Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wildlife Cams

A friend posted this link to the Hampton Roads Eagle Cam in Virginia the other day.  It looks like she has three chicks this year, which you can't see in this picture.

It reminded me of some nice cams we have in Maine, as well.  Take a gander at the eagle cam and the peregrine falcon cam at the Biodiversity Research Institute, collaborations between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. BRI also had a loon cam, but it appears that it's not online this year. They did leave up a high-resolution video from 2008 for folks to watch.

Another one I like, not because it's wildlife related but because it keeps the me from getting homesick when I'm away, is the Katahdin Cam. I saw that view every day in the winter when I was growing up and still feel a great sense of place when I look at it. (That reminds me, I need to climb Katahdin again one of these years; it's been too long.)

I've considered putting a webcam of some sort at Camp, but the logistics are a nightmare, so that idea will be at least a few years in the making. Until then, if you know of any other webcams we might enjoy, please leave me a comment.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The North Woods National Park?

The potential creation of a North Woods National Park has been hotly debated up here in Northern Maine. Passionate arguments come from both sides: those who fear the subdivision and development of the largest tract of undeveloped land east of the Mississippi, and those who fear the loss of that land's traditional recreation and logging uses. The Bangor Daily has a small poll up, and 62% of the votes are currently in favor of the park. I'm curious what you guys think- drop me a vote at the poll to the right.

Yesterday's Bangor Daily had an article about Roxanne Quimby's plans to dedicate over 70,000 acres (twice the size of Maine's Acadia National Park) to the east of Baxter State park to the National Park Service and set aside another 30,000 (about 8,000 acres larger than our very own Deboullie Township) for traditional recreational uses.

I've been watching the whole debate with interest. All of the plans I've seen for a national park are well to the south of Deboullie (see below), but a plan on paper is just that. While a national park up in our neck of the woods could be great for Red River's business and could ensure that we never have to fear a Deboullie Wal-Mart, it would be devastating for the area if traditional recreational uses were disallowed or if a national park would invite too much use to the region. I've seen several people call for a national forest (instead of a national park) if anything. By all accounts, a national forest would be friendlier to hunting and logging.

Another piece to this puzzle that I haven't seen in the news much, however, is John Malone's plan to purchase over 900,000 acres in Maine.  The deal was supposedly finalized on February 1st, but I can't find anything about it.  The sale would make him the largest landowner in the United States and give him ownership of approximately 5% of the entire land mass of the state.  That's a lot of land.  Malone also owns land out west, and by all accounts, he likes to see it remain in historic uses.  Around here, that's recreation and logging.  If anyone knows of a map, I'd love to see it.

A few resources on both sides if you're interested in this topic:
The Maine Woods Coalition
Restore: The North Woods (which doesn't appear to be updated past 2008)
A Yankee Magazine article from January/February 2010 (Warning: it's pretty long)
A .pdf of today's Bangor Daily story about Roxanne Quimby's plan
A .pdf of January 30th's Portland Press Herald story about John Malone's plan

So much for "short posts between now and May"!  There have been quite a few pieces of woods-related news this week; I'll try to get to them all over the next several days.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Other RRC...

Coincidence follows me wherever I go.  Case in point- while cruising the internet the other day, I stumbled across the Portage campus of Red River College in Manitoba, Canada. Sounds like an upstanding place, although I'd like to note that "the other RRC" doesn't appear to offer courses in fly fishing, dodging the rat race, or enjoying great cooking. You'll have to come here for that.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekend Projects Round Up

Sorry I've taken the past couple of days off.  I'm not trying to neglect the blog; I've just been working to get a lot of balls rolling for this summer:

T-shirts.  I have three designs finished (basically men's, women's, and kids'), and I think I've decided to go ahead and get them printed on AnvilSustainable shirts, which are 45% recycled plastic bottles (3 bottles per shirt, apparently) and 55% organic cotton.  (Did you know that over 2 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers and over 55 million pounds of pesticides are applied to cotton crops annually in the US?  About half of those pesticides are known carcinogens.)

Denny remodel. We're just about down to the bathroom with the Denny remodel; it's going to be pretty swanky.  There's a nice window in the back of the bathroom that was covered up by the shower for decades.  This time around, we're going to build the shower right in as an architectural piece and incorporate the window.  I've found the tile for the project, which I can get right in Presque Isle.  I still need to order the glass for the door, as well as the other bathroom fixtures.  (I'll also mention at this point that, if this project turns out well, I'm going to do the same thing on the Island because it has a similar bathroom with an underloved window.)  I'm having a serious internal debate between a composting toilet and a conventional system; I may install one in the house first to see how it works before putting one in a cabin.

New kitchen fridge and solar power.  As part of our Efficiency Maine grant, we're getting a new refrigerator for the kitchen.  Right now, I'm trying to decide between spending the money on the most efficient fridge on the market and purchasing a cheaper fridge (that still has good efficiency) and extra solar panels to run it.  It's just about time for us to order everything so we can get the system installed in May, so I'll just have to flip a coin.

Vegetable garden.  The seeds for the garden came on Friday.  I saved some of them off for the garden that we have at my office down here in Virginia, and the rest will get shipped up to Maine tomorrow so they can get started indoors.  (Thanks, Mom!)  I'm going to build raised beds from some of the leftover logs that are just taking up space in the back field.  Just add dirt, and voila- fresh veggies this summer.

A few new recipes.  In addition to two vinaigrette dressings and cranberry baked beans, I'm currently working on a ranch dressing recipe, making yogurt for the first time, and researching hand-crank pasta machines.  I'm also looking at purchasing fair-trade coffee for the summer; it's quite a bit more expensive than Folgers or Maxwell House, but over the course of the summer, I think the total additional cost will be worth it.

New furniture.  I'm currently looking at bunkbed plans; the current beds are serviceable but could definitely stand to be replaced in the near future.  Good wooden bunkbeds run about $1000 each, so I'm going to have the guys make some this summer if they're up to it.  (Like I said a few days ago, I give them some tall orders to fill, but they always rise to a challenge!)  I also want to buy/build some new porch swings, maybe a picnic table or two, and some bat houses.

LifeFlight.  I've been playing phone tag with the folks at LifeFlight of Maine to have Red River added to their list of "outpost" landing fields.  It was excellent timing that an e-mail came out from the Maine Sporting Camp Association regarding the program so soon after my WFR certification.

Advertising.  Look for our ads in the April issue of Our Maine Street (where we'll also have a feature story!) and the 2011 North Maine Woods brochure.  I'm also working on updating our Google Maps listing and getting us on Superpages, Yellowpages, etc.  (If you have a few minutes to stop by some of those, we'd love to have some customer reviews!)  Look for new content on the Red River webpage soon, as well. (You'll see a few things on the page that are already updated.)

So that's a quick synopsis of few of the projects we're working on for this summer! April will probably be full of pretty short posts as I try to keep everything on track and keep up with my engineering job at the same time.  I hope everyone out there is enjoying the last of winter; believe me when I say that fishing season will be here before we can blink. It's going to be great.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hair Hackle??

Here's another one to file under S for "Seriously?"

I just read an excerpt from the Angling Trade blog regarding a bizarre new trend- hair hackle.  Apparently, the beauty industry has fallen in love with the long saddle hackle typically used by the fly tying community and is now marketing it as hair extensions.  Take a look: Fine Featherheads

They're not just for women, though: Do Hair Extensions has feathers for men, and Puppy Locks has some for your best furry friend.  (How exciting!)

Unfortunately, the beauty industry is so large that it could wipe out the entire hackle supply without a second thought.  Angling Trade noted that the Home Shopping Network was looking to do a trial run of hair hackle and estimated that they could sell 15,000 saddles in a single weekend.  In short, there's almost no way the supply can keep up with the trend.  In fact, Angling trade is predicting that the trend will probably be over by summer not because society has gotten bored with it, but because there are just no saddles left.

I guess if you're going to San Francisco this spring, you should be sure to wear some hackle in your hair.  (Because you never know when you might get a hankering for fresh-caught fish...)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Managing Maine's Declining Deer Herd

Last Thursday (March 17), the state unveiled its Game Plan for Deer, a road map that will hopefully lead to the stabilization of the declining deer herd in northern, eastern and western Maine.  The plan is broken up into five elements:

1.  Wintering areas and winter severity;
2.  Deer population management;
3.  Predation;
4.  Deer planning and public involvement; and
5.  Information and outreach.

These five elements are intended to address the largest factors causing the decline: severe winters; few, low-quality deer wintering areas; predation; and human influences such as illegal hunting, improper winter feeding, vehicle collisions, etc.  There's a lot of information packed into the document's 40 pages, from outlining each problem to describing what has been done thus far to what needs to be done in the future. For instance, I'll take a look at the first element: Deer Wintering Areas and Winter Severity.

Northern Maine has pretty severe winters, even now, which drastically affects deer populations.  (The report notes that three of the most severe winters in the past 60 years occurred in 2001, 2008, and 2009.)  Deer wintering areas, where the snow is shallower and conifers provide cover, are essential to the survival of the species and once covered 900,000 acres in northern, western, and eastern Maine.  The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has been conducting surveys of deer wintering areas by both air and ground to determine their current extent.  The Department also conducts "winter severity" surveys, which include snow depths, deer sinking depths, snow characteristics, and temperature.

The report lays out the state's strategies to manage the deer wintering areas, including a set of published management guidelines, zoning by the Land Use Regulation Commission (which, if you'll remember from a previous post, some lawmakers want to abolish), cooperative management agreements, State acquisition of important deer wintering areas, and management programs and workshops.  A few of the specific proposals include:

1.  Ensure adequate wintering area habitat by working with cooperating landowners to implement the Guidelines for Wildlife documents or other management agreements (50% of acreage by 201 and 100% by 2013), and by implementing the Guidelines on all lands owned by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and by the Bureau of Parks and Lands.
2.  Conduct aerial surveys of all lands that have not been surveyed in the past three years where landowners have indicated a desire to cooperatively manage deer; coordinate efforts among private pilots to provide deer observations to the Department; coordinate the Warden Service to report known concentrations of wintering deer; and utilize GIS technology to assist in pulling the information together.
3.  Purchase easements or titles to lands containing deer wintering areas as needed.
4.  Determine which deer concentration areas are simply the result of winter feeding programs, and work with landowners to minimize feeding near roadways or other hazards.

(I'll have to apologize at this point because I haven't had time to write a synopsis of each element of the plan; until I get a chance to, I've provided links to the documents that you can peruse.)

The estimated cost to implement the plan appears to be about $660,000 per year.  Definitely not cheap, but well worth it when you consider that deer hunting alone generated over $200 million in Maine in the late 1990s (page 4 of the Plan).

When it comes down to it, white-tailed deer are at the very northern end of their range up here in Northern Maine.  Anything that upsets the balance is going to have a drastic effect on the population, and we have elements in at least four distinct sectors upsetting that balance.  Even if the plan gets everything right, and even if every plan element is implemented tomorrow, it will take a good amount of time for the population to rebound.

A few other notable documents related to this topic:
The 2007 Resolution to Create an Effective Deer Habitat Enhancement and Coyote Control Program
The 2009 Resolution to Create a Deer Predation Working Group

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Getting the Solar Project Started

Looks like it's about time to really start focusing on the solar power system for Red River.  We received the 48-page contract today, which we have to sign in triplicate and send back to the Efficiency Maine folks.  After that, we'll receive the first grant installment, and we can get the project rolling!

Seems like I've said this a lot over the past two and a half years, but wow- this really is happening.

Red River Sunset

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Maine Trail Finder

Ready for spring and itching to get outside? A Red River vacation is still a couple of months away, but the Maine Trail Finder may be able to help you find some fresh air around your neck of the woods.

The Deboullie Township on the Maine Trail Finder website

The site was launched last June as a collaboration among several state and community agencies and groups, and the team behind it is looking for new members to help add trails, trip reports, and comments to the statewide database.  (For instance, they could really use some information on any trails between Mars Hill and Bangor.)  Take a gander if you're hiking inclined, and help other hikers get out and enjoy our beautiful state!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Seeds Are on Their Way!

I ordered my seeds from the Seed Savers Exchange over the weekend, and I have my raised bed garden all planned out.  (I just need to find a source for good dirt.)  If all goes well this summer, we'll dine on:

String beans (I received this variety from my CSA in Virginia the first year I was involved with the program- they were delicious.)

Broccoli (this kind just looks too neat not to try)

Carrots (which are apparently still orange on the inside)

Lemon cucumbers

Oakleaf lettuce

Amish snap peas

Sweet peppers

Fish peppers (I actually got these for a co-worker, but he said he'd share some with me)

and Trifele tomatoes (to supplement the seeds from the three or four tomatoes that survived last year).

I also picked up some lemon basil and garlic chives, and I'm hoping to plant some garlic in the fall.  I'd like to find a source for asparagus so I can start growing a patch of that as well, but I may have already given myself enough of a challenge for this summer.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Renovating Gardner

It's been a while since I posted on some of the renovations we undertook last year.  Denny wasn't the only cabin to get a facelift, although it was certainly the most extensive project we did (the lodge notwithstanding).  When we first started moving from the lodge to the cabins, I decided to start with Gardner because the floor was bowing quite a bit, and I figured it would be an easy fix to start off with.  Boy, was I wrong.

The floor was bowing because there is a log joist running beneath the middle of the cabin.  That joist stayed in place as the logs on either side of the cabin began to crumble from years of weather.  We jacked up each side of the cabin, removed the bottom logs, and replaced them with a pressure-treated footer:

Renovation of Gardner Cabin at Red River Camps 2010

Once that was securely in place, we covered our handiwork with two of the logs that were left over from the new lodge.

Renovation of Gardner Cabin at Red River Camps 2010

Renovation of Gardner Cabin at Red River Camps 2010

When we got around to the front side of the cabin, we ran into more problems.  The propane tank (which supplies the cabin's lights, fridge, stove, and hot water heater) sits in the corner between the bathroom and the bedroom, right under the valley of the roof.  It's been there ever since I can remember, and all that time, it's been splashing rainwater from the roof onto the walls.


The majority of the logs that made up the bedroom wall had to come out because they were rotten through-and-through.  Luckily, Gardner had seen multiple renovations over the years (it was an old blacksmith's shop and wood shop at two points during its life), and that wall had a stick-built interior with log facing on the outside.

Renovation of Gardner Cabin at Red River Camps 2010

Renovation of Gardner Cabin at Red River Camps 2010

In the second picture, you can see shingles to the left of the window.  If I have my history straight, that was originally the door they used to bring lumber into the wood shop.  It was boarded up when they turned the building into a cabin.

Luckily, Cary and Kendall are amazing at this sort of work, and the wall is as good as new.  (I thought I had a picture of the finished product, but you'll just have to wait until I get back to take one this spring.)  The other thing we finally did with Gardner was to give it a porch railing.  I'm biased, but I think it looks much cozier now.

Gardner Cabin at Red River Camps

Gardner Cabin at Red River Camps

I assume everyone realizes that when I say "we" in this post, I had nothing to do with getting this done.  I can't thank the guys enough for all the hard work they've been putting in for us over the past couple of years.  I've given them some tall orders to fill, and they've filled them well.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring is Coming!

It's hard to believe we're already halfway through March, but here's proof.  The dogwood behind our house in Virginia will be in full bloom next week.

Before you know it, we'll be spring cleaning the lodge!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another Stream Video

A friend posted this video the other day; since I have both a personal and a professional connection to streams, rivers, and ecology, I wanted to pass it along.  (As a side note, I've been to the Deschutes River in Oregon, whose picture flashes during the video's first 30 seconds, as part of a stream restoration class.  The section I visited was still flowing.)

Water rights are a huge issue throughout the world; we're lucky in Northern Maine.  Even through a very dry summer, all we at Red River had to worry about was waiting for the rain to catch back up with the rate of evaporation.  Can you imagine not being able to fish some of the best trout waters in the West because the streams are completely dry?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mild-Mannered Alter Ego

I frequently get asked what my winter job entails.  The long version is that I'm a civil engineer who focuses on wetland and stream restoration and sustainable stormwater.  Even though I've mainly focused on stormwater for the past year, my short answer is always, "I build swamps and rivers."  Just for fun, try telling someone that sometime and watch the range of emotions on their face: confusion, curiosity, disbelief, interest...

To get a quick idea of what I mean by building swamps and rivers, take a gander at this video of a gentleman kayaking down one of our restored streams in Reston, Virginia, last week.  This is what we build.

This section of stream is only a few months old, so the plants haven't yet had a chance to come up.  Even the mature trees down here are thinking about leafing out, but they haven't quite started yet.  Hopefully he'll make another trip when summer is in full swing.  For comparison, here are a couple of photos showing what we start with: steep, deep gullies, some of which don't even have water unless it's just rained.

In conjunction with Trout Unlimited, we're also hosting a fishing day for the local schoolkids later this spring in another restored Reston stream.  It'll be fun and educational; northern Virginia isn't a place where kids get a lot of exposure to the outdoors, let alone rainbow trout.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fresh Veggies This Summer

I've been hoping to revive the Red River vegetable garden for the past couple of years. I think I'm going to start off small this year just to get things moving, and I'm planning to put in some raised beds to do it.

In 2007, I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program in Virginia. We paid a set fee, and every week, we got a bag of vegetables from a local farmer. The goodies changed every week, and we got really good at finding recipes for things we'd never eaten before. Our CSA farmer also grew a lot of heirloom varieties, and I've been interested in them since.  Think green and orange tomatoes, deep red carrots, and that sort of thing:

Now that I'm working on my own garden, I'm looking at planting heirlooms. It turns out that the internet has a lot of sources for heirloom vegetables and flowers! I've been looking at ordering seeds from the Seed Savers Exchange, which is where both of these photos came from. I'm hoping to plant tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and beans to start off with, but I have a feeling that this will be like shoe shopping for some people: I won't be able to keep myself from picking up that crazy fractal broccoli, as well.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Girly Stuff

All the men out there will laugh at this post.  I have no problem with that.

Last autumn, Mom and I went halfsies on an embroidery machine.  It'll be useful for shirts, hats (once we get the basics figured out), and other items like that.  While I was up in Maine this February, we found one more use for it because I think plain white pillowcases are boring.  Really boring.

So we pulled out the embroidery machine and did a couple of tests.  Here's what we came up with:

The text on this one is a little bit crooked and will get shifted slightly in the final version, but I think it's a vast improvement over nothing at all!  Silly?  Maybe.  Girly?  Definitely.  I like it so much, I'm thinking of adding something to the sheets once we get the pillowcases finished.

Expect more little things like this in the future- I'm not one of those folks who's content to leave well enough alone.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

WFR Day 7 - Updated

Huh.  Well, when they indicated that they had an interesting scenario planned, they weren't necessarily talking about the injuries and makeup!  Yesterday's scenario had me in a bit of a love triangle with Joe, who had an unstable knee and severe peanut allergy, and his best friend Derrick, who got washed downstream in a flash flood and broke his pelvis while seven of us were out hiking.  Unfortunately, my primary responder went straight to the root of my problem and completely bypassed the backstory, no matter how much I tried to get him back to it.  (It's tough to direct the conversation when you're balled up, hyperventilating, and screaming in pain, but I tried!)  Our group's other injuries included a lightning strike, a near drowning, and a snakebite/sprained ankle combo.  No cool makeup for me, though, so no pictures- sorry!

It's hard to believe that today is our final day of WFR.  I feel like I've been here for a year, and I mean that in the best way possible.  It'll be strange not to go back to class on Sunday; I'm going to miss all of my new friends and the crazy shenanigans we get ourselves into.  After this morning's written and practical exams, I'll find out if I can really call myself a "confident, competent WFR."  I feel good about the written exam, but I'm worried that I'll just freeze up on the practical exam even though I'm pretty sure I know my stuff.

UPDATE: It's official- I am a confident, competent WFR!  Joe and I both passed, which is awesome.

A million thanks to Daz and Jeff from Wilderness Medical Associates for putting on a great class for us and to Nancy for being our "WFR Mom."  (She even ran out and bought me some nitrile gloves when I had a reaction to the vinyl gloves we started with.)  This week has been amazing and exhausting.  I have a million real life things to catch up on, but for now, I need a nap.

Friday, March 11, 2011

WFR Day 6

Day 6 was a good day- a little more relaxing than some earlier this week.  We started the day off with a discussion of the legal aspects of WFR, a lot of which have different implications for Red River than they do for an individual WFR (pronounced woofer).

We then had a scenario drill to introduce us to the differences between heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and hyponatremia (drinking too much, eating too little, and sweating all of the salts out of your body).  In the afternoon, they threw a monkey wrench in the response scenario by putting the responder on one side of a "raging river" while the unconscious victim and the victim's friend (who knows nothing about First Aid or CPR) are on the other side.  I got to be the victim of a lightning strike in that scenario, and our responder (who just happened to be my Mr. Obnoxious from Wednesday's simulation) had to figure out how to walk my friend through saving me.  It didn't work so well, but it perfectly illustrated the difficult situations we may eventually find ourselves in.

We also talked a bit about cold injuries- frostbite, avalanche, and Raynaud's syndrome.  My Raynaud's has been acting up all week, so Daz wants me to show it off today if I get the chance.  I can't wait for this afternoon's simulation- I just get to sit back, do some acting, and end off the week with some fun.  I'm betting they have a good scenario planned since this is our last big hurrah before the test tomorrow.  I'll try to get a picture or two of our makeup jobs to post.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

WFR Day 5 - Updated

We did our second simulation yesday; I was a primary responder this time.  My patient had an ankle injury he couldn't walk on and a small branch through his hand.  Unfortunately, he was also this simulation's Mr. Obnoxious; his entire job consisted of hobbling away from me at every turn, trying to bandage himself with random stuff from my bag, and deafening me by yelling to his friends, other responders, and anyone within earshot (and some who were outside of earshot) to find out what was going on and if everyone else was alright.  (Overall, the simulation involved a cookstove explosion, some hypothermia, toxic berries, and a few falls and impaled objects.)  After a few minutes of being happily bandaged, he went into an acute asthma attack which quickly advanced to respiratory failure.

It was a high-stress day.  One of the benefits of these simulations is that they do a pretty good job of getting your adrenaline levels going.  Going through the simulation as a primary responder after half a week of high-intensity days is mentally and emotionally exhausting, and I think that's exactly the point.  I hate to admit it, but I got in the car to go home after class last night and basically bawled like a child.  (Thank goodness Joe was driving.)  I just kept going over what I did wrong, what I should have done differently, and what I missed that might have triggered the asthma attack that ultimately led to us evacuating my previously-stable patient on a stretcher.  Luckily for me, it was just a two-hour simulation, and now that I'm looking back on it, I actually ended up with the perfect patient for myself.  I tend to be Way Too Nice, and dealing with an unruly patient who tried to take advantage of that was the best learning experience I could have asked for.  At this point, I can only imagine how stressful a real-life first response situation will be like.

On the bright side, I get to be a patient for our final simulation on Friday.  After the last two, I can't wait to see what they've got in store for us.

We also learned yesterday how to wrap hypothermia patients and to make improvised litters out of almost anything we have lying around: paddles and life jackets, climbing rope, tent poles, you name it.  (And you guessed it- a couple of them included duct tape.)

UPDATE:  I talked with Jeff before class began this morning, and I feel much better about yesterday's simulation.  It turns out that my Mr. Obnoxious thought he had an internal bleed that they never actually gave him.  Because of that, he showed symptoms of a problem for which there were no physical signs.  (Turns out there was a little ad-libbing in there, too.  *grin*)  So even though I didn't do everything quite right, I ended up not doing too bad.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Halfway Through WFR!

Holy cow- class is halfway over!  Finished up WFR day four yesterday with our first big simulation.  A scenario similar to ours was filmed in Northern Michigan if you want to get an idea of what we got to do.  (Ours involved significantly less snow, though.)  As story has it, a wind storm arose unexpectedly, toppling some trees and injuring six people.  I played secondary responder to a patient who was trapped under a fallen tree; we backboarded the patient for a spinal column injury and began preparing for a hasty evacuation as he started showing signs of volume shock.  Our patient was in the middle of the pack, injury-wise.  The injuries ranged from a pretty simple asthma attack and stable wrist injury to a combination spinal cord injury and open leg fracture.  When all of the patients were cleared by the magical WFR Wand (which Daz waves upon correct diagnosis and course of action by the primary rescuer), we ended the scenario by litter-carrying one of the patients safely back to the classroom.

In one of those moments where you're forced to put together a bunch of things that you know in the back of your mind but never experienced all at once, wilderness medicine is a fairly messy process!  For instance, there are a lot more sticks, twigs, and rocks to deal with when backboarding a patient beneath a fallen tree than there are on the lawn or in the classroom.  That's part of the reason these simulations are so great.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

WFR Day 3

So far this week, I've fallen off a horse named Thunderbolt, gone into respiratory distress from a mountain bike ride after catching a chest cold on a long plane flight, suffered from a kinked airway, and been found unconscious beneath a bench on campus.  I've given CPR to a patient who was (unfortunately) recently deceased, helped an asthma patient, and assisted a wildland firefighter after heat exhaustion.  I've learned how to backboard a patient, splint a limb, and clear a spine.  I've assessed case studies of a climbing fall, a fall down a long snow slope, asthma while portaging, and burns from a cooking stove.  And yesterday was only Day 3.

Today is our first quiz and our first major simulation.  That's when the real makeup and fake blood come out, although they're not giving us any information about what the simulation will entail. 

My classmates are a motley crew of folks- we have a 17 year old high school kid and a 55 year old gentleman.  We have three women and fifteen men; a couple ex-military, several college students, and a Red Cross instructor.  Since we're spending ten hours a day together, we're getting to know each other in that deep-but-still-superficial way; I don't know their favorite colors or the names of their family members, but I can tell you how most of my classmates respond to stressful situations.  Who leads, who follows, and who doesn't know yet which they're better at.  It's been really interesting watching everyone (even myself) change over the past two days.  Most of us have gone from staring in wide-eyed wonder at the first fifteen acronyms they threw at us to using those acronyms with ease and staring in wide-eyed wonder at the next fifteen they threw at us.  We're all becoming more comfortable with both the lingo and the concepts; I'll be interested to see us next Saturday afternoon.  Will we be competent?  Ready?  We'll see.

Monday, March 7, 2011

WFR Day 2

Yesterday started off with a guest CPR instructor.  British gentleman; you may have seen his work before.

Day 2 of WFR was just as intense as Day 1, and I expect the trend to continue.  The biggest distinction between WFR and a basic First Aid class is that WFR is training us to keep our heads and respond to unknown situations.  Both days so far have included short simulations with unknown patients having unknown ailments.  So far, we've simulated respiratory distress, trauma, shock due to dehydration, and even death.  (Not only is this a responder class, it's also turning out to be an acting class- makeup and everything.)  It's pretty neat how adding the element of the unknown really gets your adrenaline flowing, even without the addition of real blood, real patients, and real problems.  It's pretty easy to see how that could have an exponential effect that complicates a real situation.  (We'll get to start experiencing that tomorrow with our first big simulation.)

Today is the nervous system and musculoskeletal system, as well as how to get people out of the woods (splinting, moving, backboards, etc).  I'm still hopeful that we'll have so much information in us by the end of class that I'll stop seeing everybody as a potential walking disaster.  *grin*

Sunday, March 6, 2011

WFR This Week

The Wilderness First Responder class started yesterday. Our syllabus is packed full; I have to learn how to deal with homework again, if only for a week!  I'm glad I started reading the text when I did, because we have at least a few chapters to read each night, in addition to work from a couple of other books that we received today.

Our instructors, Daz and Jeff, are great- very knowledgeable, engaging, and fun.  We've already had a chance to start discussing some of our Camp-specific needs and concerns with them, and hopefully by the end of the week, we'll have a good idea of what we'll need (and what we won't) to be able to respond to emergencies in our neck of the woods. 

The class will be partly in the classroom but mostly outside for a lot of in-depth, hands-on drills.  Yesterday covered scene size-up and initial assessment, along with respiratory and cardiac emergencies, and the entire week will focus on differentiating between emergencies we can handle ourselves and emergencies that require, and I quote, "bright lights, cold steel, and machines that go 'ping.'"  I've got to tell you: after Day 1, I'm worried that I'm going to see potential emergencies everywhere!  I'm sure that fear will settle down by the end of the class.

Although the rain held off yesterday, we're not so lucky today.  We woke up to the pitter-patter of big heavy raindrops this morning, and the forecast says it's supposed to stick around all day.  I'll keep you posted on how the week goes.  In the meantime, here's another fun tidbit.  WD-40 can apparently be applied to the skin to aid in the removal/cleaning of certain toxins.  Who knew?  Between that and duct tape, I have half a medical kit in the trunk of my car!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Our Photo Contest Winner!

It's the moment everyone has been waiting for!  (At least, it's the moment that five people have been waiting for...)

The winner of Red River's 125th-anniversary photo contest is Dick Barclay with his photo of a Misty Morning on Island Pond.  This photo garnered votes from half of our Panel of Expert Judges.  Congratulations, Dick!

The winning photographer, as you all know, receives a weekend for two at Red River.  The voting was so close, though, even among the judges at the end, that the remaining four finalists will also be awarded gift certificates. 

A $50 gift certificate will be awarded to Bill Stanton for his photo On the Way Back from North Little Black, which garnered the second highest number of votes (and "toss up" votes from two of our judges who ultimately voted for the misty morning):

$25 gift certificates will be awarded to our remaining three finalists.  First is Jim Hudon for his painting Back from Island Cabin:

Next is Lis Henry, for her Boathouse in the Mirror photo:

And last (but not least; I'm just going in order of the original entry numbers!) is Dave Elliott for the trout that was too good to pass up:

Again, my wholehearted thanks to everyone who entered and everyone who voted.  I hope you guys had fun with it- if you did, drop me a comment and let me know.  I'd like to make this an annual tradition, so keep that in mind this summer, and keep your cameras handy!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Camp Needs One of These.

I think this chandelier, made by a UK design team called Scarbetti, would be perfect in the lodge.  Don't you agree?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Yard Sale.

More fun with the Wilderness First Responder textbook.  The authors start off the Trauma section by describing your basic skiing accident:

"Slow deceleration can dissipate a lot of energy.  The high-speed skier who falls on a steep, open slope can dissipate his kinetic energy while sliding several hundred meters to a stop.  Ski patrollers call this a yard sale because ski equipment and clothing tend to dissipate as well."

Unfortunately, I think our skiing days are over for the winter down here in the good ol' Commonwealth of Virginia, but they'll be alive and well for a while longer in Maine.  Fear not, though- fishing season will be here before we know it!

(As a side note, there are two types of skiers.  Those who have had a yard sale at some point, and liars.) 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Votes Are Tallied!

As I've said before, thank you so much to everyone who entered a photo in our 125th-anniversary photo contest and to everyone who voted and truly made it a contest!  The five photos with the most votes are as follows:

Entry 1- On the Way Back from North Little Black

Entry 2- Back from the Island

Entry 5- A Misty Morning on Island Pond

Entry 10- Boathouse in the Mirror

Entry 19- Too Good to Pass Up

These five will now be judged by our Panel of Experts, and I'll announce the winner on Saturday.  (Since Saturday is the first day of my WFR course, however, please forgive me if the announcement comes at the end of the day.  I signed up for the course quite a while after I wrote the rules for the contest, and I didn't realize they overlapped.)  As I said, I'm not giving myself a vote since I know who sent me each photo; my vote will be cast for the photo that received the most votes from you guys.

Best of luck to our five finalists!