Monday, April 19, 2010

Dusting off the hiking boots

I was hoping for a nice snow-free hike up Mt Olympus yesterday, but alas it was not to be. About 2/3 of the way up the 4,200 ft ascent, snow appeared. It was perfect on the way up: just soft enough to kick steps and put an ax in, but still supportive.

Mandatory summit shot:

Summit panorama:
As the sun cooked the snow, it softened. I was sinking balls deep on the way down. Never before has something inanimate prompted me to string together so many four letter words so creatively. Back on dry land again, I motored past the small children, shirtless frat bros and kids sitting on a rock playing guitar (it's a popular trail, although the crowds went way down at snow line) and arrived back at the Taco 6.5 hours after starting.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Avalanche Rescue Dogs

The other day I had the opportunity to be involved in a demonstration with an avalanche rescue dog. Lots of ski resorts keep dogs around because in the event of an avalanche they can sniff you out from underneath quite a bit of snow. The bad news is that it takes some time for your scent to waft up through the snow, so a dog rescue is still a last resort. The best plan is not getting caught in the first place. In any case, here's how dog rescues work.

Step 1: Get in a hole in the snow
Step 2: Get inescapably sealed in
Step 3: Let Jake the avalanche dog sniff around and dig you out. (Kind of a bad picture.)
Step 4: Play tug o' war with Jake the avalanche dog. That's his reward; the promise of getting to play keeps him motivated. Plus he pulls really hard, which can help you get out of the hole in the ground.
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