Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's Getting Cold

While many people this time of year are out and about taking in the beauty of nature's autumn colors, there is something else that's out too. It starts with a runny nose which leads to a cough. Our friend the cold has come to join in on the fun. What are some precautions that people who want to still get out and enjoy this beautiful season? How can they still do the activities they love without being weighed down by the rhino virus?

Some would simply say stay inside and wash your hands, but that isn't what outdoor enthusiasts want to hear. Sadly, though, that is just about all one can do. While prolonged exposure to cold weather doesn't necessarily cause the common cold, it certainly can help. The rhino virus is seasonal and usually starts to appear in the colder months.

There are many remedies that are said to cure or reduce the duration of the illness, but the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says that the best thing to do is get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, and the use of cough drops or over the counter cold medicines are a good way to help out.

"I really enjoy getting outside and doing something constructive," said Kevin Lewis of Roland Oklahoma. "Last time I went hiking with my son and his friend I wasn't feeling too good though." After hiking up Sugarloaf Mountain, the most prominent peak in Oklahoma, with a slight cold, Lewis said that all he wanted to do was stay at the camp and sleep. "We hiked for at least three hours and after that I had to take a break even though I wanted to go explore the woods with them."

This Fall the best way to keep the cold out is to keep your hands clean and make sure to get plenty of rest. For those of you who still want to get out and enjoy the cool bite of this beautiful autumn weather, keep a bag of cough drops near and don't forget to take a nap.

Photos by Kacy Lewis

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tape or No Tape?

Athletes tape their fingers up for football, basketball, martial arts, and climbing. Why do they though? What does taping fingers do that will help the athlete perform? When it comes to injured fingers, taping them up is most likely the way to go about healing them. Taping the injured finger or fingers to another will make a splint and let the fingers still be able to bend. Rock climbers, however, tape fingers to prevent injury, protect already injured fingers, or to improve tendon strength in the fingers.

For the sprained fingers of a basketball player, taping them up is the way to go. For a rock climber the use of tape is a debatable subject. If an injury is present, the climber will want to consider taping up. A beginning rock climber who is having difficulty maintaining their grip or has swore fingers after climbing should consider holding off on the tape.

Beginners should want to build up their grip and finger strength without the use of reenforcement taping. If a beginner tapes up for every climb they might be preventing injury, but when they decide to take the tape off an injury might occur more easily because the fingers haven't built up their own strength. When thinking about becoming a rock climber, one should always, as with any sport, train first before tackling the difficult climbs.

"I never taped till I tore the tendon in my right ring finger," climber Aaron Cash explained. "Now I take my time and warm up a lot before I climb. I still try not to tape, but I sure don't want to rip my fingers apart." Tendon injuries take longer to heal than muscle injuries. While at first a rookie climber might think that the muscles in their forearms are the source of the pain, it is most likely the tendons that run through them. It could take a couple months or more for them to fully heal.

For injured fingers some tape and/or a splint is the way to go. If one is wanting to become a rock climber or is just starting out hold off on the tape until it is really needed. Aaron Cash has been climbing for four years and when asked about the use of tape he said, "Don't let it (tape) be a crutch because one day it might not be there to help."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Amateur landscape photographer and adventurer Trent Morris of Poteau, Oklahoma, stood on a massive boulder atop Mt. Scott and let out a relaxed sigh. From his vantage point he could see for miles in all directions and held his camera close to his chest, as if trying to decide where to start shooting. He made the trip from Arkadelphia, AR, to Mt. Scott to see what the Wichita Mountains have to offer.

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is home to several different species of animals and hundreds of plants. Located northwest of Lawton, Oklahoma, on Highway 49, this stunningly rugged and beautiful 59,020 acre refuge has been managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service since it's establishment in 1901. There are many recreational activities that guests and enjoy while they visit, including: camping, hiking, fishing, rock climbing, and even attending a bison or longhorn auction.

After he took in the breath taking panoramic view, Morris put his camera away and tried his hand at bouldering. He found an idea rock formation 100 yards down the west side of the peak and started climbing. "I trust my feet more than my hands," he explained while making his way up the rock face. Many avid rock climbers journey to the refuge to take advantage of the quality granite and multi-pitch courses and it is also a popular spot for repelling.

Although the landscape is beautiful, it's not without minor blemishes. Numerous discarded beer cans and water bottles lay out in the open near the heavy visited areas. The Refuge asks that all visitors please be courteous and dispose of all trash properly. With 59,020 acres to cover, the Refuge has also set up organized clean-ups and trail rehabilitation volunteer groups to help clear out the waste.

"It's a real shame that there is so much trash here," Morris said while picking up a water bottle. "People don't realize how much damage they can really do by throwing down a bottle." With rain starting to fall and only a dozen pictures taken, Morris decided it was time to pack up. "I'll have to come back sometime when it's not raining and when I have more time to do everything."

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is one locale that every Oklahoman should visit at least once, if not multiple times.

Photos by Kacy Lewis