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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lessons: 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
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.
Anyway...so 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 importantly...my 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 bear...so 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 scent...in 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 possible...so 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.
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!