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Man Severely Burned in Hot Spring

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  Courtesy National Park Service.
June 14, 2017

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – A 21-year-old man, Gervais Dylan Gatete from Raleigh, North Carolina, sustained severe burns after falling into a hot spring late on Tuesday, June 13. The incident occurred in the Lower Geyser Basin off of Fountain Flat Drive just north of the Old Faithful area. Gatete, currently an employee with Xanterra Parks and Resorts, was with seven other people when he fell.

After the incident, the group attempted to evacuate Gatete by car. Just before midnight, they flagged down a ranger near Seven Mile Bridge on the West Entrance Road. Park staff provided immediate medical assistance and transported the patient via ambulance to the airport in West Yellowstone. From there, he was flown to a hospital.

Since rangers were not at the scene of the incident last night, it is not yet clear exactly where and how it occurred. Investigations continue today and additional information will be provided when it is available.

The ground in hydrothermal areas is fragile and thin, and there is scalding water just below the surface.

This is the first serious injury in a thermal area this year. Last June, a man left the boardwalk and died after slipping into a hot spring in Norris Geyser Basin. In August 2000, one person died and two people received severe burns from falling into a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin.

Trip shot: Parting shot

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Superstition Mountains loom over Apache Junction, Arizona. (c)2017 J.S.Reinitz

Trip shot: Dutchman’s Lost Mine

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Superstition range

Just to set the record straight, there is no chance of finding the legendary Lost Dutchman’s Mine within Lost Dutchman’s Sate Park.

Zero.

And that’s a good thing, considering the doom that befell those who found or searched for the fabled treasure trove in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix.

The area had been explored by the Spanish against the wishes of the Apache who held the mountains sacred, mined for silver and gold by a Mexican cattle baron and his descendants until around 1847 when they hid the mine fearing an Apache attack and annexation by the United States at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War, only to be discovered later by Jacob Walz (or Waltz), a German immigrant who was mistaken for a Dutchman (Deutsch man, Dutch man, what’s the difference) and who was known to roll into town every now and again laden with gold-rich ore in 1870s.

Walz’s home (we are using the short version of the surname to conserve valuable “t”s) was caught in a flood in 1891, and he died later that year following a lengthy illness, but not before giving clues to the mines location.

The hunt for the gold was back on, and the journey that followed is littered with headless skeletons, decapitations, disappearances, reappearances sans head, suspicious gunshot wounds, falling rocks, vague landmarks and cryptic carvings too numerous and tangled to recount here (see link below), suffice to say the evasive legend lives on.

Today, the historic miner with a misidentified country of origin is a state park on a swath of the Sonoran Desert in the shadow of the Superstition range. There is a campground, small welcome center and picnic areas. Most of the hiking trails are in the adjacent Tonto National (Cactus) Forest, as is the range itself, so mining is prohibited, as is removing anything from the federal land, down to the most insignificant pebble. If you find the mine, you can’t take any gold, but you get bragging rights and can apply for a junior park ranger patch.

As I handed the park employee the entrance fee, I asked about the estimated hiking time to Green Boulder, an outcropping with a 2,580-foot elevation (according to the map, which also instructs us not to shoot firearms near trails — so we can shoot if we are far from trails? — and to stay out of mine shafts — so maybe the mine is here somewhere?). He suggested a time and trail beyond what we had planned to spend.

We opted for a shorter walk and passed an oil painting class in a picnic area and made our way under towering saguaro cacti. My 14-year-old son learned about the jumping cholla cactus the only real way to fully understand and appreciate the jumping cholla cactus and why it is called jumping — by getting close enough to catch a pointy spine. Only one needle found him, and it only found the tip of his finger just after we warned him to keep his distance. Easily removed. This was lucky because the jumping cholla, also called the teddy bear cactus, is known to decimate small villages, according to this TV report.

After a little walking on our short trail, we decided our trail was too short. Green Boulder loomed not far off at the end of a path. It wasn’t the roundabout path the ranger had suggested, this was straight shot. My son and I decided to try it while the others chose to stay in the lowlands. It turned out to be longer than we thought, but we made good time. We enjoyed the view of the cities off on the horizon, caught our breath and rested our tired legs.

Sometimes treasure isn’t measured by dollar signs. The view was golden.

Resources …………..

For a blow-by-blow account of a modern hunt for the Lost Dutchman’s Mine with all the pitfalls and emotional peaks and valleys, check out this piece onDesertUSA

For a history of the mine and its victims try this article on Legends of America

The official Arizona state parks entry is here

Two Climbers Rescued from the Kahiltna Glacier

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Courtesy National Park Service

June 5, 2017

TALKEETNA, Alaska – Denali National Park and Preserve rangers responded to two concurrent mountaineering incidents starting in the early morning hours of Monday, June 5. In addition to a routine medical evacuation, mountaineering rangers and guides rescued a critically injured climber in a labor intensive, 14-hour crevasse rescue effort.

First, NPS Ranger Dan Corn and five mountaineering Volunteers-in-Parks (VIPs) were descending to the Kahiltna Basecamp around 11 p.m. on Sunday, June 4 when they encountered a sick solo climber at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill at 7,000 feet. VIP Medic Elizabeth Keane performed a physical assessment and determined that Michael Metzler, age 23 of Carnation, Washington, was suffering from an acute abdominal illness. The team provided pain medication and then assisted Metzler to the Kahiltna Basecamp.

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Ancient Site Discovered at Channel Islands National Park

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Photo courtesy National Park Service

courtesy National Park Service

June 3, 2017
The National Park Service (NPS) discovered a significant ancient Native American site while conducting archeological monitoring during a rehabilitation project of the historic Main Ranch House on Santa Rosa Island.

Archeologists discovered artifacts characteristic of ancient Paleocoastal sites that were occupied by the first islanders on the northern Channel Islands between 8,000 and 13,000 years ago.

Scientists now believe that ancient sites from this period may be evidence of a coastal migration following the North Pacific Rim from Northeast Asia into the Americas, part of the peopling of the new world.

The ancient site was discovered under the Main Ranch House, part of the historic Vail and Vicker Ranch at Bechers Bay, in the process of lifting the building to construct a new foundation.

“The northern Channel Islands have one of the largest and most significant clusters of early coastal sites in the Americas with more than 100 sites over 7,500 years old,” said Jon Erlandson, University of Oregon Archeologist and leading expert on Paleocoastal archaeology. “We suspect the site is at least 10,000 years old, with evidence of some of the earliest people on the West Coast, the first Americans.”

Among the artifacts uncovered were two types of stone tools that are distinctly representative of early North American Paleoindians —Channel Islands barbed points and crescents. Made from local island chert and used for hunting and fishing, they are signatures of a sophisticated technology of early tool making on the Channel Islands.

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Photo: Pigeon with Dramatic Lighting

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Pigeon with dramatic lighting. (c)2017 J.S.Reinitz

Sea cucumber indictments

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 May 26, 2017

SAN DIEGO – A Tucson firm and two executives were arraigned in federal court May 26, 2017, on charges related to the illegal trafficking of $17 million worth of sea cucumbers from 2010-2012, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Blessings, Inc. of Tucson, its owner David Mayorquin, and Ramon Torres Mayorquin of San Diego were charged in a 26-count indictment with conspiracy, illegal trafficking in wildlife, importation contrary to law, false labeling and criminal forfeiture.

According to the indictment, defendant David Mayorquin, on behalf of Blessings, contacted suppliers of sea cucumbers in Mexico and agreed to purchase approximately $13 million worth of sea cucumbers, knowing that it had been illegally harvested in excess of permit limits, or without a proper license or permit, or out of season.

It was a further alleged that defendant Ramon Mayorquin received the shipments of sea cucumbers from the Yucatan to Tijuana, Mexico, and created false invoices to be submitted to U.S. Customs officials, knowing that the sea cucumbers had been illegally harvested, sold and transported, and lacked the proper paperwork required under Mexican law.

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Trip Shot: The Jar

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Apache Junction Scorpion Preserve. (c)2017 J.S.Reinitz

 When my mother asked me to bring her the mason jar from the desk of her Arizona home, I knew what lurked inside.

We were in Arizona. It was her grandchildren’s first visit to the state.

It had to be a scorpion.

I passed the jar to my son — age 14 — and daughter — 10 — and my mother recounted how days earlier she noticed the cat toying with some small critter outside her home. She separated the two and noticed the scorpion didn’t have a head, she told us, so she assumed it was dead. She covered the vermin with a plastic yogurt cup and, aware the stinger may still be active after death, used a piece of cardboard to scoop it into the jar and screwed on the lid.

My son tilted the jar, studying the creature inside.

“Oma, his pincer just moved. I don’t think it’s dead,” he said.

Curious about the possibility the movement could have been some post- mortem nerve reflex– as seen in detached spider legs — he tipped the jar again, holding it up to the light. There was more movement, legs, the stinger. I doubted the involuntary twitching could continue days after its demise.

“You know,” I added, “I don’t think scorpions have a separate head. I think it’s just part of their thorax.”

 

(c)2017 J.S.Reinitz

 Having concluded that the creature in the jar was still alive, and probably very hungry by this point, the conversation turned to his fate. My son was all for finishing the cat’s work and killing the vermon. My wife felt the same.

But my daughter, the fourth-grade vegetarian, took the live-and-let-live stance.

Grandma started off on the harsher side of the capital punishment issue but acquiesced to my daughter’s leniency argument. However, she didn’t to want to return the poisonous critter to the yard where it could reek havoc with her cats let the neighbors. She didn’t want to release it near anyplace inhabited, and I doubted the local animal control authorities ran an impound for displaced scorpions — all waiting to be adopted to a good home.

So, I volunteered to return the critter to the wild. I drove past the edge of town, where the roads and street lights give way to scrub and cacti and mountains. There I found a place that made a great de-facto scorpion preserve.

I walked a ways down a trail, opened the jar and flung the scorpion at a bush.

Fly free, little critter.

Free to frolic with all the other poisonous creatures of the desert.

Trip Shots: Cliff Dwellings

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IMG_0808 It’s a short uphill hike to the lower cliff dwellings of the Tonto National Monument located just outside Theodore Roosevelt Lake in Arizona.

Built in the 14th Century, the site is one of the last cliff dwellings of the Salado people in the Southwest. Sheltered in large cave overhang, the lower dwellings contain about a dozen rooms made of quartzite rocks bonded with adobe laster and accented with sycamore wood and saguaro cactus ribs.

Tonto National Monument also has an upper cliff dwellings site that is available only through guided tours with a reservation.

More  on the dwellings and their former residents can be found here.

Wolf update: Reward offered for info

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IMG_0479-0MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – Park service officials are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in connection with the death of a wolf in Yellowstone National Park in April.

Last month, we told you about the injury and euthanization of a popular member of the member of the Canyon Pack.

Now the National Park Service said a study by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, has learned more about the injury.

According to the NPS:

Preliminary results from the necropsy of the Canyon Pack alpha female wolf showed that she suffered from a gunshot wound .. National Park Service law enforcement believes the wolf was shot on the north side of the park, near Gardiner, or near the Old Yellowstone Trail which is located in the park on the northern boundary. The incident likely occurred sometime between April 10 at 1 a.m. and April 11 at 2 p.m.

The wolf was one of three known white wolves in the park. She had at least 20 pups, 14 of which lived to be yearlings, according to the Park Service.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch (ISB), via the ISB Tip Line at 888-653-0009 or online at http://www.nps.gov/isb.

Trying not to enjoy the view along the Apache Trail

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Apache Trail. (c) 2017 J.S.Reinitz

From the Phoenix-Mesa area, there are two ways to reach the secluded cliff dwellings that are the Tonto National Monument. There is the counterclockwise route, cutting south of the Superstition Mountains on Highway 60, an easy going, paved road that passes through Miami, darts west just before the mining town of Globe on Highway 188 and reaches the caves in 78 miles. 

Safe and sound.

But getting a real feel for the land means taking the northern route on Highway 88, known as the Apache Trail. While the 40-mile trail is shorter, the going is slower, and you might as well a century away.

Just past the tourist stop of Torrilla Flat, the pavement gives way to parched dirt road that winds along the cliffs and gullies carved by the Salt River and its tributaries over eons. The sometimes single-lane path is known for narrowing at curves, creating a bottleneck between a cactus-infested cliff wall for traffic on one side and thereat of a tragic plunge for traffic on the other. Some recreational vehicle rental companies prohibit their customers from exploring this road in their behemoths.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some level, low-altitude straightaways with no danger of rolling down a rocky cliff. These portions are usually marked with flash flood warning signs.

The trail had been a Native American path and old stagecoach route that was shored up in the early 1900s to transport supplies to dam projects along the Salt, according to relatives, Wiki and local tourism websites.

We opted to take the Apache Trail on our return trip from the cliff ruins partly because I wanted to stop at Tortilla Flat, but mostly because I had forgotten how slow and arduous the journey is — especially on the return route. Driving to the Tonto National Monument on the Apache Trail you get the wall side of the road, driving back you get the plummet side.

Sure, the view was spectacular. At least that’s what my passengers told me. The sights shouldn’t be enjoyed by the person behind the steering wheel, at least not for very long.

We did meet an oncoming, full-size, pull-behind travel trailer dragged by a heavy duty pickup that had a gigantic stainless steel gas grill in the backbox. We pulled over, inching toward the ledge so he could have enough room to pass.

Helicopter rescue at Rocky

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Rocky Mountain National Park receives assistance from the Colorado High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Program to evacuate injured man from park. Courtesy Rocky Mountain National Park

 
Man Rescued From East Inlet Trail In Rocky Mountain National Park
May 6, 2017

At 8:30 p.m. Friday night, May 5, park rangers were contacted via cell phone about an incident on the East Inlet Trail on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, according to the National Park Service. A 19-year-old man from Tennessee and two friends were backpacking in the area. They were roughly 3.5 miles from the trailhead, scrambling over steep terrain, boulders and downed trees when a large boulder fell on the man’s leg. The man’s friends were able to free him from under the rock.

Search and Rescue Team members reached the man at approximately 11:30 p.m. A number of agencies assisted Rocky Mountain National Park on this incident including Grand County EMS, Grand Lake Fire Protection District, Grand County Sheriff’s Office and Grand County Search and Rescue. The man was located in steep terrain, cliffed out on one side and steep scree on the other. Due to the terrain and darkness, the team of fifteen members stayed put through the night and provided advanced medical care to the injured man.  

 Because of the nature of the man’s leg injury and the location, park rangers requested assistance from the Colorado High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Program to assist in evacuating the man via a hoist operation, using a winch operated cable. This occurred at 8:15 a.m. this morning. The man was flown to Harbison Meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park where he was transported by ground ambulance to Middle Park Medical Center. Rescue team members are hiking out to the trailhead.

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