Wilderness Poster

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, signed by President Johnson on September 3, 1964, the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers will showcase a Wilderness Art Exhibition of 14 local artists at Bas Bleu Theater Gallery September 3 to October 31, 2014.  Additionally there is an interesting Kickstarter Campaign to help raise funds for the exhibit.

It was art - yes, painting and photography - that really began the groundswell for the preservation of wild lands in America. In the latter decades of the 19th century, Thomas Moran, Frederick Church, Alfred Bierstadt, Worthington Whittredge, William Henry Jackson and other artists were instrumental in influencing Congress to help preserve the naturalness of our continent. This collective aesthetic and vision eventually contributed to the creation of the Wilderness Act.

The Wilderness Act, written by Howard Zahniser, created the legal definition of "wilderness" in the United States and set aside more than 9 million acres of federal land to be forever protected from development. Since then, the number of protected acres in the nation has grown to nearly 110 million. Over 3.5 million of these protected acres are in Colorado.

Today, the Wilderness Act stands as the sentinel for nature preservation and thus, human rejuvenation. So once again we are showcasing art as a medium for enhancing citizen awareness about nature, natural systems, and Wilderness. The vision for this juried exhibition is to:

• Celebrate the passage of the Wilderness Act 50 years ago;
• Raise awareness about nature, natural systems, and wild lands in northern Colorado as depicted by local artists; and
• Compel citizens to connect with nature, wild lands, and Wilderness areas in northern Colorado and to experience their value and learn more about their ecology.

Details of the Exhibition

What: Wilderness Art Exhibition featuring the work of 14 local artists (see below for list of artists)
Organized and Managed by Marcella Wells
Where: Bas Bleu Theater Gallery, 401 Pine Street, Fort Collins (website below)
When:

  • Exhibition runs: September 3 to October 31, 2014
  • Gallery open: Tuesday – Friday 12:30-5:30p; Saturday 1-4p; Closed Monday
  • First Friday Receptions: September 5th, 5-7p and October 3rd, 5-7pm

Artists Featured in the Exhibition

• Craig Brown, Wellington
• Ren Burke, Fort Collins
• Lori Discoe, Fort Collins
• Dale Erickson, Fort Collins
• Pam Froemke, Fort Collins
• Janis Goldblatt, Fort Collins
• Selina Karim, Loveland
• Jeanne Mackenzie, Laporte
• Carol Marander, Fort Collins
• Mickey Schilling, Loveland
• Joseph Osmann, Windsor
• Don Vogl, Fort Collins
• Paula Watson-LaKamp, Wellington
• Bob Willis, Fort Collins

Kickstarter Campaign

To help fund the costs of the art exhibit, PWV has created a Kickstarter Campaign with a goal of raising $1,964 (to correspond to the 1964 date of the Wilderness Act).

If you are not familiar with this type of thing, there is a specific time windows (in this case through August 25th) to reach the target fundraising goal.  People can donate anything from $1 and up.  If the goal of $1,964 is not reached, then the campaign dissolves - none of the donations are processed and no money is collected.  The donations would flow through a secure Amazon account and the money is only processed if the goal is reached.

Naturally your donations will be tax-deductible, as are all donations to PWV.

To visit the Kickstarter page, click here.

Snake 

As I walked along the trail back to my car, I noticed a tingling feeling around my lips and eyes. The tips of my fingers and toes were also tingling. Five minutes earlier I had stepped on what I thought was a cactus. This is an odd response to a cactus wound, I thought. As I continued walking, the tingling became more pronounced, and I had the sensation that the world was closing in on me. I began to worry I might not be able to make the remaining half mile down the trail to my car, where my wife was waiting. I stopped several times in the last hundred yards to collect my strength. At last, I made it. "Take me to the hospital emergency room," I mumbled to my wife, as I opened the car door and collapsed into unconsciousness.

My wife, of course, was shocked to see the man she had left only an hour ago in perfect health now slumped in a heap halfway into the car. Fortunately, a young couple was nearby and they called 911 for help. The 911 dispatcher advised the couple to stretch me out on the ground and immediately begin CPR treatment until the paramedics arrived. Because of my age, everyone assumed I had suffered a heart attack, including the paramedics who arrived less than 10 minutes later to find my heart racing and my blood pressure exceedingly low. After they managed to stabilize my life-threatening blood pressure, I revived enough to complain about my big toe. My shoe was removed and the paramedics discovered two puncture wounds on the bottom of my big toe. How these had come to be there was a mystery, but my symptoms were consistent with a snakebite and they radioed ahead to the hospital so they could begin thawing the snake antivenom, a process that takes over an hour. In the meantime, the ambulance raced to the hospital.

Each year in Fort Collins a couple dozen people are bitten by rattlesnakes. It is rare to die from a poisonous snakebite (less than 10 of some 8,000 bites in the U.S. each year result in death), which is attributed to generally excellent prompt emergency care response. Most of the bites are to young men who are "fooling around" with rattlesnakes and suffer the consequences. Of the rest of us, few are as foolish in their behavior as I was. I hope my embarrassing example might keep someone else from suffering a similar fate.

I am not unaware of rattlesnakes. I have attended numerous Poudre Wilderness Volunteers first aid classes in which snake bites and rattlesnakes are always discussed. In fact, I have seen numerous rattlesnakes both on and off trails near Fort Collins. I know perfectly well that the trail I was on behind Hughes Stadium near the Horsetooth Reservoir is rattlesnake habitat. But, on this particular day, I appeared not to be thinking clearly, to say the least.

A few months before, I attended a presentation by an author on a book tour promoting his book on barefoot walking. I liked the idea of walking barefoot, purchased a copy of his book, and started a program of conditioning my feet. The program involves walking barefoot every other day on paved paths, dirt and grass. The idea is to start by walking 100 yards barefoot and to continually increase this distance over a three month period, by which time one’s feet should be conditioned and tough enough to walk barefoot on most surfaces.

My wife and I would often go for walks on dirt hiking trails in the Fort Collins area and end the walks with side trips to Fort Collins city parks, where there are paved bike and walking paths in the midst of lush grass that seems ideal for barefoot walking.

After I had been doing this for a couple of months, we went hiking on a dirt trail near Hughes Stadium. Upon reaching the top of the hill at Horsetooth Reservoir, my wife decided she was tired and went back to our car to wait for me to finish the walk to the water’s edge. On my way back, I decided to skip the usual trip to a Fort Collins park and walk the final mile on a smooth dirt trail in my bare feet. I know. We had even seen a freshly shed snake skin on our way up the trail. But, when you are young and fearless, you think you will live forever.

Focused on my barefoot walking, I ran into a rough patch of gravel and without thinking stepped off into the soft cool grass at the side of the trail. In a short distance, I felt a sharp pain on the bottom of my big toe. I thought I had stepped on a cactus. I bent down expecting to pull a cactus thorn from my bleeding toe, but I couldn't find one. It never occurred to me I had been struck by a snake. I didn't see or hear a snake before, during, or after the bite. In fact, I sat down on a big rock to put my socks and shoes back on, so I could get back to the car where my wife was waiting for me. 

At the hospital, the doctors and nurses worked to stabilize me while the antivenom continued to thaw. Freezing it extends its shelf-life significantly. Finally, an hour and a half later, they were able to administer the antivenom intravenously and I was moved into the Intensive Care Unit so I could be watched overnight. Every six hours I received another vial of antivenom, until I was administered four vials in total.

After the final vial of antivenom, it was determined that I could leave the hospital and return home. My leg was swollen to nearly twice its normal size, and I could walk only with the help of a walker. During the first night home, a large blister, about a third the size of my big toe formed on my toe. It continued to grow larger until I was alarmed enough to call the doctor. I was advised not to touch it, and to allow it to open up and drain naturally, if that was what it was going to do. I was prescribed antibiotics and told to keep the toe as clean as possible. In practice this meant sitting in a chair for hours and hours at a time, with my foot propped up in front of me where I could see the blister grow and split open, oozing a gooey substance. Quite depressing. I became concerned I might lose the toe, but the doctor advised me that while this wasn't likely, it was possible if there were complications. I made sure the toe was well coated with antibiotic ointment to reduce that risk.

I am now six weeks removed from the incident.  I have not yet had a real shoe on my foot, but the swelling has been greatly reduced and I am able to limp around in a pair of sandals. At the three-week doctor visit, the doctor cleared the goo and blistered skin, and we could see nice pink new skin forming underneath. That is encouraging. In a couple of weeks, the remaining minor scabs should drop off my tender new skin and I should be cleared to put on socks, my high-top thick leather hiking boots, and hit the trails again.

I do not yet know what the final cost of this incident will be. I’m at $20,000 and counting.  Research on the Internet indicates that the total cost for a snakebite typically ranges from $10,000 to $150,000. I have insurance, so I will not have to bear this cost directly. The damage to my psyche is probably more than this. I had plans this summer to solo hike the Colorado Trail. Now I am re-evaluating whether it is a good idea to ever hike alone. Especially for one in his seventies.  At the very least, I have a renewed appreciation for the dangers of the natural world, as well as a new sense of what my place in it should be. I'm just thankful I will have a chance to be hiking the trails again. When you see me, you can be sure I am taking to heart “safety”, the PWV number one priority when on trail patrols.

;-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

What To Do If You Get Snake Bite:

1. Move away from the snake. You don’t want a second bite.

2. Seek help. If you have a cell phone that can be used at your location, call 911.  Note that in some circumstance you may be able to make contact with a 911 service even when there is no cell phone commercial service in that area. If you have a satellite communication device such as a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger, press the SOS button for emergency rescue.

3. If there are others in the area, obviously send them for help or if help is not available within a couple of hours, have them help you evacuate.

4. Keep the bite wound below heart level if possible to slow circulation of the venom.

5. Minimize movement of the affected area.

6. Remove any jewelry in the affected area before swelling occurs.

7. If you can expect emergency help within a couple of hours stay put. If not, consider moving for help at a pace that keeps your heart rate down to reduce rate of venom circulation through your system. 

8. Do not try to remove venom by sucking or cutting and sucking the bite area. This does not work. Venom is typically injected too deep to extract by this method. You need to get to medical treatment to get antivenom administered intravenously as soon as possible.

9. Do not restrict blood flow from the area of the snake bite by use of a tourniquet.

10. Do not apply cold packs to wound or swelling. This makes things worse.

11. The above advice does not address all situations. What if one is in the wilderness on a solo hike or backpacking trip hours from help?  PWV strongly recommends members patrol in pairs.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

How to Avoid Snake Bite:

1. Stay vigilant and on the alert for rattlesnakes when in areas known for the critters. Their colors and patterns tend to blend with the natural surroundings.

2. Rattlesnakes are common on the arid hiking trails around Fort Collins and at the lower elevations of the nearby mountains. Typically they do not live above 9,000 foot altitude but that is not to say there are no exceptions.

3. In rattlesnake country ideally wear high-top leather boots and long pants. Fangs are less likely to penetrate leather.  Long pants may deflect a leg bite. Flip-flops and bare feet obviously offer no protection.  In addition to hiking boots, PWV Weed Patrol participants are required to wear PWV provided Kevlar knee high gaiters that cannot be penetrated by snake fangs.

4. When climbing trails and using handholds on rocks, roots, and logs, be careful of what may lurk there.

5. Try to stay on established trails where rattlesnakes can be more easily spotted.  Rattlesnakes blend in more readily in off-trail surroundings.

6. Check your surroundings carefully when you need to step off the trail for a rest break or any other purpose.

7. Be aware that not all rattlesnakes give a warning rattle and when they give one it may be too late to move.

8. If you spot a rattlesnake, don’t mess with it, reverse your course or circle around it giving a wide berth of at least the length of the snake. Warn other hikers of the danger.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

July 2013 article written by Karl Riters who is a resident of Fort Collins and a member of Poudre Wilderness Volunteers

Recent comments

  • Your story stays with me when I hike. Sorry you had to go through this, but it is a lesson I'll never forget. But going barefoot on a trail would, thankfully, never cross my mind :-). Glad you are fully recovered.
View other comments

IMG 4164Even though we had over two feet of fresh snow on many of our trails on May 12, the winter patrol season for 2014 ended on April 24. From January 24th through April 24th, 49 PWV members completed 86 patrols, some on snowshoes, many with traction devices on our boots and some on lovely spring days with just hiking shoes or boots on our feet. With 725 people seen and 525 folks contacted, we know the public is out there during this season, as well, so there is a good opportunity to meet folks and also to do some trail and weed work. It's great fun to see the trails in all seasons -- very different and always beautiful.

At the end of a recent ultralight backpacking class Paul Randolph and I were teaching for PWV members, I made some ill-considered comment about the real reason for taking weight out of my backpack was so I could carry the new Corona saw I purchased to "cut all those trees" off my favorite trails. "I love to cut trees," I declared. I had no idea anyone was listening.

Backpacker.com offers these tips to keep your gear working as long as possible.

Leave No Trace (LNT) is both a set of practical rules to protect wilderness and an educational program to teach the rules and increase awareness of them. The program is described on the LNT Website. The following text is taken from LNT and reprinted with their permission.