Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Hiking

'127 Hours': How prepared are you?

In one of my favorite scenes in "127 Hours," in which James Franco plays Aron Ralston, who famously amputated an arm to rescue himself from Utah's Blue John Canyon, movie viewers are visually transported via flyover from the slot canyon where Franco/Ralston is trapped, back to his truck, where a left-behind bottle of Gatorade sits in the back.

Franco:127 Hours Another scene shows him preparing for his trek from the point of view of a top shelf in his kitchen cabinet, his hand searching for a Swiss Army knife that he can't see and can't quite reach — and ultimately leaves behind. That sharp blade probably would have come in handy.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, thinking about it makes me wince — and not just because of the graphic amputation scene, which I glimpsed between squinted eyes. It made me think of forgotten gear and food, and omitted destination notification.

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Man killed by aggressive mountain goat in Washington park was an experienced hiker

Boardman A 63-year-old man described by authorities as an experienced hiker died from injuries he sustained during an encounter with an aggressive mountain goat Saturday in Washington's Olympic National Park.

According to the Peninsula Daily News, Bob Boardman, of Port Angeles, Wash., was on a day hike with his wife, Susan Chadd, and their friend Pat Willits and had stopped for lunch at an overlook when a mountain goat appeared and moved toward them.

When the goat began behaving aggressively, Boardman urged Chadd and Willits to leave the scene.

Bill and Jessica Baccus, also out for a day hike with their children, saw Willits, a longtime friend of Jessica's, coming up the trail.

"Nobody saw what actually happened," Jessica was quoted as saying in the Peninsula Daily News. "They heard Bob yell."

When the group returned to the scene, they saw the goat standing over Boardman, who lay on the ground bleeding.

Bill, an off-duty park ranger, was able to get the goat to move away by waving a blanket at it and pelting it with rocks, although the animal stayed nearby. The Coast Guard was called while Jessica began cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Boardman.

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Backpacking gear: The good, the bad and the weird

As the summer backpacking season winds down, and through-hikers on the Pacific Crest and John Muir trails return to the comfort of sleeping indoors, let's take a look at some of the good, the bad and the just plain odd in the world of backpacking gear.

SPOT2_New_Orange:webI'll share some of my discoveries from an August backpack to Evolution Valley, in the western Sierra.

At Muir Trail Ranch our first night, we dined with an older hiker who had a Spot Satellite GPS Messenger. He said it gave his wife peace of mind while he and his buddies gallivanted in the backcountry. These tiny two-way GPS devices allow users to send an "OK" message to loved ones back home, and also transmit a help signal (to a Spot representative) if trouble strikes. I poked around online when we got back and found out the devices run about $150 and service plans cost another $100 a year. It's a luxury, but kind of a cool way for others to track your trek (it's an additional $50/year for the tracking option), and would be very handy for Aron Ralston/solo-hiking types who don't leave behind detailed itineraries.

UmbrellaOne odd gear item we saw on the John Muir Trail: umbrellas. It was hot out, so I can only assume they were for sun protection. I noticed three people using what I later discovered was the GoLite Chrome Dome. Two of them appeared to be through-hikers and I wondered how someone trying to shave ounces off their packs could justify it, but they only weigh eight ounces. It's a wine flask trade-off I personally wouldn't make, but they're kind of nifty-looking.


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Duo completes wilderness 'Hike for Survival'


Wilderness survival expert Thomas Coyne and international stuntwoman Ky Furneaux achieved their goal, completing their 100-plus mile "Hike for Survival." The duo traveled from their official starting point at the Kaweah River Reservoir in Central California's Sierra Nevada to the Mojave Desert in just 10 days.

"It was the toughest challenge I've ever faced," said Coyne, founder of the Survival Training School of California. "I thought I reached my limits, and managed to push past them time and time again on this trip. The amazing environment I was in combined with the amazing partner I had, really helped me press on when the going got tough and I feel more confident in the wilderness than ever."

The twosome set out with little more than pocket knives and packs filled with cameras and other technical gear, living off the land and relying on nature for finding food, water and shelter.

"It was harder than I ever dreamed it would be," said Furneaux. "By Day 3 I didn’t know if I could make it. There was less food in season than we thought, the hiking was extreme and we had very little sleep with some nights below freezing. It was also a more incredible adventure than I ever imagined it would be."

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Half Dome cables at Yosemite to be removed for the season

A view of Half Dome and climbers using the cable system.

A sign that summer is officially over: Yosemite National Park officials have announced that the Half Dome cables will be taken down for the season on Tuesday.

The cables, which enable hikers to climb to the summit of the majestic granite dome, are taken down each October for the fall and winter seasons and replaced the following spring.

Visitors to the park are strongly cautioned against attempting to climb Half Dome without the cables in place, as the dome can be extremely slippery and may be wet and/or icy even in seemingly dry conditions.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A view of Half Dome and climbers using the cable system. Credit: Scott Gediman / National Park Service

12-year-old climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro in fund-raising effort to combat childhood blindness

Jason at Gilmans Point 2 (2)

Jason Kontomitras had a dream and a desire. The 12-year-old Los Angeles resident wanted to help blind and vision-impaired children in Guatemala be able to receive sight-restoring surgeries. To accomplish this, he set out on a fund-raising mission -- climbing Tanzania's Mt. Kilimanjaro, which at 19,341 feet is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.

Kontomitras reached one goal and surpassed another, summiting Kilimanjaro last month and transcending his fund-raising goal of $20,000, raising more than $25,000 to date -- the most ever by a climber.

Kontomitras was part of a Climb for Sight expedition, which makes biannual treks to Kilimanjaro. Climb for Sight and the trips are sponsored by the Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to reducing avoidable blindness by building clinics and training and equipping eye-care doctors in developing countries.

"My mom was on a Google search for volunteer or mission trips that families could take together, and she found the Climb for Sight website in 2007," Kontomitras said. "But I was only 9 at the time and too young to make the climb. So, last year we contacted the Climb for Sight group and started making plans to go."

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Duo ready to set out on 125-mile 'Hike for Survival'

Thomas Coyne and Ky Furneaux prepare to start a fire.

Wilderness survival expert Thomas Coyne and international stuntwoman Ky Furneaux won't be sitting down to watch the season premiere of "Survivor: Nicaragua" Wednesday on CBS.

Instead, they are scheduled to be setting out on a survival adventure of their own, tackling approximately 125 miles of wilderness from the Sierra Nevada in central California to the Mojave Desert carrying little more than pocket knives and packs filled with cameras and other technical gear.

"From the moment we wake up till the moment we go to sleep, we will be focused on obtaining fire, water, food, medicine and shelter," said Coyne, founder of the Survival Training School of California. "We will do this while hiking from one point to another."

Coyne and Furneaux are planning to each carry small point-of-view cameras as well as high-definition hand-held video cameras to capture every step of their "Hike for Survival" expedition.

"In my line of work, I face extreme challenges every day," Furneaux said. "But this is different. It is about endurance and the power of both the mind and body. It will be one of the hardest things I've ever done." Furneaux, an international stuntwoman based in Hollywood, will next appear in the feature films "Thor" and "Tron: Legacy" and is working on "Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides."

The actual list of what they are to be carrying is a bit more extensive than a pocket knife, but not by much, and doesn't include anything to eat or drink.

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Body of boxing promoter Bob Arum's son, John, found in Washington's North Cascades National Park

Boxing promoter Bob Arum, whose 49-year-old son, John, was found deceased on the north slope of Storm King Mountain in Washington's North Cascades National Park.

Over the Labor Day weekend, veteran boxing promoter Bob Arum received news that the body of his 49-year-old son, John, had been found. John, reported missing Aug. 30, was found dead Friday on the north slope of Storm King Mountain in Washington's North Cascades National Park.

John was reported missing after failing to return from a planned solo climb of the peak on Aug. 28.

Park rangers were conducting an aerial search late Friday afternoon when they located John's body. Previous flights had been made in this area, but recent snow melt made it possible to locate the missing hiker about 300 feet below where a waist-style day pack belonging to him had been found Thursday.

National Park Rescue personnel are in the process of evaluating recovery options, which are complicated by the area's steep and unstable terrain.

John, a Seattle-based environmental attorney, was an experienced hiker who was attempting to climb the 100 highest summits in Washington, with only 18 remaining to reach his goal.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Boxing promoter Bob Arum. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

Evolution Valley backpack

McClure Meadow:web

Right hand jammed in my shorts pocket, collar of my Buzz Off shirt pulled up past my chin, and cuff tight over my left hand — which was gripping a fly rod, only fingertips exposed — I made my way down the John Muir Trail from McClure Meadow, above, back to our campsite in Evolution Meadow in Kings Canyon National Park. The tiny rainbow/golden trout hybrids, below left, were biting in Evolution Creek (hitting on every cast), and so were the mosquitoes.

Golden-rainbow:web Zzzzzt, zzzzt, ouch! The skeets paid no mind to my high-tech clothing, drilling right through it and into my shoulders — and they also found my left fingertips. Ahh, spring, er, August, in the Sierra. We'd long wanted to visit out-of-the-way Evolution Valley and finally decided to do it, avoiding big passes and opting for entry via Florence Lake, with a brief interlude at Muir Trail Ranch en route. We hiked about 30 miles in 5 days.

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Powermonkey-eXplorer portable solar charger uses the sun to power iPods, cell phones and other devices

PMEX_Pink (2) Solar-powered outdoor gear seems all the rage these days, and with good reason. Harboring the useful power-generating abilities of the sun is an idea whose time has come, especially if out hiking, camping or anyplace where one can't just plug in and recharge cellular phones, iPods or other electronic devices.

Enter the Powermonkey-eXplorer. This portable charger is capable of holding enough power to provide an additional 96 hours of standby time on mobile phones, 40 hours of playtime for iPods, five hours on game consoles, 48 usage hours on PDAs and six hours on MP3 or MP4 players. Equipped with compact solar panels, the Powermonkey-eXplorer can also be used to charge devices directly from the sun.

Featuring an LCD screen that displays battery capacity and the level of charge, the Powermonkey-eXplorer also has short-circuit, over-charging and anti-discharging protection. The exterior shell is made of rubberized casing, making it water resistant while helping protect it from nicks and dings even in the roughest situations. Designed for lightweight versatility, the Powermonkey-eXplorer comes with a Velcro strap, handy to attach the solar panel to a backpack for sun exposure to charge devices while on the go.

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Backpacking the Trans-Catalina Trail in a weekend, Day 2


Last month I wrote about the first leg of my trip along the Trans-Catalina Trail, and I've finally found time to finish my story.

For readers who, like me, have minimal time off work and wonder if backpacking the trail is possible in a long weekend, my last post made it pretty clear: it is not recommended. Navigating the hills from Avalon to Little Harbor was already going to be a 20-mile trip. Most would tell you that's too ambitious for the first day, when you're still getting used to carrying the load. But when you get lost twice on top of that, arriving at your campsite after dark with blisters on the bottoms of your feet, the next day seems impossible.

And that is why we decided to take the Safari bus the next day to Two Harbors. Call me naive, but going into the weekend, I didn't think we'd have to do it. I took comfort in my new walking poles, and the fact that Catalina's highest point is only about 2000 feet.

The 20-minute ride from the south coast to the north cost was $20 a person. Like the $66 round-trip ferry ride to Catalina, the only cheaper option is to walk (or sail).

Two Harbors is a smaller town than Avalon, with nicer views. Tourists kayaked and snorkeled offshore, as others gathered in the bar to cheer on the U.S. World Cup team. There is one hotel available. As we ate a buffalo burger, a waiter explained that people who live and work in Catalina get access to better jobs and maybe even a car with time. (The island can be strict in allowing residents to bring cars.) The buffalo burger was indeed buffalo, he said, but from the Midwest, not the island's bison.

Hike A mostly flat, seven-mile hike along the coast from Two Harbors ends at secluded Parson's Landing, our beachside campground for the second night. A reservation at one of the eight sites, while not cheap, includes a bundle of wood and water. Hobbling in on sore legs, we made friends with a solo camper, who agreed to combine firewood. She shared her beer; we shared our stories from the day before. Falling asleep and waking up to the sound of waves was serene, and the backdrop of large gray rocks and clouds calming.

If you're aiming for a less ambitious weekend trip than ours, try taking the ferry in and out of Two Harbors,  as our friend did. Camping at Parson's Landing is worth the hike in, and other trails surround the area, if you want to get a view from the hills or go all the way to the western tip of the land.

But if you want to backpack the Trans-Catalina Trail, learn from my mistakes: give yourself at least four days and three nights.

-- Clare Abreu (clare.abreu@latimes.com)

Top photo: Parson's Landing campground. Bottom photo: Hiking the final stretch to Parson's Landing.

Previous: Backpacking the Trans-Catalina Trail in a weekend, Day 1

Fish and Game Q&A: If the fish will die anyway, shouldn’t I keep it?

This trout looks like a keeper.

In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: If I catch an undersized fish that swallows the hook so deep that it starts to bleed from the gills, should the fish still be released even though it will most likely die? If I do keep the fish under these circumstances, how could I prove to a game warden that I didn’t want to waste the fish because it was going to die anyway? (Eddie H.)

Answer: Unfortunately, even if your fish is undersized and going to die anyway, you must still return that fish immediately. It won’t be wasted as it will go into the food chain as nourishment for other fish, invertebrates, and maybe marine mammals and birds. The bottom line is you cannot keep any fish that does not meet the minimum size requirements. If you deeply hook an undersized fish, it is best to not lift the fish out of the water and to quickly cut the line as close to the mouth as possible.  Fish are more likely to survive with the hook left inside than if you try to dig it out, tearing the gills or stomach in the process.

Q: I have been hiking upstream though a riverbed to fish the Sespe River in the Los Padres National Forest. A man who thinks he owns the river told me that I’m trespassing. What are my rights and what is the best way to show him I know it is my right to stay on the river in order to pass through "his" property? (Kyle L.)

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.