Search Continues for Missing Minnesota Hikers in Colorado

The search for the two missing father and son hikers from Minnesota has a been a big story here in Colorado.  Yesterday the weather greatly improved which will hopefully help the search:

This is a picture I took of Echo Lake from my drive up the Mt. Evans Highway that shows the type of terrain surrounding the lake.

Rescuers were back in the Echo Lake area Tuesday  for third day in the search for two missing hikers from Minnesota.

The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office and Alpine Rescue Team battled winds of more than 25 mph, on-and-off snow squalls and below-zero wind chill conditions at an elevation starting at 10,600 feet Monday in the search for Damian McManus, 51, and his son, Evan McManus, 18.

The weather improved Tuesday.

Additionally, the Salvation Army deployed personnel to help in the search. Besides supporting searchers with food and water, the Salvation Army also has an emotional care team on standby at the request of Clear Creek County.

“Our primary goal is to provide for the needs of search and rescue team members so that they may continue their work until this family is found,” divisional leader Lt. Col. Dan Starrett said.  [KDVR]

You can read more at the link, but my guess would be that the two were trying to hike up Mt. Evans or an adjacent thirteen-thousand foot peak in the area since Echo Lake is the winter trailhead for such hikes. The below pictures shows the valley where the Chicago Lakes are located with adjacent 13ers on either side that shows what the terrain leading up to Mt. Evans from Echo Lake is like:

There are definitely some avalanche threatening areas on Mt. Evans, but hopefully these two just got lost and the search teams can find them.  It is a large area that has received a lot of snow this year so the search teams definitely have a difficult job ahead of them.  Hopefully this turns out with a happy ending.

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Colorado Springs Residents Complain About US Army Helicopter Noise

Here is a classic not in my backyard issue that is making headlines in Colorado Springs:

Within six months, Fort Carson hopes to have its new Combat Aviation Brigade on base and in full swing, with about 117 helicopters executing landings and takeoffs in the Pike and San Isabel national forests. But while the community has largely embraced the new unit’s arrival, a few wonder if allowing approximately 350 pilots to fly hundreds of missions in tinder-dry forests is a good idea.

The U.S. Forest Service says no wildland fires have been ignited by sparks from a helicopter crash. But tell that to Lance Williams, who lives just south of Manitou Springs in Crystal Park, a hamlet at 9,000 feet. Williams considers the “more or less constant” whop-whop-whop of helicopters overhead a warning of impending catastrophe.

“The fire threat makes training in this area very questionable,” he says. Conditions have changed dramatically in the 36 years since the Army obtained its permit to land helicopters amid the forests: The population has nearly tripled, more homes lie close to the forests, and the forests themselves have been desiccated by drought.

In addition to the fire threat, the Forest Service also is worried about the impact of expanded helicopter training on wildlife and other forest users, and has taken steps to discourage Fort Carson from relying too heavily on the forests.  [Colorado Springs Independent]

I recommend reading the whole article because I thought the Colorado Springs Independent did a good job reporting on this issue.  The Army needs places to conduct these high altitude helicopter flights and Ft. Carson makes the most sense because it is located adjacent to high altitude terrain.


A picture I took of a helicopter landing in Frosty Park after my hike up Almagre Mountain.

Additionally I also find the concerns about fire and noise to have little merit when walking through Frosty Park which is one of the helicopter landing sites feels like a war zone when there are not even helicopters flying there.  On weekends it is common to hear people shooting guns everywhere along side the road and even setting off explosives. Where are the complaints about this activity and why isn’t the Forest Service trying to stop it?  The facts are that the next fire just like the last two major fires we had here in the Springs will probably be human caused.  Should humans be banned from the forests then?

Finally I find it interesting when no one was complaining about helicopter noise when these helicopters were being used to fight forest fires as well as rescue people from the floods last year.

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Update On Rock Slide that Closed US Highway 550 In Colorado

US Highway 550 which is known as the Million Dollar Highway is arguably the most beautiful drive in the entire state.  You can read about my drive across the Million Dollar Highway at the below link:

Currently this highway has been closed for two weeks at Red Mountain Pass between Silverton and Ouray because of a massive rock slide.  This below picture from the Colorado Department of Transportation via Denver’s Westword Blog shows the extent of the rock slide:

I think this picture also shows just how spectacular the Million Dollar Highway is as it cuts through the mighty San Juan Mountains.  Right now though these mountains are showing how mighty they are with this major highway in the area being closed.  I also have to give a shout out of appreciation to the CDOT workers repairing the road because it looks like a dangerous and difficult job to try and put netting over the rocks above the road to prevent future slides.  Hopefully they can safely get Highway 550 open again in the near future.

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19 Firefighters Killed By Wildfire Outside of Prescott, Arizona

Having lived in Prescott for many years and having just visited again a couple of months ago this tragedy is quite shocking for a small town like Prescott:

An elite crew of firefighters trained to battle the nation’s fiercest wildfires was overtaken by an out-of-control blaze in Arizona, killing 19 members as they tried to protect themselves from the flames under fire-resistant shields.

It was the most firefighters killed battling a wildfire in the U.S. in decades.

The lightning-sparked fire, which spread to at least 2,000 acres amid triple-digit temperatures, also destroyed 200 homes and sent hundreds fleeing from Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix. Residents huddled in shelters and bars, watching their homes burn on TV as flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town.

The disaster Sunday afternoon all but wiped out the 20-member Hotshot fire crew based in nearby Prescott, leaving the city’s fire department reeling.

“We grieve for the family. We grieve for the department. We grieve for the city,” Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said at a news conference Sunday evening. “We’re devastated. We just lost 19 of the finest people you’ll ever meet.”  [Associated Press]

 

When I was visiting Prescott a couple of months ago I actually hiked the trail to the top of Granite Mountain which is where one fire already began this summer  It was really dry and I remember thinking to myself how this place would really burn if a fire started.  Unfortunately a couple of months later one of these fires did start and it led to the tragic deaths of 19 firefighters in the community.  This shows what dangerous work fighting fires is and we should all be thankful for the great work firefighters do.

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On Walkabout At: The Western Museum of Mining & Industry

Basic Information

  • Name: Western Museum of Mining & Industry
  • Where: Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Cost: $8 adult, less for seniors and children
  • Hours: 9am – 4pm, Mon – Sat
  • More Info: WMMI website

Narrative

With as rich a history as Colorado Springs has and the amount of tourists that visit the city; this has caused Springs to become home to numerous museums.  I have slowly been taking the time to go and check them out.  The latest one I have stopped by and visited was the Western Museum of Mining and Industry located north of town near the US Air Force Academy:


View Larger Map

The entrance to the museum can be a little tricky to find but the best way to spot the entrance from North Gate Boulevard is to look for this old farmhouse:

If you see this farmhouse then you have found the entrance to the museum.  Just drive around to the back of the farmhouse and the museum is easily visible:

read more

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Plastic Water Bottles To Be Banned From Grand Canyon National Park

Here is something that in the near future will likely happen at all US National Parks:

Disposable plastic water bottles in shops, vending machines, hotels and grocery stores at Grand Canyon National Park will disappear early next year under a plan by park officials to ban the sale of them.

But first they’ll have to demonstrate they’ve met guidelines issued late Wednesday by the National Park Service that require a review of water availability, visitor health and safety, cost and benefits, and get the approval of the regional director. Grand Canyon spokeswoman Shannan Marcak said Thursday that the park believes it already is positioned to comply with the guidelines.

“We need to fully review it, and it takes a little time to figure out if we have all those things covered,” she said.

Park Service director Jon Jarvis nixed a bottle ban at Grand Canyon late last year just weeks before it was to be implemented and said the agency would develop a national policy. Former Grand Canyon Superintendent Steve Martin raised suspicions that the action was due to influence from the Coca-Cola Co. — a major water bottle distributor — but the Park Service and Coca-Cola denied that.  [Associated Press]

I can understand the reasoning for the ban considering the amount of water bottles I have seen left as litter at various National Parks.  When I hike I use a Camelbak and one reusable water bottle depending on the length of the hike and the need for additional water.  This is probably something that is going to annoy the public at first, but I think over time they will get used to it.

 

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Cherokee Nation Votes Out Black Members, Is It Justified?

I write a lot about Native-Americans here On-Walkabout so this recent news about citizenship requirements of the Cherokee Nation I found quite interesting:

The nation’s second-largest Indian tribe formally booted from membership thousands of descendants of black slaves who were brought to Oklahoma more than 170 years ago by Native American owners.

The Cherokee nation voted after the Civil War to admit the slave descendants to the tribe.

But on Monday, the Cherokee nation Supreme Court ruled that a 2007 tribal decision to kick the so-called “Freedmen” out of the tribe was proper.

The controversy stems from a footnote in the brutal history of U.S. treatment of Native Americans. When many Indians were forced to move to what later became Oklahoma from the eastern U.S. in 1838, some who had owned plantations in the South brought along their slaves.

Some 4,000 Indians died during the forced march, which became known as the “Trail of Tears.”

“And our ancestors carried the baggage,” said Marilyn Vann, the Freedman leader who is a plaintiff in the legal battle.

Officially, there are about 2,800 Freedmen, but another 3,500 have tribal membership applications pending, and there could be as many as 25,000 eligible to enter the tribe, according to Vann.  [Reuters]

I hadn’t realized that the Cherokee had a large slave population until I watched the excellent PBS documentary “We Shall Remain” that showed how the Cherokee plantation owners had grown wealthy with the use of slaves.  Wikipedia has a good posting that chronicles the Freedmen citizenship issue that is not nothing new and has been going on for decades.  It seems the heart of this matter appears to be a combination of Cherokee saying that blood matters in regards to determining who is Cherokee as well as the number of Freedmen joining the tribe just to access services provided by the Cherokee such as free health care.

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Archive of Hikes In the United States

I have had the opportunity to have spent many years living in the American West which has given me an opportunity to hike many of the trails in this area of the country. I have also spent plenty of time in one of my favorite areas of the world, Hawaii which I have the opportunity to explore on foot as well.  I have written a posting for every place I have hiked to, but below is an archive of the various hikes I have taken in the United States that I have had the time to write about:

California

Colorado

Hawaii

New Mexico

Texas

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Historic Billy the Kid Photograph Is Sold For $2.3 Million

This is a pretty amazing amount to pay even for a photograph as historic as this:

A 130-year-old photo, billed as the only authenticated picture of legendary outlaw Billy the Kid, sold for $2.3 million at a Denver auction Saturday night.

The Old West Show & Auction had estimated the tintype — an early photographic technique that used metal plates — to bring in between $300,000 and $400,000.

“When the bidding ended, the whole room erupted in clapping and people leapt to their feet,” said Melissa McCracken, spokeswoman for the auction. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before,”

The winning bidder was billionaire William Koch.  [CNN]

Mr. Koch must be a huge fan of Old West history to pay such an amount for this photo.  Then again he is a billionaire so maybe he doesn’t have much else to do with his money?

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El Paso Hits 100 Day Mark Without Rain

It’s official El Paso has now gone 100 straight days without rain:

It’s been 100 days and counting without any precipitation in the Borderland. The all time record is 109 days.”It would be nice to get some moisture,” said Cassandra Rodriguez, a west El Paso resident.Some are concerned about animals coming down from the mountain in search of water.”It’s very dry. I think that’s why the mountain lion came down,” said Anita Hernandez.A mountain lion was recently spotted in El Paso, as well as a bobcat.”I mean, they are obviously looking for water, and we can’t provide it; that sucks,” Rodriguez told KFOX 14.KFOX 14 contacted El Paso Water Utilities to see if the dry spell will impact the water supply in the city.Christina Montoya, a spokeswoman, said the water supply in El Paso is good despite the drought. She said if the drought persisted into next summer, then there would be more concern.Montoya said water conservation, recycling water, and a fairly new desalination system are all helping to keep El Paso’s water supply sufficient.  [KFOX TV]

You can read more at the link.

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