SHOUTS AMONG THE UNSEEN
WHAT'S IN YOUR PACK? I ASK JEREMY,
KEEPER OF MY DOG, SURVIVALIST FIREFIGHTER,
AND WHAT'S IN MINE?
Fire starter. Stick of honey.
Old Man's Beard, from firs, for fire,
gathered last week so it's dry.
Gather as I go. That's all you'll get
to burn if you get caught.
Water. Probe. Beacon. Gloves.
Phone. Fruits and nuts. First Aid Kit.
Splint. Flare. Ace bandage. Flashlight.
Snow shoes. Shovel.
Swiss Army Knife with all the bells.
Tarp and rope. Reaction time
comes from practice before you go.
Cold and hypothermia. Time matters.
Practice matters. With friends. With beacon.
If you get cold and wet, it might not matter
what's in your pack.
Jeremy doesn't ask, What's in mine?
Whistle. Sandwich. Diet Coke.
Leftover Halloweeen candy.
Flashlight. Gloves. Notebook.
Songs of Cold Mountain.
Benedict's Rule for Monks.
Crackers. A box of #2 pencils.
Camera. Whistle says, Meatloaf.
13 December 2010
THE AVALANCHE MASK EXPLAINED
Your own breathing puts you at risk under snow.
Your breath exhales carbon monoxide
into an area that will kill you in minutes.
This mask, not the ones used by hockey players,
will give you an extra seven minutes.
11 December 2010
HOGBACK, GOAT ROCKS, PARADISE BASIN
Lovins walked us into Goat Rocks
crossing Hogback into McCall Basin
more than 30 years ago, and we camped
beneath Old Snowy under stars. High point
of the Crest Trail in Washingon State.
We walked the ridgeline
of a watershed dividing the state
looking at different vegetation
under our left boot than what we saw
under our right. On that first hike
we followed a man in his 70s
hiking on crutches, wondering
about our own feet crossing
into a future we couldn't imagine.
Once, on the 4th of July,
my own young family
walked across the snow field
of Hogback on a scorcher of a day
and dropped into Shoe Lake
with two small tents and a terrier.
Karen and I and our three small kids.
The storm that hit that night
had me wondering if we could get out
We stopped one fleeing backpacker
and gave him Lovins' name and number
with instructions to come after us.
My friends and I kept returning
until we knew rock and trail
better than we knew our neighbors.
This is my 65th winter.
A threshold year,
and a 25-year old fight's been resolved
between skiers and Forest Service.
Hogback remains out of bounds,
part of the Goat Rocks Wilderness,
but a reachable dream for a man
with snowshoes and skins
with a back country ski,
along with a week of avalanche training
and gear ok'd by Search & Rescue.
That old man on crutches, he carried us walking.
12 December 2010