Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rescue Crews Locate Missing Hikers On Mt. San Jacinto

By Mirna Alfonso

A Culver City couple who went missing while hiking the Mount San Jacinto Wilderness were found Sunday afternoon, a sheriff's deputy said.

Michael Cao, and his wife, 55-year-old Yi Mei, were in good condition and were being hiked to the Palm Springs Tram sheriff's station, said sheriff's Deputy Robert Martinez.

They were uninjured and needed no medical care, he said.

The couple had been expected back at their home 6 p.m. Saturday but never showed, authorities said.


Sheriff's rescue crews were out in force Sunday to search for a husband and wife who went missing while hiking in the Mount San Jacinto Wilderness.

Culver City residents Michael Cao, and his wife, 55-year-old Yi Mei, set out from the Palm Springs Tram Station about 8 a.m. Saturday for a hike, with plans to return home by 6 p.m.

Sheriff's deputies from the Cabazon substation were notified of the couple's delay about 12:15 a.m., according to Sgt. Steve Fredericks.

Deputies found the couple's vehicle at the Palm Springs Tram parking lot but no one has seen or heard from them since Saturday morning, Fredericks said.

Deputies, an air crew and a mountain rescue team were in the area Sunday afternoon searching for the couple, the sergeant said.

"The Riverside County Sheriff's Department would like to remind hiking enthusiasts that adequate hydration, hiking in groups, and communication devices are all essential elements of a safe and successful hiking excursion," Fredericks said.

"Remember that extreme temperature changes occur in these mountainous areas," he added.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call deputies at the Cabazon station, 951.922.7100 or through its Website,

Friday, May 20, 2011

Desolation Wilderness permits now available online

Desolation Wilderness permits now available online: "(05-20) 18:23 PDT South Lake Tahoe, Calif. (AP) --

Visitors to California's popular Desolation Wilderness Area near Lake Tahoe now will be able to make overnight permit reservations online.

The U.S. Forest Service says it no longer will accept permit reservations over the phone, through the mail or by fax. The agency also will no longer mail reserved permits.

The 64,000-acre wilderness area is located in both the agency's Eldorado National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

The number of people allowed daily in various zones of the wilderness is regulated during the summer by a quota system.

Fifty percent of the quota in each zone is available for advanced reservations between Memorial Day weekend and Sept. 30.

The remaining quota is available on a first-come, first-served basis at permit offices on the date of entry."

Sunset hike tonight with spouse and the family pet. Nice views over Palm Springs

By:  Keith Brock
May 20, 2011

Click link below for photos.  Check out the Stats for a view of the climb up and back down.

Edom Hill 5-20-11 at EveryTrail

EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park

'Dead Woman's Hollow' film is inspired by Appalachian Trail crimes Independent movie stars many local n

For Libby McDermott of Waynesboro, directing her first film has been challenging and exciting.

“Dead Woman’s Hollow,” an independent film inspired by true crimes committed on the Appalachian Trail, was written by John Taylor of Indiana and formerly of Fairfield. Taylor, of Colorfully Dark Productions, is known locally for his films “LEACH” and “Brainwrap.”

“As soon as I read the script, I was just flabbergasted,” McDermott said. “There were no ifs, ands or buts about it. This has been a dream of mine and now it’s a reality.”

Taylor wrote the film for McDermott and director of photography Matt Stahley.

On the trail

The script was inspired by crimes that occurred along the trail, but is not based on any legends and does not depict any true stories.

“It doesn’t mirror anyone’s real-life situation,” she stressed. “We didn’t want to step on any toes.”

The filmmakers want to keep details of the plot a mystery for audiences. McDermott does hope to keep viewers in suspense while capturing the beauty of the trail.

“It is beautiful out there,” she said. “One of my favorite things is being surrounded by nature. It’s amazing and peaceful to me. I just hope the movie will showcase that as a huge element.”

Overcoming challenges

McDermott said directing her first film has been a lot harder than she anticipated.

“Especially on a no-budget movie. I have to utilize what I have available and try to get people to work for nothing. Fortunately, the script is written so well, everyone who read it was all pretty much impressed with John.”

One of the major challenges she had to overcome was the bitter cold winter months. On days the crew could not work outside, they had to switch their focus to activities such as creating promotional items.

Local cast

Familiar faces are peppered throughout “Dead Woman’s Hollow.”

McDermott said she and Stahley wanted to stick with local talent to keep their travel time to a minimum.

The cast includes: Sarah Snyder of Mercersburg, who plays Donna; Mel Heflin of Winchester, Va., who plays Jen; Charles Dawson of Waynesboro, who plays the sheriff; David Mackley of Waynesboro, who plays the coroner; Greencastle native Koran Dunbar as the boyfriend; and Greencastle native Waylon Smith as Buck.

Mackley is also doing public relations for the film. McDermott said he has been a real asset to the production in securing locations and other needed items for the crew.

Actor, crew reactions

Snyder has appeared in five feature horror flicks. She went to school for elementary education and got into acting because she always loved horror films. Her boyfriend, Troy Smith, does the special effects for “Dead Woman’s Hollow” and introduced her to the filmmakers.

“I really like the film,” Snyder said. “I think the script is great. The story is told really well and I think it will look great. It’s the best script I’ve ever read and worked on.”

“They are very easy to work with,” Snyder continued about McDermott and the crew. “They know exactly what they want and everything is done really quickly.”

Troy Smith, who has done special effects for about 10 years, feels the film will go really well.

“Libby knows how to treat people when she’s behind the camera,” he added. “I can tell how excited she is to do this and how professional she is at the same time.”

Dawson, who is originally from Anderson, Ind., read about McDermott, Taylor and Stahley in The Record Herald. He introduced himself to them last year when “LEACH” premiered in Chambersburg.

McDermott contacted Dawson about playing the sheriff in “Dead Woman’s Hollow.”

“I read the script and it really interested me,” he added.

Dawson, who has a master’s degree in theater from the University of Maryland, has appeared in a number of Civil War films in the area and has performed on stage.

“Libby and Matt are very easy to work with,” Dawson said. “They are really down to earth and they have a real love of what they’re doing. They’re very enthusiastic and great people to work for.”

The crew will finish filming soon and hopes to complete the film by September and feature it at the Homegrown Hollywood Film Festival in Anderson, Ind.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rain makes Appalachian Trail a soggy slog -

"Rain makes Appalachian Trail a soggy slog
'It's supposed to rain in the spring, isn't it?' said Sam McMullan, a 30-year-old hiker from New Zealand."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

5 Things Tuneup: Hiking Gear

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1) Boots
Before you embark on your hike, take a second to think about what you need. Are you going on a marked trail? Do you know exactly where you’re going? What do you need to make sure you’re smart and safe? Here is a list of some gear to consider taking with you to have an enjoyable outing in Oregon’s many amazing hiking destinations.
1) Boots
When choosing a boot, the most important thing to pay attention to is structure. Ankle support is key, considering you will likely be hiking on uneven trails with a higher potential for ankle rolling. Boots that cover your ankle are better suited for these conditions. The next thing to look for when buying a boot is how waterproof it is — especially in Oregon’s rainy spring weather. Gore-Tex, a waterproof and breathable fabric, is the newest technology in terms of staying dry. After that, overall durability should be considered so that they hold up when you tromp through mud, on rocks and in creeks.
2) Socks
Just as important as your boots, if not more important, are socks. Socks — two layers — play a large role in a hiker’s comfort. An outside layer of wool socks are better for comfort and warmth. An inside layer of cotton socks or sock liners are also important because they prevent “hot spots,” or rubbing areas where blisters form. A good substitute for sock liners are dress socks because they are often similar in size, weight and material. Even if it’s warm outside, your feet will thank you later.
3) Water
Bring water. Period. When you sweat, your body is losing fluids and so to replace that, you drink water. And don’t be afraid to bring too much. Your body can survive three weeks without food but only three days without water. If bringing extra water will weigh you down, consider bringing a water filtration system or water purification tablets. Both provide easy ways to be sure that you won’t be dehydrated if you’re stranded for longer than you anticipate.
4) First Aid Kit
Even if its just a day hike, it’s never a bad idea to bring a first aid kit. Things to include: Band-Aids, sunscreen, mole skin, disinfectant and an anti-inflammatory such as aspirin. All of these things should be able to fit into a small Ziplock bag. You never know what situations you might encounter, even for the most experienced outdoorsmen, so better to be prepared than not.
5) Hiking poles
Although not necessary, hiking or trekking poles can make hiking easier, especially when you’re carrying a heavy pack. Poles add two more points of contact to the ground, dispersing weight and reducing impact on knee joints and leg muscles. A study published by Dr. G. Neureuther in 1981 proved that use of “ski poles” while walking reduces the pressure strain on the opposite leg by approximately 20 percent. There is some debate in the hiking community about whether hiking poles have benefit, so whether you bring this item or not is up to you.
And don’t forget ...
Other essentials that can easily fit into a day pack to bring on your hike are a map, compass, extra food and water, extra clothing, headlamp or flashlight, a whistle, fire starter, matches and a knife. Although these things may seem excessive to some, they are necessary in planning for the worst such as an unexpected overnight stay in the wilderness.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Salisbury forest fire keeps crews busy

Updated: Tuesday, 10 May 2011, 9:29 PM EDT

Published : Tuesday, 10 May 2011, 6:47 PM EDT
Salisbury, Conn (WTNH) - A forest fire is keeping crews busy in one of the most remote parts of Connecticut. It's burning along the Appalachian Trail, and due to the rugged conditions in the area, getting it under control is proving to be a very tough job.
From the ground the white streaks of smoke in the bear mountain area of the trail give little indication about the severity of the fire, but from a helicopter hovering above, firefighters get a better perspective. They say between 75 and 100 acres of forest is now on fire.
"It's up in the area where it's the highest elevation in the state. There's really no houses. The closest house is probably a mile and a half to two miles away as a crow flies," said Lakeville Hose Company Chief Jason Wilson.
The fire was spotted during overnight hours, but because of the rugged conditions, firefighters didn't risk going up the hill until first light Tuesday morning. Job one for the crews was widening already established trails enough to accommodate the heavy equipment needed to knock down the flames.
"They're just walking trails. We're trying to make them wide enough. We're trying to find old logging trails, and creating ways for the ATVs to enter the woods and successfully transport that equipment that we need to get to that site," Wilson said.
When firefighters get there their first priority will be to stop the spread of the fire.
"Basically the key is to establish a perimeter, keep it contained in that perimeter, and don't allow the fire to spread," said Wilson.
That's easier said than done. It took more than two weeks to knock down a fire in a similar spot on the trail in the late 1980's. Firefighters hope it won't take anywhere near that long to get this one under control.
Firefighters said high winds caused the fire to spread and jump the fire line Tuesday afternoon, but they were able to knock it back and get it under control.
On Tuesday night, fire officials told News 8 that the fire has been contained, and that their fire lines will hold overnight. Crews left the scene around 8:00pm, as did the State DEP. They will return Wedneday morning at 8:30am to either 

Join the Konnarock Trail Crew May 12 through Aug. 15.


The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is looking for volunteers to work and play in the back country on its Konnarock Trail Crew. Konnarock, the ATC flagship crew, tackles projects involving trail construction and rock work between the Trail’s Southern terminus, Springer Mountain Georgia and Shenandoah National Park: just over half of the Appalachian Trail. The program runs Wednesday to Monday evenings each week starting May 12 through Aug. 15.  Base camp is located in Sugar Grove.
Trail Crew volunteers are provided with food, transportation, lodging, tools, equipment and the opportunity to have a lot of fun. It’s free of charge and there is no experience is necessary, only the willingness to work hard and get dirty. You will meet people of all ages, from all walks of life, from all over the country and around the world.
Trail work is hard, physical labor. Trail construction involves working with a team of like-minded volunteers using hand tools and, of course, getting dirty is guaranteed!  Crews work eight-hour days, rain or shine, hot or cold.  They set up and live in a primitive campsite near the project site. Everyone, 18 or older, and of all backgrounds is welcome.  Enthusiasm, good health, physical vigor, and adaptability are essential.  
Spots on these crews are still available, but they’re quickly filling up!  To become a part of the action, call (540) 953-3571 or e-mail  today.  You can also register on the web at  
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy: The Appalachian Trail Conservancy mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail, ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information please visit

—Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Woman Survives For 49 Days In US Wilderness On Snow, Trail Mix

Always Be Prepared!

Keith Brock

Updated: Saturday, 07 May 2011, 11:16 PM EDT

Published : Saturday, 07 May 2011, 11:16 PM EDT
TWIN FALLS, Idaho - The survival of a Canadian woman for 49 days in the wilderness in northern Nevada has amazed experts, The Oregonian reported Saturday.
Rita Chretien, 56, was found by hunters about 4:00pm Friday -- seven weeks after she and her husband Albert went missing on a road trip to the US from their home in British Columbia, Canada.
The couple's 2000 Chevrolet Astro had become stuck on a logging road in a remote area of Elko County, Nevada, near the Idaho border. Her husband was still missing Saturday.
Chretien, who was in a fair condition at a Twin Falls, Idaho, hospital, told her son Raymond Chretien that she had rationed trail mix and survived mainly on snow.
She reportedly lost about 30 pounds (13.6kg) during her ordeal and told her son she did not think she would have lived for more than another two or three days.
A spokesperson for St Lukes Hospital said the "doctors are very confident about a full recovery at this point."
Brian Wheeler, who is the founder of a company that teaches survival classes in the area, said he was "blown away" by her survival in the remote high-desert area where the van was found.
"She did a lot of things right -- enough things right -- she stayed with the vehicle, she stayed hydrated, rationing whatever food she did have and she didn't panic," he said.
Chretien told authorities that her 59-year-old husband left the van on March 22 -- three days after the couple was last seen at a Baker City, Ore., convenience store -- to seek help.
Luke Allen of the Twin Falls Police Department said Rita told authorities they made a wrong turn while they were taking a scenic route on some Nevada back roads.
"They kept getting stuck. For two days they were getting stuck and unstuck in their vehicle over and over again until eventually the husband said, 'I'm going to go out and look for help,'" Allen said.
Ground teams began a fresh search for Albert Chretien Saturday, but inclement weather hampered efforts to look for him from the air.
Beth Dickinson Chretien, the couple's daughter-in-law, posted on a Facebook site about the couple's disappearance that "she's weak, but otherwise doing well considering what she's been through."
The couple, who own an excavation business in Penticton, British Columbia, left Canada through Oroville, Wash., early on the morning of March 19 to attend an equipment trade show and convention in Las Vegas.
The two were last seen in surveillance footage paying for gas and snack foods in Baker City that afternoon, then seemed to simply vanish.
The couple's children contacted police when they failed to return home by March 30, as planned.
The family commissioned an aerial survey of the area but could not find any trace of the two. 

Emory students spend semester a-trail

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Emory & Henry College has launched this spring a unique program that provides 12 hours of academic credit to students who attempt to hike the 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
The Semester-A-Trail is for the student seeking a learning experience that goes well beyond the classroom. The program, a synthesis of academic learning and outdoor adventure, is an intensive, goal-oriented journey that seeks to challenge students both physically and intellectually.
Located in the Highlands of southwest Virginia and just 15 miles from the Appalachian Trail, Emory & Henry College provides an extensive outdoor program that engages students in a wide variety of activities, including, among other activities, rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing and spelunking.
“I wanted to move learning beyond the metaphor,” said Professor Jim Harrison, who developed the program and serves as both an English professor and the director of the E&H Outdoor Leadership Program. “We talk about education as a journey and an adventure. This course offers students a very meaningful opportunity to move beyond the traditional classroom to obtain real world experiences and competencies.”
Students who participate in the program must complete some vigorous preparation that includes obtaining a Wilderness First Aid and CPR certificate and completing a course in hiking and backpacking with a grade of B or better.  Students must also be active members of the College’s Outdoor Program and must complete at least three Outdoor Program backpacking trips.
Credit will be awarded in a “Nature Writing” English course, which is both a survey of nature writing and an exploration of its narrative craft. Students take the course during their semester of travel, beginning course work before embarkation and finishing work upon the completion of the hiking experience.
The Semester-A-Trail also presents students with the opportunity to build independent studies and projects with field-based implications. Independent study options being explored currently by students include art and photography projects, water quality studies and a botany study.
Students in the program begin the semester studying on campus, preparing for their hike, which begins in March and runs through August. They will start their journey at Springer Mountain, Ga. and end at Mount Katahdin, Maine. Students will remain in contact with Harrison by cell phone and email throughout their journey. 
“On the trail they will find a wonderful community of hikers who will add to their life experience,” said Harrison, who has hiked the full length of the trail. “This experience will open a lot of doors for these students and will say a lot about them as individuals.”

On a Thru-Hike - Appalachian Trail 2010

A tribute to Appalachian Trail hikers - National Appalachian Trail Hiking |

A tribute to Appalachian Trail hikers - National Appalachian Trail Hiking |

"Living in society day by day, watching the heavy metal death traps as they roll down the asphalt roadway at ridiculous speeds makes me want to put my pack on and just start walking. Where is it that they all need to get to so fast that they cannot walk? Am I missing something, I ask myself? Is there some place I need to be other than here, now? I would rather be hiking to nowhere than driving some place.

I look at my pack sitting in plain sight under the shelf and I notice that it looks the same as when I came off the trail nine months ago. It looks as if it is just sitting there patiently, waiting on me to pick it up and strap it on, making it again part of me. Every time I look over at it I feel its energy. It is longing to move as well, longing to get back to the trail. It stares back at me as if to say, “I can wait as long as it takes.”"

Friday, May 6, 2011

Yosemite National Park: Snow may delay opening of roads, Half Dome access

All those winter storms have taken a toll on California'sYosemite National Park, where pileups of snow may delay access for Half Dome climbers and the opening of two key roads. The good news: The renowned waterfalls are putting on quite a show.

At Tioga Road, to the north, crews have been blasting avalanche threats and spreading charcoal at Olmsted Point to help reduce the snow above the road. At Glacier Point Road, to the south, crews are using two bulldozers to take on 8- to 12-foot accumulations east of Bridalveil Creek Campground.

Road work like this usually begins around April 15 and can take up to two months, the National Park Service says.

Hikers could be affected by the heavy snows as well. The park service reports that the cables used by hikers to scale formidable Half Dome are still not up. They are being delayed until trail crews can safely access the granite peak. The opening may not come until after Memorial Day weekend, officials say.

Meanwhile, Yosemite’s waterfalls are reportedly more breathtaking than ever as the park sees peak spring conditions. The large amount of snow still in the high country means the flows are expected to last longer into the summer.

Another effect is that the Merced River is draining twice as much water as it usually does in May. Visitors are being cautioned about the high water levels in the Merced and other streams.,1,2276327.story


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"Never be afraid to try, remember...Amateurs built the ark, Professionals built the Titanic." Unknown

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