September 2012

Below is a letter we just received from Eli Helbert, one of our own instructors here at Landmark Learning,  after competing in the Whitewater Freestyle World Cup. Great job Eli- all of your friends at Landmark could not be more proud!


I just wanted to write a quick thank you to all of my Landmarkian friends for their support during the recent Whitewater Freestyle World Cup. For me the World Cup began on the way home from the Eden Guides WFR because I was able to stop off and practice on the way home. The first event of the three event World Cup was held at a rock Island, TN. This is normally a huge wave hole that is extremely powerful and my practice time reflected this. Unfortunately, when the event began, we had low water and a very flushy wave. So, after the event, my family and I ogled the sharks at the Chattanooga Aquarium and headed East to the Pigeon river. The Pigeon River wave is a great feature that was built by bored raft guides stacking up rocks to deflect the water. These raft guides did a great job and this event was fantastic. The judges had a large LCD screen mounted a few feet above the water and we had real time scoring that competitors could see from the water. This was the site of the most impressive open canoe event to date. All of the competitors looked good as we cartwheeled and looped our boats full of water for the crowd. After an extremely close finish, we packed up and drove to the Nantahala for the final event of the World Cup. I gave an Irish and 2 German competitor/friends a lift to the Nantahala. It is nice to be able to return the hospitality I have experienced from paddlers around the World. We stopped in Asheville and celebrated my 36th birthday and then returned to our goal of throwing the biggest tricks on the water. At the Nantahala we experienced a very sticky, but maneuverable hole. This is the site of the 2013 World Championship. After three weeks of playboating, we were all ready to go big. This event was streamed live over the internet, so we had one last opportunity to show the judges and the online-World our best tricks. I ended up sixth in the World Cup overall, but am fired up for the US team trials next spring. I learned two new tricks at this year's World Cup and hopefully will be able to utilize them in my quest to reclaim the World Championship title. However, for now it is time to shift gears and switch into a long canoe. Before I return to the outdoor classroom instructing Wilderness Medicine, my daughter and I will be competing in the National Open Canoe Slalom races at the beginning of October. Thanks again for cheering us on!


The purpose of the following blog is not to alarm, but to just bring awareness to this topic. The Hantavirus is making headlines right now in the United States, and  we would like to arm you with some preventative knowledge.

It starts with chills, fever and muscle aches. This is the time when most  people would simply assume they are coming down with the flu. Within just a few days these common symptoms can turn into shortness of breath and uncontrollable vomiting. And without treatment, it can get worst. Much worst. Those exposed to the Hantavirus almost always end up in the ICU and one-third of people infected end up in the morgue. So what exactly is the Hantavirus and how does one get it? Hantavirus is a life-threatning disease spread to humans by rodents. Mice in particular.  The virus is found in their urine and feces and is believed that humans can get sick with this virus if they come in contact with contaminated dust from mice nests or droppings. And while the Hantavirus is rare, only  587 cases were diagnosed nationwide from 1993 to 2011 according to the national Centers for Disease Control, 9 cases have been already been reported this year alone in the Yosemite National Park. The outbreak has lead to the Yosemite National Park sending out sending notifications to an additional 230,000 people who stayed at the park since early June (click here for more information on the Yosemite outbreak).

If you should develop flu-like symptoms after coming  into contact with rodent droppings or rodent urine you should contact your doctor immediately. But as always, prevention is best. Try to avoid  exposure to rodent urine and droppings.

  • When hiking and camping, pitch tents in areas where there are no rodent droppings.
  • Avoid rodent dens.
  • Drink disinfected water.
  • Sleep on a ground cover and pad.
  • Keep your home clean. Clear out potential nesting sites and clean your kitchen.
For more information on Hantavirus, visit the following URLs:




WMI Instructors Deane Hodde and Justin Padgett were pleased to have a large group of outdoor professionals in their WFR Recert course this last weekend.  Of course students were from all over the country, with the majority coming from the southeast.  Unique to this class was the fact that most of these folks were full time trip leaders with long  histories of maintaining WFR certifications.  This fact made the course quite rich with knowledge, field experience and skill application.  In addition we had two Medical Doctors in training attend our course as observers as part of there experience in the Carolina Wilderness Medicine Externship 2012.  Justin Sempsrott  and Danny Willner were a ball of fun and supportive of our students as they refreshed their skills.  We were proud to be able to support the CWEMSE  and get to meet wilderness dedicated medical professionals like these two!  Thanks to all the students that showed their motivation and hard work at this recert.  See you all in two years!  Prevention trumps medicine.