Outdoors: It’s the rotten experiences that sometimes make the best stories

By: Shane Ullrich

For a story teller or a story listener, there’s one thing that makes a story a tale. It’s the excitement of the events that went together to make a memorable moment that has you telling that story for years.

If a person were to go on vacation to, let’s say, Hawaii, and the trip over there went flawlessly – no complications with luggage or the hotel –then when you’re asked about it, you can hardly remember anything to tell.

But if you go to Hawaii and you break down on the way to the airport or lose your luggage, then you find out that the hotel is overbooked – in short, all that could go wrong seems to. All those little problems create relationship-building moments and long-lasting memories that sometimes can be passed down from generation to generation.

So when you head off on your summer vacation, or out on your summer travels, look at the positive side of those little misfortunes. If nothing else, they give you material for conversation or a great campfire story. Get out there and enjoy the outdoors, then tell us about it.

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Thanks to the weekend heat wave, things haven’t been so hot from the fishing standpoint. Earlier last week salmon and steelhead were being taken in the river, which is near its summer low. Down by Willamette Falls, passage has been steady with 100 to 200 chinook and steelhead being counted each day, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Quartzville Creek, above Green Peter, was stocked just over a week ago.

Green Peter and Foster have been hit-and-miss, particularly for kokanee for Green Pete. Some 13- to 14-inchers are being taken at about 35 to 50 feet.

If you get tired of the crowds at the local lakes, take a hike in to one of the mountain lakes. But be aware of the campfire rules and always pack out what you pack in.

At the risk of sounding preachy, be really careful with those fires.

“Temperatures over 100 degrees, low humidity, and people recreating in the forest is a scary thing right now,” said Mary Ellen Holly, president and CEO of the Keep Oregon Green Association. “I would recommend that, even if a campfire is allowed, keep it very small. And then put it OUT, dead out, by drowning it with water, stirring the coals, and drowning it again. Keep doing that until you’re absolutely sure that the fire is out. With a little bit of wind, which often comes up in the afternoon, a small spark could cause a huge wildfire.”

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By the way, as long as we’re on the topic of safety, officials with Oregon Health & Science University’s ThinkFirst Oregon program are reminding families not to forget their helmets as they engage in summer sports activities.

Use of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, inline skates, skateboards, bicycles, non-motorized scooters, even horses, increase as temperatures rise, and people should always wear helmets when using these transportation modes, said OHSU’s Edward Neuwelt, M.D., medical director for ThinkFirst Oregon, a 20-year-old head and spinal injury prevention program.

Neuwelt said incidents like that involving Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback who wasn’t wearing a helmet and narrowly escaped serious injury, when he recently crashed his motorcycle, should be a wake-up call to people preparing to head out for holiday.

“I call it ‘trauma season,'” said Neuwelt, professor of neurology and neurological surgery in the OHSU School of Medicine. “During summer months, more people are on roads, sidewalks and trails, and when combined with high speed, the risk of head injury is greatly increased. Head trauma is a preventable disorder, and wearing a helmet can mean the difference between lifelong cognitive impairment and a normal, healthy existence.”

He added that medical costs for treating a head injury can reach $750,000 in just the first year.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were about 151,000 head injuries among bicyclists treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms among in 2004. Nearly 11,000 or 7 percent of those emergency room visits required hospitalization. Among skateboarders, there were about 18,000 head injuries treated in emergency rooms with about 760 or 4 percent needing hospitalization. Even among horseback riders, there were 14,000 emergency room-treated head injuries, with 2,400 or 17 percent of them requiring hospitalization.

Moneeka Patel, ThinkFirst program coordinator, has a simple formula for determining whether an activity requires a helmet: “Anything that moves faster than you can run, you need a helmet,” she said.

Patel noted that Oregon law requires children 15 and younger to wear safety helmets when riding on skateboards, scooters and inline skates in public places, which include streets, sidewalks, parking lots and skate parks. Failure to wear protective headgear is a traffic violation carrying a fine of $25 for each offense.

As part of its “Which Helmet for Which Activity” guide released in March, the Consumer Product Safety Commission developed a list of helmet types, activities they cover and the applicable standards to look for on product labels:

– Bicycle – Bicycling and scooter riding, including low speed and motor assisted, and roller and in-line skating (CPSC, ASTM F1447, Snell B-90/95, Snell N-94).

– BMX – BMX cycling (CPSC, ASTM F2032).

– Downhill – Downhill mountain bike racing (CPSC, ASTM F1952).

– Skateboard – Aggressive or “trick” roller and inline skating, and skateboarding (ASTM F1492, Snell N-94).

– Motocross or motorcycle – ATV riding, dirt- and mini-bike riding, motocrossing (DOT FMVSS 218, Snell M-2005).

– Karting or motorcycle – karting/go-karting (DOT FMVSS 218, Snell K-98, Snell M-2005).

– Moped or motorcycle – Moped riding, powered scooter riding (DOT FMVSS 218, Snell L-98, Snell M-2005).

– Equestrian – horseback riding (ASTM F1163, Snell E-2001).

– Mountaineering – Rock and wall climbing (EN 12492*, Snell N-94).

– Baseball batters – Baseball, softball and T-ball (NOCSAE ND022).

– Baseball catchers – Baseball, softball and T-ball (NOCSAE ND024).

– Lacrosse – Lacrosse (NOCSAE ND041).

ThinkFirst and the Doernbecher Children’s Safety Center offer low-cost, certified bicycle helmets that are available in toddler through adult sizes in limited colors. For more information, contact ThinkFirst at 503 494-7801 or [email protected], or the Safety Center at 503 418-5666 or [email protected].

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If you’re a woman and you like the outdoors, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is accepting registrations for a Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) workshop scheduled for Aug. 19 at Elkhorn Wildlife Area near Baker City.

This one-day workshop will offer a variety of classes, including archery, shotgun, rifle, handgun, muzzleloader, outdoor survival, GPS (Global Positioning System) and Dutch oven cooking. Participants will select and attend two of these classes.

ODFW will provide all the equipment, materials and supplies needed for the classes. Also included in the $40 registration fee is tent or RV (no hook-ups) camping, breakfast, lunch and dinner and optional evening activities on Friday and Saturday nights. Participants are encouraged to bring their own equipment to use if they like.

BOW workshops are designed to teach women the basic skills in outdoor recreational activities and to provide them with a positive outdoor experience.

“Women learn best by actually doing activities and BOW workshops give them plenty of hands-on practice in a casual, non-threatening environment,” said Mary Hoverson, ODFW’s regional Bow Coordinator. “This workshop is designed for beginners, but all skill levels are welcome,” added Hoverson.

Information about the BOW schedule and how to register is available at http://www.dfw.state.or.us by clicking on “Outdoor Education” and then “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman.”

Shane Ullrich writes every other week about the outdoors. Contact him at the American Barbershop, 1121 Main St., or by phone at 367-8086.