Loc: Newtown Square pa
I would like to start a post where we learn from each others mistakes. Recently Backpacker Mag, posted all the writers & staffs closest calls. What I am looking for is similar to that kind of post. I read the UL vs. Safety Margin and there are some ideas there. This isn't about being embarrased, But here is an example.
Last year many of my weekend hikes are for the exercise to get back in shape. After a 10 miler in a local Pennsylvania Park with lots of small PUDS (pointless Ups & DownS) I didn’t get back to the car till after sunset. The car was parked on a paved back road near a back entrance that most of my family didn’t know about. I looked into the locked car and saw the keys had fallen out of my pocket and into the space between the seats. No problem, I called my wife on a cell phone to come bail me out. No answer. So I called my elderly mother in law, who was with my son as they were a couple of miles away. Great, I got thru and even in the poor reception of being in a wooded valley I started to describe where I was to my attention deficit son. I gave him great instructions as my battery died ¾ into the description on how to get here. Yea, I know I could have broken a window; I am looking at the keys…. Nope. After a half hour of waiting and no cars came by, I decided to hike in the wooded darkness to higher ground. Three miles later I managed to squeeze another call out and they were looking for me and …. The phone went dead again. I hiked the final two miles after that to the nearest common known spot a gas station, just as they pulled up. They had gone to the primary park entrance and driven back and forth down the wrong road not knowing the size of the park that they had lived next for years. They had kept turning around and searching the wrong spot for an hour. Had they continued the road would have curved around the park and they eventually come to the car. Please don't die of laughter here...One 70 year old Grandmother driving a 17 year old boy in the dark. That was my search party. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />
My solution, I now carry a spare phone battery because they are light and additional contact numbers. I take the time to put the ranger numbers in and make it a point to stop by and drop of a “Hike Plan” with them and a “Find my car here on a map” with the wife. A full charge is on the phone before hitting the trail. I even sewed in a clip inside the backpack to put the key on. (it’s a chipped one that cannot be copied.) Recently, I even replaced the battery on the car to insure a good start, I now do that every two or three years.
Chongo and I did a 15-mile up and down hike near where we live. Knowing the terrain well, we brought along just enough water (2 qts. each). We got to the peak (7.5 miles) with no problems, and with just a quarter of our water left. The sun was blazing (about 100F), there was hardly any shade anywhere, but hey, no problem, it was just going to be downhill back to trailhead. Then my knees gave out -- and every single step was excruciating pain!
What took 3 hours to hike up took me 5-6 hours to hike down! Not anticipating this at all, and with the sun pounding down on us, we both finished our water pretty quickly.
LUCKILY, I saw another hiker on his way up, and asked for a bit of his water. The good samaritan shared his water with us, then told us where he had hidden an extra quart a few miles downhill. He then turned back to go downhill -- passing us quickly behind. We eventually reached his stash of water and quickly consumed it all. Now, just a few more miles to trailhead!
AMAZINGLY, the good samaritan actually got down to the trailhead before us, filled up yet more water, and then hiked back UP the fairly steep trail to bring it to us -- all in 100F heat!!!
Lesson learned -- always bring a bit more water than you think you need!
I did a January hike in an area I wasn't that familiar with and got snowed in, and couldn't go back the way I came because of tides and storm surge. So I trudged out, and knew where I was on the map, but went the wrong way because I was hoping to get to a road I thought operated in winter, but didn't unless there was logging going on. I learned not try and get back in too much of a hurry because it only makes you even more stupid. I also learned not to carry so much nylon and metal, but to carry more insulation and food. I also learned things are alot slower in snow, even on a road, and when on a long slow trudge in snow it is worth it to stop for a full hour and a hot meal at noon in order to cover as much distance in the afternoon as the morning. I also learned that water can freeze in bottles, and streams, and when you are travelling slower you have to be able to melt snow and carry more water. I also learned how much fun it is to go on a long trudge in the snow, but that you can make a lot of stupid mistakes and have people unneccessarily worried even if you are able to maintain contact. I plan my winter trips with multiple exit points now, and I update my current location and travel plans daily on my voice mail by cell phone, or whenever my plans change, or whenever I am able to use the cell phone if it is a difficult area. Good use of cell phone I think. Also in winter it doesn't hurt to be familiar with an area, because it is still different and challenging in winter. In general, it is best not to deal with too many unknowns at once in terms of food, clothing, gear, skills, fitness, weather, climate, location, topography, people, etc.
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
There are actually several threads here already with stories like these. Finding them is the hard part. I think some of them are in the mountaineering thread-accident reports; some are in the winter thread-one of my trips is, plus BMISF's trip to the Sierra in bad weather. There are others dealing with accidents, lost hikers, rescues and so on. Try some common search terms like "lost" or "rescue" and they should show up. One I started is called "Lucky Yuppies."
Don't get me started, you know how I get.
I often take my students backpacking with me or I go solo. With these type of trips I always think safety first. With that kind of responsibility you must think think think. On a trip up the Narrows in Zion NP with my girl friend I did something stupid. The Narrows is rather busy, and my girl friend is the president of a company. So with people around a person that I trust I was not thinking like I do most of the time. On the way back (we went up river for a few miles and then took a side trip) I was tired but feeling great when I came to a deeper spot I thought it would be deep just for a step. I stepped in to a pool that I knew was too deep. Now I am trying to swim with a backpack on! All worked out well, but wow was that stupid. Kevin
Everyone seems to be conserned about thier mistakes, and what to plan for, but what about those situations where Murphy's Law kicks in. Me and my son, who was only 5 at the time, were squirrel hunting in December. When we returned to my old 1971 chevy c-10 pickup the starter would not engage. Luckily I had only a small ratchet set and was able to pull the starter off. The teeth seemed to be a little worn but the shims were all the way in and I tried to start it four times with no luck. I never carry a cell phone but I have started to take one whenever I go hunting or packing. 20 miles from the nearest phone and about 35 deg, I decided to do what I thought was crazy, but it actually worked, I pulled the starter off again and wrapped the bendix about three times with duct tape, you could have heard my heart beating from a mile away, but it actually turned over, and i did'nt turn it off until we were in the drive way two hours later. Just another 1001 ways to use duct tape, i told a mechanic friend and he said to check my flywheel when changing the starter out. It took me three hours to clean the tape off the flywheel, but hey, We might have been in more trouble, if i had'nt. A real good tip is to always keep old belts, that have been changed, in your vehicle, i have thrown belts in three different cars over the years, but because i keep the old ones, i was always able to use the old one and get me rollin again. Never go anywhere without a ratchet set and in newer cars make sure you carry standard and metric.
Stupid mistake if one is planning on taking their best mate hiking make sure the person is somewhat athletic. My friend heard about all the cool adventures I have been having in Isle Royale and Pictured Rocks. He decided to head up with me to Isle Royale for a week. I told him what he needed to purchase. He decided not to so he carried all cotton and deniem very heavy. This is the second time I used my Rock 22 TNF fent with all the food and gear and my heavy clothing it made my pack about 50 lbs. This while I was learning UL that summer I ditched my car camp tent and purchased a bivy ditched the old 80's metal frame back pack for internal frame. Purchased frameless bag for short 3 dayers I was close to UL but not to close. I had to carry 50lbs for a week his pack was 40 lbs with cloths and a tent. He decided he couldnt walk the distance anymore I pulled out the tent from his bag and lashed it to my pack I swear his tent was 10 to 20 lbs, making my pack 60 lbs. I had to then carry this for the last 3 days. On the second to last day he twisted his ankle I had to carry his pack for a couple miles before a boy scout dad helped us with a pole carry. So I had to carry 100 lbs or more on me. In the end what did I learn make sure your friends are well prepared and have some experience before you go out for a long trip his cotton cloths got soaked in sweat and rain making it horrible for him. I do not think he wants to go backpacking with me ever again
>"Stupid mistake if one is planning on taking their best mate hiking make sure the person is somewhat athletic. My friend heard about all the cool adventures I have been having in Isle Royale and Pictured Rocks. He decided to head up with me to Isle Royale for a week. I told him what he needed to purchase. He decided not to so he carried all cotton and deniem very heavy. "
I'd suggest the mistake was not about your friend's athleticism but about your tolerating his refusal to get the necessary equipment. I have experienced and witnessed this kind of behavior on numerous occasions. Somehow some people manage to delude themselves that what you are telling them simply doesn't apply to them or would only matter to a connoiseur or fanatic but doesn't have any real impact on comfort, much less survival. Also some people manage to think "Well, if this is true, this is going to cost me money. Since I don't want to spend the money, it must not really be true".
I cope with this issue by being very explicit about what gear is optional and what is not optional (and what is not permitted). I even tell people that one required "gear item" is empty space in their packs so they can help out someone else in the group in case that person's pack needs to be lightened.
Not only am I very specific about what gear requirements are, I briefly tell people why: "If you get wet and don't dry out you could die of hypothermia". It helps to be able to give direct personal examples like "last time a guy didn't pay any attention and brought a ton of denim and really suffered when he got soaked".
I also try to give people an idea of what kind of budget they may need to spend in order to get the equipment. I include options there like buying new from a local gear shop, ordering from a catalog or online, shopping a thrift store, or borrowing from me.
Finally, I make sure that people understand that if they unfortunately don't have the proper equipment by departure time, that they will be left behind. It's just that simple. You never know when failure to properly prepare may result in a worse situation than what you recently experienced and it's not worth the risk. Also, if you are the "mentor" and they are the "newby", the relationship isn't going to work if they don't have enough respect to follow your recommendations prior to the actual trip. If they won't follow directions then, what may they do in a situation that may be much more critical?
Human Resources Memo: Floggings will continue until morale improves.
Yeah thanks for the heads up I am partly to blaim I was transitioning to UL and I was still kinda new to backpacking my self. I initally bought a bivy because of the weight. Then I bought a tent because I had my uncle come with me for a 3 day trip. Then I didn't use the bivy because I didnot like the smallness of it. So I endured the weight of the tent. I was not properly prepared my self because I had a lot of heavy items I was taking. I think the hiatus with my friend on Isle Royale has been a good lesson for me in UL planning and taking friends on extended trips. Plus with me building up a good base of gear I will be able to loan people my stuff when I take them
Ryanparrish, Ummm - you have to take more control, if you can. You said he didn't buy the gear that you suggested, ok, but why DID you take two tents including a really heavy one? Cotton isn't that heavy, its bad for other reasons, both of you had WAY too much gear. You aren't even approaching lightweight yet. You owe it to your friend and yourself to look more closely at your needs for the next trip. Set weight limits. Share, but don't take 100 pounds... Jim
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
We both have very little money so what can be had as gifts donations etc is helpful. We both work and go to school so what is not left for paying for school or living expenses goes to gear. I used the bivy maybe most 4 times. My friend couldn't even think about getting in something that small. I was tired of being in such a small shelter, I took the tent instead. While the tent has a lot of room I tried it out my uncle and me and a dog could fit in it it was a squeeze though. My friend has a personal space issue. I really want to try the 4th season but a persistant lack of snow and budget has lead me to give up on that goal. Also I did not want to tap into spring break funds. I am going to try a henessy hammock it seems like the ideal shelter between a tarp and a bivy for that trip I took:
TNF Rock 22 TNF Crestone 60 backpack Pocket Knife National Geo Map Katadyn Hiker Pro Walmart Tarp ( instead of sitting on the dirt or cooking in the dirt) LLBean Cotton Khakis Walmart Nylon Shorts LL Bean Lightweight Fleece Starter brand work out jersey Freeze Dried Meals from Mountain house 4 days worth Cabela Rain Jacket 10 pkgs of rammon 36 granola bars 3 boxes of Quaker Oatmeal Army Surplus Mess Kits 2 Coleman Canister Fuel Tanks 1 First Aid Kit 1 package of vasoline soaked cotton balls 1 Brunton Raptor Stove 1 Snow Peak Solo Ti Kit 1 Black Diamond Headlamp 1 50ft of roap (used for hanging tarp in trees to avoid rain must have been a lb) 1 ursack bears aren't a problem racoons and squirrels and foxes are 1 Teva hiking shoes 1 pkg of hanes athletic socks 1 pkg of hanesundershorts 1 Mountain Hardware Trekker Syn Bag 1 Space Blanket
I am planning on for this spring summer to change it to
1 henessy expedition hammock 1 Golite Race Pack 1 Ex Officio Convertible Pants 1 Patagonia Capilene shirt 1 Fleece Jackect haven't decided yet 1 Cabela Rain Jacket 1 snow peak solo ti kit 1 petzel head lamp 1 ziplock package of vasoline soake cotton balls 1 brunton raptir stive 2 coleman canister fuek tanks food 1 space blanket 1 lexan bowl 1 snow peak ti spork pair of merrel hiking shoes 1 katadyn hiker pro 1 polysil tarp 1 ursack 1 equinox 50 ft of roap I think this stuff is lighter then what I was carrying
I have sold the bivy buying the henessy will keep the TNF rock22 for winter camping when I get the money for the gear. I will probaly keep the crestone 60 for winter camping I cant come to terms with selling it because my Grandma spent what little she had buying that for my 18th birthday and it really pushed me from a wallflower to an active backpacker. Sorry this turned to be a long post but people were wondering why I brought so much and what I brought so I posted lesson learned
Thank you <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I wanted to bicycle tour this spring break looks like I wont be able to <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> because I have a new job <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> and I found an internship in Colorado for this summer <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> and if I stop by the Grand Canyon I get humanities credits <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> so I figured I should BP the Grand Canyon to get credit <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Last summer, I went on a 6-day hiking trip in Southeast Alaska. Except for the first & last few hours, it was entirely off-trail, and very rugged: at several points my father & I wished we had ropes as well as rapelling equipment. Twice the terrain was so steep that we had to take off the packs and raise or lower them with string; as I was tieing my pack up for one of these lifts, I discovered that my sleeping pad was missing! I backtracked & searched up the steep mountainside we were climbing down, but didn't venture far since the terrain was dangerous enough that I thought it was stupid to risk my neck over a cheap piece of foam.
For the remainder of the trip I had to build a bed of moss at each campsite to keep from freezing during the cold nights. From this experience I've learned to lash down my pad extra tight; I figure it got ripped off my pack while descending through a patch of thick brush. I also learned it takes a lot of time to build even a part of a shelter.
While on the topic of brush, my dad also learned the hard way that if you have a piece of equipment that the brush can snag, it will. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> Before I talked him into the lightweight packing kick he used to carry one of those ancient external frame Kelty packs, the kind that pin to their frames. One day, a branch took hold of the release pin (which is like the grab-pin on a fire extinguisher) and let loose every single fastener pin on one side of the pack, and it swung off the frame like a barnyard door. Pins scattered in the underbrush, and he had to make do with duct tape.
Lessons learned during offtrail hiking in brush: * cover release pins with duct tape * tuck in or trim all pullchords/zipper pulls/tightening straps (better yet, buy a lightweight pack that doesn't have much of that nonsense to worry about) * wear safety glasses when swimming through thick brush(ouch!) * attach prescription glasses to your head with sunglass keeper * bring spare prescription glasses * use a holster that secures your handgun very well (don't ask) * tuck in shoelaces * tuck in long hair * lash on your sleeping pad vertically instead of horizontally, and make it tight * make sure nothing that you tuck into those handy mesh pockets hangs out, such as camera straps or socks * don't use "frogg togg" raingear; they're light, but they tear easily
I got a bit lost on a day hike in the Lake District (UK) above Honister Pass for those who know the area, and the climate in early november... Lost in the clouds, missed the fork to get back to the pass. The wind set up very quickly, bringing bucketloads of rain, opening the view, so I could understand where I was: on top of a small cliff, above a lot of bad looking scree, then a meadow with various bogs and streams, and soggy sheep, then the pass road, in that deep valley, on my left. And me condemned to follow a very broken ridge path, no way out. Or try to walk back a loooong way. This road seemed to be so near, but no ... So I followed the ridge, for about two hours, the wind so powerful I sometimes had to sit and wait, scrambling on and around slippery rocks, until I get to a "passable" way down. That means more or less sliding down on my bottom, grabbing whatever hold I could (Damn, I don't like mountains, incl. climbing, and worse, going DOWN!) Then passing the scree without breaking an ankle, wading in the bogs, crossing two of the streams, dodging the shaggy/unfriendly looking Blackface sheep, scrambling up a stone wall, getting stuck in the barbed wires, at last setting foot on the road. I was soaked to the skin, but the rain gear kept me a bit warm, luckily, as it was not more than 7 or 8°C. At that point, of course, the little traffic I had spotted on the road vanished, no chance for a lift and I had to walk several km back to a tiny village, to find other soaked and miserable hikers, all escaped from a miserable day, steaming in the heat of a welcome pub. Before more km back to my lodging, in pouring rain. I know I could have broken something or possibly worse, I was scared a bit but as I'm usually very slow and cautious on this kind of ground, all went well. Even if the "wet wet wet" moments were not exactly fun...
Loc: Washington State, King County
Beach backpacking trip last year. Friend and I hike down to a beach from the trail above. The trail to get back up is a fairly steep and long hill that we know then just descends again to get not that far up coast from where we are now. And it happens to be low tide, and it seems like we should be able to get around those big rocks ...
You can see where this is going.
We waded out thigh, then waist, then above waist deep, got around one major obstacle to another little beachlet, and had another significant obstacle to wade --- or maybe swim --- around. Got to the point where we were glad our backpacks had inner liners before we wised up and turned around and ultimately hiked up the hill.
The mild waves pushing us towards rock faces would have been bad enough without backpacks on. We were smart enough to undue waist belts and chest straps and ultimately we did turn back, but we pushed it farther than prudent just trying to get that last little bit that would save us half an hour of hiking.
I'm sure I've done other stupid things, but this is what comes to mind just now ... <g>
that must have sucked because saltwater is so gross after drying on you and no way to shower it off <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> Not to mention you had to do the hike anyway <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> I never get in the water unless absolutely necessary, because I hate getting my gear and clothes saturated with saltwater.
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!
About ten years ago I was refereeing for a paintball club, and one weekend we decided to play in a woodsie area near Sultan, WA. About midday another ref commented that she hadn't seen one of the players in over an hour; we asked around, and the buddy he carpooled with said the missing guy still had his gear in the car, so he didn't know what was up... he did say that the guy was diabetic, so maybe he'd passed out somewhere on the woodsball field?
An older player piped up and said it was a possiblity, and went on to say he was an EMT & that he'd like to help if he could. One of the other refs organized everybody into a search party & had them put their gus away, and I recommended that we keep our masks on in case the guy woke up & started shooting people. We formed a long line, combed & recombed the field for a while, then someone yelled that the missing guy was back at the cars.
It turns out the guy had gotten lost. We had the borders of the field clearly taped off and the road was visible from the field, yet he still went in the wrong direction. When he realized he was lost he did exactly the wrong thing: he paniced, dropped all of his equipment, and ran. By sheer chance he came across another road and hitched a ride back to the paintball fields, and did nothing but mope around in his friend's car for the rest of the day.
This taught me that you still need to keep yourself oriented even though you're not in the woods to hike; even if you're just berrypicking a few yards away from a road, it's a good idea to take a compass reading first.
Loc: The State of Jefferson
Wolfeye, Good post. This brings up another point. When you go out with a group it's important that every person knows what to do if they get separated from the group. I thing there's a tendency to assume everyone is safe because they are with the group but if the newbie drops off the back of the pack he needs to know what to do.
Good thing he didn't wander into one of the clear cuts where real guns were in use! If I recall correctly those are further up the road, though I've only gotten a glimpse of the paint ball venue signs.
I think if I ever take a group of newbie paintballers out again I'll attach cheap whistles to the equipment, or maybe those little zipper-pull compasses. Same goes if I take anyone out hiking or berrypicking for the first time, and I'd start by giving them a schpeel about what to do if they get lost or hurt. Marking the exit better would be a good idea too, in the case of paintball. Not many renters station their games outdoors any more though, so getting lost is less of an issue than it used to be.
It's disturbingly easy to picture what must have been going through that lost player's head as he ran through the woods for an hour or two, not knowing what to do. It could've been worse had it been a wintertime game, or if the guy really did go into diabetic shock in the middle of nowhere.