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#87335 - 01/17/08 11:20 PM What Have I gotten myself into
traceur84 Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/08/08
Posts: 6
Here is the thing. I am completely novice when it comes to backpacking. A friend of mine has roped me into backpacking the 133 miles from my home in Erie PA to Pittsburgh Pa. I want to try it, it sound like an adventure but being new to this I was wondering if anyone had any tips for me.....

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#87336 - 01/17/08 11:34 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
That's an awfully long trip for the first time out! Is this a trail or will you be (horrors!) road-walking? I suggest you practice hard between now and the time you plan to start, both learning skills and physical conditioning. You should take a number of shorter backpack trips beforehand, starting in your back yard and/or car-camping to get used to your equipment and to learn how to handle inclement weather where you can easily bail out. Once you've practiced a while, go on a couple of short overnight trips where you're only a mile or two from the car (again so you can bail out if everything goes wrong).

There is a section on this forum specifically for Backcountry Beginners. There are also lots of excellent articles on the home page of this site. I suggest you read them carefully and then come back (in the Beginners section) with questions.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#87337 - 01/18/08 04:01 AM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
hootyhoo Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/06
Posts: 686
Loc: Cyberspace
Right on. Living outside takes some getting used to, but its worth every minute. Its like any sport- train. Make sure your shoes are broken in. Have fun. Post some pictures.

P.S. They may not tell you this at the outfitters stores, but there are some very comfortable backpacks and shoes available for this sport - they just don't have as much markup as the uncomfortable stuff.

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#87338 - 01/18/08 07:55 AM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
SloHiker Offline
member

Registered: 09/13/03
Posts: 46
Loc: NC
Just my 2 cents worth: That's quite an endeavor for your first time out! How many days are you allowing for this total mileage? I generally encourage folks to "ease into" new things like this ...... but, one thing about it - you'll either get hooked or you'll never go backpacking again! Good luck

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#87339 - 01/18/08 11:25 AM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
MattnID Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/07
Posts: 317
Loc: Idaho
Do your research and make sure your in decent shape. Make sure you have the necessary gear and clothing.
_________________________
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.-Aristotle

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#87340 - 01/18/08 12:15 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
300winmag Offline
member

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1342
Loc: Nevada, USA
"Trace",

I lived in Erie for 38 years 'til I moved to 'Vegas in '04. I've backpacked all over Pennsylvania, including the North Country "Trail", which is now in bad disrepair.

1.. BELIEVE ME, there is no trail that leads from Erie to Pittsburg. You'll have to bushwhack many miles. Not good for a 1st timer.

2. Yes, this is WAY too far for you to do W/O lightweight equipment and a lot of conditioning and several introductory weekend trips.

3. If your friend wants you, a Tenderfoot, to do this I question his or her judgement. Remember, you're depending on that "experienced" person's judgement the entire trip. (BTW, do this and you'll soon discover why a newbie backpacker is called a "Tenderfoot".)

Eric
_________________________
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."

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#87341 - 01/18/08 12:50 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: OregonMouse]
traceur84 Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/08/08
Posts: 6
thanks for all the tips, I think It is going to be pretty fun. I THINK I'll be okay. I am very in shape.( I run 12-15 miles a day) and I am no stranger to being outside. ( I am certified in wilderness survival). We have put back two weeks to do it, so the pace will be slow. I have actually made most of my gear with the help of the people on this forum. I guess what I'm getting at is, is there anything else I should worry about doing before the trip. thanks abain for all your tips.

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#87342 - 01/18/08 01:07 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
Keith Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1664
Loc: Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Quote:
( I am certified in wilderness survival)


Huh?? Never been backpacking but "certified in wilderness survival"?!? What can this possibly mean? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
Human Resources Memo: Floggings will continue until morale improves.

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#87343 - 01/18/08 01:15 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: Keith]
traceur84 Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/08/08
Posts: 6
I Have taken exams and have been trained in wilderness survival, I camp A LOT but have never gone in deep enough to constitute calling it backpacking, I think the deepest I have ever camped was 10 miles in the woods. Some times we go camping and bring nothing but a knife. it is pretty cool

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#87344 - 01/18/08 01:33 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
Quote:
I I think the deepest I have ever camped was 10 miles in the woods. Some times we go camping and bring nothing but a knife. it is pretty cool


Quote:
I have actually made most of my gear with the help of the people on this forum.


People who make their own gear usually know exactly what they want.......from experience.

And you call yourself a novice? Your claims are inconsistent and contradictory. Something isn't right here.

You know, (aiming the bright light and taking a drag on a cigarette) ve have vays of making you talk. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

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#87345 - 01/18/08 01:34 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
Paddy_Crow Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
Surviving one night and surviving a week or two in the wilderness are completely different orders of magnitude. And learning in a class is completely different than getting out there and doing it.

No offense, but such a certificate is good for hanging on the wall and that's about it. You might be able to draw on what you learned in a real life situation, you might not.

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#87346 - 01/18/08 02:17 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: Trailrunner]
traceur84 Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/08/08
Posts: 6
This is why I HATE forums. People come here to ask questions of people who know what they are talking about and they get ridiculed and belittled for not knowing. I don't understand why when someone comes to you for help(not just here but on most forums) some people help but others think it is their job to be jerks and try to make fools out of the people that are there for help. I just don't understand. and as for my statements. I don't know about you but I feel that camping and backpacking are two different thing. And I have camped for over two weeks at a time. I also don't see how following a set of instructions and using a sewing machine has anything with ones ability to backpack.

I am sorry for my rant and thank you to those of you that helped me. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif" alt="" />

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#87347 - 01/18/08 02:55 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
hootyhoo Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/06
Posts: 686
Loc: Cyberspace
Right on. I would'nt belittle you. Not my style. Read the posts you like, diregard the others and hike on.
I am impressed with your running mileage. Are you planning to wear running shoes for your hike? I ask this because I got hooked on running shoes for backpacking and now I cannot stand to wear boots anymore. I have some issues with wet feet in subfreezing temps (yes it can rain before it freezes), but I guess I am so hooked on the running shoe comfort that I tolerate it. Good luck on your hike. If it was me I would hope there was some bushwhackin'. I love it.

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#87348 - 01/18/08 03:08 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
Bansko Offline
member

Registered: 02/08/07
Posts: 110
Loc: Wyoming
I realy don't think Trailrunner meant any offense. Before I read his post I came to the same conclusion he did: Something is incongruous here. If you run 12-15 miles a day, have been trained in wilderness survival, go camping a lot, and have spent the night out in the boonies with nothing but a knife then you really can't be intimidated by a backpacking trip, even a 100+ mile trip. The title of your post (What Have I Gotten Myself Into) doesn't make sense when your claimed experience seems to indicate that you have a pretty good idea of what you are getting into. It would have been best to state your qualifications up front. Lighten up; you might like the boards better.

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#87349 - 01/18/08 04:36 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
MattnID Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/07
Posts: 317
Loc: Idaho
No need to get angry here. Nobody is trying to offend or mess with you, at least intentionally. People are obviously kind of confused because they aren't quite sure what advice to really give you since your original post made it to seem like you had little or no experience at all with camping or anything like that really.

Here's a question that I think will clear just about everything up and allow people to give you some better advice. What kind of gear have you made and have you tested it out yet?
_________________________
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.-Aristotle

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#87350 - 01/18/08 04:38 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
Keith Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1664
Loc: Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Please don't take offense. I certainly didn't mean to be inflammatory. Maybe it would help you to realize that there are a lot of decent people who really care here. There have been posts that looked/sounded a lot like yours in the past that raised red flags and on further examination, really merited the caution that people were expressing.

Sometimes it's just hard to tell from the way people are expressing themselves. In this case, at least you have learned that -- for the folk on this board, at least -- that there is a common perception of something that didn't seem to add up about the way you have expressed yourself.

Keep in mind that at the bottom of it is a lot of people who don't want to send someone into the wrong situation based on classroom training or the encouragement of an overenthusiastic "trip leader".

If you have the preparation and can do the trip, then more power to you. We'll be glad to help. We are just reluctant to "help" people get into trouble.
_________________________
Human Resources Memo: Floggings will continue until morale improves.

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#87351 - 01/18/08 09:22 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Quote:
Here is the thing. I am completely novice when it comes to backpacking. A friend of mine has roped me into backpacking the 133 miles from my home in Erie PA to Pittsburgh Pa. I want to try it, it sound like an adventure but being new to this I was wondering if anyone had any tips for me.....


I can't believe that not one moderator even caught this post, and moved it to where it belongs in the BEGINNER Forum. Plus, if the poster has no clue where to post a question like this when the froum header says BEGINNER...well then I don't hold out any hope that they'll survive the trip...And that folks is called Darwinism in action <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#87352 - 01/18/08 10:02 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: Earthling]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
OK, Is everyone happy now?

First of all, we have a new poster who says he's "a complete novice" then lists a bunch of camping experience, wilderness survival skills, etc. and gets upset when other members question his decision to do this hike.

To the new poster-we have a Beginners forum where I have obviously moved this thread. The site also has a good list of books, gear lists, etc. that you can read.

If you are making your own gear, are in good shape as you claim, then what exactly do you mean by "tips"? That question is too general to get much of an answer. I have no tips for you because I have no idea what you want to know.

If you want to know about a particular piece of gear, ask in the Gear forum; if you want to know what food to take, read the Food forum; if you want to know about making gear, read the Homemade Gear forum.

However, please don't take offense when you ask a vague question and get somewhat confused answers when you go from "complete novice" to "certified in survival" whatever that means.

Personally, I have no clue what you know or don't know or what you want to know. I doubt if anyone here actually cares if you want to walk from Erie to Pittsburgh but you asked for advice and you got some.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#87353 - 01/19/08 09:36 AM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: traceur84]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
Mod's note: This is as much to most folks here as it is to Traceur.

I'm kind of torn on this one. I suspect we won't see the OP back on TLB. This is, IMO, the generally best behaved site for backpacking on the 'net (with the possible exception of the -IMO- overly-moderated Practical Backpacking). So I fear he may lose out on the opportunity to earn some very good information on backpacking. His posts consist of a couple of MYOG questions, including how to make one's own sleeping bag, and the four in this thread. I'm sure he could use more good info, but will likely wander to other sites where this process will probably repeat itself.

On the other hand, a new backpacker comes here, asking newbie questions, then when asked about qualifications, gives many. It sounds like a young man who has been belittled on other sites, who is now feeling defensive and offering information to alleviate the "look at the newbie" posts he got elsewhere. Even if the posts here weren't aimed to belittle, I suspect he took them this way, based on past experience.

I don't think the OP was trolling. I work with young folks every day whose exuberance for life exceeds their abilities. When they fail, we think, "Well of course". When they succeed, we marvel, but that's sort of how Powell made it down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, when he should have died.

As for a newbie hiking 133 miles, potential AT thru-hikers show up (in surprisingly large numbers) to hike the full AT solo with NO previous backpacking experience. And a goodly number of them make it all the way to Katahdin. With my now-fiancee, we took one overnighter in 2005 before I took her out for a 60-mile, 6-day hike of the North-South Trail at Land Between the Lakes. She loved it. My biggest concern is the apparent lack of a solid trail in the corridor mentioned. Even with an experience partner, a mix of off-trail or road-walks can kill a hiker's enthusiasm quickly. This would be my biggest concern.

But what is the worst that can happen? OK, he could die of hypothermia or dehydration or get hit by a car during a road-walk. But the same can be said for going to the grocery store. We can die in a flaming car wreck. What is LIKELY to happen? The trip may not go well and the two end it early. Or perhaps Traceur will love it and want to do more in spite of roadwalks. Hard to say. It sounds like he is quite fit at least.

But, let's face it. No matter how fast or slow we hike, no matter how far we go, no matter how much we carry (or how little), it's just walking.............

I understand why our long-time members express doubt. The long hike for a new hiker sounds a bit odd. But then, so does wandering around in the woods or mountains or desert or snow when we've got a comfortable home and bed we could be in.

Like I said, I'm torn. Some of Traceur's comment raise lots of red flags. Traceur may seem overly sensitive to us, but it also sounds like he's been beaten up on other sites. I hope he'll come back so he can see what a great community we really have here.
_________________________
http://www.trailjournals.com/BearpawAT99/

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#87354 - 01/19/08 02:31 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: Bearpaw]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I agree with Bearpaw for the most part. However, to the OP or anyone who asks a question-you aren't always going to get the answer you want to hear. Not all ideas proposed here are good ones and there is no shortage of members, me included, who are not shy about pointing that out.

Perhaps we should have a moratorium on discouraging people from doing whatever they want, no matter how crazy it sounds.

Given that we rarely, if ever, actually know the person asking the question, why care at all if they do something ill advised and suffer the consequences? I have been pondering that lately and may just decide to not spend any more time trying to save strangers from themselves.

Maybe we should just say "well, good luck with that" and leave it at that.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#87355 - 01/20/08 05:47 AM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: TomD]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
In my opinion, we have an obligation to, at least, tactfully question bad and/or dubious ideas. If the poster gets their feelings hurt by answers they don't like and go away; well, that's life in the big city!
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#87356 - 01/20/08 06:49 AM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: Bearpaw]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
The appropriate response to vague questions are requests for clarification.

What time of year?

What is the breakdown of road miles, trail miles and bushwhacking miles?

What are your food arrangements?

Some times people ask the wrong question, like how far is it between X & Y? When the distance is short, but mostly class 3 & 4 then they have asked the wrong question. The appropriate response to to answer the question they should have asked.

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#87357 - 01/20/08 06:14 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: Pika]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Quote:
In my opinion, we have an obligation to, at least, tactfully question bad and/or dubious ideas. If the poster gets their feelings hurt by answers they don't like and go away; well, that's life in the big city!


I am coming more and more to disagree with your premise. I really don't feel any obligation to answer any question posted here. My participation is at my discretion; I respond to the posts that interest me and don't feel I owe anyone anything from the fact that I am a member.

As a moderator, a voluntary position, by the way, I have some responsibility to Charles to keep an eye on what gets posted, but if I choose not to participate in a discussion, that is my decision only.

I don't profess any particular expertise that qualifies me more than anyone else to respond to any particular post. I usually just apply what I consider common sense. People can take it or leave it.

I never recommend anything I wouldn't do myself and even then, some things I would do, I wouldn't recommend to a newbie because I know what I can handle and have no way of knowing anything about them or their abilities.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#87358 - 01/21/08 01:02 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: TomD]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
I agree with Tom on this one.

I've posted a bit less in recent months for a variety of reasons. One was gear burnout. After curtailing my hiking plans after injury last summer, all I wanted to do was get out there and hike year-round. So I dramatically cut my part-time hours at REI and now have weekends free to walk. I just got back from my third trip in fou weeks. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> But I just didn't feel up to posting every day about gear. I've reached the point where I only worry about gear if I foresee a problem with what I already have.

The other was a fatigue with answering the same question over and over. The truth is, the search feature here only does so much, and folks will likely need to answer those repetitive questions fairly regularly still. But for right now, I have been content to let Tom and newer, but very knowledgable members like Phat, take care of many of those.

Combine this with the fact that I work with kids with emotional disorders (and usually the foul attitudes that go with them), and I find that I am much happier hiking or going to the gym than sitting at a computer at the end of one of "those days".......

I'm still here. I still monitor the forums as a moderator. And I still offer advice from time to time. But maybe I've become part of the old guard......

I'm just glad we have some great, enthusiastic members in the new guard as well as the tried and true old guarders like Earthling to give us all a reality check. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> To all of you out there who make this community what it is, thanks!
_________________________
http://www.trailjournals.com/BearpawAT99/

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#87359 - 01/21/08 03:52 PM Re: What Have I gotten myself into [Re: Bearpaw]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I sympathize with Bearpaw. I am online a lot for work, so I spend more time here trying to get away from actually working than I should. (I work for myself, so it's not like I am taking time away from anyone but myself.)

btw, I know someone who got fired for spending too much time online at work, so I don't recommend it-you have no expectation of privacy on a company computer, regardless of what you are doing.

I should try to get out more. That's my goal anyway.

The challenge here for long-time members is that we see the same questions over and over-there are only so many questions, when you really think about-down v. synthetic; tarp v. tent; shoes v. boots, and a few more. It's easy to get burned out after seeing wool v. synthetics posted over and over, but to a newbie, it's their first go around with the issue.

This is one reason I tend to recommend using search, using Yahoo, or reading books, like The Complete Walker in response to many questions.

If someone says, "I have looked everywhere and am not sure which is better for me" I am more likely to answer that than just the "I am just starting out, tell me everything I need to know" kind of question.

I know we have added some FAQs, but human nature is to ignore the obvious and look for the easy solution.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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