The WildeBeat

The audio journal about getting into the wilderness.


The WildeBeat edition 53: Stuff We Left Out

This is a supplementary transcript of our audio program. CLICK HERE to listen to the original program, and see the associated show notes.

After fifty two shows, I've collected a lot of sound that didn't fit into the shows I was working on. But it was too good to throw out. This week on The WildeBeat, stuff we left out.

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News from the Wildebeat, the audio journal about getting into the wilderness.

This is program number fifty three.

I'm Steve Sergeant.

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STEVE: I've spent over a year talking to people, joining them on their adventures, and telling their stories -- hopefully sharing what they have to teach us about getting into the wilderness. And in that time, I've collected almost two hundred hours of recordings. Sometimes, Jean and I had to make some hard decisions about what to keep and what to throw out. We cut some good, interesting stuff because it just wasn't quite on topic for the show. So this week, as we begin our second year on The WildeBeat, I'll play you some the good stuff we left out of earlier shows.

Our edition number 10 highlighted a day of work by the High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew. Their public relations director, Ken Murray had this to say about the forest service's ability to maintain recreational trails.

STEVE: What do you think you saved them? Do you have any estimate as far as man-days or dollar amount or something?

KEN MURRAY: Well, I don't think we save them anything. We don't substitute for something that they would be doing otherwise. We are a supplement to what they do. There was some concern expressed at various points at times that maybe by coming out here and doing work we're taking somebody's job away. But in reality, the decisions for funding of the forest service are not made at local levels, and the people who make those decisions have no knowledge of volunteer work and contributions to individual forests. We're far too small to be on anybody's radar screen at a federal level. So what we're really doing is we're stepping in and providing help in areas where the Forest Service would simply not be able to do anything at all.

STEVE: In our editions number thirteen and fourteen, titled The Wilderness at Night, I interviewed Chad Moore. He's a scientist with the National Park Service in charge of their night sky monitoring team. Here he talks about the equipment they use to measure the darkness of the national park skies.

CHAD MOORE: The equipment's about eighty pounds, total. So two, tough rangers can hike this in. I just returned from a trip at Mount Rainier where we hiked about a thousand vertical feet and about two miles in to the site carrying the gear. And we actually used three people. So that was a good bit of work. I believe the instrumentation that the National Park Service has is basically one of a kind, in that it's portable, and that it's precise and accurate. And we can take this to different places. Large, professional, astronomical observatories have made these kinds of measurements, but they haven't been done for the entire sky like we've done, and of course they're not portable.

STEVE: Chad Moore's work was written up in the March eighteenth edition of Science News Magazine. In our editions number fifteen and sixteen, A Winter Storm Warning, Mike Bargetto told the dramatic story of his weekend family camping trip. He was stranded for a week by an early winter snow storm. In this clip, Mike talks about how they fought to maintain their morale.

MIKE BARGETTO: For the most part we were all really strong and courageous. It was amazing how little we did break down, when we did. We did all have our moments, though. My uncle took guilt because he planned the whole thing. He went and got the maps, it was his idea to go to this lake on this weekend, and he just felt extremely guilty. And he was -- I could tell it was starting to wear on him. And finally a couple of nights into it he just broke down. And it's amazing how people can pull together in a time of need. And we all just gathered around him and we told him, "it's not your fault, you know we all decided to go on this trip." And we just built him up, and a couple of minutes later he understood, and it was fine. And the, you know, that afternoon someone else would break down. And it was always one person at a time, it was never the four of us starting to get fearful. And we just kind of kept building ourselves back up. And we were cracking jokes the whole time through. I think just what kept us sane was just prayer, and being light-hearted about the whole thing. And we had made some really good decisions. We had told everyone at home where we were going, we had filed a wilderness permit, which is a must, and we just knew, deep down, it was just a matter of time until someone got us.

STEVE: For edition number seventeen, I interviewed Ryan Jordan, the founder of Backpacking Light Magazine.

STEVE: In my show I interviewed people who had been stuck in a snow storm with inadequate gear. And I get the impression from a lot of the land managers, that a lot of their problems are people trying to lighten up their load, probably not the right way, but getting out there with less than they need.

RYAN JORDAN: My experience has been exactly the opposite. I work pretty close with land management agencies up here in Yellowstone and the Glacier area, and those guys recognize that the primary reason people get into trouble is inadequate knowledge or lack of experience. And usually they find that the people who do have inadequate gear are the day-hikers or the folks who are very casual backpackers who don't understand how to use the gear. And it's not necessarily that their out there with ultralight or lightweight gear, it's that they're out there with gear that doesn't work for that situation. So really it's not just about the gear, it's about the knowledge required to use it, and to that extent, it's very important to realize that as a beginner, you can't just go out with a five pound kit and expect to survive what happened in the Sierras. And most of the folks that did get into trouble in the Sierras was not a result of inadequate gear so much as inadequate knowledge to use the gear they had.

STEVE: In edition number nineteen, I spent a weekend discovering what it takes to clean up and restore a park after organized criminals have turned parts of it into a marijuana plantation. Park naturalist Chris Spohrer answers my questions about the toxic chemicals the pot farmers used.

STEVE: The chemicals they're using, are those off-the-shelf products that they bought in the local hardware store, or are they something more exotic?

CHRIS SPOHRER: What I saw up there was just standard stuff you could buy at Orchard Supply. Which is not to say that they're benign, because you can buy some very powerful stuff over the counter at your Orchard Supply; fertilizers, stuff with nitrates in it, weed killer that in a concentrated form is very harmful. I think they had some stuff to deter deer; I'm not sure how toxic that is. But they had these compounds up there in bags, stashed, you know, not carefully stowed. And so, any time you have chemicals like that that are leaching out into the environment, that's a problem.

STEVE: If they were growing food instead of marijuana, up there, with the chemicals they were using, would you eat the food?

CHRIS SPOHRER: You know, probably not. But, I mostly eat organic food anyway.

STEVE: In edition number twenty three, we reported on the conflict between winter recreation users in Bear Valley, California. Paul Petersen, the president of Bear Valley Cross Country, a commercial ski-trail trail system, explained one reason why backcountry skiers avoid going near snowmobiles.

PAUL PETERSEN: The two-stroke snowmobiles, ninety-nine percent of what is in use these days, produces approximately a hundred times the amount of air pollution or carbon monoxide as a car. So if three snowmobiles go by you, you've just had the same amount of carbon monoxide blow on you as three hundred cars. And so when have a busy Saturday, and there's twenty or thirty of them, you've got L.A. freeway type of smog levels developing, in a area at seven, eight thousand feet where most people's expectations are you drink clean water and you breathe clean air. And that's why you come up to these places. So especially when they're clustered, like around trailheads, the air pollution component is major.

STEVE: And that's just some good stuff we left out of the the first half of the past year. To create one ten-minute edition of The WildeBeat, we spend an average of twenty four hours researching, traveling, interviewing, writing, and mixing together the audio. But whenever one of you writes or calls and tells us how we've helped you get into the wilderness, that's when we realize that it's worth it. We're doing this for you. Let us know what you think of a show. Let us know what you'd like to hear in a future show. Help us help you get into the wilderness.

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The Wildebeat is produced by Steve Sergeant, with help from Jean Higham, as a public service of Effable Communications. Our official website is WWW dot WILDEBEAT (that's W-I-L-D-E-B-E-A-T) dot NET. Please see our website for ways to support future editions of The WildeBeat. Contribute your comments to webmaster at wildebeat dot net, or call our comment line at 866-590-7373.

This has been The Wildebeat, program number fifty three. Thank you for listening.

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