Bondage with Strangers – WFA Day 2

Today was exceptional. It was the 2nd day of a two day course of Wilderness First Aid. We got to tie each other up! I learned how to dress a wound, immobilize joints and bones and more. We covered hypothermia, heat stroke, broken bones, head injuries, altitude sickness and more.

It was a hands-on kind of day. We started the day off with a scenario, nothing like jumping in to remember your ABC’s and 123’s from the day before. After our scenario we began the journey through mild medical care for injuries. Learning how to dress wounds and stabilize broken parts. Again, I hope I never have to use any of this information in the real life, but I’m quite grateful that I now have been introduced to it.

I do plan on taking the next course which is Wilderness First Responder (WFR). It is a 10 day intensive which deepens the practices and understandings of the WFA. As my next decade is manifesting around being an outdoors adventurer, I find that knowing this kind of information will be quite handy.

Be well safe travels.



Rolling Around in the Dirt with Strangers – WFA

wfa_crossI had an amazing time this weekend. I spent my entire day Saturday rolling around in the dirt with strangers! I took a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course sponsored by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and REI. It is a two day course geared towards providing some education to folk who spend time outside and may encounter hazards, or perhaps folk who lead small expeditions, trip leaders, scout leaders, camp counselors and any type of outdoor explorers! It is a hands-on experience helping you to prepare for the unexpected. It was right up my alley.

Saturday was spent learning the ABC’s and 123’s.  They taught us a protocol using numbers and letters which makes it easier to remember what it is that you’re supposed to be looking for and doing when you enter a scene that may need some first aid.  Here are the basics:

1 – I’m #1 – I come first, if I put myself in danger, then who will help me?
2 – What happened to YOU? – Assess the scene before entering, look for a mode of injury – how did it happen?
3 – I must protect me – Safety first kids. Wear gloves, protect yourself.
4 – Are there any more? – Is this the only victim, or are there more that need help, assess the priority.
5 – Are they dead or alive? – Though I hope to never use this, I can see the relevance.

Airway – check the airway to make sure it is clear.
Breathing – check to make sure the patient is breathing.
Circulation – check for pulse and do a blood sweep.
Decide – does the patient’s spine need to be mobilized? If so, decide to keep it mobilized or move on.
Expose – expose all injuries.


We learned how to do a full body exam and what to look for. We learned how to roll a patient over on the ground if their spine needs to be mobilized. It was exciting and scary. They set up different scenarios for us to approach and examine. The instructors were quite amazing. I highly recommend a course in Wilderness First Aid if you do any backcountry traveling.

I learned quite a bit, and though I feel more confident this evening than I did this morning, I also feel more hesitant. It has been eye opening.  I hope I get a badge I can sew to my outfit!

Safe Trekking.



Gear Repair and Maintenance

At the end of every season I commit to overhauling my gear. I take a weekend and pull out all of my camping and backpacking gear and spend sometime evaluating the condition of my gear.

I begin by organizing. I basically have two separate piles of gear: Car Camping and Backpacking. Some of the items may cross over, but I find a place for them as well. I organize next by category: Fuel, Lighting, Food, Sleep, Shelter, Navigation, etc.

Once the items have been organized into category, I begin to evaluate the condition of the gear. I check to make sure the headlamps and flashlights work. Is my knife is sharpened? Does my tent have any holes and is it still seam sealed? Does my sleeping pad need a patch? After I inspect each item, I clean the item, remove its battery (if it has one), and place the item into the storage container. I clean my stoves and knives. I clean out the bear vault and properly store any unused dehydrated food items. I clean my sleeping bag and hang it. I check the tent poles and grommets and seams to make sure that the tents are fully functional, then I clean them after any repairs are made.

I also ask myself these vital questions – Do I need this item? Have I used it in the past year? Is this item necessary for survival? A lot of times I find that I am holding onto something just because I’ve had an experience with it in the past. I also hold items with the intention of using it in the future. The mind comes in and says, “You’ll need that… Some day.”  It’s the Some Day mentality that makes me question the need. If I can, I remove the item and either sell it, or give it to a friend. I love passing along older gear to people who are just getting into the spirit of outdoor adventuring. It serves two purposes, you help someone get outside, and you pass along some of your history.

Once all of the gear is checked, maintained and cleaned, I store them for the winter.

Proper care for your gear means a longer lasting item for you to use. Yes, gear is constantly changing every year, but that doesn’t mean we have to purchase every upgrade as soon as it comes out. Good quality gear should last years if it is well taken care of.

Happy Camping!

PCT Hike – Day 7

day 7Today’s hike was short and sweet. A very quick 7 miles to Elk Lake Resort where I was able to rest, stuff my face with great food and beer, pick up my Cache drop and take a REAL shower!

I left camp in the morning after breakfast and took the short trip along a lake filled path towards Elk Lake Resort. I passed through a handful of beautiful meadows along the way. The trail head off of the PCT to Elk Lake lead me down through a burn zone to a road. There were no signs on the road, so I figured I would head down hill assuming that the lake would be in the lower section. I soon came to a cross road and saw the entrance to Elk Lake Campground across the street.

I arrived in the late morning around 10:00 and was greeted by very loud trucks, lots of activity and the smells of a kitchen. The resort office was down by the water connected to the restaurant. I’d love to say that I was greeted with warmth and friendliness, but truthfully speaking it was almost as if I were a bother being there. No one said hello when I walked in, and the staff that was there were apparently having an important conversation because they also couldn’t be bothered to break away to greet a guest. A few minutes later, a younger man walked in and asked me if I were being helped by the two women sitting behind the desk. When I said No, he looked at them and said, this guy could probably use some help.

Along with the $5.00 handling fee for holding my PCT Box, I got to pay another $5.00 to take a shower (though you do get a fuzzy white towel and a bar of soap), and another $10.90 for one of the PCT Hiker camp spots. I was given Hiker spot A, and was told it was “in the woods behind the Luxury cabins and in front of the small single cabins.” Good, I can do “in the woods” quite well. I collected my box, was given the key to the shower and headed off to my $10.90 camping spot.

Apparently, their version of “in the woods” and my version are two completely separate experiences. The very small swath of land they didn’t chop down to build cabins that was between the two rows of cabins was what they considered the PCT Hiker camping spots “in the woods”. Good lord, where am I? The spot I got was a few trees back from a road behind a luxury cabin, so I got to see the back end of the super sized SUV’s that were parked there. The small single cabin behind me had three cars completely full of “camping stuff”, coolers, chairs and more, with four adults that apparently didn’t know how to talk to each other but instead yelled so they could be heard over each others yelling, and two extremely small infants who liked to cry a lot.

Okay, maybe I just need to take my shower and get some real food in my belly and it will all be different. Up went my camp and off to the showers I went with my extra clothing. I washed all of my clothes and then scrubbed myself down. I put on my pseudo-wet, dry fit clothing and went back to my camp to hang the remaining items to dry. It definitely felt good to be clean. The small cabin full of people and stuff were still talking quite loudly and making an exceptional amount of noise, so I figured I needed some food. I took my maps and my journal and the remainder of the $50.00 I had mailed myself in the package and went down to the restaurant. I sat outside on their deck and ordered a grilled caprese panini, french fries and a two beers. $38.00 I have to say, the food was excellent. While I was sitting there, I realized that I was probably the youngest guest there by about 25 years. Then I saw all of the sail boats. Ah – it’s a country club for the sail boat crowd. That’s why everything costs something and the folk who aren’t paying a lot don’t get a lot, even though it costs a lot.

After my lunch, I was walking back out and met two southbound PCT hikers. They were having the same reaction to all of the things at this place that I was. I went down to the lake and sat on a picnic table to write in my journal. While I was rocking out to Journey’s Greatest Hits which was playing over the loud speaker (at least the music was great), I was talking to the squirrel on the bench next to me, and I realized that out of everyone here, the squirrel by far made the best company.

I ended up bumping into the other two PCT hikers – Alan and Shelly – and I’m so grateful I had. They were totally awesome. I ended up eating dinner with them that night and we had amazing conversations about all of our adventures. Shelly was finishing up segment hiking the PCT, and they have both done a bunch of adventuring in other aspects as well. They were fun, vibrant, full of energy and were great to converse with.

We all ended up moving our camping spots towards the end of the resort where it was a bit more quiet. In the morning I packed up my pack and headed down to the restaurant to have a great breakfast. Alan and Shelly joined me and then I was off again to get to the PCT.

Shelly and Alan had mentioned needing a special permit for the Obsidian Limited Entry Area which I would be passing through on my way up the PCT in the Three Sister’s Wilderness. They said they bumped into someone who was turned away by the Rangers. As they didn’t have permits either, they “snuck” by the Ranger’s camp early in the morning before they were awake. I didn’t ever recall reading about needing a special permit anywhere on the PCT unless you were hiking more than 500 miles at one time. I began to get nervous because I couldn’t see a way around this area without backtracking a whole heck of a lot then going around the entire Three Sisters Wilderness to get back onto the PCT. I asked Trail Angel Tim to do some investigating and he said that there was no permit needed in that area, that PCT hikers could just stay on the PCT and hike through. With that information I felt more at ease, but I do remember not sleeping a lot and spending the next two days over-thinking how I would weasel my way through that area should I come upon a Ranger who says, “YOUU SHALL NOT PASSSSSSSSSSSS”.

One thing that Elk Lake Resort could do, is take one small section of their large property, that is away from the hustle and bustle of their every day guest who they cater to, build a fire pit and create 8-10 pct hiker tent pitching spots for campers that are separate from the rest of their space. PCT Hikers are a different breed. I imagine the majority of us are not interested in flashy, big and loud. We prefer quiet, rural and rustic.

I am grateful Elk Lake offers PCT Hiker Services. I am grateful for the shower, for the food & beer, music, and for the rare gems you find.

mm 1953-1959

Happy Trails,


Denny Shadow 2

Sahale Glacier Trek








Tim and I went up to the North Cascades to meet up with my longtime buddy Michael. We packed in the North Cascade Mountain Range, specifically in the area of Sahale Glacier, Pelton Basin and Doubtful Lake.


This is a trek that Michael and I did last year. It is sensational. The elevation gain is from 3500 ft to 7800 feet. You are literally camped out on the side of a glacier that drops down through a scree field to Doubtful Lake. The jagged snow peaked mountains that surround you are astounding to look at. You can climb the glacier, but it is a technical climb. We opted to look at it’s amazing beauty instead.


You need a wilderness pass in order to camp at any of the sites. They can be found at the Marblemount Ranger Station and are issued on a first come first serve basis, though you can request them in person 3 days prior to your stay. These hikes can also be done as day hikes. There were plenty of day hikers on the trail on Saturday morning, but the week leading up to it was nice and quiet.

This is our route for 3 days of hiking.

Trail Head: Cascade Pass Trailhead – 3640 ft
Cascade Pass – 5384 ft – 3.7 miles
Pelton Basin – 4800 ft – .5 miles
Cascade Pass – 5384 ft – .5 miles
Sahale Glacier – 7600 ft – 2.2 miles
Doubtful Lake – 5385 ft – .5 miles from Sahale Arm (1.5 miles)
Sahale Glacier – 7600 ft – 1.5 miles
Cascade Pass 5384 ft – 2.2 miles
Trailhead – 3640 ft – 3.7 miles


It was wonderful, invigorating and absolutely breathtaking.  The wind at Sahale Camp was incredible overnight. The camp sites are like fortresses inside of man made rock walls. Though they were high, they didn’t block the intensity of the wind pounding down on the tents.








We saw goats, deer, marmots, mice, ptarmigans, hawks and bumped into many people who were sighting bears. We did not see any bear however. The wildflowers were still blooming as well.

Happy Hiking


Backpacking Prep Trekking

I’ve been doing a lot of hiking this season in preparation for an extended distance hike in September. I’ve been slowly adding weight to my pack and tackling challenging elevation gains. It’s been interesting, but each hike has been successively leading to the next hike.

2014 Treks

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Last week I had a free day and I also did not have to be at work until 5:00 pm the following day. My friend James posted on FB that he was looking for some hiking buddies for his week of Stay-Cation. I suggested an overnight trek into the woods with a camp-out and a trek back, and he agreed to do it with me! So off we went on an adventure that was both quick and rewarding.

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The Bull of the Woods
There is something magical about this section of the Mt Hood National Forest. There are many peaks and valleys, lakes and hot springs, creeks and rivers, and from the highest spots you can see the Cascade Mountain Range from Mt Rainier to the Three Sisters. The Bull of the Woods is sandwiched between Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson – two peaked snow capped volcanoes! Yes Please!

I’ve been doing quite a bit of hiking out in the Bull of the Woods recently and had hoped to do a loop into some of my favorite spots, yet a missed turn on my path brought me into a whole new beautiful spot. Twin Lakes!

Gear Packed – Tent, Sleeping Pad, Sleeping Bag, Hammock, Bear Vault (full of yumminess), Backpacker Stove, Cookware & Fuel, Camp Towel, Flip Flops, Camera, Headlamp, Knife, Warm Clothes, Water Filter and Bladder.

Pansy Basin

The Route Intended:
Pansy Basin to Welcome Lakes (~6 miles one way)

Mother Lode

The Route Taken:
Pansy Basin to The Mother Lode to Twin Lakes (~10 miles one way)

The path we took brought us up and over a pass, down through a burn area from 2011 into a low area (The Mother Lode) full of rhododendrons and wild blueberries/huckleberries. We ate a lot of them. A whole lot of them. They were sweet, ripe and delicious.

Twin Lakes

The trail wound up towards a fork for the Twin Lakes Trail which took us to a scenic overlook camp spot, which we took a long needed rest at, then ventured on around 2.5 more miles to the Twin Lakes area.  Part of the trek passed us over a scree field with amazing views of Mt Jefferson. The scree field echoed with a tingly vibration that sounded like music. It was a musical delight. The water in the lake was warm and crystal clear, nestled inside of a mountainous basin.

Happy Camping!

– Denny

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Mt St Helens – the Climb

Just over a week ago, a group of 7 of us climbed to the top of Mt St Helens. It was a wonderfully challenging hike full of amazing landscape diversity.  We began at the Camper’s Bivouac where we camped beneath the starlit skies the night before. We managed to get up and get on trail in a reasonable time. The first couple of miles of the hike are inside the canopy of big fir trees.  The soft pine needle padded trail wound it’s way up gently to the first transition zone.


As we left the canopy of the trees, we begin to walk in to a boulder field. With a quickened breath and a steeper step, we began to slowly climb up one of the boulder fields. There was a lot of stopping and breath taking, and eating. We had the sun over to our right and as we made our way into the boulders, Mt Adams began to shine.


The posts were our guidance system, as often times we couldn’t see past the next set of boulders. Boulders turned into bigger boulders, which turned into even bigger ones piled on top of each other. The climb became steeper and it felt as though we became smaller. The enormity of what we were climbing upon began to sink in as the ledge of the summit was a steep pitch directly up. We were standing on the side of a volcano that had an enormous eruption that occurred in my lifetime. Very cool!


The end of the boulder field brought us to a dust hill. It was a steady and steep UP with a very slippery pebble, pomace and dust field.  The top of the mountain was jaw-dropping. We could actually see down into the crater to the newly formed dome, all the way to the other side where I hiked just a few weeks back from Johnston Ridge Observatory.

I took my 40 liter backpack on this hike, mostly to use as a training hike for carrying weight on my shoulders in challenging situations. I thought I did quite well, and I was comfortable.  I could have probably put more weight in it and still been fine.


You do need a permit to climb Mt St Helens. They give out 100/day and you can get them for your day at the beginning of the season, which I highly recommend as attempting to get them on the day of your hike might be impossible.  They are issued first come, first serve. So pick your date, get your permit, and train, train, train!

Happy Hiking!


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