AHSP is a little more than 3 weeks away. This email contains some updates on arrangements and additional details you can use to plan your weekend at Spruce Knob. Also, please note that the committee has another call-in scheduled for TOMORROW evening at 7:00 to answer your questions (see the end of the message).

Registrations status

AHSP 2013 is full! Each year we set a registration limit based on TMI’s resources and the availability of acceptable observing, camping, and parking areas. The committee does not maintain a formal waiting list. However, the committee will try to match anyone who wishes to swap his/her reservation with someone who is willing to accept a late opening.

For activities requiring prior registration: the summit hike is full, and the caving and canoeing trips are nearly so. Other activities have at least a few openings (as of Monday, Aug. 12), including the NRAO tour, the overnight radio observing, and the Cass trip. If you wish to add an activity, email to info@ahsp.org.

The Yellow (w/car) and Green (RV) observing fields are full. If you wish to change your request to the Red field with slightly better horizons but no parking, just send a note.

The TMI meal capacity for Saturday lunch-Sunday breakfast is nearly full. Other days have significant capacity.

There was some confusion about the Cass trip and fees. We will take the short 2 hour trip to Whitaker Station, and we will provide snacks but not lunch. As a result, the cost is $20 adult and $15 for children 12 and under. Those who paid more will receive a refund. Lunch is available at a cafe in Cass, at the snack bar at the Whitaker stop, or elsewhere in the vicinity on your own. We’ll provide lists and directions. We are still investigating whether sandwich fixings can be held for those on the TMI meal plan.

Speakers and schedule update

The speaker schedule has been set. All presentations will be in the Yurt, with overflow seating in a nearby tent.  We will have one speaker each morning Sat-Sun, two each afternoon Sat-Mon, and an after-dinner speaker each evening Friday-Monday.

In addition, there will be observing activities (solar, telescope, and sky familiarization) each day, and a swap table on Saturday morning. The door prizes will be distributed Saturday before dinner — buy lots of tickets which help support TMI. You must be present to win.

Photo contest awards for the child category will be announced on Sunday before dinner, with the remaining awards to be announced via email after the close of AHSP to allow additional imaging time on site.

See http://www.ahsp.org/home/program/events-overview/ for all the details.

Planning for your stay and observing

Instead of repeating a lot of information which remains the same since last year, we’ve updated the notes on the website from last year on suggestions for camping and observing. Take a look at the “Communications” website page at http://www.ahsp.org/news/communications/

Health & safety

We want to be sure that everyone is aware of the special safety concerns on the mountain. These revolve around two facts: we are camping on a mountain, and we are not close to the emergency services which most of us are used to in urban or suburban locations.

Fire is one concern. The TMI staff, the event staff, and every one of us becomes the ‘first responder’ should there be a fire in one of the buildings, a campsite, or the fields and woods. Our rules limiting cook fires and any open flame are one aspect. There is plenty of water at TMI, but in case of fire we need to get it from the sources to where it is needed, generally with hand pumps on backpack tanks.

Health and injury is the other major concern. For most of us, our bodies need a day or more to adjust to working and walking at altitude. Take it easy for the first day, and remember that those over 50 shouldn’t try to keep up with those under 30.

Then there are the usual minor problems that come up with camping: minor falls, cuts, and burns; digestive upsets; bug bites (although there are actually very few irritating bugs at Spruce Knob, and no animals that have bother people at the camp day or night); and sunburn and dehydration. The last two are easy and important to avoid. The Sun’s UV is strong at that altitude (we’re astronomers, so we know that) and the air is dry. The organizers have placed well stocked first aid kits at strategic locations around the site.

In case of more serious problems, the organizers have several individuals trained in first aid and advanced first aid. The AHSP staff are familiar with an emergency plan for who to contact and what to do in case of various emergencies. AHSP has purchased AEDs for TMI, and has people who know how to use them. If someone needs to go to a clinic or hospital, the trip is at least an hour, so the decision needs to be made sooner, not later.

In all emergencies, contact a member of the TMI or AHSP staff at the first sign of a problem, so that we can be sure the problem is properly monitored. If you bring an FRS radio (highly recommended),  contact the staff on channel 1 (462.5625MHz).

Also, if you are trained in relevant first aid, emergency response, or health skills, please let the committee know in case we might need to call on additional expertise.

Our detailed Plan can be found at http://www.ahsp.org/ahsp-emergency-plan/

More information

The committee will host a final conference call for questions and suggestions TOMORROW, Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. The conference phone number is 703 349 9500 and the code is “AHSP” (2477).  This call immediately precedes a committee meeting, we would appreciate any questions or suggestions that we might need to discuss with the entire volunteer group.

I will likely send out one more mailing in about two weeks with any last minute updates you need before AHSP begins.

As always, you can send questions,  requests for meals, activity registrations,  AHSP apparel purchases, etc. to info@ahsp.org.

For the volunteer committee,

  • Alan