Saturday, April 30, 2011

Marian Bear Canyon Looking PRETTY Good

If you noticed the beaches and canyons and creeks look pretty good today, there's a reason: today was the creek-to-bay cleanup, and an army of volunteers was out this morning, making them look good. Did you volunteer? Why the heck not? It was actually a lot of fun! It was also a pretty good feeling to contribute the conservation of Marian Bear which is a canyon that I run in all the time.

Above and below: before and after pictures of Marian Bear today. Well okay not really, but we did make it purtier by taking trash out and it was fun. Image sources UMN Library and resp.

I also have to give San Diego credit where credit is due: in the past I've kvetched about trash in the canyons, but to be honest there wasn't a huge amount. It's great to see people taking care of their resources. Still there's always room for improvement and I'm glad I got to take part. I was glad to see the UVA Alumni group out there, and some folks from the Surfrider Foundation. It's much harder to get people willing to help inland and in the canyons then along the coast, so if you volunteer, you can make an even bigger difference by volunteering at an inland site.

Want to help in the future? I'm sure there will be chances before then but Coastal Cleanup Day is September 17, 2011. I'm putting it on my calendar now.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Follow BoonDOCS Medicine on Twitter

If you're on Twitter (and why the heck wouldn't you be, you throwback reactionary Luddite counterrevolutionary)* then you should follow @boonDOCSwildmed. This is the Twitter feed for BoonDOCS Medicine, the Outdoor Channel show where I just joined the writing team.

The BoonDOCS Medicine logo, which if you haven't noticed is cool.

I've long wanted to know more about practical medicine in the backcountry, and now that I'm in med school I damn well should - so here's my opportunity to contribute to people's knowledge while also building my own. I'm pretty excited about it. I'll be writing the tweets and most blog posts for May so if you have any ideas about what we should cover, please don't hesitate to let me know. And make sure to follow @boonDOCSwildmed!

*This is what's called "the fervor of the newly converted"

Poison Oak - Different Species in Sierras and Coast?

[Added later. Says Dan Simpson from Dan's Hiking pages: "A single species of poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) can take on variety of appearances...part of its malevolence!"]

Ever noticed that poison oak in the Sierras doesn't look like the poison oak along the coast? It doesn't. I've long thought about this and today a link in Sequoia NP's Twitter feed prompted me to post this comparison:

Sierra poison oak at top, coastal on the bottom (images from NPS photo site and Yoga Slackers resp.) Different, huh? Though it's not to scale, you can tell how the Sierra variant has larger leaves that are much less rounded, much more like their namesake oak leaves. Coastal P.O. is really just small bumpy ovals. This difference may be relevant. Why? For one thing, do the oils from each necessarily induce cross-reactions? Is one worse than the other? It's possible they're the same species, but they look different when grown in cooler, more extreme seasonal conditions - or that there's an actual genetic difference, and we're looking at different species or subspecies that have long been incorrectly classified. I hate poison oak with the obvious motivation of personal experience, so if I can spare one other person (maybe you!) the nightmare of contact dermatitis, I'll be happy.

Note that the Sequoia NP folks said it's found up to 5,000' elevation. Up in the Bay Area we usually assume a cut-off of 4,000', and then further north, somewhere between Portland and Seattle the grow-line drops to sea level and you don't see it anymore. It also survives just fine in the desert (I've seen it in the Mojave) as long as it can grow in a shaded canyon near a water source.

I was surprised not to find any literature on these variants, but what's both frustrating and exciting is that you can't assume someone has properly studied plants like this. That's how it often goes: common organisms described centuries ago, if they don't cause disease or have an economic impact, don't get grant money dedicated to them. Consequently there are basic discoveries waiting under our noses even though we think science has already swept out all this space. So what's going on, West Coast naturalists? Help us out!

I should add that further confusing the nomenclature, a) other western states (non-coastal ones) use the term "poison ivy" for what appears to be the same plant as "Sierra poison oak", and b) true poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) and poison oak do in fact overlap in their ranges - I have encountered this in Austin, Texas as well as Moab, Utah. Sure, as a rule it makes sense not to touch plants with the word "poison" in the name, but it seems clear that we still have a lot to learn about the plants literally growing in our back yards.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cool Gadget For Keys and Money While You're On Trail

At Boing Boing I ran across this awesome gadget. Hate leaving your key in a magnet under your car body where thieves know everyone leaves them, but you're afraid you'll lose it while you're hiking/climbing/etc.? How about a combination lock you can install in your trailer hitch?

I hate worrying about mundane security stuff when I'm trying to bask in the glorious oneness of nature so this is pretty cool. You can get one at Amazon.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Welcome, BoonDOCS Medicine Visitors!

If you're visiting from BoonDOCS Medicine, welcome! I'm grateful to Dr. K. for selecting me to contribute to the site and show and I hope you stay a while to check out my personal blog here - operative word personal. So, usual disclaimer stuff: because it's my personal blog, anything you see on here is my own personal opinion and doesn't reflect anything to do with BoonDOCS Medicine, the Outdoor Channel, UCSD School of Medicine, yada yada or anyone else besides my own bad self. What it WILL reflect is cool stuff that I dig, like trail running and related stuff in San Diego, San Francisco and Pennsylvania, and conservation and safety topics in general.

To those of you who were already reading my blog, let me announce that I'm lucky enough to now be able to write for a wilderness medicine show on the Outdoor Channel called BoonDOCS medicine. Right now I'm starting out blogging and tweeting and eventually (if time commitments allow) would like to move on to contributing to the show. Here's my totally BS bio for your amusement.

Do you have ideas for wilderness medicine topics you'd like to see on the show? Leave a comment! Because if you just email me, I'll steal it and not credit you. No seriously, comment so then other people will start thinking too. I want to know what's important to folks!