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#63695 - 12/16/06 11:06 PM Learning fom each others MISTAKES
markswarbick Offline

Registered: 06/25/06
Posts: 36
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.

#63696 - 12/16/06 11:32 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]
Ben2World Offline

Registered: 10/26/04
Posts: 1754
Loc: So Cal
Here's mine.

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!

#63697 - 12/17/06 09:03 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: Ben2World]
JAK Offline

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
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.

#63698 - 12/17/06 10:09 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]
TomD Offline

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
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.

#63699 - 12/18/06 09:22 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]
trailblazer Offline

Registered: 01/11/02
Posts: 788
Loc: Menlo Park, CA/Sierra Nevada
Here is an old post of mine where I ask the same question. Without writing it again the one I posted then is still one of my biggest mistakes...

#63700 - 12/18/06 09:33 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]
kev452 Offline

Registered: 10/01/02
Posts: 93
Loc: Michigan
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.

#63701 - 12/21/06 03:31 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]

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.

#63702 - 12/21/06 04:20 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES
Paddy_Crow Offline

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
I haven't had to crawl under a car in decades. Pretty much since I stopped driving old clunkers.

#63703 - 12/22/06 05:20 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES
Ben2World Offline

Registered: 10/26/04
Posts: 1754
Loc: So Cal
What Magyver wrote: "Always keep old timing belts and ratchet sets - standard and metric".

What I learned: Dont' ask for trouble, get rid of cars before they become clunkers! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

#63704 - 12/26/06 07:42 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: JAK]
ryanparrish Offline

Registered: 12/05/06
Posts: 91
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

#63705 - 12/26/06 09:10 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: ryanparrish]
Keith Offline

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1664
Loc: Michigan's Upper Peninsula
>"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.

#63706 - 12/26/06 10:51 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: Keith]
ryanparrish Offline

Registered: 12/05/06
Posts: 91
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

#63707 - 12/26/06 01:57 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: ryanparrish]
Jimshaw Offline

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
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...
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

#63708 - 12/26/06 04:43 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: Jimshaw]
ryanparrish Offline

Registered: 12/05/06
Posts: 91
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
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

#63709 - 12/27/06 08:34 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: ryanparrish]
Tango61 Offline

Registered: 12/27/05
Posts: 931
Loc: East Texas Piney Woods
If you want to learn a lot about hammock camping, check out these sites:

If you try it and like it, you're hooked. I am and love it.

Been down to 24F and stayed warm. Still working on building the right gear, slowly but surely.


#63710 - 12/28/06 06:23 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: Tango61]
ryanparrish Offline

Registered: 12/05/06
Posts: 91
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="" />

#63711 - 01/11/07 10:22 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]
Wolfeye Offline

Registered: 01/11/07
Posts: 413
Loc: Seattle, WA
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

#63712 - 01/12/07 03:18 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: Wolfeye]
frenchie Offline

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 461
Loc: Lyon, France
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...

#63713 - 02/27/07 12:21 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]
BrianLe Offline

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
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>
Brian Lewis

#63714 - 02/28/07 08:56 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: BrianLe]
Earthling Offline

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
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.

#63715 - 03/01/07 05:54 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: Earthling]
BrianLe Offline

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
Beach hiking has a particularly strong impact on at least certain types of trekking poles; my friends poles have never been the same (corrosion).
Brian Lewis

#63716 - 03/02/07 05:06 PM paintball survival story [Re: markswarbick]
Wolfeye Offline

Registered: 01/11/07
Posts: 413
Loc: Seattle, WA
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.

#63717 - 03/03/07 10:21 AM Re: paintball survival story [Re: Wolfeye]
Eric Offline

Registered: 09/23/02
Posts: 294
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.

#63718 - 03/03/07 10:52 AM Re: paintball survival story [Re: Wolfeye]
paulj Offline

Registered: 01/26/03
Posts: 1603
Loc: Seattle
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.


#63719 - 03/03/07 09:42 PM Re: paintball survival story [Re: Eric]
Wolfeye Offline

Registered: 01/11/07
Posts: 413
Loc: Seattle, WA
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.

#63720 - 03/06/07 09:15 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]
Paul Offline

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 778
Loc: California
One summer many years ago, I was on a trip with three other teenage buddies in the Sierra. We camped in a nice meadow and it began to rain. No big deal, this is the Sierra, it never rains for long in the Sierra in the summer - just afternoon thunderstorms. Three uninterrupted days of rain later, the meadow was a bog, our tarps were no longer really pitched so much as draped over us as the stakes had pulled out of what was now just mud, everyhing we had was soaked - and I mean everything - even the M&M's in my trail mix had the color running off of them. We packed up our stuff - I can still remember squeezing the quarts of water out of my down bag as I stuffed it - and walked down a nearby forest service road to Hwy 89 and a couple miles further into Tahoe City. Found a laundromat and dried out. I recall that my hands were so cold that I couldn't get my money out of my wallet or operate the vending machine for that much-desired candy (fortunately my friends helped me). I know now that we were probably heading for hypothermia, and that a little south of us and at a higher elevation, a couple people died. Lessons learned -
1) meadows look nice but they are crummy places to camp if it really rains
2) the usual weather patterns are not the only possibilities - be prepared to deal with worse than usual.
3) If your situation gets bad, do something about it sooner rather than later
4) never hike ten miles in soaking wet jeans - the inside of my thighs were rubbed raw
5) those M&M's will stand up to some amazing abuse and still taste great.

#63721 - 03/18/07 02:06 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: Paul]
whorg Offline

Registered: 06/06/03
Posts: 259
Loc: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Back in the early 1980's, my buddy and I arrived at an empty leanto in the eastern Adirondack high-peaks . . . we were well seasoned by then, and knew the ropes. After cooking/eating 100 yds. away, then hanging our food (no cannisters then!) another 100 yds. away . . . we were ready to settle down in the leanto for a nice, restful evening.

Along comes this group of 4 fellows from Brooklyn, all husky young men in good shape carrying all new gear ! ! ! They ask us for room in the leanto . . . we have no problem with that at all. They unpack their sleeping bags/pads, and decide to skip their evening meal that night in lieu of some snacks. Taking out bags of cookies and gorp, we ask them why they are eating "inside" their sleeping bags, leanto, etc . . . they start getting this pissy attitude with us about their decisions . . .

We move out, setting up our tent away from the leanto . . . we warned them. About 3:00 AM, we were woken by the sounds of yelling and ripping fabrics . . . I peeked out of the tent and saw flashlight beams piercing the darkness. We ran up to the leanto, they were all wide-eyed and full of adrenaline. We stayed with them for a while before returning to our tent . . . I'm sure they slept little for the remainder of that night.


Have fun.

#63722 - 03/21/07 01:24 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]
paulbrown137 Offline

Registered: 09/29/05
Posts: 112

A buddy and I were hiking in Desolation Wilderness just east of Pyramid Peak. We came in via the climb up horsetail falls and decided to exit along the ridge to the east of the falls. I had climbed the falls before and done some sightseeing on two previous day hikes there. But this was the first overnighter for myself and the first trip to the area for my friend. As its name indicates, trails are nearly non-existant in many parts of Desolation.

The hike in was great, made it to pyramid lake no problems and set up for a day of fishing and relaxing. On the hike out we had to reference the map a few times to get our bearings, and finally got going. Well I was taking my sweet time taking pictures and my buddy was obviously not paying much attention to me. I turn around and he is no where to be seen. I started hiking in the direction i last saw him and after about 15 minutes started calling his name and blowing my whistle. Didn't see him for the rest of the hike.

I knew he had about 2L of water and some trailmix, bars etc. I had less water, but I had the filter and more food. I had the compass, he had the map. I had experience in the area and now know that my Iron Boogers are much better than his. I found my way along our intended path and hoped to see him along the way. I finally made it down to highway 50 at Camp Sacramento and was able to get ahold of his girlfriend down the hill. She said he had just called and was at the lodge at Fallen Leaf Lake!! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> If you are familiar with the area, you know that is like the opposite direction of where he should have went. I was exhausted because I was trying to finish the hike as soon as possible in hopes of finding him up the trail. Luckily my other buddy was at his girlfriend's cabin just down the road in Strawberry. He came and ferried me back to my truck at the base of horsetail falls 2 miles down the road (my hiking buddy and I had planned to hitch back after we made it out).

Took about 10 minutes to catch my breath and then made the hour drive to pick up my partner. I had to drive over Echo summit, down into tahoe, up 89 about 5 miles than 30 minutes around fallen leaf lake on a one way road. He was sitting on the deck of the lodge finishing up a cheeseburger. He had hiked mostly downhill about 3 miles to the NE on a marked trail while i took our intended route that was about 6 miles to the S, mostly over packed snow that covered up all the trails with a huge ascent up a ridge and a final 2 mile 2000' drop to highway 50.


One map/compass for a group does not constitute the 10 essentials

Dont loose sight of your partner, and if you do, start blowing your whistle immediately.

The intended way out is not always the easiest way out. And finding the trail without a map doesn't win you a cheeseburger.

It ended up with smiles and laughs, but he could have just as easily been lost for good.

#63723 - 04/09/07 11:49 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]
musicimprovedme Offline

Registered: 12/18/03
Posts: 707
Loc: Lufkin TX, USA
This might be for the moderators.

I was looking back in the archives, those I could find that is...for some really funny stories from 2004 when I first started working at wilderness camp. I was so green in those days, I'm sure there was plenty of mistakes discussed. I can't find them...any help?

The thread was kind of like this one...called "I won't do that again" One story in particular that I remember telling was dumping my hammock during tick season and sleeping on the ground.

I referenced it myself a year or so ago, when I checked in after being gone for a while, so apparently I was able to find it then. Now I can't.

Does anyone have access to this thread and can it be bumped up?
It's not the weight of the load, it's how you carry it.

"Bear ye one another's burdens." Gal 6:2

#63724 - 04/10/07 08:32 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: musicimprovedme]
midnightsun03 Offline

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska

There are a chunk of posts from 2004 that aren't currently available. I think there was a discussion of this in the Admin section a while back. I think a number of us have tried to find old posts from that era and were unable to do so. I don't remember why... think it had something to do with archives not being updated, server moves and other administravia occurring all about the same time that Packlite's life got tossed a major curveball. IIRC, the information isn't lost, just making it available is not high on the 'To Do' list.

Nice to see you back Music. You should write a book on how to handle life's curveballs!

YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.

#63725 - 04/10/07 11:18 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: midnightsun03]
musicimprovedme Offline

Registered: 12/18/03
Posts: 707
Loc: Lufkin TX, USA
Thanks MNS. I appreciate the reply. I looked and looked for that.

I spent a few liesurely hours lately just reading back through the old days here...quite a ride. We all have been through a lot together.
It's not the weight of the load, it's how you carry it.

"Bear ye one another's burdens." Gal 6:2

#63726 - 05/08/07 03:59 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]
Traci Offline

Registered: 05/08/07
Posts: 1
One of our fondest backpacking memory/mistakes was also our first trip. My husband and I have always been outdoors people. We own a boat, live in the Pacific Northwest and have gone “camping” for years. My husband had recently had a heart attack and so I wanted to keep our first trip “easy”. I planned our trip, did a lot of research and began to prepare. Not wanting him to carry a heavy load I decided that I could muster a 65 pound pack. It was, after all, only five miles to the cliff and then down the cliff to the ocean. I had checked local tide tables and selected a weekend with a full moon and therefore minus tides during the daytime. Everything seemed great so off we went.

The five miles of terrain was mostly flat. Flat, swampland. The cliff – yep a cliff. I dumped my pack over and picked it up at the bottom. Being new to the backpacking thing, we didn’t know what signs looked like. We saw a red sign with some black on it and just figured it must mean “stay away” or “trouble” what else would they use red for. We set up camp, hung our food, toiletries and anything that might have a scent and went to bed. In the middle of the night I woke up to something very large sniffing my head outside the tent. My night in shining armor, who had decided to sleep on the side of the tent away from the door, arms himself with a hatchet. Just in case the bear wasn’t really irritated, my husband could help. The bear left and we stayed up all night stoking the fire. We also hiked two miles down the sandy beach to collect water from a stream, each day. On our way home we decided to check out a little area back in the woods about 25 feet from where we had pitched our tent. Yep – stream.

Things I’ve learned:
Trails marked “moderate” in Washington State are often not.
“No bank waterfront” can mean “200 foot cliff at end of trail”.
Red and black signs are trail markers.
The sound of running water may not only be the ocean, check around, that stream could be closer than you think.
Bears will often leave if you make enough noise.
My husband screams like a girl.

Believe it or not we enjoyed our trip very much. If you are early in the season you can have miles and miles of coastline all to yourself. It’s become our little paradise get away and I can’t imagine a summer without going.

#63727 - 05/25/07 09:47 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]
Mattress Offline

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 109
Loc: Victoria, BC, Canada
The coastal trails in my area all come with warnings about reading and understanding the tide tables, and they post current tide predictions at every trailhead. When you're hiking, this is important as there's areas that are cut-off by high tide and can leave you stranded for hours, or at least very wet.

Last year, when we were camping on a beach, some teenagers made a noisy entrance onto the beach after hiking with 60 pounds of gear each (20 pounds was probably the beer). They looked around, and saw everybody's tents huddled in a small area up near the trees, then looked the other direction and chose a nice, flat, sandy spot near a waterfall. They excitedly set up their tent and had a good time, while the rest of us debated whether to enjoy the quiet afforded by their distance from us, or to advise them of their poor choice and invite them to share our small spot. Eventually a few of us did ask them if they were aware of the tides, and they said they were and camp here all the time. Okey dokey.

Around 3:00 am, right around the full-moon high tide, we were all woken up by panicked shouting. Luckily, the noise of the crashing waves mere feet from our tents drowned out most of the sound, so we were able to go back to sleep easily. When we woke up in the morning, the teens were fast asleep in the trees, wet gear draped from various branches.

1) read the tide table
2) understand the tide table
3) respect advice from more seasoned hikers
4) if the "perfect spot" isn't taken, stop to wonder why
5) nature is a mother

#63728 - 05/30/07 10:09 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: Mattress]

Wow, lots of good stories here! I guess you could say my story is something stupid I did in bear country one time. A few years ago I was getting ready for archery season and scouting some country just north of Yellowstone NP for elk. There is a guest ranch very close to this area and a few of my friends worked there over the summer. Earlier that year my buddy had an encounter with a grizzly bear not far from where I was going to be scouting. Nothing bad happened - I guess the bear just snorted at him and the two went their seperate ways. there I am at the trail head. I had just purchased some scent-lok camo and was eager to get into the hills to spy on some elk. I hopped out of my truck and started down the trail. I had some food in my pack, plenty of water, and most binos! About 2 miles down the trail I realized something...I forgot my bear spray...and to make matters worse I forgot my knife. I know, the knife wouldn't do much against a bear...but it still provides me a little extra comfort. I stopped and thought about it for a couple seconds and decided...what the heck - my chances of running into a bear were pretty slim anyway. So I got off the trail and started to head up a ridgeline. I must have followed this ridge line a good 3-4 miles through some mountain meadows and found plenty of game trails. The higher I got the more promising it looked for elk.

Eventually I found a nice little wooded spot with some big rocks that sat atop the ridgeline. I decided this would be a good place to enjoy lunch. So I sat down, dangled my feet off the edge of the ridge and had a little meal. It's was nice and peaceful...until I heard a large CRACK! My heart stopped a for a second...what in the world could it have been? I stayed put for a little while and kept my eyes and ears open and never heard anything else. So I decided it was time to move on...and up the ridge I went. It wasn't more than 100 yards from where I was eating that I came to a small little park surrounded by some tall pines. There were a couple downed trees that I had to climb over. The second tree I crawled over and there it was...a semi-old pile of bear scat. Man...another heart stopper. Again, I said to myself that I won't run into a I kept moving forward. Another 20 ft and...yeah...a fresh pile. Sigh...I took it to heart this time and turned around. In fact, I picked up my pace a little bit. There I was...on top of a ridge in a little park standing around defenseless in camoflauge that covers my bear country...idiot!

It couldn't get any worse could it? Haha...well yes it did. I wanted to get out of there as quickly as I decided it would be better if I tried to get back to the main trail rather than backtracking the ridgeline i'd come up. Instead of going east I decided to go south. This brought me into a little ravine full of thick brush and berries. The only thing I kept thinking at this point was wow...this sure is some nice black bear country. There was a little stream and a lot of vegetation. I moved slowly, quietly, and very cautiously. At this point I was so freaked out by my situation...and it seemed that stream went forever! Every little crack of a branch I heard only increased my heart rate ten fold.

Eventually I made it out. The original trail was a god send at that point. So what did I learn...

1. Don't go into bear country without your bear spray - if you forget it...go get it <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />
2. I now scout for elk in normal hiking clothes. There isn't any need to get close to them until the season opens.
3. If you do find yourself in bear country...make some noise. Had I turned around the wrong corner and spooked a bear - black or griz - it would have been bad news for me.
4. If you don't know the country...9 times out of 10 it will be faster to back track then it will be to find a different way out. I bet I added a good 2-3 hrs onto my trip because I got myself into that ravine.

#63729 - 02/05/08 04:20 PM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: Mattress]
backpacking111 Offline

Registered: 01/26/08
Posts: 1
Good advice!

Backpacking Trip Planning

#63730 - 02/11/08 09:26 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]
Brumfield Offline

Registered: 12/23/07
Posts: 255
Loc: Expat from New Orleans, now in...
Tis dont applie to me,cuse I nebver make msitakes. brump

#63731 - 02/11/08 10:55 AM Re: Learning fom each others MISTAKES [Re: markswarbick]
EricKingston Offline

Registered: 11/01/02
Posts: 272
Loc: Michigan
I had a close call with basically zero forewarning. I had never experienced such a thing before, so I was entirely clueless until the pain started to set in. I was hiking along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (a Michigan favorite) moving from were I had camped that night at Beaver Creek to Chapel Beach which is about 5.5 miles away. In the morning I was mostly lolly-gagging around, taking pictures, exploring some bits off-trail, and I also wasted about an hour trying to find a hat that I had dropped a ways back. After eventually arriving at the beach, I took a dip and lounged around for about 20 minutes. After that, I figured I had travelled far enough down the trail and it was time to head back towards my car located at Hurricane River, about 17 miles away (unfortunately, there are no loops to take). I was still pretty energized, so I decided to run the trail until I got to Beaver Creek, and I did. Feeling pretty winded and wanting relaxation after arriving at Beaver Creek, I took my Crocs off and started walking the remaining 10 miles of my journey barefoot, along the beach. To my demise, after about 7 miles, I started feeling this pain in my right foot right along the arch. Now, I must mention, as I was walking I stayed within the moist/wet region of the sand, since it seamed much easier to walk in, due to its firmness. The problem was that it was apparently too firm - almost like wet sandstone. Even though it didn't feel bad at all when I first started, 7 miles of slamming my bare heels down on the hard surface must have really damaged my foot. It only took about 10 minutes after the first notion of pain before it became EXCRUTIATING. I put my Crocs back on, but they offered very little help. In agony, I limped my way closer to my car stopping about every 20 steps to rest my foot. I took to hiking in the water, as the numbing cold made my foot feel considerably better, but that was making my trek take even longer. I eventually reached Benchmark camp, which was about 2.5 miles short from where my car was parked. I decided to stay the night there and hope for the best in the morning. When morning came, I think my foot felt worse, but I was definitely more energized, so I was able to make my way out. Had the terrain been anything but flat, I don't know if I would have been able to make it. My foot hurt for about a week after that, and I could barely walk. So I guess the moral of the story is: don't walk long distances barefoot, unless your feet are conditioned for that sort of abuse.

Here's a picture during one of my rests (I was sitting in the sand). Just seeing this makes my foot hurt!


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