October 11, 2019

Letter from the Chair-Elect

Hi everyone! Wow, time flies. Summer is coming to an end for most everywhere in the United States, although we have still been hitting temps of 100F here in the southeast in the last week. The past few days have been a bit “cooler” but it’s hard to believe it’s already October. I hope everyone has enjoyed the summer and stayed safe amidst some amazing adventures, whether near or far. I spent some time teaching Wilderness Medicine in Colorado, staffing an ultramarathon in Mongolia, and vacationing in Indonesia. It’s been an exciting few months.

My dogs, Lucha and Wilder, have participated in many of the adventures, one of which included teaching on a recent CME Backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail, completing about 35 miles on the trail. They were great mascots and also kept all of the bears and coyotes away. It was much warmer than expected on the AT in Virginia, and there was a drought, so there wasn’t much fall color and there was a limited supply of water. We saw several thru hikers on the trail who were heading south towards Georgia and were doing well despite battered feet and hungry bellies. We had to pay close attention to our water supply, as many of the typical water sources were dried up. This meant planning ahead and making sure we had plenty of water on us at all times, and in turn a significant increase in pack weight. Water detoxification was a must, some people with filters and chemical treatment and others with irradiation. Many great reminders for staying safe while hiking, most importantly being prepared. Many phones died and external/solar chargers weren’t working, so a paper trail map is something you should always have on you. The scenery on the AT is incredible and the hiking is not just a walk in the park; it was challenging. You can see the fabulous views in the photo of the VA Blue Ridge Mountains at McAfee’s Knob and me with my wonder dogs. If you haven’t gotten to this part of the wilderness, I would recommend it - the eastern US has a lot to offer.

I look forward to seeing everyone in Denver in just a few weeks at the Wilderness Section meeting. Safe travels to all!

Taylor Haston, DO, FACEP, MPH, MBS, DiMM