Author Archives: Howie

Thunderstorms and Safety, Part 2

As previously discussed, thunderstorms are common in the high country. They often seem to materialize out of the clear blue, and that is exactly what they do! That’s because under the right conditions, which are frequent in the summer, a clear blue sky morning can quickly become a stormy afternoon with lots of thunder and […]

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Thunderstorms and Safety, Part 1

Thunderstorms are a part of the wilderness experience in most high mountain regions during the warmer months of the year. This is certainly true in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), which includes Yellowstone National Park and  surrounding mountain ranges such as the Absarokas, Beartooths, Wind Rivers, Tetons, Gallatins and Gros Ventres. A couple of geographic/meteorological […]

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Avoiding Hypothermia in Yellowstone, Part 2: Stay Dry!

The Big Wild Adventures Clothing/Personal Gear List instructs our clients to utilize a time-proven layering system for warmth and safety in mountain environments, or, for that matter, in any area where cold wet conditions are possible. Begin with wool or synthetic long-johns (top and bottoms) that wick moisture away from your body. The next layer […]

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Avoiding Hypothermia In Yellowstone, Part 1: The Basics

Hypothermia is the lowering of the core body temperature below 98 degrees F (98.6 is considered “normal”). Feeling cold is the obvious first symptom, followed by shivering and then by a loss of coordination and eventually reductions in the victim’s “level of responsiveness”. When the shivering stops (unless it stops because the person has warmed […]

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Guided Backpacking At Altitude, Part 2

In the previous installment, I discussed some of the basic principles of Acute Mountain Sickness, or AMS for short (the medical field loves acronyms). I also mentioned that most of our clients on our Wyoming, Montana and Yellowstone backpacking trips come from near sea level, which means they need to acclimate. Fortunately, there are a […]

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Guided Backpacking At Altitude, Part 1

Most of our Yellowstone backpacking treks are at altitudes of 6,000 to 9,000 feet, where the air is thin. Some of our Montana backpacking and Wyoming backpacking trips are at even higher elevations, beginning at trailheads of 8,000 to 9,000 feet with some hiking routes even topping out around or above the 11,000 foot level! […]

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Water Consumption In Yellowstone National Park

In today’s America, water is almost out of fashion. Go into any convenience store and you find a mind boggling array of excuses to drink anything but water. Soft drinks, booze and beer, coffee, fruit juices, high caffeine energy drinks, Gatorade and more have all replaced the healthiest liquid of all, good old water. Water […]

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Yellowstone Thermal Features: Backcountry Safety

Most Yellowstone backpackers, particularly novices, focus their fears mainly upon bears, though driving to the trailhead is the biggest hazard of backpacking in Yellowstone. Yet one of the most underrated dangers is the park’s thermal areas. Yellowstone National Park has the greatest concentration of hot springs, geysers, boiling mud pots and other related manifestations of […]

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How to Avoid Drowning in the Yellowstone Wilderness

Wait a minute. You’re going backpacking, not canoeing with the Boy Scouts. And it’s not a whitewater rafting trip, either. So why worry about drowning? Well, for good reason! Although water is an important landscape feature on nearly all of our trips, guided Yellowstone backpack trips are particularly well-endowed with rivers, streams and lakes. Sometimes, […]

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Four Ways to Avoid Getting Lost on a Guided Backpack Trip

It is almost counter-intuitive to consider the possibility of getting lost when you are on a guided backpack trip! After all, guides don’t get “lost”, though sometimes, in new territory, it may take them a few minutes to figure things out. Nonetheless, although we have a 100% success rate in never having lost a client, […]

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