protecting your knees

Hiking downhill used to really bother my knees. However, with improved mechanics, I usually descend painlessly now, but a lot slower. Especially when going downhill, I am mindful of my “heel strike”. The heel strike is the motion of the foot contacting the ground with each step taken. The lighter or softer the heel strike, the less jarring, torque or force (whatever you want to call it) gets transferred up to the knee. When going downhill, I walk like I’m on hot coals or thin ice, putting my foot down very gently. I avoid like the plague what I call “galloping downhill momentum”. There is a natural tendency to speed up on downhills to compensate for the time it took to go uphill and just because it’s easy and feels good.

Rainmaker’s Hiking Mechanics


Bodywork: Your Knees – Care and Maintenance
– Outside magazine

Lyme disease

One of the most confusing and controversial dangers to hikers is Lyme disease.

In western North America we did not think much about the risk until we heard of a hiker who got Lyme disease hiking the West Coast Trail — one of the most unlikely geographical locales possible.

Hike aware.

Hard-bodied … ticks are the primary Lyme disease vectors. In Europe, Ixodes ricinus, known commonly as the sheep tick, castor bean tick, or European castor bean tick is the transmitter. In North America, Ixodes scapularis (black-legged tick or deer tick) has been identified as the key to the disease’s spread on the east coast, while on the west coast the primary vector is Ixodes pacificus (Western black-legged tick). Another possible vector is Amblyomma americanum (Lone Star tick), which is found throughout the southeastern U.S. as far west as Texas, and increasingly in northeastern states as well.

The longer the duration of tick attachment, the greater the risk of disease transmission, but, typically, for the spirochete to be transferred, the tick must be attached for a minimum of 12 hours, … Unfortunately only 20% of those infected with Lyme by the deer tick are aware of any tick bite, making early detection difficult in the absence of a rash. Tick bites usually go unnoticed due to the small size of the tick in its nymphal stage, as well as tick secretions that prevent the host from feeling any itch or pain from the bite.

Lyme disease – Wikipedia

adult tick

wildlife protection –

Trailex encourages users to share information about trail safety in the Bow Valley (from Banff to Bragg Creek in Canada). The goal is to keep humans and wildlife safe.

Examples of information you should post:

* Bear, cougar, wolf, aggressive elk or moose sightings
* Dead animal carcasses that may indicate a large carnivore is in the area
* Grizzly bear diggings or other signs of large carnivores
* Recent trail closures, bear or cougar traps, or bear aversive conditioning


Good idea.

cohabiting with bears

A highlight of my recent stop at Whistler Ski Resort was being entertained by a local bear, right beside the Creekside lift.

Click play on the video below or watch it on YouTube.

Nobody called the police. No one got excited. This bear appears under the luxury hotel balconies almost every morning in the Spring.

I am impressed that official policy is to cohabit peacefully with bears. Well done Whistler!

Contrast that enlightened and brave approach with that of the Lake Louise village in the Canadian Rockies. Parks Canada put up an electric fence around the campground to protect the tourists from bears. Sad.

Of course there are Grizzlies at Lake Louise, not at Whistler.

gold mining company wants to move a glacier

Canadian international mining company Barrick Gold wants to “relocate” three glaciers in the mountain range between Argentina and Chile to gain access to 17.6 million oz. of rich gold and silver deposits.

Chilean farmers and residents of the surrounding Huasco Valley are strongly opposed. Glacial water is used for irrigation.

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Politics (Pascua-Lama)

click for larger image
Original article on

In the hiking mecca of Huaraz, Peru, Barrick Gold does everything they can to portrait themselves a good corporate citizen. The trash bins in town are donated by Barrick.

The history of mining in South America is very grim. We cannot get the fantastic Huayhuash range in Peru declared a National Park because of mining interests.

I say, hold Barrick’s feet to the fire on this one.

Bear attacks

Hiking for years in the Rockies, I’ve still only seen two Grizzlies. Bear aware, they do not worry me.

But Parks Canada bear management is getting more savvy.

For the next two seasons (2006 and 2007) two specific areas will be closed during berry season where attacks have been frequent. Over the past 8 years, there have been 5 bear attacks in Banff National Park — 3 near Allenby Pass in the Bryant Creek area, and 2 on the Aylmer Pass trail near Lake Minnewanka. In all cases, the attacks were a result of hikers travelling alone or in a small group, who surprised female grizzlies with cubs during berry season.


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