poem – The Morning

My breath still a mist
in the cold crops air.
My hands through my gloves are numb.

The axe that I hold
weather beaten and old
my sole companion this morn.

I walk all alone
down this road I have known
so very many mornings

’til I come to my land
so majestic and grand
The place where I am reborn.

The song birds are singing
in the high tree tops
but the scampering squirrels
scold me.

I feel a slight morning breeze
and streaming down through the trees
the sun is just on its way.

On soft, spongy carpet
I walk through the woods
and I never have felt so
at peace.

So i throw down my axe
and lay down to relax …
I’ll not cut any wood today.

~ Rick McCharles

I wrote that in a 1973-74, a Language Arts option High School class.

10 Priorities for an Outdoor Vacation

I’ve subscribed to the The Suburban Mountaineer, editor Andrew Szalay.

Here’s one sample post:

1. Go somewhere the Blackerry and cell phone gets no signal.
2. Get up early at least once and watch the mist rise off the lake.
3. Stay up late to watch the stars, and then sleep in.
4. Hike, climb or paddle hard and finish the day with an ice cold beer.
5. Find a great vantage point, lay out the map and match each point within view to its name.
6. Cook something over an open fire.
7. Use a pocket knife for something other than opening a beer bottle.
8. Play cards with friends on a rainy day.
9. Upon reaching your destination you see a peak not too far off, look it up on your map and say “what the heck,” and go exploring.
10. In-country, cook a meal you thought you would only find in a restaurant.


Check out The Suburban Mountaineer.

should Parks be LOCALIZED?

Fact is, government organizations are very inefficient at running anything.

One glaring example …

Here’s the road sign millions see each year driving from Las Vegas to Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Lake Mead / Hoover Dam road sign

It’s different than other road signs in Nevada, not listing the highways by number nor name. Drivers assume the turn-off to the National Recreation Area is yet to come, and continue towards the dam.


Every day hundreds of confused drivers complain to both nearby information stations, as I did. The answer was the same at both:

“The National Parks Service is responsible for that signage. And despite years of complaints, they won’t fix it.”

National Parks Traveler is an excellent site advocating for the U.S. National Parks, but perhaps they’ve got it wrong.

Instead of trying to better fund and improve the American National Parks Service. perhaps we’d better start turning them over to local management.

“Friends of Lake Mead National Recreation Area” might do a better job than the NPS.

Though governor Arnold Schwarzenegger keeps threatening to cut California State Park funding, he held off on those cuts (for some reason) in his May 2010 budget proposal.

What do you think?

Should the actual users of Parks, including hikers, wrest control away from governments?

Leave a comment if you agree, or disagree.

What do you have that Wall Street can’t touch?

Robert Scoble shared a touching post from Michael Hyatt.

Despite the economic collapse in the USA, Michael had an epiphany after happening upon an elk rut in the wilderness.


… Even though my financial worth had been decimated by the events of the last three weeks, I realized that nothing could touch the things that are most valuable to me. Experiencing the elk at dusk with people I love was a timely reminder.

I also realized that I have a choice: I can focus on what I have lost or I can focus on what I have. I started making a mental list:

I have my health.

I have a loving wife, who is also my best friend.

I have five wonderful daughters, two sons-in-law and (so far) two beautiful grandchildren. “I am particularly fond of each of them,” as Papa says in The Shack.

I have several profound friendships that encourage and challenge me.

I have meaningful work that I would do even if I wasn’t getting paid.

I have incredibly competent co-workers whom I truly love and respect.

I have a church that grows dearer to me with each passing year. (We have been members there for 24 years.)

I have a relationship with God that is endlessly fascinating and fulfilling.

And the list goes on. I could name a hundred more things, but you get the idea.

My guess is that the financial crisis is going to get worse before it gets better. You and I have very little control over what happens in the external environment. But we do have control over what happens inside our hearts. It all depends on our mental focus.

What do you have that Wall Street can’t touch?

fewer hikers – more room for ME

Most of the more interesting blogs than this have already commented on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study by Oliver Pergams from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Since the late 1980s, the percentage of Americans taking part in such activities has declined at slightly more than 1 percent a year. The total effect, Pergams says, is that participation is down 18 percent to 25 percent from peak levels. …


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Cone trail, originally uploaded by chaybert.

Lassen National Park in Northern California.

it’s not clear that the number of hikers has been reduced. But if they have, there’s more room in the wild for me. And you.

What’s the problem?

Backpacker magazine – Global Warming

Once a month or so I head for the library to catch up on magazines.

Of course I had seen many references on-line to the Sept. 2007 Backpacker Global Warming Issue.

I like Backpacker — but am suspicious of any magazine with a GREEN issue. Are they simply pumping sales with the G word?

In this case, no. This issue is excellent. And scary. The “Future of Wilderness” projection will affect all hikers.

Climate change, Parks at risk, desertification, species extinction, forests dying, degraded water supply. It is depressing.

Some solutions are suggested. But buying a hemp pack somehow feels too little, too late.

Backpacker, September 2007 Issue

Backpacker, September 2007 Issue

hiking fees abolished for New Zealand youth

The Get Outdoors blog keeps telling me hiking is in decline. (Numbers down at Yosemite, for example.)

If so, perhaps we need to do more to get kids on to trails as they are doing in New Zealand:

Hut and campsite fees for children and young people aged under 18 will be free from July next year on New Zealand’s nine Great Walks, including the Whanganui Journey. …

Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced the initiative on the Abel Tasman Coast Track today, on the eve of this year’s Conservation Week (August 6 –12), the theme of which is outdoor recreation.

Good news for families! Hut and camping fees to be abolished on Great Walks for under 18s – New Zealand Tramper


Best. Hike. Ever.

What makes a hike a “best ever”?

Kimberly explains why her Great Wall of China day was her best hike ever:

Because it was the sunniest day.

Because the challenge was to reach the Great Wall at the ridge of the mountain, and we made it.

Because the view was spectacular.

Because it was HARD. My quads were quivering three quarters of the way up — and then I still had to get *down*.

Because a bunch of random people agreed to go hiking with me and they liked each other.

Because there was a feast of fresh grilled trout and fish dumplings at the end.

Because I went into it tired from a long week and came out of it happy happy happy.

Because it was preceded and followed by a night of dancing.

Because I still have Sunday.

Best. Hike. Ever. – Kimberlyland

is heli-hiking cheating?

I’ve only done it twice — both times to Mt. Assiniboine — and can confirm riding the bird is … GREAT.

Sure I’m polluting the atmosphere. And distracting the teeny tiny hikers below, sweating the 8hr uphill slog with a full pack. (It takes me 8min.)

But on arrival it’s like you landed in Heaven. Fresh. Excited. Already at altitude.


A little more thoughtful analysis from John Flinn in the San Francisco Chronicle arrives at the same conclusion:

I’ve known about heli-hiking for years, but stayed away until last fall because of three big concerns: Are the wilderness lodges a burden on the fragile alpine landscape? Do the frequent helicopter sorties spoil the solitude of those who walk into these mountains under their own power? And would I feel the same mountaintop exhilaration if I didn’t “earn” it through sweat equity?

In other words, is heli-hiking cheating?

By the end of my three-day stay, though, I was pretty much won over. Now my biggest concern is the cost: Unless you have the net worth of a CEO — and many guests do — the $700-a-day price puts it into the splurge-of-a-lifetime category.

Heli-hiking keeps high peaks within reach


Happily for the environment I can rarely afford the high fee. You’ll normally find me sweating on the trail, cursing the lazy so-and-sos that chopper past overhead.

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