Sunday, November 15, 2009

Original smokejumper, PJ trainer dies at 98

Earl Cooley, the Montanan smokejumper pioneer who also first trained USAF Pararescuemen, has died at 98 years of age in Missoula.

I spent a summer once fighting fire, and another working as a volunteer wilderness ranger for the Forest Service, and found out about smokejumping. Later, when I was at the UMT Forestry School's Wilderness Institute, I met a lot of former and current smokejumpers. One nice duty I drew was to take seniors on summer outings each Friday afternoon. One venue was the smokejumper base at the Missoula airport, where the seniors would get a tour and a talk from a jumper. I met a couple of the original jumpers, including a fellow who had been an Amishman before volunteering for smokejumper duty during WW2.

Later on I learned from guys I knew in Pararescue that there had been this contribution from the smokejumpers at the founding of the USAF service.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

UCSAR & Outing Club Tumbledown Mtn. Hike


On Sunday, November 8th, Unity College Search & Rescue and the Unity College Outing Club sponsored a hiking trip up Tumbledown Mountain in Weld, ME.

The mountain stands at 3,068ft. At the top, Tumbledown pond is the third highest pond in elevation in the state of Maine.

The hike began up the Loop trail, which took us across the top of the mountain and to Tumbledown pond, to the Brook trail which led us down the mountain. The hike was approximately 5 miles.






Along the Loop Trail stands a very large rock that is estimated to weight as much as a Naval destroyer. The north side of the rock has yet to be climbed. Here, Ryan attempts to conquer the 40+ foot rock on the north side.







Ryan easily scaled the south side of the rock. His technique for getting back down was quite interesting. A large birch tree standing next to the rock proved to be the best method for getting down off the rock. Much like a treed black bear, Ryan shimmied down the birch tree to the bottom of the rock-it was quite impressive to watch!









Trying to get Ryan's dog Minet up the last part of the Loop trail was a concern at the beginning of the hike. Near the summit, the trail leads you between a series of boulders which you must climb up through. However, by placing a person inside the boulder cavern, one person on the top of the cavern and one at the bottom, Minet was passed up through with relative ease.












At the junction of the Loop Trail and the Brook Trail is a separate trail heading off towards the west. Note that the sign behind Ryan and Minet states, 'This trail is difficult and not recommended for children or dogs'. Minet must have hiked 4x the distance we did as she would get far ahead of us, come back down the mountain to make sure we were okay, and head back up again. I slipped a few times during the hike, but not once did she.











































Tumbledown has some spectacular views, and even has a few spots at the top where you can do some bouldering.
































































































Josh and Tim helped keep the trail clean by picking up trash left behind by other hikers.