Oktoberfest off to a bad start for Aussies

Just two days into Germany‘s Oktoberfest celebration, one Australian man is dead and another in jail. The man who died was running alongside a train close to his campsite outside of Munich after the festival, when he fell underneath the train’s wheels.

Another Aussie was arrested just a few hours into the festival, after he threw a beer stein into a crowd and injured two teenagers. Oktoberfest organizers say that beer consumptions is up so far this year. 5% more beer was consumed on the first day of the festival this year than in past years, a situation that may have contributed to the nearly 800 alcohol related injuries and illnesses that have already been treated by Red Cross workers. That’s nearly double last year’s figure at this time.

With nearly two weeks left of the Oktoberfest event (which runs 16 days in all) let’s hope revelers – both Australian and otherwise – can manage to stay safe and enjoy Europe’s largest beer festival responsibly.

26 hurt on turbulent Continental flight

On most flights, turbulence is a minor inconvenience. You have to return to your seat and buckle in, and you may have to wait a little longer to get your next vodka and cranberry (oh, is it just me that needs a cocktail, or three, to relax on a plane?). Planes are generally able to avoid the worst of the bumps, thanks to radar and reports from other planes in the area. But sometimes, turbulence strikes seemingly out of the blue, and that may be when it is the most dangerous.

This could be what happened on Continental Flight 128, which hit severe turbulence on its way from Brazil to Houston and was forced to make an emergency landing in Miami early on Monday. The plane encountered the turbulence just northwest of Puerto Rico and landed at Miami shortly after 5:30 a.m.

The turbulence was so rough that it catapulted passengers from their seats, slamming them into luggage bins and bashing their heads into overhead seat controls, cracking the panels and breaking glass in the reading lamps. 26 people were injured. Four of the injuries were reported as serious and 14 people were taken to the hospital.

Passengers stated that the turbulence didn’t last very long, and that after it had passed everyone remained calm. There’s no word yet on what exactly caused the turbulence, but the FAA is investigating.

[via ABC News]

Grand Canyon hiking: Tips on how not to have a heart attack

If hiking the Bright Angel Trail, or any other trail that leads down into the Grand Canyon is the stuff of your dreams, be warned–it isn’t the easiest thing to do. Sure, going down is fine. That path of switchbacks, often with mule pee at every turn, beckons downward. “This is swell, ” you might say to yourself. “Isn’t the Grand Canyon grand?”

Sure. It’s spectacular. The Grand Canyon is probably one of the most glorious, breathtaking sights I’ve seen in my life, and I’ve seen a lot–not to brag, just saying. But that alluring trip down towards the Colorado River that formed such majesty can be hell on the way back up. It can even give people a heart attack.

That what happened to Frank Poole. He was fit as a fiddle, a real exercise buff, but ended up in an Arizona hospital because of breathing problems. Tests found out that he had had a heart attack.

Frank Poole is not the first to have had physical issues when testing ones mettle against the great outdoors. According to the article I read that talked about Frank Poole’s plight, Grand Canyon’s park and health officials see more people with health issues as the summer tourist traffic picks up. [Kraig gave his words of warning also.] The high temperatures can cause heat stroke and the terrain is stuff muscle pulls are made of. Or, people can have just a crappy time, much different than the feeling they had when they still were at the top, slipping into their day pack and feeling perky

I’ve experienced what hiking in the Grand Canyon can do myself. The first time I hiked there it was in April. I headed downwards while wearing a jacket. By the time I got to the half-way point of Bright Angel Trail, I was sweating from the heat. The temperatures rise substantially due to the shift in the climate. The further down, the more desert like the landscape.

By the time I got back to the top, I became colder and shivery as the temperature dropped again. Luckily, I was prepared and slipped back on my jacket. My hiking companion and I also paced ourselves. Since we knew that we only had enough time to make it to the half-way point to the bottom, we turned around for the strenuous hike back up. We also came prepared with plenty of water and snacks. We also had on hiking boots.

On the other two times I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, as with that time, I saw other people who weren’t so fortunate. They definitely weren’t having the best of times. They were weeping in pain with several more switchbacks to go before reaching the top. As I passed them, I tried not to think about how my own thighs burned. I was thankful that I had on a good pair of shoes that offered support. I was also wearing a hat to help regulate my temperature.

At the Grand Canyon, it’s easy to go too far downwards. My suggestion is to think about how far down you’re willing to go, and how much time you have to do it. It’s roughly twice as long to come back up as it is to go down.

Here are the main points to keep in mind from the Grand Canyon Hike Smart Guidelines.

  • Have a plan
  • Don’t hike alone
  • Know your limits
  • Don’t huff and puff
  • Take food
  • Be kind to yourself (Give yourself a break when you need it)
  • Watch out for mules and other hikers
  • Keep track of your time

And here’s one more from me. Hike to have fun, not to prove a point.

Even if you aren’t able to hike that far downwards, so what? You’re at the Grand Canyon.

The sign in the photo is of the 3 mile rest area on the Bright Angel Trail. I rested there and kept going for a little while.

16 Tourists injured in Luxor hot air balloon accident

Yesterday, a hot air balloon crashed in Luxor, the city of the pharaohs, in Egypt. Sixteen people were injured in the incident. For those of you with an axe to grind about cell phone towers, you just got some ammo. The hot air balloon hit a cell phone tower on the west bank of the Nile River, near Gourna village.

Identities of the injured haven’t been released yet, but we do know that they come from Canada, Denmark, England, France, South Korea and the United States. All were taken to a hospital in Luxor for treatment.

This event is not without precedent. A year ago, a similar situation led to the injury of seven tourists.

Alyeska Ski Resort charges for rescue, bans guest for a year

You know times are tough when the rescue shows up on your bill. When Matt Davis, skiing at Alyeska Ski Resort, needed to be rescued, it took 13 members of the ski patrol to bring him – and his fractured left leg – to safety. Despite the fact that it required a baker’s dozen of “highly trained” professionals, the feat occurred on a well-marked, roped-off stretch of Mount Alyeska (that was off-limits).

Davis now knows the true cost of his life … at least on February 28, 2009. He has been required to pay $845 for the rescue. To add insult to industry, Davis has been banned from Alyeska for a year.