Archive for the 'Preparedness' Category


Heed the warnings……


A few years ago, I wrote about Moles & Malignant Melanoma in response to the abuse of my skin from too much sun and tanning beds in the old days. I have consistently cut back on intense sun exposure. I rarely lay in the sun and take the expected precautions with sunscreen, clothing and head gear. Yet, recently I had unusual skin activity on my forehead, nose and neck. The spot on the neck was most troublesome in appearance and irritation. Today, I visited the dermatologist and in short order, after a full body once over, the can of liquid nitrogen was produced and without much fanfare he commenced to freeze (‘burn’!) two spots on my forehead (previously frozen), two spots on my nose and one on my clavicle (this one was/is troublesome). My face and adjacent area suitably on fire, the doctor proceeded to warn me, yet again, to take better care of my self. 

‘beware the Ides of March.’ Shakespeare, 1599 (Julius Caesar)

Vanity, foolishness, just plain carelessness are my standards of skin care. The doctor joked, as he froze the spots, that he hoped I didn’t have any photo shoots/family portraits coming up in the next few weeks (the spots take 2-4 weeks to heal). The pre-cancerous cells are usually/eventually replaced with newer, healthier cells. I must, you must, do better in the great outdoors!

The doctor remarked that my problems were not just from some recent activities, but rather from a lifetime of recreating in the sun. Forewarned is forearmed as they say.


Chasing Cactus Blooms & Safety

Early April is often a good time to find the beautiful cactus blooms in the Joshua Tree National Park in California. For my wife and I, part of the enjoyment is that you can’t just drive along and see the cactus or blooms. You have to get out of the car and exert some effort and in the process you, of course, slow down and study the terrain. Your pace slows down. I can’t say the mind slows down because the unique desert world is highly stimulating. 

Every plant, the spacing of plants, the rock formations, the trees and cactus are highly contrasted to our home turf of the Pacific NW (Western Oregon). Finding the cactus and possibly finding them in bloom is part of the enjoyment. The colors, the varieties, and their locations are so rewarding. In the process, you feel the altitude, the wind, the sun and fresh air. You shake off the Winter doldrums.

Beavertail cactus-rocks-Barker Dam hike-SwittersB

cactu-prickly pear-desert-SwittersB-joshua tree
mound cactus-Mojave-flowers-SwittersB-desert
desert-beavertail cactus-bloom-flower-wildflower-Swittersb
Mojave Mound Cactus-Joshua Tree NP-Barker Dam Trail-SwittersB
It seems obligatory when discussing an outing into the desert to mention water, planning, route selection etc. Like in any outdoor adventure you truly must plan to some degree for safety and what if’s. Cell phone coverage inside the park was very spotty. So, be aware depending upon your age and fitness that you can slip, trip and fall. You can while focused on snapping images place yourself in harm’s way atop a rock, or moving too close to an edge.

What I notice ever more is, dare I say it, one’s age and degree of fitness plays in here. My mind thinks I’m much younger. But, as I move about the terrain I notice the lessened spring in the step…unsteadiness in the hips….misjudging the strength to hop from here to there. So, if you never did embark upon that New Year’s resolution to work out, or you have a physical limitation or two, be careful.

Although a ‘park’ it is the desert and all that entails. Don’t drive down roads or terrain your rental car was not designed to take on (I did this near Salvation Mountain and promptly got momentarily stuck with no one around). If you are doing a drive through the park with a few side hikes and short jaunts into the desert terrain you should be safe planning wise….but still watch your steps and slow down. Definitely have a map or two!


Fully Loaded……..

Winter Preparations: Mind numbing cold…second guessing your pursuit. Wearing layers to the max and still the fingers feel as if a hammer has smacked them and the toes are getting numb. All the personal drive and desire to hook a Steelhead in the cold flows is seriously challenged by nature’s weather offerings. Beginner or seasoned, are you prepared? Change of clothing? Notifications made of where you will be? Emergency plan and communications if you get injured? Have you studied up a bit on hypothermia and recognize the early warning signs? 

Hiking, photography, skiing, snow shoeing, camping, fishing in the Winter, even if in close proximity to your rig, require some forethought to what if’s and the consequences of your decisions. Gear, checklist, notifications where you will be, weather reports, change of clothing, full tank….Semper Paratus!

™ Spey SwittersB-Winter-Two hander-fishing-steelhead-Oregon


Don’t Procrastinate…..

“The time to repair a roof is when the sun is shining.” John F. Kennedy

leaky roof--SwittersB-rural-Oregon


Artsy…..but plan ahead!

“All work is the avoidance of harder work.” James Richardson

“The time to repair a roof is when the sun is shining.” JFK

holes in the roof-swittersb-photography-Oregon-SwittersB


Residual ‘Beauty’ on the Moonscape of Armor

Impacts-Death defying-Armor Plated-7.62×39-AK-47

Craters, flares, ridges, bursts, etchings…somehow some residual ‘beauty’ – amidst destructive forces.

impact-SwittersB-armor plating-7.62-photography-craters-war


Yellowstone Caldera (Hype & Circumstances)

yelupliftmapMost of you have no doubt heard about the Yellowstone Caldera, as well as the New San Madrid Fault Line, and of course the San Andreas Fault. Each is reputed to potentially cause cataclysmic destruction if the big one happens. In particular, with the Yellowstone Caldera, the destruction would reach out 500 to 1000 miles, thereby altering a large portion of the country.


600 Mile Radius from Yellowstone Caldera

 The story about the Yellowstone Caldera is indicative of so much about science today…looming doom and mixed messages and credibility. Stories abound of a looming crisis, even a secret crisis in which the government is keeping a lid on the true science and probable destruction about to happen. Supposed scientific experts like show boat Michio Kaku have made pronouncements that exceed their fields of expertise. 

Here is an interesting Seismic Monitoring Site for the Yellowstone area that shows activity. It is a start at reviewing some of the activity in the area. Particularly interesting if you live in that region. IS THIS THING ON

14Madison River, mid February 2014


There appears to be little doubt that if the Yellowstone Caldera did blow there would be massive destruction to a vast portion of the Western/Central United States.


Outdoor/Cold Weather Survival: Mitigate the Risks

At Traditional Mountaineering (an excellent resource to search through) they note that mountaineering is inherently risky/dangerous and one can only mitigate the risks. I think much of the outdoor pursuits have risks and we muddle along in those pursuits with some vague sense of ‘survival’ plan because we are close to the rig or we are with someone.


With the extreme cold temps gripping the NE U.S. and elsewhere, a stranded vehicle scenario should give rise to a bunch of what if’s. Do you really have a plan for a long term, stuck in the car event? The space blanket piece at Traditional Mountaineering got me to thinking about such a plan. It doesn’t take being stuck in sub zero temps to need such a plan. 

car snow

Truly give some thought to an in-vehicle survival/comfort kit and also think of what you should carry on your back when trudging off into the woods to fish, hike, snow shoe, photograph, etc. The space blanket gives a false sense of security…do you in general have false sense of security with your outdoor survival plans?

snow rig

Traditional Mountaineering/Index is an excellent site to search through re mountaineering issues and incidents in Oregon (and beyond). There is much to learn here that can be borrowed for the non-climbing outdoor enthusiast or stranded motorist.

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