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Wilderness Medicine

Millions of people visit the Sierra Nevada Mountain range year round. There are a wide variety of lowland to Alpine lakes to visit as well as many historical sites within its 400 mile length. The three major parks within this range is Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon. The Sierra Nevada Range boasts some of the oldest and tallest  trees in the world some dating back thousands of years and hundreds of feet tall.  Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States towering at 14,505 ft elevation. Yosemite falls is the highest  at 2,425 ft as well as Lake Tahoe being the second deepest lake at 1,645 ft in North America. This mountain range has a rich history from the pioneers heading west to the promised land to the Gold Rush of the late 1800's. Its beauty has touched many famous people such as President Theodore Roosevelt (enacted protection of Yosemite) and Mark Twain.  Most leave with fond memories unfortunately, some never leave.
     In June of 1846 George Donner took a party across the the Sierra Nevada Mountain range taking what he thought was a short cut that actually added 100 miles more to the journey. During the trip a wagon wheel axle had broken and they stopped for the night to repair the wagon. That night 5 feet of snow fell with snow drifts reaching 60 feet. The party was trapped for 5 months with a food supply that only lasted for three weeks.  They managed to survive on their livestock, sticks, grass and even dirt but on Christmas day of 1846 they reverted to cannibalism.  They dismembered the dead labeling the parts to spare them from eating relatives. A rescue party was finally able to reach them, of the remains they found George Donner with his head split and brains removed. Of the 87 original party members 48 survived to reach California.  
      The Sierra Nevada Range has also claimed many planes within its mountainous borders.  Its mysterious weather and geological history along with its ability to make people and planes disappear without a trace dubbed it the Nevada Triangle.   An estimated 2,000 planes have disappeared within this region for the last 60 years.  It claimed the life of adventurer Steve Fossett in September 2007 only to have his wallet found by a chance hiker over a year later.   In the 1980's I had my first taste of the Sierra Nevada Range as a Marine at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport California.  It is then that I learned its beauty and lethality  were  to be respected.   It is my wish to impart to the reader how to deduce the best possible answers while in the wild by understanding some simple skills providing you the information to bring you home. 
     I will continue to add to this page. Please be patient.  Jaime

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