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Andrew Skurka has hiked more than 30,000 miles.Andrew Skurka is one of the few people who can claim backpacking as an occupation. The Duke University grad is a professionally sponsored hiker who bushwhacks in the backcountry instead of pencil pushing in an office. Skurka’s obsession with backpacking started with a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Since that initial jaunt, he has completed the 7,775-mile, 11-month Sea-to-Sea Route, which connects a string of long-distance trails between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the 6,875-mile Great Western Loop—a circuit around nine states that includes 12 national parks and 75 wilderness areas. Most recently, Skurka completed a six-month Alaska-Yukon Expedition, which covered 4,680 miles, largely off-trail, through some of the most rugged uncharted terrain in the world. More impressive, the outspoken ultra-light packing advocate completed the journey with just 10 pounds on his back. At age 30, he has covered more than 30,000 miles on his adventures. Since his last big trip, Skurka penned a book, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide, which offers advice on maximizing experience while keeping pack weight down.“Like a lot of kids at Duke, I was Wall Street-bound. I spent two years working at a camp in Brevard and that opened my eyes to the outdoors. After completing the Appalachian Trail, I gradually became more ambitious about taking my life in this direction. I’m able to make a living as an adventurer because I don’t have a mortgage, wife, and kids. I’ve made choices that allow me to maintain a lifestyle that is simple and inexpensive. If I spent as much money as a normal 30 year old, I would not be able to live this way. My lifestyle has always been motivated by what’s keeping me happy. I’ve chosen not to give myself too many distractions, responsibilities, or excessive stresses. It’s important to me to be able to sleep on the ground for four or five months out of the year, and by keeping things simple, I’ve been able to make that happen.”“The alone factor has always come down to: how many friends do I have who are willing and able to take these kinds of trips with me? The answer is none, so by default I go alone. I’d rather do that than force a hiking partner. It won’t end well.”“Most of these trips are so engaging that I really don’t ever have to worry about entertaining myself. On the Alaska trip, 2,100 miles was off-trail, so I was constantly looking at my map, avoiding the thickest brush, and trying to figure out the landscape. I wasn’t on trails with long sections to put my brain on autopilot. If the adventure is interesting enough, you constantly have something to think about.”“Picking a favorite adventure is like asking which one of your children you love the most. When I look for a trip, I’m looking for something that’s going to challenge me and force me to use the skills I’ve acquired on past trips in a more extended way. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to top the impressiveness of the Alaska-Yukon Expedition. I skied the first 1,200 miles and started with 25-degree-below-zero weather. I had daily run-ins with grizzly bears and traveled through areas that no one has traveled through since the Klondike Goldrush. It was epic in so many ways.”“A lot of backpackers don’t have the knowledge that will allow them to best enjoy long-distance hiking. I used to be one of them. When I started the Appalachian Trail in 2002, I went out there with very conventional gear—a big seven-pound suspension pack, a double wall tent, and a thick self-inflating sleeping pad. By the first hill climb, I realized my full pack was killing me. I figured out how to make hiking fun by lightening my pack. It took a lot of skills to make that happen—learning about different types of fabrics and creating clothing and shelter systems that were both versatile and adequate for the conditions I’m facing.”“A heavy pack is a function of not knowing enough about an upcoming adventure. People shouldn’t be packing for ‘what if’ or ‘just in case’ situations. People should give themselves the knowledge to make appropriate choices to be safe and comfortable, yet traveling in a way that doesn’t make hiking such a chore.”“I don’t have a next big adventure to reveal yet. Between writing the book and starting a guide business, I’ve been busy in different ways. Taking eight people into the wilderness at a time has been a new type of challenge. I also just celebrated my one-year anniversary with my girlfriend. Turning 30 and being in a long-term relationship has me rethinking things, but I don’t think I’m totally ready to give up the transient life.”
Dec 18, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Influenza vaccination coverage in children between 6 and 23 months old varied widely across the country in the 2005-06 flu season, the second season in which shots were recommended for that age-group, according to federal health officials.Vaccination rates ranged all the way from less than 7% to more than 60% across six sampling areas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in the Dec 15 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.The CDC gathered data from immunization information system (IIS) sentinel sites in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, DC. IISs are confidential electronic systems used primarily to maintain vaccination records. The sentinel sites consist of adjoining counties or census tracts in which data are collected on at least 10,000 children younger than 6 years old.Vaccination coverage was estimated for children who were between 6 and 23 months during the entire period from September 2005 through March 2006.Coverage with at least one dose ranged from 6.6% to 60.4% among the sentinel sites, the CDC reported. The rates for full vaccination (two or more doses) ranged from 2.3% to 43.4%. The report did not list which sites had which rates.Compared with the 2004-05 flu season, vaccination coverage increased in four of the areas and decreased in two.The uneven coverage probably reflected varying promotion and reporting efforts, according to the CDC. For example, healthcare workers in one area said anecdotal evidence and previous surveys suggested that “the low reported vaccination coverage likely reflects underreporting of influenza vaccination to the IIS rather than the actual coverage,” the article says.However, the report also says that previous National Immunization Survey (NIS) estimates of flu vaccination among children have been similar to IIS estimates. The NIS combines a telephone survey of households with a mail survey of vaccination providers.NIS results for the 2005-06 flu season are not yet available. The NIS survey for 2004-05 indicated that 33.4% of 6- to 23-month-olds received at least one dose of flu vaccine, according to a CDC report released in October. That was double the rate for the 2003-04 season.The CDC made its first full recommendation for vaccinating 6- to 23-month-olds before the start of the 2004-05 flu season. Previously the agency “encouraged” vaccination for children in that group.See also: Oct 6 CIDRAP News story “Flu shots for toddlers rising, but still low”Sep 23, 2004, CIDRAP News story “Few children under 2 received flu shots in 2002-03”
LANCASTER – Lancaster youngsters from Quartz Hill Elementary School, Desert Christian Middle School and Quartz Hill High School were winners in the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest. Fourth-grader Amelia Gibbs, eighth-grader Katie Fries and 11th-grader Rebecca Lester each won in their respective category. Amelia will receive a trip to Disneyland, and the older girls won computers. The girls are scheduled to read their essays today at the city’s 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, which will begin at 4 p.m. at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center, 750 W. Lancaster Blvd. The contest was open to all local students in grades three through 12. Students competed in three categories: third to fifth grades, sixth to eighth grades, and ninth to 12th grades. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita The theme was: “Embracing our Neighbors.” Each category had a different essay question pertaining to the theme. The city sponsors its annual King celebration in partnership with the Antelope Valley Building Industry Association, High Desert Medical Group, Lancaster Community Hospital, Verizon, Waste Management, Southern California Edison, Lancaster West Rotary Club and Rite Aid. Here are the girls’ essays: When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools,” he meant that we must treat each other equally. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted us to treat each other with respect. Everyone should not judge people by the color of their skin. When he said “or perish together as fools” he meant if we fight more and more we will all perish. For example, if someone might fight a person because they don’t like the way they believe. The more and more they fight more people will die. I hope that we can all live in peace. – Amelia Gibbs Martin Luther King had a dream that all of mankind would see themselves as equals and embrace each other with love. He said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” When Martin Luther King spoke these words, it was a time when African-Americans were persecuted because of their skin color. Although we have made progress, there is still so much more we need to do. We look back at how we used to be, and say to ourselves that we are so much more accepting than before. But are we really? Are we really a more loving and less prejudiced generation? When we turn on the news all we seem to hear is yet another murder, kidnapping, terrorist attack or killing. Is this the loving world that we are supposed to be? We can’t change our world into a more loving and compassionate one overnight. The only way it can be done is if everyone does a little bit to help out. We start by getting to know our neighbor, understanding other cultures and opening our minds and our hearts to those who are different from us. Another big way to help change the world we live in today is to set good examples for others. Everyone, no matter how big or small make impacts on people, whether the impacts are good or bad. We have to decide what kind of impact we are going to make in our world. Just think of a world without hatred, war and abuses: the way things are supposed to be. Remember the dream of Martin Luther King and don’t let it die. It is our responsibility to make that dream come true. Don’t let down the generations to come. Do your part to help our world become a better place. – Katie Fries Nearly a half a century ago Martin Luther King Jr. spoke words that forever set a goal that man continues to strive for. “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become reality. I believe that the unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Martin Luther King’s words ring in the hearts of Americans who must overcome racism directed toward them by outside forces and also that bitterness that sulks in the soul after terrorist attacks and a war in a nation across an ocean. Racism is still a very powerful force but it has lost its overwhelming strength. The shining star in this black night is that we are no longer governed by unreasoning racial hate as a nation. Even in our anger over 9/11, racial violence towards Muslims wasn’t a widespread backlash of hate but only isolated incidents that disgusted the nation. Those who still act upon ingrained racism are now at war with the United States; they are now terrorists when they used to be merely traditionalists. This war isn’t a racial war but a righteous crusade against ingrained irrational racism. Racism is no longer tolerable in any form, when it once was the norm. This change in perception allows individuals to judge others by their character and make lasting bonds not because of but regardless of race. These bonds unite people and are fed by the love that grows between people that allow themselves to care for one another without being limited by race. Society has not allowed these bonds but has promoted them in today’s youth and tomorrow’s future. We are still in the midnight of Mr. King’s dream but day is surely peaking through the horizon as individuals remove the self-inflicted blinders and embrace each other as brothers regardless of race. This midnight is still upon us because hatred still coils in our souls for those wrongly ingrained reasons that can only fade with time and tolerance but they have lessened as stars of hope have formed in the darkness. Only when brotherhood is achieved will peace be more than an idealist’s dream and dawn will break. – Rebecca Lester 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!