Sunday, September 15, 2013
Things are very quiet here today. I haven't got any plans to go down off the mountain. It's cool and breezy, low humidity . I've had my coffee, watched the news and weather, and read the blogs I always read. That's my normal routine for morning.
My daughter called and told me my son was lost in a big park up there. He likes to spend his weekends hiking, and he goes to parks that have heavily wooded areas with both day hike trails and longer duration trails. He has a cell phone with GPS, and I can get on my computer, find his phone , and get an air photo or topo map showing where he is. I can scale it up or down. The system is called AT&T family map and it works quite well.
I got on the web page and he had already found his way out and was doing fine. He frequently gets "lost" which means he is not sure exactly where he is, but he has a sixth sense about navigation in the woods, is good with a map, and since he grew up in a much denser forest than they have up there he's at home.
He carries a few things with him in a back pack, primarily based on Cody Lundin's two books. 98.6 Degrees, the Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive, and When All Hell Breaks Loose . Both are excellent books. The first deals more with unexpected adventures in the wild, and the second with major catastrophes. My son likes both of them because they are heavily illustrated and the important points are summarized at the end of each chapter.
He doesn't carry a firearm, because the laws in the state he currently resides in make it difficult to do so legally. Other than that, the same things he used to haul around with him here, are what he carries there.
He doesn't have a hand held GPS. I'm not sure he needs one, given the capability of his phone, but I think I will send him my old one. I don't use it as I rarely go hiking in areas I don't know intimately anymore. I navigate primarily with a compass and map, and so does he but it can't hurt to have the GPS. It's an old Magellan Navigator system for hikers. Not as colorful or gadget filled as the ones today but perfectly functional.
He doesn't have a dog with him, and that makes me really uneasy. Since he lives in an apartment, keeping a dog would be tough. Still, there's nothing like a good dog or two if you are going into the forest. These days forests can be dangerous places, with all the lunatics, sociopaths and assorted wing nuts who seem to gravitate there. Big dogs can make goblins go look for a softer target. My son has his martial arts training and a hefty hiking staff, so I guess that will have to do for now.
When they were truly lost, having wandered off the trail, the search and rescue guys had to go out and find them, while the Park Ranger set up a command center. When they were found and brought back to the park, it was never their fault they got lost. They may have gone into the dense forest on an overnight trail with no compass, no map, no GPS but the fault lay with the forest service because the trails were "inadequately marked." I lasted at that job about five months before I got so sick of that kind of thing, and other issues, that it wasn't fun anymore. Fortunately, it was a temporary seasonal job for seniors and came to an end.
Hiking is a young man's game. People like my son are just the right age. Oldsters who won't admit the limitations age imposes on you often wind up having to be carried out of the mountains on a stretcher, at great expense to the forest service and the fire and rescue boys. Wasn't it the Greeks who said "know thyself." There are some Jack LaLane people out there who are old and can still cut it in the mountains. I just don't happen to be one of them.