Archive for July 26th, 2014


Outdoor/Wilderness Outings: PLAN!

Every year, I have highlighted this admonition, usually for my fly fishing brethren that trek in to be alone while fishing. Be prepared. And part of that is pre-planning and also worst case scenario planning regardless of how competent you are. I am attaching a couple pieces here: one at Traditional Mountaineering and the other re The Spot, a GPS Messenger doodad.

The Traditional Mountaineering post details the 4 personal responsibilities of a backcountry traveler. Note, it is relevent to all backcountry travelers not just mountaineers. These are culled from the State of Oregon Search and Rescue (SAR) protocols and are worth reading about your responsibilities and ‘liabilities’. Although this references Oregon law, I imagine it is similar in many parts of the country/if not also abroad.

Rescue Drills_Smit

4 Personal Responsibilities of a Backcountry Traveler

1. Tell a Reliable Person where you are going, what you are going to do and when you planned to return. Search and Rescue personnel will want to know where you planned to park your vehicle, its description and license number, what gear you have, the names, cell phone numbers and provider information and experience level of your companions. Of course, you must agree that you will call the Reliable Person when you return to the trail head. Also, this encourages your thoughtful setting of a “turn-around” time for your adventure.

The Reliable Person must accept the responsibility for calling the local County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue through 911 with the above information if you do not check in by an agreed-upon time. Your life may depend on a timely call to 911. Experience tells us that the Reliable Person may not understand the importance of this responsibility.

2. The Second Responsibility of each individual backcountry traveler or climber is to be prepared with a light weight daypack and enough extra clothing, water, food and selected gear to survive an emergency stop of several hours or overnight. These Essentials are seasonal and specific trip related and should focus on keeping you warm and dry, hydrated, eating simple carbohydrates, and able to stay in one place. If you become lost, signal your location, perhaps with colored tape or an ordinary bike flasher and/or with a reflective, water and wind proof plastic 9 ounce “SOL Emergency Bivy” sac, and exercise your large muscles at your marked position to generate warmth. Do not try to find your way -becoming exhausted, cold or dangerously wet. Wait at your marked location for rescuers. 

3. The Third Responsibility is to have a detailed topo map of the area, a declination-corrected base-plate compass . Experience tells us that you cannot get by with a cell phone “GPS” (no matter how smart) or a hand held GPS radio receiver alone – you need a paper topo map and a declination-adjusted base- plate compass, and the simple skills to use them together!

4. The Fourth Responsibility is: Carry your common digital cell phone and periodically turn it on to learn where you can contact nearby cell towers.  Insure that you have the personal option to call for medical or rescue services.


This last point re communication touches upon how to reach out and this is where The Spot comes in to assist searchers to rescue you and not waste time searching.

Hiking, photography, fishing, climbing, camping, rafting, mushroom hunting….plan and take responsibility. All the ‘you could be charged’ warnings aside….just out of self respect and respect for the rescuer’s safety too, think about the basics and plan. Being near your car is not enough. A bad fall, heart attack, etc. will probably cut you off from the shelter of your car.


Dragonfly & Destiny

As an avid fly fisher, with a good deal of time spent on lakes, I have come to appreciate the Dragonfly. I know I attach some pseudo-spirituality, mysticism, good luck karma to them. I don’t get any of this with Damsels, Caddis, Mayflies, Midges in such, that I encounter on stillwaters. No, the Dragonfly, the friendly winged creature lands about me, dances on my fly rod, mates on my oars and generally smiles upon me with good luck. Here’s to you Dragonflies. 

Dragon fly-Garden-Yard Art-Photography-SwittersBEven this past May, when I was nowhere near water and sitting contemplating the morning light and a hard task that was before me…along came a Dragonfly to wish me well…ok, maybe I am reading too much into these delicate creations. Butterflies come close, of course, but Dragonflies rule, for me. 

Oh I know,  “Is he for real? What about is own self-empowerment? He’s leveraging his fate, his life’s direction on an insect that at best only lives a couple of months!” Hey, just hedging my bets, just in case.



Age & Heart

wagon wheel-spokes-photography-SwittersB

“Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.” Ben Franklin

“Age shows what children we do remain.”  Goethe

“Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.” Ben again

wagon wheel-photograhy-SwittersB-spokes


Invading My Space: Rugosa Rose

I came upon this small, rough looking rose a few years back. It was being sold at a fund raising event for the Zimmerman Heritage House (a pioneer property east of Portland). The rose was a start from the Rugosa Rose, which was planted on the property. ‘Cool’, I thought. I want a piece of gardening history from this interesting pioneer farm. 

For several years, the rose bloomed and the rose stayed contained; nice and tidy. It stood in a section of the back yard, against a fence, staying tucked away and less showy than the hybrids. Well, as if insulted by my neglect, the Rugosa Rose has exploded with shoots coming forth from the ground and now the rose is a good four times as wide and twice as high! A rose bush has become a rose BUSH! It has plenty of room to spread. I have never had a rose grow like this and in researching the Rugosa Rose, I read that it is ‘invasive’ in regions of Asia and Europe along coastal areas. I can tell this would be a tough one to contain.

Rugosa Rose-Rose Hip-Heritage Rose-Macro-Photography-Gardening-SwittersB

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