Amy Racina To Speak – Ultralight Pack to be Raffled

I received the following message this morning from Amy Racina.

Remember her: A 60-foot fall onto granite. Both legs shattered. Off-trail. Utterly alone in deep wilderness. Backpacker Amy Racina’s compelling new memoir “Angels in the Wilderness” chronicles her terrifying true-life ordeal.

(Another good reason to consider carrying a Personal Locator Beacon)

Dear friends of “Angels in the Wilderness”

I’ll be touring the Pacific Northwest for the next couple of weeks. If you have friends or family in Seattle or Portland who might like to hear
my survival story, please let them know. All of these events are free!

We will also be raffling off a Gossamer Gear® “Mariposa Plus” Backpack – a Terrific Ultralight backpack, weighing just 1 lb. 4.5 oz. with all the features. And of course an author-signed copy of Angels in the Wilderness – a $155.00 value! The drawing is on March 31, at the Yosemite Association Annual Meeting in Yosemite Valley. (Winner will be notified by phone or e-mail and need not be present to win.)


REI Hillsboro
7 PM
2235 NW Allie Avenue • Hillsboro, OR 97124
(503) 617-6072

KATU TV – AM Northwest
9 AM

REI Portland
7 PM
1405 NW Johnson St • Portland, OR 97209
(503) 221-1938

MARCH 2007

REI Southcenter/Tukwila
7 PM
240 Andover Park W. • Tukwila, WA 98188
(206) 248-1938

REI Seattle
7 PM
222 Yale Ave N • Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 223-1944

3 PM
Northwest Afternoon

REI Redmond
7 PM
7500 166th Ave NE • Redmond, WA 98052
(425) 882-1158

Many thanks for all of your messages and support.


Personal Locator Beacon (PBL) Saves Climbers

In my last post I discusssed how a Personal Locator Beacon could be a life saver — if you are out by yourself or with a group and someone gets seriously injured, trapped by poor weather or gets lost in the wilderness.

The three climbers rescued from Mt. Hood on President’s Day credited their beacon with saving their lives.

Here’s the a bit of the Associated Press story this morning:

GOVERNMENT CAMP, Oregon (AP) — Thanks to a high-tech gadget and a warm dog, three climbers who were rescued from Mount Hood are expected to be fine.

They were found at about the 7,400-foot level on Monday and hiked down the mountain with their rescuers.

“I’m really glad they were there for us,” Matty Bryant, one of the three climbers, said of the rescue teams. “They did an incredible job. They were amazing.” (Watch the dog and rescued climbers after coming down the mountain )

Searchers credited the group’s rescue to two things — Velvet, a black Labrador mix dog who provided warmth as the three climbers huddled under sleeping bags and a tarp, and the activation of an emergency radio beacon the size of a sunglasses case that guided them to the group.

“The most important part of this rescue is that they did everything right,” said Lt. Nick Watt of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

The ACR – Aquafix Personal Locator Beacon with Internal GPS may be the best friend a lightweight backpacker ever had.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

Emergency Essentials – Personal Locator Beacons (PLB)

In my previous post on Emergency Essentials for the lightweight backpacker, I recommended the ACR 3995.3 FIREFLY 3 STROBE.

While the flashing strobe can easily be seen by would be rescuers — especially those searching by air — the ACR – Aquafix Personal Locator Beacon with Internal GPS may be the best friend a lightweight backpacker ever had. Especially, if you insist on traveling in the wilderness alone. The ACR was cheapest among those I looked at with some running close to $700.

If you don’t think this is a valuable wilderness tool, consider this commentary by Doug Ritter of on the death of of Rocky Mountain National Park Ranger, Jeff Christensen:

“As is common these days, he was on a solo patrol in the remote and rugged area of a national park, doing what rangers have always done, taking care of us and our natural heritage. When he didn’t return as expected, a full press search and rescue operation was begun. His body was found seven days later, with initial reports indicating that he died from injuries sustained in a fall. He would have been located and perhaps saved if he had a PLB Read more

If that doesn’t convince you, read Angels in the Wilderness: The True Story of One Woman’s Survival Against All Odds and her near brush with death while out hiking alone.

The way the beacon works: you turn it on and your signal is relayed by satellite to a computer center where your device and name are registered. When you trigger it, you’ll be calling for help and help will be able to find your exact location. But you need to register with NOAA to make it work.

In a move aimed at making it much easier for 406 MHz distress beacon owners to register and update the registration of their beacons, NOAA’s Search And Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) Program’s online 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database became operational on August 22, 2003. Here’s the link to NOAA’s PBL registration page.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

Planning The Great Escape – We’re Already There

One recent day after work, I drive with my backpacking pal Wild Bill to a favorite hiking spot — 10 minutes from our neighborhood. We parked his car by a horse hitching post and headed down the river trail in Russian Gulch State Park in Northern California.

A mile and 15 minutes down the trail we reached Russian Gulch Waterfall, gushing rainwater from recent storms.

We stood there silently looking at this 50-foot high beauty surrounded by misty redwoods.

waterfall and leaves_1

I broke the silence and told Bill that with snow levels at half their normal level, we ought to be able to get into California mountain wilderness areas as early as June.

Says Bill, “You realize we live 10 minutes from this waterfall and redwood forest and we’re talking about getting away?”

I looked around and marveled at my surroundings. Twenty minutes later we sat at his house, perched above the ocean, watching the sunset and talking about our summer trips. Of course, we did, spring will be here soon and the wilderness is calling to us and it’s not too soon to plan.

Be safe. Be light. Be one with the pack.

Backpacking Essentials – Emergency Light

Solo backpacking is against conventional wisdom, but don’t tell that to the purists who love to get ultralight, go fast and go far.

The reason you aren’t supposed to backpack, hike or otherwise be in the wilderness alone is because it is wilderness and if you get sick or hurt, there’s no one to help or go for help.

Makes sense. Amy Racina of “Angels in the Wilderness” and Aron Ralston of “A Rock and a Hard Place” ignored conventional wisdom and nearly died. Of course, they lived to tell about it and make a bundle of money to boot. But you may not be so lucky.

Yes, life is full of risks and many people feel the solitude of solo wilderness travel is worth the risk.

If that’s you or you’re a newby or oldie thinking about going alone, you might also consider carrying a rescue light.

At a meeting of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary I recently attended, we saw a search and rescue equipment demonstration that included the ACR 3995.3 FIREFLY 3 STROBE emergency light and strobe – all 3.8 ounces of it. It’s meant for use when you fall into the sea or are cast adrift in a life raft because it sends out a bright strobe light visible for two miles and will blink 60-75 times a minute for up to 12 hours on two AA batteries.

If you want to go alone, be smart: tell people where you are going and when you will return. Leave a note on your car dash, telling people your whereabouts. And carry emergency gear.

Be light. Be one with the pack. But also, be Safe.

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Lightweight Soap – New Wrinkle on Backcountry Hygiene

My wife, Gerry, always keeps an eye out for new ultralight and lightweight backpacking gear and accessories.

Her latest find: Paper Soap For Clean Up On The Go, a .5 ounce container with 50 sheets of soap. There is also paper shampoo.

You pull out a sheet, add a tiny bit of water and you’ve got soap or shampoo.

Of course, you can get a tiny plastic bottle and add a small amount of liquid soap. But paper soap is a lot less messy.

Be light. Be safe. Be clean. Be one with the pack.