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Wilderness first responder course ?

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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Re: Wilderness first responder course ?

Postby gdurkee » Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:46 am

I once had a guy who was the Crabtree Ranger in 1947 come to the station with his son. He asked me what I thought of Sierra Clubbers in general. I said some perhaps not very complimentary things about them. He turns to his son and says "See? They were exactly the same in the 40s..."

I shouldn't dump on them too bad, especially here. But, with a significant number of their organized group trips, there's a persistent assumption of entitlement by some of their members and especially the group leaders. Something along the lines of "we're Sierra Club, therefore we can do no wrong." As you might imagine, this leads to the occasional clash with a ranger trying to tell them that, yep, camping on a meadow or doing your socks in the stream is wrong... . Then you (the ranger) get the long lecture on how many years they've been hiking, how they knew Muir personally AND taught him everything he knew about bread and tea.

We wrote a lot of letters to them, but there's no real "there" there. They've got National trips, they've got Chapter Trips; they've got local trips. No one really takes responsibility.

<sigh> I said not to get me started.... .

On the bright side, there's some improvement in the past few years, but all the way into the 90s, I'd say that over half their trips were doing something wrong in their camping practices. That in itself wasn't so bad, a ranger's main job is to educate people about this stuff, but it was their resistance to change and arrogance that forced me into deep breathing exercises.

Sierra Clubbers running amok and no such thing as Santa Claus. How much worse can it get?

g.



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Re: Wilderness first responder course ?

Postby oldranger » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:08 am

What george said! I used to review the Sierra Club Bulletin that announced all the National trips, and then put the itineraries for my area in my pocket calender. Then I made a point of visiting them in the most unlikely locations. Arrogance is the best word to describe them. When I caught a member bathing in the middle of the river with soap, he patiently described to me how it was biodegradable! I not so patiently pointed out that he was introducing stuff that didn't belong in the river. Once I rode up to a group in a particularly remote canyon (Actually I dismounted from my horse some distance away and approached on foot so I wouldn't be literally looking down at them (so instead I have to look up at them!). My wife was with me but since she wasn't in a uniform she was practically invisible. After we departed she said everyone was complaining about the ranger checking up on them. Gee and I thought I was being nice. George and I could go on and on. I hope he is right (I can't imagine George being wrong) about things getting better.

I think the problem with the Sierra Club National Trips dumping people on rangers is due to the fact that they usually have one leader and an assistant and people pay good money to go on these trips. They don't have anyone to stay with an injured person and escort them slowly out of the backcountry. Opening another can of worms, the Outward Bound folks always went out of their way to self evacuate--so it can be done.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Wilderness first responder course ?

Postby BSquared » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:18 am

gdurkee wrote:...Sierra Clubbers running amok and no such thing as Santa Claus. How much worse can it get?

*Sigh* I'll consider my myth busted. And I was seriously thinking of signing up for one of their service trips next year, too...

-B²
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Re: Wilderness first responder course ?

Postby maverick » Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:31 am

I will all ways remember the jerk in charge of a Sierra Club Trip at Rae Lakes back
several years ago giving the ranger a hard time about them camping in a
restricted area.
The guy was going on and on about how he was a VIP's who could camp any where
he pleased, and that he's been coming to the sierra longer than the ranger had been alive.
He really felt a sense of entitlement in his own mind, which was about the only place
it was worth anything.
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Re: Wilderness first responder course ?

Postby rlown » Wed Apr 22, 2009 12:22 pm

I'm guessing you don't want to get me started on the Yosemite association as well, with PETA members running 8 grader trips. Referred to my fishing as "that form of hunting".. Funny that at Evelyn Lk (Yose), no one had a fishing rod.. well.. not really funny, more sad.
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Re: Wilderness first responder course ?

Postby Bad Man From Bodie » Wed Apr 22, 2009 2:50 pm

Ever wonder where these people come from? I hope to God, I don’t ever have to rely on someone other than the crew I am with to get me out. I figure, if you get in trouble back there.....chances are you did something to almost deserve it. I figure that I will just trust in the folks I am with and most important, use common sense.

As gdurkee said, any class in survival or first aid ect, is worth wild but, when it comes to wilderness survival there is no substitute for good old fashion common sense. You can have all the formal training out there and if you have no common sense you’re no better than the person without training.

For wilderness first aid I recommend reading....Medicine for Mountaineering and Other Wilderness Activities. I have the fourth edition edited by James A. Wilkerson, MD. This one is fairly diagnostic, but most books are. There are some useful guides and pocket cards you can carry with you that cover the basics out there - should be all you need.

BSquared.....don’t give up on the Sierra Club’s service trips.....I’m sure you could teach "them" something. Otherwise, I think they do more harm than they do good! As for them educating others about wilderness related subjects..... :puke: :puke: :puke:
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Re: Wilderness first responder course ?

Postby maverick » Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:04 pm

Like Dr. Bill Wattenburg refers to them on KGO " A bunch of Eco Frauds".
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Re: Wilderness first responder course ?

Postby BSquared » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:30 pm

Well, I was going to let well enough alone, but after a couple of glasses of wine...

The problem here is a lack of respect (RESHPECT!). Really. Nobody likes to be told what to do, especially people who consider themselves experts. Let me give you an example.

I have a good friend who pioneered most of the acid-rain research in the northeast. He set up transects on Camel's Hump in the Green Mountains of Vermont in the 1960s and 70s that are still being used to assess acid-precipitation damage (alas, it hasn't let up). He was also a teacher, and even now (at 79) he takes occasional groups up the mountain. The State Wilderness area around the base of the mountain was recently named after the guy. Now, the Green Mountain Club has recruited several young folks to sit on top of the higher peaks in the Greens as monitors during the summer. They have precisely the role of park rangers except that they have no enforcement powers, no weapons, and only the power of persuasion to keep people from trashing the mountains (which, really, is what most of the NPS rangers have most of the time). Vermont has very few truly alpine areas, so they're particularly sensitive about the extremely sparse above-tree-line vegetation. OK, so my friend takes a group of students and older appreciators of the wilderness up to the top of Camel's Hump, wanders over to the nearest clump of alpine grasses, and begins to teach his temporary pupils about the ecology of alpine vegetation in Vermont, about which he knows more than probably anybody in the world. You can guess what's coming: the nice, young Green-Mount-Club guy comes by and tells him to get out of the vegetation, he's trampling it.

My friend introduces himself, but the guy has never heard of him. Well, my friend can be quite diplomatic and he just smiles and says, "sorry," and moves farther away from the patch of grass. But he remembers the incident and is quietly pissed off for years. (He can also be an irascible son-of-a-bitch, so the Green-Mountain guy is very lucky!)

I think this kind of situation happens all too often in the Sierra, and, frankly, on this board, as well. We've all been in the mountains a lot (most of us, anyway), we all have goodly-sized egos (or we wouldn't be posting), and none of us likes to be told what to do (that's one of the reasons we go out into the mountains). So, my plea to anyone who cares to listen is to respect what *everyone* says, but give the benefit of the doubt especially to the rangers. They're the only ones who are actually charged with keeping the mountains in the state we'd all like to find them in. So, when a Sierra-Club hoo-hah tells you he's been in the mountains since before you were born, ask him to tell you some stories about his early trips, and then maybe you can say, "well, I used to wash in the stream with soap, too, but you know, there are so damned many newcomers up here now, I just can't justify the pollution anymore." And when a ranger asks you not to build a fire right there even though you know that you personally have been using precisely that fire ring for the last five summers especially so you won't pollute the wilderness with more fire rings, just take a deep breath, say "sure," and ask him about his last patrol.

Peace.

-B²
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Re: Wilderness first responder course ?

Postby gdurkee » Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:33 pm

Bill, glad you like the wine I sent. Your "listen to the ranger" comment was perfect and, as agreed, I'll send another bottle... .

But (heh, heh) seriously folks, not being in an impressive uniform and being able to tell someone to fly right is a great skill and even then, may not work. I had the great good fortune to often watch the legendary Dr. Carl Sharsmith walk up to campers running amok on meadows. He'd basically just mesmerize them by telling them the history of the spot they were standing on, from the erosion of the metamorphics, the uplift of the granite; the glaciers and the very slow development of alpine meadows; and their fragile nature. Then how, in just about 30 minutes of stupidity (which he wouldn't quite say), you guys have just wrecked this spot of meadow for the next 40 years. They would instantly begin restoring the site and thanking him for putting them on the right path.

I'm a major fan of peer group pressure to get people to do the right thing. You gotta be careful, of course, but it's really the best way.

Also, I don't want to dump too much on SC folks. I was just talking about some of their group leaders. They've done some pretty good things for wilderness and open space over the decades, and that has to be respected. I also think most of their service trips are pretty good and wouldn't want to discourage anyone from those.

Incidentally, not to carry this ranger worship too far but, in Sequoia Kings, there's little question that almost all of our rangers -- even the newest at 5 years of service, have more cumulative time in the backcountry than any SC member possibly could. Those of us with over 15 years (the majority) have more time than even Muir.

g.
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Re: Wilderness first responder course ?

Postby rightstar76 » Thu Apr 23, 2009 3:02 pm

I think there's one by NOLS out of Montecito Sequoia this month. Then another one there in September. Wish I had the time (10 days) and money to do it. I sure would feel better the next time I go hiking.
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Re: Wilderness first responder course ?

Postby BSquared » Sun Jun 21, 2009 5:59 pm

Well, I just finished a two-day Wilderness First Aid course (what I could afford in time and money), and it was an excellent experience. This course was taught by a New Hampshire-based group called "SOLO" http://www.soloschools.com/index.html, which presumably only teaches in the northeast (I took my course at the headquarters of the Green Mountain Club in Vermont). I was astonished at what they could fit in to a 16-hour course, and the combination of lecture, study, and scenarios seemed just about right. The instructors were knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and frank, and there was very little BS (in my experience, first-aid courses often contain unsubstantiated opinions, directions, and prohibitions with no explanation and no real basis in biology; this course had almost none of those). I made numerous splints, slings, and bandages, evaluated patients for walk-out vs. rescue, learned about taking the time to ask history and mechanism-of-injury questions, and learned dozens of acronyms that I'll probably forget right away (ABCDE, AMPLE, AVPU, LOC, SOAP List, CSM.... sheesh...). My only complaint was that the student/faculty ratio was a bit large (32:2), but the two instructors frequently divided us up into sub-groups, they were good with names (I only just barely learned both their names, but they seemed to get almost all of ours in just two days), and they were very good at answering individual questions and addressing specific concerns.

Highly recommended.
—B²
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Re: Wilderness first responder course ?

Postby dave54 » Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:43 pm

LOL!!!

If this is going to turn into a sierra club (club sierra) bashing thread then count me in!!! I can't recall a single good experience when encountering them in the back country. As earlier noted, arrogance must be trained into their leaders. Outdoor leadership skills sure are not. My most memorable was SEKI early 80's. We were there first (two of us), when a sc group of 10 came in and basically kicked us out of 'their' spot. Not wanting to make a scene, we broke camp and moved about 100 yds. They were loud and boisterous until well after midnight, with a bonfire you could see from the space shuttle (actually scorched the tree canopy). The next morning they left before we did, so I walked over and inspected their camp. The fire was left smoldering, trash everywhere, and a pile of human waste complete with white flowers left on top of the ground unburied. I wrote a letter to the sc headquarters complaining but I never received a reply.

bah humbug. I hope never to share a trail with them again.
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