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
TRAVELING ALONG THIS IMPRESSIVE RIVER, WHICH IS FLOWING NORTHWEST, paralleling the coast, I scramble up a hill for a photo op. Standing as close to the edge of my perch as safely possible, I hesitate to begin shooting. The awe and power of the river is complimented by the fantastic diversity of the rock walls and it is commanding my full attention. Clearly, iron dominates the rock canyon, leaving a fantastic rusty patina which is frequently interrupted with dark green trees and shrub. Gray to black mudstones, siltstones and sandstones further the pleasant variations. Even a swipe of golden brown color to complete the picture.
The river’s edge cuts a raw, white, jagged saw tooth line, the salt-crusted shoreline and boulders that rise above the water, where the natural water’s pulse and current spray have frequently misted the protruding boulders, scatter these highlights throughout the landscape. The current is intense, furious whenever the canyon walls insinuate upon the channel.
There is an odd, captivating rock formation close to the more turbulent section of the channel. It appears as though molten gray rock has spilled from the canyon wall with a round, spoon-shaped end closest to the water’s edge with its wide handle, ladle-like, balancing on the upper riverbank. This salmon-frequented river flows primarily northeast before changing course to southern pastures and wetlands.
Only a few hours into the trek and I’m met with dry-grass contrasting a man-made path with lush forests of oak and pines and other trees that I can’t distinguish, looming into its distant future. This revs my energy level, the promise of cooler, green pastures is inviting.
It doesn’t take long to leave signs of civilization behind and soon the hushed, fog-covered forest embraces my curious nature. Every step is soft, debris-mulched and fragrant under my boot.
This is true paradise.
On up the trail I continue, not knowing just why I feel I should get really deep into the forest today but I am very happy to be here, doing what I’m doing. The scenery never gets old, thank You God. The wildflowers are in full bloom and some are exceedingly fragrant. Their youth is renewed every spring, man, what a thrill that must be! I continue to scan the ubiquitous plant life and deeply inhale the surrounding scents. The perfume of the forest, nothing can beat it. The fragrances change as I proceed, pine mingling with wild licorice, licorice mingling with bay, bay mingling with mustard … I’m not sure if the oak trees have a scent but their dropped acorns are like marbles under my boots.
There is a spot reserved for me under a very large sequoia, its branches outstretched in a welcoming, “Come hither, under my canopy and rest.” I oblige. I remove my pack, habitually snapping the belt closed and settle down for a snack. The sound of rusting paper from my energy bar has apparently alerted many creatures, the most forward and aggressive of which is the scrub jay in front of me. Not far behind are a few squirrels & chipmunks in various stages of anticipation and wariness, and I’m beginning to wonder where Thumper and Bambi are.
I ignore the advancing blue jay and tip my head back to see if I can see any sky. What I do see sends my heart racing and my hands shaking.
My head now on a swivel, I check my surroundings more thoroughly, then up again into the trees. I begin to rise, keeping my eyes on the trees above me, moving ever so carefully, forcing slow and deliberate movement.
Where is mama bear?
Two curious black bear cubs are peeking down and over the foliage of the pine that is right next to the big sequoia that I am against. Still looking up, I reach for my pack, once again thankful for my habit of cinching the belt, and toss my power bar over past the oak that holds the cubs. Backing away, thankful for the soft, cushy debris and needle-carpeted ground I am looking everywhere. Seriously everywhere. Behind me, above me, beside me. No longer does my immediate forest hold a critter audience, the animals have left town.
I just can not even believe this is happening.
My heart ratchets yet another level as I swing my eyes towards the scraping, then soft thump sound. NO WAY! Those cubs are heading towards me, SNAP! I speak firmly to them, “No bear!” but apparently they don’t understand English. The larger of the two is still, although a bit hesitant, coming forward. I am nearly paralyzed with fear. WHERE IS MAMA BEAR?
I bump into a bush, maybe a tree I don’t really care and could not afford to be distracted with finding out. My entire body is shaking, my muscles feel weak, defenseless and inadequate. I sneak a look and find the path I came in on still backing away. Both cubs seem to be very perplexed, the smaller a bit distracted with a flying insect of sorts, the other looking from its sibling then to me, sizing up the situation. Thankfully they are remaining grounded where they are. But for how long, and the million dollar question: Where’s mama bear?!
I need not wonder any longer.
Emerging from the underbrush, sending a fleeting glance toward my power bar, is protective mama bear! She brawls at her cubs like a mother admonishing her children for straying beyond the yard, then gives her full, very direct attention to me. Somehow I continue to back away, averting eye contact, wild and insane thoughts swirling through my mind. Out of the corner of my eye I see the cubs scrambling up a tree to safety. Obedient children now that mom’s back.
Realizing that I have been shaking my head in a “no, no, no!” while retreating further, I force every cell, every adrenalin dump into sniper-concentrated focus. I know the choices on what to do, now how on earth do I choose which avenue to take? “Read the body language” comes back to memory and I continue backing away, not saying a word, my hands needlessly out in a “stay away” gesture.
Mama grunts threats, her sounds deep and quite menacing, then makes a swipe at the ground in front of her, sending dust and sticks flying into the air, shaking her lowered head. I’m reminded of a bull about to charge and I’m certain I’m going to lose it completely, right here. Right now. She has not charged me, I take this as a very good sign. I am still backing away when suddenly I’m falling, and I still haven’t landed yet!
Tangled in brush and briars, I look up the hill to see if she has decided to follow, then end me. Piece by piece, Marybeth-mulch nourishing the forest. At this point I have lost all reason, tearing my clothes and skin as I thrash through the sticky under brush in full panic mode. I don’t see her, I have lost my pack somewhere along the fall and I no longer care. I am completely overcome with irrational fear as I begin to run down the trail. DO NOT RUN FROM A PREDATOR but I figure after the fall that I’m far enough away and I’m around the bend so that she can’t see me? Panic trumps reason, it really does.
I am back to the manmade pathway, out of the dense forest and I have not heard any movement or growl behind me since the fall but every fiber of my being is still at high alert. I collapse in a sobbing heap, then I begin to laugh. I think perhaps I’m hysterical, just a thought.
Once I recovered and was shakily on my way home I was first, exceedingly grateful that I was reasonably unharmed. Physically. Emotionally I’ll probably never be the same. I thought about the good habit of keeping my keys and phone separate from my pack and for the habit of always fastening my pack belt. Even though I lost my pack, had I not fallen, I would have had it for minute protection or for the first aid kit inside it.
Establishing good hiking habits and knowing how to interpret and react to animal behavior goes a very long way. Even when you mess up the best laid plans.
For information on safety, signs of presence, and first aid please click:
I love to camp with my wife and two little boys, ages 3 and 5. I’d say that 75-80 percent of the campers we’ve encountered over the years have been good people who understand the need to be considerate while sleeping with fellow travelers in the great outdoors. But it only takes one dud to ruin your camping experience.
A bad camping trip can make the pleasures of home seem awfully enticing. A great one can remind you of how magical camping can be–given the right circumstances and neighbors.
I prefer to camp at state and national parks because the tent sites tend to be cheaper and more spacious than private campgrounds, where you can sometimes feel like you are stacked on top of your fellow campers. But if you don’t plan far ahead, getting a coveted site at a state or national park on a summer weekend can be extremely difficult.
No matter where you pop your tent, here are seven things not to do a campground.
1Check-in late at nightiStock
What’s it like to be near someone who decides to check in late at night? Last summer, on a rainy night at a state park in Vermont, we heard noises very close to our tent after midnight. We were alarmed because it was a Monday night and the place had totally cleared out after the weekend, with just one family left in our vicinity. Our paranoia grew when a bright, blinding light illuminated our tent. When we had checked in, a park ranger had mentioned that there had been some bear sightings and we feared that the rangers were tracking a bear near our campsite. Eventually, we fell asleep without further incident. The next morning, we found out that the noises we heard were late arriving campers who used their high beams, pointed right into our tent, as they set up their tent in the rain. Some campgrounds police arrival times, but many don’t. There is no graceful way to set up camp in the middle of the night, so please, just don’t do it.
For every one person who becomes quiet and introspective when intoxicated, there are a dozen who get loud and obnoxious. If you stay reasonably coherent, you’ll be less likely to annoy your neighbors.
3Bring a yappy dogiStock
No one thinks that their dog is annoying, but we all know that some pets are better off left home. The only thing worse than a camper who stands by idly as their dog barks at passersby, squirrels or for no reason at all, is one who leaves their dog or dogs chained up, unattended at their campsite while they go off for the day. If you have a dog that likes to bark, buy them a citronella collar or leave them at home.
4Ignore quiet hours rulesiStock
This is the most important and often ignored camping etiquette rule in the book. Nearly every campground has rules prohibiting noise late at night and early in the morning, but most places also don’t have the staff to enforce them. At a Kampgrounds of America campground near St. Joseph, Michigan, in July, we wound up next to a trio of women who woke us up at 5 a.m. (4 a.m. in our time zone) with loud chatter, right outside our tent, slamming their car door repeatedly, and allowing their dog to bark incessantly. When I got dressed and walked out in the darkness to confront them, they made no apologies. “We have a race to get to,” one said, as though that justified waking others up in the pre-dawn hours on a Sunday morning.
5Leave behind your bar of used soap, especially if it’s hairy
You might justify leaving your bar of soap thinking that someone might have forgotten to bring theirs, but I can assure you that no one wants to use your leftover soap, so please take it with you.
6Bring your boom boxiStock
I don’t care how good you think your taste in music is — the truth is that no one wants to hear it except for you. Headphones are a glorious invention, but since too many campers fail to pack them, don’t forget your earplugs.
7The other obvious stuffiStock
One would think that campers would know not to snap the branches off of trees for firewood, drive fast around the campground, litter, and leave a fire unattended, but I’ve seen people do all of these things. Everyone slips up occasionally but a little common courtesy goes a long way, especially in the great outdoors.
Valencia High School Teacher Pat Hadley died on Thursday while hiking in the Sequoia National Forest
Friends mourned on Saturday the loss of a longtime Southern California high school teacher and running coach who died after falling 150 feet off a mountain ridge in the Sierra Nevada.
Pat Hadley died on Thursday in a fall on a rugged hillside in the Inyo National Forest, coroner’s officials said.
Tributes began to spring up online for the popular teacher who students called “Coach Hadley.”
“She is the mold that God made for teachers to follow,” wrote “Rose” in an online tribute page. “My heart is broken by Coach Hadley’s passing.”
Jim Bell, the principal at Valencia High School in Placentia, touted her accomplishments on the track and in the classroom in a statement posted on the school’s website.
“Pat tragically lost her life doing what she loved,” he said. “She will be missed and we ask you for your thoughts and prayers for her family.”
Hadley died while taking part in a series of day hikes on California mountain trails with about 20 others when she disappeared about 2 p.m. Thursday, said Jeff Mullenhour, a deputy coroner’s investigator in Inyo County.
Her body was found about two hours later. It was an accident, Mullenhour said. An autopsy set for Sunday would determine how she died.
The hiking community set up an online tribute for Hadley on Friday.
She was climbing alone on a ridge in Baxter Pass on Day 7 of the 10-day “Sierra Challenge,” a series of day-hikes to 10 peaks, wrote Bob Burd, a moderator on the site summitpost.org.
Fellow hikers found her lifeless body about 150 feet below the ridge, Burd wrote.
”All of us are devastated by this tragic loss,” wrote Burd, adding that the rest of the Challenge was canceled out of respect for Hadley’s family. “Our prayers and thoughts go out to her husband, family and a wide community of friends that will undoubtedly be greatly affected.”
The Wisconsin native taught ceramics and coached the boys cross country and boys and girls track teams in her nearly 20-year career at Valencia.
Hadley’s storied athletic career included national titles in mountain biking and a stint in the first unofficial female World Cup Soccer tournament, Bell said.
“Now cracks a noble heart,” wrote “MoapaPk” in the online tribute, referring to a line in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” “Good night sweet princess: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”
With the numerous wildfires, our wildlife are getting displaced, increasing the chances of an “encounter of the worst kind”.
It’s a situation you never want to find yourself in. You’re on vacation, peacefully enjoying the planet’s natural wonders and then – out of nowhere – a wild creature attacks.
While these encounters are usually very rare, Kyle Patterson, spokeswoman at Rocky Mountain National Park, say it’s because people aren’t aware of their surroundings or don’t use common sense.
“Any wildlife can be unpredictable,” she said. “Sometimes you see a visitor who sees an animal and think, ‘they’re close to the road, I’ll just get out and a take a picture.’ This isn’t a zoo where it is fenced off.”
Every animal responds differently to human interaction, but a general rule of thumb for any wildlife encounter is be prepared and look for signs.
“If the animal is reacting to you, you’re too close. All wildlife will give you a sign. Some species will put their ears back. Some will scrape their paws. Some will give verbal cues,” said Patterson.
In order to help you, we’ve come up with a list of tips for surviving all kinds of animal encounters, from bison to sharks.
Even with this list handy, remember that it is illegal to approach wildlife at the national parks and no matter how prepared you are, expect the unexpected.
North America’s recent rash of bear attacks should be inspiration enough to want to know how to survive a mauling. At least six people in five states have been mauled by black and brown bears recently. There was the Alaskan hunter who was attacked on Saturday, the hikers in Yellowstone National Park who were attacked by a grizzly last Thursday and 12-year-old Abigail Wetherell who was mauled by a black bear on the very same day, while out on an evening jog in northern Michigan.
“These are two species that you shouldn’t never run from: Black bear or mountain lion,” said Patterson. “You should make yourself big, as much as you can. Whether it’s taking your jacket and putting it over your head, or picking up sticks or just waving your arms, you need to fight back.”
Here’s a list of bear attack survival tips from Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources:
1.) If you see a bear that is far away or doesn’t see you turn around and go back, or circle far around. Don’t disturb it.
2.) If you see a bear that is close or it does see you STAY CALM. Attacks are rare. Bears may approach or stand on their hind legs to get a better look at you. These are curious, not aggressive, bears. BE HUMAN. Stand tall, wave your arms, and speak in a loud and low voice. DO NOT RUN! Stand your ground or back away slowly and diagonally. If the bear follows, STOP.
3.) If a bear is charging almost all charges are “bluff charges”. DO NOT RUN! Olympic sprinters cannot outrun a bear and running may trigger an instinctive reaction to “chase”. Do not try to climb a tree unless it is literally right next to you and you can quickly get at least 30 feet up. STAND YOUR GROUND. Wave your arms and speak in a loud low voice. Many times charging bears have come within a few feet of a person and then veered off at the last second.
4.) If a bear approaches your campsite aggressively chase it away. Make noise with pots and pans, throw rocks, and if needed, hit the bear. Do not let the bear get any food.
5.) If you have surprised a bear and are contacted or attacked and making noise or struggling has not discouraged an attack, play dead. Curl up in a ball with your hands laced behind your neck. The fetal position protects your vital organs. Lie still and be silent. Surprised bears usually stop attacking once you are no longer a threat (i.e. “dead”).
6.) If you have been stalked by a bear, a bear is approaching your campsite, or an attack is continuing long after you have ceased struggling, fight back! Predatory bears are often young bears that can be successfully intimidated or chased away. Use a stick, rocks or your hands and feet.
Migrating elk are known to take over towns, especially this time of year. For example, Estes Park, a popular resort town in the Rocky Mountains hosts nearly 2,000 elk for the summer months, and much of the year. With a population of only 5,858 inhabitants, the town is literally overrun by elk.
Rocky Mountain National Park also has a large population of elk. Patterson said the dangerous times are in the spring, when they’re protective of their calves, and the fall mating season, known as the rut. “Sometimes the bulls can be very aggressive,” she said. “During the rut, elk are in big groups. You want to make sure you’re not in between the aggressive bull elk and the focus of his attention.”
That’s why the park takes preventative measures such as closing meadows and sending out teams of volunteers to patrol.
Here are some tips from The Payson Roundup, a small paper that covers Rim Country in central Arizona, an area that has had its fair share of elk invasions.
1.) Always keep a safe distance and if driving, stay in your car.
2.) Never approach a baby calf; they are not abandoned even if the cow is not in sight. The cow is close by or very likely has gone to water and will return. The maternal instinct could produce an aggressive behavior if something might come between her and her calf, so play it safe.
3.) Elks travel in the reduced light of early morning or late afternoon — so if you want to avoid an elk, don’t go out during dawn or dusk.
Bison are the largest indigenous land mammal in North America. The bulls can often weigh as much as one ton. Not only are they huge, bison are fast. They can quickly accelerate to speeds up to 35 mph. So if they look majestic and docile out on that plain, just remember bison are beasts and they are much faster than you.
If you encounter a bison, here are some tips from Canada’s National Park Service:
1.) If you encounter bison along the roadway, drive slowly and they will eventually move. Do not honk, become impatient or proceed too quickly. Bison attacks on vehicles are rare, but can happen. Bison may spook if you get out of your vehicle. Therefore, remain inside or stay very close.
2.) If you are on foot or horseback: Never startle bison. Always let them know you are there. Never try to chase or scare bison away. It is best to just cautiously walk away. Always try to stay a minimum of 100 meters (approximately the size of a football field) from the bison.
3.) Please take extra caution as bison may be more aggressive: During the rutting season (mid July-mid August) as bulls can become more aggressive during this time. After bison cows have calved. Moms may be a little over-protective during this time. When cycling near bison, as cyclists often startle unknowing herds. When hiking with pets. Dogs may provoke a bison attack and should be kept on a leash. On hot spring days when bison have heavy winter coats.
4.) Use extreme caution if they display any of the following signs: Shaking the head. Pawing. Short charges or running toward you. Loud snorting. Raising the tail.
Attacks from mountain lions are very rare, Patterson said, and they’re going to prey on elk and deer–not humans.
But she said the danger arises when people hike alone or families with children let the kids run ahead and make noises.
“If a child is running along a trail they can mimic prey,” she said. This is why they tell visitors to ‘”make like a sandwich” when walking along the trails.
“Families and adults should think like a sandwich and the parents should be like a piece of bread and the children should be the filling. Have an adult should be leading the pack and should be in the back.”
Here is a list of tips for a mountain lion encounter from the conservation advocacy group, The Cougar Fund:
1.) Be especially alert when recreating at dawn or dusk, which are peak times for cougar activity.
2.) Consider recreating with others. When in groups, you are less likely to surprise a lion. If alone, consider carrying bear spray or attaching a bell to yourself or your backpack. Tell a friend where you are going and when you plan to return. In general cougars are shy and will rarely approach noise or other human activities.
3.) Supervise children and pets. Keep them close to you. Teach children about cougars and how to recreate responsibly. Instruct them about how to behave in the event of an encounter.
4.) If you come into contact with a cougar that does not run away, stay calm, stand your ground and don’t back down! Back away slowly if possible and safe to do so. Pick up children, but DO NOT BEND DOWN, TURN YOUR BACK, OR RUN. Running triggers an innate predatory response in cougars which could lead to an attack.
5.) Raise your voice and speak firmly. Raise your arms to make yourself look larger, clap your hands, and throw something you might have in your hands, like a water bottle. Again, do not bend over to pick up a stone off the ground. This action may trigger a pounce response in a cougar.
6.) If in the very unusual event that a lion attacks you, fight back. People have successfully fought off lions with rocks and sticks. Try to remain standing and get up if you fall to the ground.
7.) If you believe an encounter to be a valid public safety concern, contact your state game agency and any local wildlife organizations.
While shark sightings are on the rise, shark attacks are still relatively rare. Last year only seven people were killed in shark attacks. Although, in 2011, the number of shark-related deaths was 13. On the off chance you come face to face with Jaws, you should be prepared.
Here are some shark encounter survival tips from Discovery’s Alexander Davies:
1.) Don’t panic. If you find yourself face to face with a shark, you’re going to need your wits about you to get away with your life. So keep calm; remember that while sharks are deadly animals, they’re not invincible. Thrashing and flailing is more likely to gain its attention than to drive it away.
2.) Play dead. If you see a shark approaching, this is a last ditch effort to stave off an attack. A shark is more likely to go after a lively target than an immobile one. But once Jaws goes in for the kill, it’s time to fight — he’ll be as happy to eat you dead as alive. From here on out, you’ll have to fight if you want to survive.
3.) Fight back. Once a shark takes hold, the only way you’re getting out alive is to prove that it’s not worth the effort to eat you — because you’re going to cause it pain. Look for a weapon: You’ll probably have to improvise. But any blunt object — a camera, nearby floating wood — will make you a more formidable opponent. Often repeated advice has it that a good punch to a shark’s snout will send it packing. In fact, the nose is just one of several weak points to aim for. A shark’s head is mostly cartilage, so the gills and eyes are also vulnerable.
4.) Fight smart. Unless you’re Rocky Balboa, you’re not going to knock out a shark with a single punch. Not only will a huge swing slow down in the water due to drag, it’s unlikely to hit a rapidly moving target. Stick with short, direct jabs, so you increase your chances of landing a few in quick succession.
5.) Play defense. Open water, where a shark can come at you from any angle, is the worst position place you can be. Get anything you can to back up against, ideally a reef or a jetty. If there are two of you, line up back to back, so you’ll always have eyes on an approaching attack. Don’t worry about limiting your escape routes- you won’t out swim a shark, better to improve your chances of sending him away.
6.) Call for backup. Call out to nearby boats, swimmers and anyone on shore for help. Even if they can’t reach you right away, they’ll know you’re in trouble, and will be there to help if you suffer some injuries but escape the worst fate. Who knows, maybe a group of sympathetic dolphins will help you out – they’re fierce animals in their own right.
7.) Fight to the end. Giving up won’t make a shark less interested in eating you, so fight as long as you can. If the animal has a hold on you, he’s unlikely to let go. You have to show him you’re not worth the effort to eat.
While stingray attacks are not usually deadly, they are painful and warrant close medical attention. With a recent stingray invasion along the Alabama coast, now is an important time to learn about the barb-tailed sea creature. The animals often bury themselves in shallow water, so even if you are just wading in the ocean, you are still at risk of being stung.
Here are some tips from Jake Howard, a lifeguard at Seal Beach, Calif. on how to handle a stingray encounter:
1.) Always shuffle your feet when walking out to the surf, sting rays are shy and skitish creatures and will generally flutter away at the first sign of danger. The sting is a self-defense mechanism when they get stepped on or threatened. The Sting Ray Shuffle is your first line of defense.
2.) If you do feel something soft and squishy under your foot step off of it as quick as possible. I stepped on a sting ray last weekend, but got off it in time that it didn’t get me…Step lightly in other words.
3.) In the case that you do get stung come to the beach as quick as possible, don’t panic because it will only increase your circulation, thus aiding in the movement of the toxin through your body. Also you want to try and limit anything that may bring on symptoms of shock.
4.) Go home, or to the nearest lifeguard or fire station to treat it. The wound can vary in pain. I’ve had a woman compare it to child birth and seen full-on tattooed gang bangers cry like little sissys, conversly I’ve seen little girls walk away with relatively little discomfort. Either way it’s not going to be fun. Pretty much the only real thing you can do for the pain is soak the sting in hot water, as hot as you can stand, but don’t go burnin’ yourself. You can also take Advil or something, but no asprin. Asprin thins the blood and allows the toxin to travel easier.
5.) Soak the foot until it feels significantly better. The pain probably won’t go completely away, but it should feel dramatically better. A little swelling is normal. Be sure to clean the wound as best as possible. If it looks like the sting ray barb is still in your foot see a doctor for treatment. Actually if anything weird at all goes on go see a doctor.
I wish I could help you, but I can’t.
Nobody else can save you, only Jesus Christ can. Trust Jesus Christ of Nazareth today. He loves you so completely!
Admit that you are a sinner and turn from sin. Believe that Jesus Christ of Nazareth died for you, He was buried and rose from the dead. Through prayer, invite Jesus Christ of Nazareth into your life to become your personal Savior.
No one is guaranteed a tomorrow and the Bible has predicted the current world events to warn all mankind of the return of Jesus Christ, Who lives forever and ever. There will be no “second chances” once He comes to bring all Christians to heaven for eternity.
His priceless, yet free to us gift of salvation is NOT something you want to reject, deep down you know you need Him. For YOUR sake, do not delay.
Fire officials said the blaze burning in remote, steep terrain in Northern California had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 percent contained on Thursday, down from 5 percent a day earlier.
Members of the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors gathered Wednesday night to write a resolution asking Gov. Jerry Brown for help, according to NBCBayArea.com.
Despite the progress crews made Wednesday, the fire has gone from burning 16,000 acres on Wednesday to 54,000 acres Thursday morning — making it almost twice the size of the city of San Francisco.
The fire fight is in its sixth day against the aggressive flames that have burned through trees, brush and nine structures.
Crews were forced to close parts of Highway 120, a main east-west route that leads into the national park, and other roads because of the active fire. About 1,300 fire crews are battling the blaze.
The U.S. Forest Service announced Wednesday that it is running out of funds to fight wildfires and is diverting $600 million from timber and recreation. It has already spent $967 million on the more than 32,000 wildfires this year.
Spiders are everywhere! There are over 30,000 species of spiders in the world. The good news, though, is that in most cases, spider bites cause little more than local pain and inflammation. Most species of spider are unable to penetrate … Continue reading
Officials with the county and the U.S. Forestry Service closed the Broken Blade, Twisted Arrow and Pima Loops areas of the Table Mountain Campgrounds near Wrightwood, a small mountain town northeast of Los Angeles. The squirrel tested positive Tuesday.
The plague disease spreads to humans through bites from infected fleas. And though the infection had once been called the “Black Death” because it killed millions before the advent of antibiotics, infections today in the U.S. are rare and usually not fatal.
“It is important for the public to know that there have only been four cases of human plague in Los Angeles County residents since 1984, none of which were fatal,” said Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, the county’s Director of Public Health.
It is not rare, however, to find plague in the ground squirrels of the San Gabriel Mountains, according to health officials.
A squirrel trapped in 2010 near the Los Alamos campgrounds in Gorman carried the disease, as did one in 2007 and two in 1996 from the Stoneyvale Picnic Area near La Canada/Flintridge. Another plague-carrying squirrel was found in 1995 near a campground in Vogel Flats.
Officials urged campers, hikers and picnickers in the area to avoid wild animals and particularly ground squirrels, and to make sure all people and pets are protected from fleas.
Those heading on a camping trip this summer might want to be just as wary of crossing paths with the wrong bacteria as they would a hungry bear.
After 200 park employees and visitors reported bouts of gastrointestinal illness at Yellowstone National Park and nearby Grand Teton National Park this month, national park officials have warned visitors to be vigilant about hygiene.
The outbreak started on June 7, when a group touring the Mammoth Hot Springs complained of stomach flu and other gastrointestinal problems. After the tour group members reported their illnesses, about other 50 visitors and 150 park employees reported similar symptoms.
Preliminary reports found that they had norovirus, or “stomach flu,” which affects up to 21 million people, every year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Al Mash, spokesman for Yellowstone National Park, said campers who were worried about the outbreak should take care to properly store their food and wash their hands with soap and water before eating. “Don’t rely on hand sanitizer. It’s good for a while if you don’t have access to water,” said Mash. “But sanitizer is a poor second to washing your hands.”
According to the CDC, the norovirus can be very contagious and is usually passed from contaminated surfaces or food.
Mash said that while it might be more difficult to wash hands before and after meals on camping trips, sporting goods stores sell soap slivers or biodegradable soap that can be used on camping trips. “My manta is be aware but not afraid,” said Mash.
Employees at Yellowstone and nearby Grand Teton park have been cleaning and disinfecting the areas where the illnesses were first reported. Yellowstone National Park regularly has 20,000 visitors a day.
The norovirus outbreak is just the latest one to hit the national parks. Last year, Yosemite National Park experienced an outbreak of the deadly hantavirus. Infection with hantavirus, often contracted through contact with contaminated mouse feces or urine, can lead to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, which can be fatal, according to the CDC.
During last summer’s outbreak, eight people were sickened and three died. To stop the spread of disease the National Park Service tore down the buildings where the outbreak was centered and are currently trapping and testing mice for the hantavirus.
Kathy Kupper, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, said if campers were worried about becoming sick they should be sure to check in with the park’s website or information line before they arrive. Any potential hazards from disease outbreaks from high concentrations of ticks, for example, will be listed in each national park’s newsletter or on its website.
“Always pay attention to the information. Don’t just take the [informational pamphlet] and throw it in the glove box,” said Kupper.
Kupper said the one piece of camping safety advice, which is most often forgotten, is to stay put if lost.
“Otherwise it’s like a wild goose chase,” said Kupper. “Stop moving. That way you’re conserving energy, and rescuers have a better chance to find you.“