they can.”

Forbes told the newspaper that 12 of 36 grazing grounds in the park were devastated by the blaze. Herds of cattle are now scattered over thousands of acres — making evacuation efforts a huge challenge.

The Golden state accounts for 7.4 percent of the U.S. national revenue for livestock and livestock products. It’s also the number one state in cash farm receipts, making up 11.6 percent of the U.S. total, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Cattle and calves were California’s fifth leading commodity two years ago, and remain a chief state resource, according to CDFA data.

Meanwhile, crews battling the so-called Rim Fire made significant gains overnight, officials said.

The fire was 60 percent contained Monday morning, a jump from 45 percent Sunday night, said Dan Bastion, a spokesman for the multiagency fire management team.

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity allowed crews to get an advantage on the fire overnight, according to Bastion.

“The fire is a little less active today,” Bastion said early Monday.

And yet the so-called Rim Fire grew slightly late Sunday, and now spans over 357 square miles, or 228,670 acres, making it the fourth-largest blaze in modern California history, he said. It surpasses a 1932 fire in Ventura County, according to officials.

The fire threatens some 4,500 homes, although many of those structures are “not in imminent danger,” Bastion said. Some 11 residences have already burned down, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Mandatory evacuations still stand for some people south of Highway 120. Tioga Road west of Yosemite Creek Picnic Area remains shuttered, according to The Associated Press.

Crews will continue building fire lines and scorching away the fire’s potential fuel sources Monday, according to the wire service.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the blaze, but the possibility that it was started by an illegal marijuana growing operation was recently raised by a fire chief in Tuolomne County.

Todd McNeal, fire chief in the town of Twain Harte, west of Yosemite, said at an Aug. 23 community meeting that officials “know it’s human caused, there’s no lightning in the area. … (We) highly suspect that it might be some sort of illicit grove, marijuana grow-type thing.”

His comments surfaced in a YouTube video of the meeting.

However, Rim Fire spokesman Brian Haines told NBC Bay Area that at this juncture, the marijuana theory is merely “an opinion.”

In June, 15,000 marijuana plants were pulled out the forest to the south and four miles of irrigation pipe were removed, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The newspaper said a 40-acre wildfire the month earlier in the same area was blamed on marijuana growers tied to Mexican drug cartels.

Shark Attack Victim Loses Valiant Fight

HONOLULU (AP) — A 20-year-old German woman who lost her right arm in a shark attack off of Hawaii last week is being remembered by her family as beautiful and strong after fighting to stay alive in a Maui hospital. … Continue reading

News, Tornado Destruction May 2013

APTOPIX Severe Weather ap_tornado_130519_wg

Tornadoes Level Homes in Okla., 1 Dead

Tornadoes ravaged portions of central Oklahoma on Sunday, reducing portions of a mobile home park to rubble and killing a 79-year-old man whose body was found out in the open.

“You can see where there’s absolutely nothing, then there are places where you have mobile home frames on top of each other, debris piled up,” Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth said after surviving damage in the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park. “It looks like there’s been heavy equipment in there on a demolition tour.

“It’s pretty bad. It’s pretty much wiped out,” he said.

The Shawnee tornado was one of several that touched down in the nation’s midsection Sunday. Twisters, hail and high winds also struck Iowa and Kansas as part of a massive, northeastward-moving storm system that stretched from Texas to Minnesota.

Across the state, 21 people were injured, not including those who suffered bumps and bruises and chose not to visit a hospital, said Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Booth said six at Steelman Estates were hurt.

Following the twisters, local emergency officials went from home site to home site in an effort to account for everyone. Cain said that, many times in such situations, people who are not found immediately are discovered later to have left the area ahead of the storm. Booth said everyone from the trailer park had been found.

Forecasters had been warning of a general storm outbreak since Wednesday, and for Sunday’s storms some residents had more than a half-hour’s notice that a twister was on the way. Tornado watches and warnings were in effect through late Sunday in much of the nation’s midsection.

The trailer park west of Shawnee was among the hardest-hit areas, and among the hardest to reach, as tractor-trailers that forced the closure of a section of Interstate 40 north of the site and power lines draped across roads to the south.

James Hoke lives with his wife and two children in Steelman Estates. He said the family went into their storm cellar as the storm approached. When they came out, their mobile home had vanished.

“It took a dead hit,” Hoke said.

A storm spotter told the National Weather Service that the tornado left the earth “scoured” at the mobile home park — using a term used by storm chasers to describe grass being ripped out by high winds.

“It seemed like it went on forever. It was a big rumbling for a long time,” said Shawn Savory, standing outside his damaged remodeling business in Shawnee. “It was close enough that you could feel like you could reach out and touch it.”

Gov. Mary Fallin declared an emergency for 16 Oklahoma counties that suffered from severe storms and flooding during the weekend. The declaration lets local governments acquire goods quickly to respond to their residents’ needs and puts the state in line for federal help if it becomes necessary.

Heavy rains and straight-line winds hit much of western Oklahoma on Saturday. Tornadoes were also reported Sunday at Edmond, Arcadia and near Wellston to the north and northeast of Oklahoma City. The super cell that generated the twisters weakened as it approached Tulsa, 90 miles to the northeast.

“I knew it was coming,” said Randy Grau, who huddled with his wife and two young sons in their Edmond home’s safe room when the tornado hit. He said he peered out his window as the weather worsened and believed he saw a flock of birds heading down the street.

“Then I realized it was swirling debris. That’s when we shut the door of the safe room,” said Grau, adding that they remained in the room for 10 minutes.

In Wichita, Kan., a tornado touched down near Mid-Content Airport on the city’s southwest side shortly before 4 p.m., knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses but bypassing the most populated areas of Kansas’ biggest city. The Wichita tornado was an EF1 on the enhanced Fujita scale, with winds of 110 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Randy Duncan said there were no reports of fatalities or injuries in Kansas.

There were also two reports of tornadoes touching down in Iowa on Sunday night, including one near Huxley, about 20 miles north of Des Moines, and one in Grundy County, which is northeast of Des Moines, according to the Des Moines Register. There were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries.

In Oklahoma, aerial television news footage showed homes with significant damage northeast of Oklahoma City. Some outbuildings appeared to have been leveled, and some homes’ roofs or walls had been knocked down.

“When I first drove into the neighborhood, I didn’t see any major damage until I pulled into the front of my house,” said Csaba Mathe, of Edmond, who found a part of his neighbor’s fence in his swimming pool. “My reaction was: I hope insurance pays for the cleaning.”

“I typically have two trash cans, and now I have five in my driveway.”

The Storm Prediction Center had been warning about severe weather in the region since Wednesday, and on Friday, it zeroed in on Sunday as the day the storm system would likely pass through.

“They’ve been calling for this all day,” Edmond resident Anita Wright said after riding out the twister in an underground shelter. She and her husband, Ed, emerged from their hiding place to find uprooted trees, downed limbs and damaged gutters in their home.

In Katie Leathers’ backyard, the family’s trampoline was tossed through a section of fence and a giant tree uprooted.

“I saw all the trees waving, and that’s when I grabbed everyone and got into two closets,” Leathers said. “All these trees just snapped.”


Ocean Horror Show of Dead Birds

Ocean Horror Show: Dead Sea Birds With Bellies Full of Plastic Garbage

Bird_640Photographer Chris Jordan’s film and shocking stills chronicle man’s deadly impact on wildlife in the Midway Atoll.

August 29, 2013

Sustainability, mass consumption, and what he calls “our culture of waste” have long been the backbone of Seattle-based photographer Chris Jordan’s work.

For the past four years his creative energy has been focused on a remote group of islands near Hawaii, 2,000 miles from the nearest continent. Yet there, on Midway Atoll, he has discovered a nightmare scenario that powerfully illustrates just how ruinous man’s impact on nature can be: hundreds, thousands of dead albatross chicks choked to death on man’s detritus, mostly shiny bits of plastic picked up from the nearby Pacific Ocean by their parents, and fed to them mistakenly as food.

The most prominent piece of waste? Disposable cigarette lighters, which float near the surface of the ocean. Glittering in the sun, they are seductive targets. When they are fed to infant birds and swallowed, none of the plastic disintegrates and instead eventually fills tiny stomachs.

MORE: Red, White, and Gross: America Before the EPA

Recently, Jordan has turned from photographing the dead birds, and the waste plastic that fills their stomachs and slowly kills them, to videoing. A successful Kickstarter effort ($122,000 from more than 16,000 donors) is funding the documentary film, which he anticipates will require two more visits so that he can capture the entire birth-life-and-death continuum in full.

“For me, kneeling over their carcasses is like looking into a macabre mirror,” he writes on his website. “These birds reflect back an appallingly emblematic result of the collective trance of our consumerism and runaway industrial growth. Like the albatross, we first-world humans find ourselves lacking the ability to discern anymore what is nourishing from what is toxic to our lives and our spirits. Choked to death on our waste, the mythical albatross calls upon us to recognize that our greatest challenge lies not out there, but in here.”

Jordan’s documentary—”Midway: Message From the Gyre”—is expected to be finished next year. Check out this powerful gallery of Jordan’s photos here.

Letting Go While Holding On

This Christmas, I reflect upon a most memorable hike, a true turning & learning point in my life:

As I stepped to the side to avoid a slick-looking rock, planting my boot onto the outer edge of the trail, the ground suddenly broke beneath the weight of my step, plunging me over the side of the mountain. The painful slide began head first, I fully see the terrifying cliff-edge of the mountain approaching at warp speed.  I want to scream but don’t have time, nor can spare the energy. Somehow one of my trekking poles hit a jutting rock, swinging me a full 180 and onto my back. I dig my feet into the pebbled mountainside as deep as possible, but my brakes are failing me. I can see the swift-approaching edge of the mountain. Beyond that is a minimum 4,000 foot drop. A terminal drop.

Over the edge

Over the Edge by Marybeth Haydon

Suddenly I’m stopped, just a foot from tumbling over the side to certain and painful death. Time is suspended, frantic thoughts crowd my mind. All the kings horses and all the kings men … I’ll never be put back together again.  Another out-of-place thought breaks through all of the others: ‘Let it end. Lift your foot. You only need to lift ONE and it’s over. Just. Let. Go.’


Crazy, I entertain the thought. I had already gone through a bilateral mastectomy, the healing and having to learn new muscle groups, physical therapy and all of the pain associated with all of that. Then “something of concern” in my lung, near the esophagus. I do NOT want to go out as a chronic lung-er.  I just cannot handle this and I am momentarily tempted. My legs are shaking from the brut-force exertion.

Do I hold on? CAN I hold on?

Just then a voice calls out to me: “Hold on! We’re coming!” and I’m rescued by men who ‘just happened’ to have their rock climbing equipment with them.  (Since, I’ve been very careful to step to the inside of the trail, avoiding that outer edge whenever possible. When not possible, my trekking poles are in strategic, stable positions. Another lesson painfully learned.)

Have you ever been tempted to simply let go? To one extent or another, for a multitude of reasons. So frustrated, to just let it all end already, stop even trying? I’m so done! This is just too hard! Or to let go of a toxic relationship, or bad habits, whatever. What little voice is tempting you? What life habits are making us turn to our safety net, our comfort zones that may not necessarily fully line-up with living the Christian life?

Even as fleeting as that thought was, a mili-second of temptation, if I had let go while hanging perilously on the side of that mountain, how many loved ones would I have hurt, maybe even ruined their future lives? My children are without question precious to me. Or what experiences and relationships would I have missed out on? There are just too many “what ifs”; I choose not to camp there.

I will not allow cancer to hijack my life! It is so very necessary, so indispensable  to be fully aware of, and to be able to discern, the lies of the enemy of our soul. Make no mistake; satan is fully aware of his job description and you need to know that he is good at it.  Hold on to your Guard; the infilling of the Holy Spirit.cropped-indian_peaks1.jpg

But there is another kind of “letting go”. A good one.  And a letting go that I am continually learning and developing into deeper dimensions, to fuller capacity.  That is letting go and letting God while holding onto Him and His promises.

As I hike the wilderness, I’m developing a rich, meaningful relationship with the Creator of the very wilderness I am among.  I have such a love for the forests, for its inhabitants large and small. And I have a deep commitment to letting go: to allow my Lord to mold me, to correct me, to direct me, to discipline me, to comfort me. And surprisingly enough, I needed to let go in order to receive His healing touch on my body.  And mercifully, He did. Flat out miracle, xray and other medical-tests-proven. He is so merciful. He knows our limits and will not tempt us beyond them. 1 Corinthians 10:13 But we need to let go of the temptation, let go of our earthly desires (eg: one of mine is getting a home in the woods*), and allow Him to do His God thing, give Him the freedom because He has given us freedom to choose. I choose to hold on to His mercy and grace. His forgiveness that cleanses my soul as white as snow.


Bighorn Sheep by Marybeth Haydon

Meanwhile, I hike the woods, the desert, and along/above the pacific coast because, for me, there is where I feel freer to let go. I continually let go of all sickness and will not have it. Health is my mantra. I strive to continually let go of my selfish desires and wants so that I will be free to hear His Voice. He gives the (good) desires of my heart. Free to let go in my worship. I will never let go of my life, I recognize that brief temptation for what it was and I shake off that temporary insanity.

As an American, I have many freedoms and I sincerely thank each and every service person who has ensured that we maintain these freedoms.  I choose to hike and chat with the Lord, free to let go or not.

Have a blessed Christmas & New Year my friends. I hope that if you haven’t already, learn to explore our wonderful parks and preserves, making your new year extra special indeed.

* Not all earthly desires are bad ones. I choose to let go of my desire for my “perfect house” in order to give room for Him to do His God thing. I’m confident He has the perfect place that will not meet, but exceed any expectations I may have.

The World Ends (Again)

Pretty sunset

Sunrise by Marybeth Haydon

I forgot that the world was supposed to end today. Again.

What is it that some folks are preoccupied with knowing the Mind of God? Are we so arrogant that we actually think that we can predict something that the Word of God states in Matthew 24:35, 36 “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”

 Sure, any day, any hour holds the possibility that it could be the last for any one of us, no one is guaranteed a tomorrow. Stuff happens. Really bad stuff happens. But even these individual circumstances cannot be predicted.

There was a time that I would have welcomed “the end” with open arms; oh please DO, end this madness! But as I’ve matured, as I’ve twice survived deadly disease, have survived life threatening circumstances (four of them to be exact, there really should be a limit!), and have survived MYSELF in my younger years, I’m continuing to learn that there is a bigger picture. There are people who count on me. There are others that I’ve yet to meet, to share “my story” with.

One particular hike that I was on, I was off to the side of the trail, looking down at the stream below eager to catch a glympse of a bear, deer or bobcat getting a drink. A young woman was heading up the path and stopped beside me and started a relaxed conversation. I don’t even remember how the subject came up, but we discovered that she was recovering from a bilateral mastectomy, just as I was. The conversation blossomed as we continued our journey up the mountain and a friendship was forged.

As we shared our relative experiences while on trail, I told her how I had accidentally STOOD on a coiled, and exceedingly angry rattle snake. No one can outrun the strike of a snake, no matter how much adrenalin is pumping into the bloodstream. But I came out of the life-threatening situation “merely” shaken to the core.  Through the active grace of God I came out of the situation unscathed. This could have been the end of the world for me; literally the end of me.

Needless to say, I had residual fear. That night, I had to turn on all the lights in order to use the ladies room, I was terrified of stepping on a phantom snake in my house. Weeks later, my fear did not recede and reduced my subsequent hikes to paths of sweaty shakes and terror. I went to my Lord, desperate to return to the wilderness with joy, wonder and discovery. He spoke to my spirit with very wise advise:

“Don’t focus on what you did, but on what I did.” 

I can’t express what FREEDOM that gave me! CLEARLY He intervened! Had He not, I’d be racking up 10’s of thousands of dollars in medical treatment for a snake bite. If I survived it, since I was initally bent over the thing, it could have struck me in the chest or face. (Full story in my book Wilderness Training the Novice).

When I told my new friend this, she said with awe, “Your God is very smart.” Smiling, I agreed with absolute confidence. Yes indeed. My God is very, very smart! I hope someday she will get to know “my God”. I also hope and pray the same for all who read this.

So, when you hear of rumors of “the end of the world”, take courage and confidence that it is untrue, for no man knows the day or hour. Not even when a crazy accident may happen on or off trail!

It’s a new day. ENJOY IT TO YOUR FULLEST!!

03-01-12 Evey Cyn Potato Mtn 012

Overlooking the City by Marybeth Haydon

Cancer As Nothing More Than A New Trail.


Forest photo courtesy Google images.

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Importantly, whether in the midst of a disease battle, or after the medical field has done all that they can possibly do for you, the bottom line is to get up and keep trying.


Hiking caused me to spread my wings, this was a completely different challenge for me; I was not a physical/athletic sort before taking on the tests of hiking.  Despite my other physical problems, perseverance, commitment, and focus were developed and forefront on my mind. Through each demanding, physical challenge in each of the wildernesses that I faced, one of the surprising benefits was finding acceptance in the person that I had become.  I’m living, not just existing. I have new goals and new purpose.

In my books I briefly describe several life threatening situations that I’ve been through.  I have been given so many “second chances”; I’m ashamed to say that it hadn’t been until this last one that I began to actually do something with it, rather than take it for granted. It’s an ongoing journey, an ongoing chance to love, share, give, accept, and to change. The unique opportunities, experiencing, encountering, hearing, smelling, documenting, collecting. Even during the threatening times, the terror, the confusion, the pain, the weak physical body, the cold; I’m alive to subsist, to endure it all. The good and the bad, the mistakes and the good undertakings, it’s what makes life, life.

Whether your “Survival Skills” are enduring chemo, wilderness exploring, stress management on the job, or just getting yourself up out of bed today to brave your individual battlefield, they are all excellent accomplishments. But until we broaden the parameters of those techniques with faith in God, they’re just techniques with limitations.

Beauty within the storm at sunset, by Marybeth Haydon

Beauty within the storm at sunset, by Marybeth Haydon

During and after 2 battles with cancer, my mindset needed to change dramatically.The cancer diagnosis was a gut-punch that caused me to take a staggering step back with strong introspection. That, and it’s a big world out there; it’s about time I take a good look at some of it. Even though I traveled quite a bit for my job as a contract manager, and was privileged to witness fabulous scenery in many of our states, I didn’t take the time to actually experience them.


I also felt I needed to take a good look at my past, so I began to document. To journal the fun, funny and infamous moments with my children and family, should I not defeat this intimidating disease. Without warning, once I opened that door to distant memories, nagging, accusing regret-memories came bursting through, nearly leveling me into a no-return depression. Why wasn’t I a better mother, I could have done this differently, I could have …


Urgently I needed to change my outlook and focus not only on health and healing but on the future, that I have a future.


It became necessary for me to experience the magnificence of the forests, to experience our native creatures, to experience my relationships at a new level and not only to experience the challenges oppressing and threatening me but to conquer and defeat them. Maybe subconsciously I was running away from my tenuous mortality, from my feelings of “mother-inadequacy” (Show me a mother who doesn’t feel like she could have done better!) but the end result was that I was physically active. I was also able to share many of my hikes with my sons; bonding at a novel level. Plus, for me, exercise at home or at a gym is flat-out boring.

Electrifying spring runoff by Marybeth Haydon

Electrifying spring runoff by Marybeth Haydon

Hiking was undeniably difficult in the beginning, but the more I explored and the more I experienced my treks, I was also getting into shape while I was clearing my mind of negativity, de-stressing and replacing it with life and appreciation. The Lord guided me through changing my mindset and I accepted. I had gone through the grieving phases of my probable death and now needed to get past the acceptance of death.


I literally stopped preparing for my death.


My mindset had to be beyond survival, I needed to be more than a conqueror; I was confronted to live-out my faith and believe the bible’s words. I’m now equipped, through His guidance, through His Son, to climb the mountains and journey the valleys that life throws at me. The more I exercise and utilize the skills and talents He has given me, and the practical skills learned in the wilderness leadership classes, the better I’m living my life for Him and changing my attitude.

Having had cancer is nearly insignificant to me now (other than the Lord’s interventions) and certainly isn’t a “prerequisite” of sorts for feet hitting the dirt trail. Rather, as someone summed it up for me:

Cancer is nothing more than a new trail.

I like that.


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