Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Search and Rescue Training

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is your neighbors, friends, and co-workers - a collection of community volunteers that want themselves and their town to be prepared in the event of an emergency or disaster.

I am a member of Bedford, NH CERT and the Londonderry, NH ALERT (A Londonderry Emergency Response Team). Their missions are maintaining a trained, dedicated group of volunteers:
1)      Assist their communities and its public safety departments in times of need.
2)      Serve as a community source for education on emergency preparedness and prevention.
3)      Recruit and regularly train volunteer citizens.

Search and Rescue Training (SAR)
I have taken advantage of search and rescue training offered by both the Londonderry ALERT and Bedford CERT. The types of their search and rescue training I have been part of include:

  • Wilderness line search to locate missing persons or objects (SAR).
  • Orienteering – how to read and use a compass and/or map.
  • Red Cross Advanced First Aid certification including CPR, splints, bandaging and transporting patients.
  • Amateur Radio (Ham Radio Operators) within SAR.
 Below are briefs of the above selected CERT and ALERT training exercises, which blend the learned skills for SAR, map and compass, first aid, and ham radio communication.

Line Search and Rescue Training at Musquash Conservation Area, Londonderry, NH

Searches Prepared for a Winter Line Search

Under the general name of Line Search and Rescue training, the ALERT and CERT teams teaches and practices four general steps:

  1. Locate the victim using Line Search Method: Maintain a line of searchers arms-length apart. Walk straight ahead (as best in a wilderness environment). A person behind line guides line to maintain a straight line of search. Left and right end line searchers insure line is staying together. Move through assigned search area looking for signs of distress or hint of missing person or item. See Picture: Searchers Prepared for a Winter Line Search.
  2. Access the victim.
  3. Stabilize the victim by treating any life threatening injuries.
  4. Transport the victim to a safe area for professional assessment.

There is a safety dress inspection to be sure all line searchers are dressed appropriately for the condition of the environment. If someone is unequipped they cannot participate. For example, in winter weather a check is made to insure no cotton clothing is worn. No jeans are allowed. Best fabrics are polypropylene, silk or wicking fabrics on skin layer. Then layers of wool and fleece. Proper footwear, hydration and a snack are needed for an extensive excursion.

For this exercise a body (dummy) is placed within an area and the line search team assigned a section.  When the dummy is found, the team proceeds to provide first aid and then transports the “person” to a safe area.

First Aid Administered On-site

Training was at the Hickory Hill Road trailhead of the Musquash conservation area off High Range Rd. in Londonderry.  Map of Musquash Trails, Londonderry, NH

Orienteering Training by Londonderry NH ALERT at Beaver Brook Association, Hollis, NH

Our Beaver Brook Orienteering GPS Route

Getting a Compass Bearing

There is a Beaver Brook Orienteering Course laid out among the trails where a trainee can apply map and compass skills and off trail navigation.  Each attendee must bring their compass and GPS (if they have GPS), and print a copy of the trail maps and orienteering course.

The Londonderry ALERT conducted the training. We combined hiking with a few hours of navigation training with map and compass. We practiced how to read a map, determine a compass bearing, and how to follow that bearing to 9 different points through wooded areas identified on the orienteering map.

Amateur Radio – Ham Radio Operators

Both CERT and ALERT offer instruction in using hand operated radios.  Members practice their radio skills in the SAR exercises. Ham operators have in common a basic knowledge of radio technology, operating principles and regulations, demonstrated by passing an examination for a license to operate on radio frequencies known as the "Amateur Bands." 

These frequencies are allocated by the Federal Communications Commission for use by hams from just above the AM broadcast band all the way up into extremely high microwave frequencies.

Learn more about Amateur Radio at New Hampshire American Radio Relay League Section Web Site

Map and Compass Training

The UNH Cooperative Extension, provided a two hour class on compass and topographical maps. The presenter emphasized Map, Compass and Pacing, so, “you will know where you are.”
Pacing: We began the class by going outdoors.  The instructor used a measuring tape to lay out a 100 foot distance, and had each member of the class count their normal paces back and forth to get the average number of steps. He wanted us to “memorize forever”, that, in my case, 40 paces closely approximates 100 feet. The Lesson: In the woods with a map, knowing distance can be critical.

Maps: Here are a few map items discussed:
Compass tips:
  • Azimuth is 0 to 360 degrees.  Quadrant is 0 to 90 degrees.
  • Declination – in New Hampshire, magnetic North is 16 degrees west from true North.  Declination is zero degrees west side of the Great Lakes
  • The compass arrow is ALWAYS correct!
  • Box the arrow (north)
  • You can see about 100 feet in the woods of New Hampshire.  Sight on a rock or a tree.
  • Good to know measures:
    • 1 miles is 5,280 feet
    • 1 acre is 43,560 sq. ft. or approximately 208’ x 208’

Compass and Map References (One Page Briefs from Appalachian Mountain Club):

Search and Rescue Bedford CERT and Londonderry ALERT



"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

I will shortly be publishing my fifth book, titled, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II.  The book is 382 pages with over 260 pictures of the adventures my friends and I have enjoyed since Volume 1 in 20013.   Outdoor Play Volume II has places to go, trip preparations, routes, and narratives of each trip. The book will be ready for ordering December lst, and will be a great stocking stuffer to motivate friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. If you want 5 or more books signed, send me an email and we can work out the logistics.  

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" Volume I is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Kayaking McDaniel's Marsh Wildlife Management Area - Springfield, NH

Two friends and I picked a cloudy day in early November to kayak McDaniel’s Marsh in Springfield, New Hampshire.  We put-in at 9 am and took-out around noon. Indeed, there is a diversity of wildlife at McDaniel's Marsh. 

We began our paddle close to the western shore. McDaniel’s Marsh is generally shallow water with many floating islands of grass and muck.  Its name “marsh” is very appropriate.

Two Bald Eagles
Within five minutes of our put-in Mike spotted a bald eagle.  We sat quietly bobbing in the water, watching our symbol of American freedom on her/his tall treetop perch.  Mike whispered again, “Look, another eagle.”

We watched both birds and listened to the second bird call from its perch.  Then the first eagle flew to the tree of the second eagle.  The birds sort of danced along the same branch in a "let's get to know each other better" fashion.  

 My bald eagle email inquiry to the NH Audubon Society was responded to by Chris Martin, Raptor Biologist.  The bird on the left is a 3.5-yr old (hatched Spring 2012) based upon its whitish head and dark mask and some dark spots on tips of tail feathers. It is probably a female based on its slightly chunkier size. The mottled brown bird on the right is a 1.5 or 2.5-yr old (hatched Spring 2013) based on its yellowing beak, whitish crown, and overall mottled appearance. Possibly a male as it appears to be slimmer. It’s pretty unlikely that they are related to each other, in fact they are probably in transit, as most younger-aged eagles are during the Fall.”

Chris asked if I had any other pictures that might show if the eagles had leg identification bands.  Upon receipt of my additional pictures, Chris emailed he could not see bands on either bird.

Beaver Lodge in left of picture
Signs of beaver were everywhere – from floating beaver chews to lodges both close to shore and self-standing. The shorelines showed beaver paths into the woods where they were seeking trees and limbs for their winter food sources.

Muskrat Pushups
Later we would see muskrat pushups – they somewhat resemble smaller beaver lodges neatly protruding two or three feel above the waterline.

Muskrat Pushup

 Is this a Snipe?

Nope. We saw a greater or lesser yellowlegs, which are two rather similar-looking species.

Statistics and References on McDaniel’s Marsh Wild Management Area

  • Approximately 2 miles in length and ¼ mile max width.
  • Town:Grafton, Springfield County: Grafton
  • Acres:609
 Acquisition History: Acquisitions to create this WMA began in 1957, and a water control structure was built shortly afterwards. Additional acreage was purchased and added to the WMA over the years using Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration funds and state duck stamp revenues. Department ownership protects nearly three quarters of the marsh's shoreline.

Description: Three hundred acres consists of a diverse wetlands system located along Bog Brook. A water control structure built in 1958 maintains the conditions for quality waterfowl nesting and feeding habitat on the property. The wetland types on the property include: bogs, forested wetlands, shrub/scrub wetlands, emergent vegetation and deep-water wetlands. The uplands adjacent to the wetland systems are primarily forested, and consist of spruce/fir.

Common Wildlife: There is a diversity of wildlife at McDaniels Marsh. Upland species include moose, white-tailed deer, black bear, mink, ruffed grouse, snowshoe hare and woodcock. Nesting waterfowl include mallards, black ducks, wood ducks, hooded mergansers and Canada geese. The migrant waterfowl at the marsh include blue- and green-winged teal, common goldeneyes, scaup, ring-necked ducks, and scoters. Look for belted kingfishers, yellow-rumped warblers, common yellowthroats, and song sparrows. The wetlands have warmwater fish, including bullheads, Eastern chain pickerel and yellow perch.

Directions: McDaniels WMA is located between Washburn Corner and Route 4-A in Springfield. From Route 4-A in Enfield, turn south onto Bog Road at George Pond. Follow the road for four miles to the junction of George Hill Road at Washburn Corner. The dam, marsh, parking lot and a launch ramp will be on the left.

Bald Eagles
 Bald eagles are legally protected in New Hampshire. Possession and take (which includes harming, harassing, injuring and killing) is illegal.

Distribution: Bald eagles are present year round in NH with pairs breeding and raising young in the spring/summer and many wintering in areas with open water such as Great Bay.

Description:3' tall with a 6-8' wing span. Females weigh up to 14 lbs; males weigh 7-10 lbs. Immature bald eagles are mottled light brown, tan, and white until age 3 or 4. They have brown eyes, a black beak, and yellow feet. Adult bald eagles have a distinctive white head and white tail feathers, and a dark brown body and wings. Their eyes are pale yellow and the powerful beak and unfeathered feet are bright yellow.

Voice: Weak, high-pitched, chatters or whistles.

Habitat: Bald eagles breed in forested areas near bodies of water and winter near open water (i.e. coastal areas, rivers, and lakes with open water).

Nesting: Bald eagles can live up to 30 years old and can begin breeding between 4-6 years of age. They build large nests in tall trees near the water’s edge. Females lay 1-3 eggs in March - May. Both the male and female incubate the eggs and young hatch after five weeks. Bald eagles often retain the same mate for many years and reuse the same nest from year to year.

Diet: Primarily fish; occasionally other birds, small to medium mammals, turtles and with carrion.

Muskrat families build nests, called pushups, to protect themselves and their young from cold and predators. When we first spotted from a distance these muskrat pushups we thought they were beaver lodges as they are somewhat similar, but not as large.  In marshes, push-ups are constructed from vegetation and mud. These muskrat push-ups are up to 3 ft in height


"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

I will shortly be publishing my fifth book, titled, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II.  The book is 382 pages with over 260 pictures of the adventures my friends and I have enjoyed since Volume 1 in 20013.   Outdoor Play Volume II has places to go, trip preparations, routes, and narratives of each trip. The book will be ready for ordering December lst, and will be a great stocking stuffer to motivate friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. If you want 5 or more books signed, send me an email and we can work out the logistics.  

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" Volume I is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Newbury Trail to Eagles Nest to Lake Sunapee Overview, New Hampshire

Mike and I were going to hike the Mt Sunapee Newbury Trail on Saturday.  However, neither of us knew where the trailhead was – and the trail map we had was not clear.  On Friday my wife and I scouted and located the trailhead in Newbury Harbor NH-103 west to the first left, then bear right on Lake Avenue to the trailhead sign on the right.  The Trailhead sign in this blog video shows directly behind the Lakeview Avenue sign and jeep picture.

We did a fairly easy two hour roundtrip hike to Eagles Nest overlook to a marvelous view of Newbury Harbor.  The Eagles Nest overlook is a ten minute side-trail hike off the Newbury Trail.
We met two trail maintainer volunteers working on the trail.  They graciously answered my questions and demonstrated the moving and placing of a large rock.  You can learn more about Cardigan Highlanders Volunteers Trail Crew at

On Saturday Mike and I repeated the side trail hike to Eagles nest, and upon returning to the Newbury Trail we turned right continuing up the southern part of Mount Sunapee.  This section of trail gets steeper and more strenuous to hike.
We reached the Newbury-Rim Trail junction and then turned left staying on the Newbury Trail.  For the next 10 plus minutes we climbed a rock-ladder laid trail.  When we reached the Lake Sunapee overlook we had a magnificent view of the nearly 8 mile long by 2.5 mile wide Lake Sunapee and its many islands and main harbors.  The sky was a bit hazy, but not enough to take away from this breathtaking sight.
"The summit of Mount Sunapee (elevation - 2,743ft.) is reached via ski trails or the Summit hiking trail (Red Blaze). The start of the Summit Trail can be found on the right of the Lower Ridge ski trail, behind Sunapee Lodge.
A number of hiking trails are accessible year-round at Mount Sunapee.  These include the Summit Hiking Trail, the Lake Solitude Hiking Trail and the Newbury Hiking Trail.
You may also hike on any of the ski trails during the summer months. Ski trails are off limits for hiking during ski area operation, however, you are allowed to cross ski trails during winter operation to access the state hiking trails. Please look uphill for downhill skiers and snowboarders before crossing the ski trails.   Mt Sunapee snowshoe trails are located across the road from Spruce Lodge if you wish to have a shorter and less demanding hike."
For your safety be sure to be prepared when hiking:
  • Allow ample time
  • Wear sturdy footwear
  • Know and heed weather forecasts
  • Bring warm clothing and rain gear
  • Bring food and water in with you
Download Mt Sunapee Maps & Info
Lake Sunapee
“The lake is approximately 8.1 miles) long (north-south) and from 0.5 to 2.5 miles wide (east-west), covering 6.5 square miles with a maximum depth of 105 feet. It contains eleven islands (Loon Island, Elizabeth Island, Twin Islands, Great Island, Minute Island, Little Island, Star Island, Emerald Island, Isle of Pines and Penny Island) and is indented by several peninsulas and lake fingers, a combination which yields a total shoreline of some 70 miles. There are seven sandy beach areas including Mount Sunapee State Park beach; some with restricted town access. There are six boat ramps to access the lake at Sunapee HarborGeorges MillsNewburyMount Sunapee State Park, Burkehaven Marina, and a private marina. The lake contains three lighthouses on the National Register of Historic Places. The driving distance around the lake is 25 miles with many miles of lake water view. The lake is 1,093 feet above sea level.
The lake's outlet is in Sunapee Harbor, the headway for the Sugar River, which flows west through Newport and Claremont to the Connecticut River and then to the Atlantic Ocean. The lake discharges about 250 cubic feet per second (on average), and the Sugar River drops approximately 800 feet on its 27-mile journey to the Connecticut River.”

"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Book Review for “The Boys in the Boat"

“The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics”
 by Daniel James Brown.
ISBN 978-0-670-02581-7
A Number One New York Times Best Seller

I just had to read the “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown.  After taking three weeks of rowing lessons from the Lake Sunapee Rowing Club, then blog posting my rowing experiences - ROWING through the eyes of a Beginner and Lake Sunapee Rowing Club 2015 Flag Pole Race - and receiving 5 emails from friends strongly recommending the book, I felt I would be letting my readers down if I did not read this New York Times Number One non-fiction best seller.

The Boys in the Boat, documents in narration and story format how: nine college boys from the University of Washington - one coxswain and eight rowers; their coaches; and their shell designer; faced personal and political obstacles to stay in college, be on the non-scholarship rowing team, and get to the 1936 Berlin Olympics in Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

The book not only tells the story of each person, but shares the historical and political significance of Hitler’s Germany before World War 2.

Once into the book, I found myself relating to each character – and not being able to put the book down. Admittedly, I cried during the author’s Epilogue.

To entice you to read this MUST book here are few excerpts from the book: 
  • George Yeoman Pocock: “I believe I can speak authoritatively on what we may call the unseen values of rowing – the social, moral, and spiritual values of this oldest of chronicled sports in the world.  No didactic teaching will place these values in a young man’s soul.  He has to get them by his own observations and lessons.” (Chapter One page 7)
  • “Immediately after the race, even as he sat gasping for air in the Husky Clipper while it drifted down the Lager See beyond the finish line, an expansive sense of calm had enveloped him.  In the last desperate few hundred meters of the race, in the searing pain and bewildering noise of that final furious sprint, there had come a singular moment when Joe realized with startling clarity that there was nothing more he could do to win the race, beyond what he was already doing.  Except for one thing.  He could finally abandon all doubt, trust absolutely without reservation that he and the boy in front of him and the boys behind him would all do precisely what they needed to do at precisely the instant they needed to do it.  He had known in that instant that there could be no hesitation, no shred of indecision. Chapter Nineteen page 355
  • The mantra M.I.B.  “The initialization stood for “mind in boat.”  It was meant as a reminder that from the time an oarsman steps into a racing shell until the moment the boat crosses the finish line, he must keep his mind focused on what is happening inside the boat.  The whole world must shrink down to within the small gunwales…. Nothing outside the boat – not the boat in the next lane over, not the cheering of a crowd of spectators, not last night’s date – can enter the successful oarsman’s mind.”  Chapter six Page 90
  •  Official Book Trailer 
  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

I hope I have enticed you enough to read this well-written historical documentary.

"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)