Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Game Camera Reveals The Wilderness Life Cycle

Dale Matson

Some of the most interesting time at our cabin that has no phone or television is furnished by reviewing photographs taken by our game cameras of the animals that move around our property day and night. The game cameras also have revealed the life cycles of our local deer population over the last four years. We had one photograph with five deer in the front yard area.

I often go up to the cabin to write and sometimes look out the window to see deer looking back in at me. There is a pastoral peacefulness in this wilderness setting that is actually teeming with wildlife. In a longitudinal sense, there is a drama unfolding that is more evident because of the game cameras.We had a doe that became familiar to us and seemed to have two fawns every spring. Over the past four years, there has been a general increase in the deer population grazing around and below our cabin.

Last fall, our game camera captured a mountain lion in the front yard of our cabin. This was actual evidence beyond the occasional footprints in the snow that I had seen in years past. We had mixed emotions since we often work on the property by ourselves and have grandchildren who visit us there also. At the same time however, we loved the fact that such a magnificent animal would pass by from time to time. We began to see less deer on the game camera. This was an ominous sign.

We saw the doe in early June and she still looked robust. Here is a photograph taken on June 7th.
Click On Photographs For A Larger View

The Young Buck Is One Of Her Offspring

In early September I noticed a drastic change in her appearance. She was with one of her yearlings and there was such a contrast between the two. The ribs on the mother were pronounced and her hindquarters looked withered. I could not tell if this was due to age or disease but she looked frail.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before nature took its course and she met her fate with the mountain lion. I checked the game camera memory card last Saturday and was amazed to see the doe being dragged into the woods by the neck by the mountain lion. Once again, I have mixed emotions because of the reality of the loss of this doe. The lion probably did her a favor in ending a life in obvious and inevitable decline.

September 28th

Yet this is a part of the ongoing cycles in nature. On the surface nature is beautiful and pastoral yet underneath and mostly out of sight, there is an unforgiving aspect where an animal weakened by age or disease is quickly and savagely dispatched in a few moments. The camera caught the mountain lion again the evening of the following day.

Sometimes the game cameras tell a story that we don't want to see.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Surgical Intervention

Dale Matson

There are numerous types of interventions for physical problems including but not limited to chemicals, lifestyle changes (including diet and exercise), reduced stress, acupuncture, radiation, meditation and prayer and blood infusion.

There are some physical problems however that require surgery. This may be a repair of tendons, ligaments or bones. Now joint replacement is becoming more common. Sometimes it is the removal of a tumor or even organs like tonsils or an appendix.

Surgery is something I have tended to put off as long as possible. I am eventually driven to surgical intervention by increasing pain. I had a bad experience with general anesthesia when I was 11 years old. I needed a tonsillectomy because of chronic tonsillitis and frequent sore throats. The surgeon used ether and I can say that it was a terrible experience with the medical staff holding me down on the operating table. In those days they didn't have a name for my experience but it would be called posttraumatic stress disorder today. From that time on, I refused any surgery that would require general anesthesia.

I developed a couple of hernias after age 50 and pretty much ignored them for years since I didn’t experience pain. I used a truss when I lifted weights. One day I was removing a stubborn bicycle tire from a rim to repair a flat and felt a pain in my right lower groin. This one really hurt and required a truss for everyday-all day use. Hernias do not repair themselves. After consulting with a surgeon who assured me he could repair the hernia without putting me to sleep, I had it repaired. After a few days of pain from the surgery, I noticed there was no more pain from the hernia. It was repaired.

Like most men my age, I have an enlarged prostate (BPH). Since the prostate surrounds the urethra, as it enlarges it constricts the urethra and the bladder compensates by pushing harder. The result is difficulty when starting to urinate and incomplete emptying of the bladder. This means more frequent trips to the bathroom and getting up frequently at night. This problem really diminishes the quality of life of an older man. pills to help relax the bladder helped at first but eventually the body adapts and I found myself getting up 6 and 7 times a night. This is no longer sleeping. It is serial napping that was diminishing my health. While there are several options, I had what is called the “gold standard” the T.U.R.P. I was too far-gone for the less invasive microwave procedure. My process is also nicknamed the ‘roto-rooter’. It took months to recover a good urine stream and I had prolonged bleeding but I would go through it all again. I probably do better now than when I was 50 years old.

My most recent surgery was for carpal tunnel syndrome. I was a heavy equipment operator for 17 years and it caused the compartment that my median nerve runs through to compress the nerve. I have had pain and numbness in my thumb and first two fingers plus problems in the palm of my hand for many years. It has been really difficult riding my bike and working on the computer. My most recent nerve conduction study indicated that things were deteriorating even more. After the procedure, I had pain from my surgery but no more numbness in my hand.

There are simply some things that can only be addressed by surgery. If you are putting it off, please don't be like me and wait beyond the optimal time for surgical intervention. In many cases things will only get worse and you may not regain all of the function even after the surgery. I hope things work out for you.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Some Of My Favorite Kings Canyon Photographs

Dale Matson

As the years go by, I reflect more and more on the wonderful times I have spent in Kings Canyon National Park. It contains the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and much of the John Muir Trail. Because access is limited, it is virtually an unspoiled area with rivers and lakes galore. The backcountry rangers are a special resource and I have had an opportunity to chat with most. Many have been with the Park Service for over 20 years. I have found my fellow pilgrims to be good environmental stewards that leave few traces other than footprints. Some of you folks who see this may have crossed paths with me on the trail and shared brief conversations. I thought at the end of this hiking/backpacking season, it would be fitting to show some of my favorite photographs taken in Kings Canyon. I already miss the wilderness and now await the first snow for backcountry skiing in the Sierra National Forest nearby. Many of the photographs were taken this summer. I hope you enjoy them.
Click On Photographs To Enlarge
 Campsite Off 60 Lake Basin Trail
 Fin Dome Rae Lakes
 Lake On 60 Lake Basin Trail
 Palisades Viewed From Dusy Basin
 Bear On Bubbs Creek Trail Switchbacks
 Dragon Lake Above Rae Lakes
 Dusy Basin

 John Muir Trail With Junction Peak In Center
 Golden Bear Lake Center Basin
 Bullfrog Lake
 Kearsarge Lakes And Pinnacles From Kearsarge Pass
 Trail Across Bubbs Creek
 Bubbs Creek
 East Creek
 East Lake
 Reflection Lake

 Glen Pass Looking North
 John Muir Trail McClure Meadow
Rae Lakes Painted Lady

Marjorie Lake
JMT Golden Staircase
East Lake In The Morning

Saturday, October 11, 2014

SAR Hasty Deployment Hike 10-11-14

Dale Matson
Click Photographs To Enlarge
Route From My Suunto Ambit As A Screenshot

This is the second time this year the civilian Mountaineering Unit of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team had its session of hasty deployment training. Once a year, each civilian team member is required to hike an eight-mile loop trail in the San Joaquin River Gorge area as a part of mission readiness. Each participant has a backpack with a minimum weight of 25 pounds and must cover the 8-mile loop trail in less than 3 hours. There are rattlesnakes this time of year too and loose free-range cattle to avoid. Yes, the San Joaquin River is still flowing through the gorge and under the bridge.

Russ With Briefing Before Hike

This time for me was the test of a 70-year-old man and I recorded a 2:27 for the course. At least I finished ahead of the trail sweep. This is four minutes slower than the last time. This was a relatively fast group combination of veterans and new candidates. Kyle crushed the course in about 1:23 with no one else even breaking 2 hours.

There was also a larger group that had gathered for high angle rescue training and I passed by them inbound above the gorge near the bridge. They yelled encouragement. The sweep kept asking me if I was OK. My ‘normal’ gait looks like an injury to younger folks.

Bridge Over San Joaquin River

The trailhead begins at about 1,000’ and drops down to where it crosses the San Joaquin at an elevation of 600’. This is the low point in the trail as you cross the footbridge. From there the trail rises to about 1,800’ at about the midpoint of the loop with a great view and then begins descending toward the river again. As you cross the bridge, you are facing the 400’ climb on legs that are no longer fresh. This time the temperature was about 80 degrees at the finish.

It is good to see how far this team has come and I am proud to still be a part of it even though I am not involved in high angle rescue or swift water rescue. Some day I will probably assist with transportation when I can no longer hike off trail.

 San Joaquin River Below

Powerhouse Area