Monday, May 21, 2007

Tread Lightly and Carry a Big Bag of Batteries

A thought-provoking article in The Utne Reader - June 2007 (by Chris Dodge) “Tread Lightly and Carry a Big Bag of Batteries: Rethinking Technology in the Wilderness” discusses the delicate interplay between technology, safety, and the wilderness experience.

I’m quoted as saying:

“ It seems to me that many of the electronic gadgets may prove helpful occasionally, but provide only the illusion of continual security.
Electronics are not a substitute for common sense, wilderness savvy, basic knowledge about the human body, and using your brain in an unexpected situation.
Electronic devices cannot think or solve problems, and they are subject to many kinds of failure. Anything with batteries might run out. Any electronic device that is not 100 % waterproof could fail if it is soaked in a stream crossing, a flash flood, or a sudden downpour. They can be lost or dropped. Most communication devices have spotty coverage, at best, and can fail for a wide variety of reasons.”

The article also mentions that I do carry a Personal Locator Beacon these days.

The Utne Reader is a compilation of alternative perspectives concerning issues of current importance, and in my estimation, it is an excellent publication, representing some of the best of the alternative media. They are at:

Chris Dodge, the author of the article, can be found at:

Monday, May 7, 2007

Half Dome Dreamin’

It’s mid-may of 2007, and the weather is turning prime for hiking in the Sierra. With a minimal snow pack, it’s a good year to go in early.

Dreaming of the mountains, I’m reminded of my time in physical therapy. Released from the hospital after my accident in 2003, still too weak to lift either leg, let alone stand up, I was wheeled into the PT office in a wheelchair.

“What are your goals for physical therapy?” asked the staff. They asked all their patients the same question. The office was littered with people working their way through various sorts of injuries. Few were as battered as I. Most simply wanted to be able to function with a minimal amount of pain, to go to the grocery store, do their jobs, play with their kids.

“What are your goals for physical therapy?”

“I want to climb Half Dome again.” I told my therapists.

Gradually, I worked my way to a stand, then to a few faltering steps, clutching a walker. Stubbornly refusing to give up my Half Dome dream, I kept at it. My therapists invented a special pilates exercise for me called “Climbing Half Dome.” Ten months of PT later, 3 to 4 hours each day, I could finally toddle about with my pack. Now, three years since the fall, my legs are strong enough to do quite a bit of backpacking. But I still haven’t climbed Half Dome again. Maybe it’s time to give it a try.