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Photograph of Pete Lake in Washington State with the sun about to go down behind the mountains.


Amputee Outdoors isn't just for amputees, any lover of hiking, backpacking and camping will find value in this site.  But, if you are an amputee, I hope the videos, advice, and gear reviews educate and inspire you to enjoy the beauty of nature.

  • Look through the Gear dropdown to read reviews of gear I've used and tested along with examples and discussions of hiking and backpacking gear.

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With the season changing to winter, it seems appropriate to talk about hypothermia. Roughly 1,300 people die each year from this very preventable condition. Hypothermia is a condition in which the body's core temperature drops below the normal range, resulting in symptoms such as shivering, numbness, and confusion. This condition can be caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, or by wet and windy conditions, which can reduce the body's ability to retain heat. Left untreated hypothermia can lead to complete failure of your heart and respiratory system and eventually to death.

To avoid hypothermia, it is important to be prepared for cold weather and to wear appropriate clothing, such as layers of insulation, a waterproof and breathable outer layer, and a hat and gloves. Keep in mind the old saying, “Cotton kills”. This is because cotton will hold onto moisture and as that moisture cools, so will you. So, for all your layers, stick to moisture-wicking materials or wool. It is also important to stay hydrated and well-nourished and to avoid strenuous activities, which can increase the body's heat production and metabolism.

If someone is experiencing hypothermia, you need to take immediate action to help them recover. This may involve removing any wet or damp clothing and replacing it with dry and warm clothing, such as a dry jacket or blanket. It is also important to provide warm and sweet drinks, such as hot chocolate or tea, and to provide gentle and passive heat, such as a warm water bottle or heating pad. If you’re outside, get a blanket or pad under them to prevent the ground from pulling even more heat out of their body. It is also important to seek medical attention if the symptoms are severe or if the person is unable to recover on their own.

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OK, let's first start with why Poo Poo Point has such a memorable name. According to one of the hiking guidebooks written by the late hiking and environmental advocate Harvey Manning, the name comes from the logging industry about a century ago.

Loggers used whistles to communicate from the logging tower operator to the workers down the hill. According to the Issaquah Historical Society, the whistle would be a signal that two logs were tied to a cable, ready to be towed.

So there you have it. If you had some other more juvenile idea in mind as to the origins of the name, well that's you.

Poo Poo Point is just outside Issaquah, WA., and is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Seattle area. This means that if you want a parking spot at the trailhead, get there early! It's also where paragliders and hang-gliders take off from. Not during the winter, but in the summer months they are almost constant and a lot of fun to watch.

I arrived at the Chirico Trail trailhead at 8 am, crossed the field where the gliders land, and started the ascent. The Chirico trail is only 3.8 miles, roundtrip, so it's short enough to do and get back in time for lunch if you start early enough. You're going to gain 1,760 feet in 1.9 miles and get to a total elevation of 1,850 feet.

The trail is very well maintained, although there are a couple of locations where folks have created a shortcut. Please don't use these as they cause erosion of the trail which is bad for everyone.

About halfway up, the lengths of trail that were covered in snow/ice pack started to get longer and slippery so I took a break and strapped on my crampons. I strongly recommend bringing crampons for any hike in the mountains between November and April.

I took my time on the hike, filming segments for Amputee Outdoors, so I didn't reach the summit until about 11:30 am. Once there I was pleased to find Mt. Baker to the north was not just visible, but clearly so.

I set up my hammock, got out my flask of hot chocolate (always tastes better when it's been snowing), and my lunch.

Relaxing there for about an hour I watched other hikers come and go, all marveling at the view.

The weather started to change around 12:30 pm so I packed up and started down the hill. Good thing too as the clouds moved in and it started snowing. I saw a lot of slide tracks on the trail where folks without crampons had slipped and slid down the hill. Hopefully, they didn't injure themselves.

Poo Poo Point is hikable just about all year round, but only if you have the right gear. If you plan on going up there this winter, please make sure to have crampons and later in the winter, snow shoes.

See you out there!

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I've read two news stories in the last week about folks that died on the trail due to exposure or hypothermia. While the news stories didn't go into detail about the gear they were carrying, it's a fair bet they were not properly equipped for the rapid drops in temperature we see this time of the year. This is especially true in the mountains where micro-weather patterns can occur.

If you saw my latest video (Mason Lake Solo Camp) you'll notice I'm carrying 45lbs of gear on a 3.5-mile hike to a lake where there was little to no snow and sunny weather all day with a weather prediction for sunny weather the next day. The hike was just an overnighter. Why 45 lbs on an overnighter? Because I assumed the weather would go sideways on me. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't.

I carry with me one of those $4 emergency blankets, along with an emergency shelter made of Mylar. There's one more pair of wool socks than I need in the pack, and a puffy, insulating jacket. Shoved in the bottom of the backpack is a pair of ski gloves. None of that stuff was used in my last overnighter. That doesn't matter. What matters is that if the clouds moved in, the temperature dropped another 10 degrees and the rain started falling or it started snowing, I would have the gear needed to get through it.

If I sound preachy in this blog post, it's because that's what I'm trying to do. Preach preparedness.

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