Backcountry Forum
Backpacking & Hiking Gear

Backcountry Forum
Our long-time Sponsor - the leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear
 
 
 

Amazon.com
Backpacking Forums
---- Our Gear Store ----
The Lightweight Gear Store
 
 WINTER CAMPING 

Shelters
Bivy Bags
Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Pads
Snow Sports
Winter Kitchen

 SNOWSPORTS 

Snowshoes
Avalanche Gear
Skins
Hats, Gloves, & Gaiters
Accessories

 ULTRA-LIGHT 

Ultralight Backpacks
Ultralight Bivy Sacks
Ultralight Shelters
Ultralight Tarps
Ultralight Tents
Ultralight Raingear
Ultralight Stoves & Cookware
Ultralight Down Sleeping Bags
Ultralight Synthetic Sleep Bags
Ultralight Apparel


the Titanium Page
WM Extremelite Sleeping Bags

 CAMPING & HIKING 

Backpacks
Tents
Sleeping Bags
Hydration
Kitchen
Accessories

 CLIMBING 

Ropes & Cordage
Protection & Hardware
Carabiners & Quickdraws
Climbing Packs & Bags
Big Wall
Rescue & Industrial

 MEN'S APPAREL 

Jackets
Shirts
Baselayer
Headwear
Gloves
Accessories

 WOMEN'S APPAREL 

Jackets
Shirts
Baselayer
Headwear
Gloves
Accessories

 FOOTWEAR 

Men's Footwear
Women's Footwear

 CLEARANCE 

Backpacks
Mens Apparel
Womens Apparel
Climbing
Footwear
Accessories

 BRANDS 

Black Diamond
Granite Gear
La Sportiva
Osprey
Smartwool

 WAYS TO SHOP 

Sale
Clearance
Top Brands
All Brands

 Backpacking Equipment 

Shelters
BackPacks
Sleeping Bags
Water Treatment
Kitchen
Hydration
Climbing


 Backcountry Gear Clearance

Page 1 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 >
Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#155801 - 10/13/11 10:18 PM Mental toughness
ppine Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 184
Loc: Minden, Nevada
This is the one quality I demand in my comrades in the outdoors. If anything goes wrong they should not be complainers, and must be capable of a rescue.

Women as a group have come a long way , and have impressed me greatly in the last 20 years or so.

Young people these days tend to be focused on the indoors and show a lot of fear and little understanding or interest in nature.

Would anyone like share some experiences that demonstrate mental toughness?

Top
#155802 - 10/13/11 10:41 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Originally Posted By ppine

Women as a group have come a long way , and have impressed me greatly in the last 20 years or so.


It is just barely possible that you may draw a reaction to this statement from some members of this forum......

A couple of examples from my experience. One of my supervisors survived a grizzly attack while working in Alaska. She had to play dead while the grizz, after attacking and injuring her partner, came over and batted her around a bit. I saw plenty of occasions where this lady displayed nerves of steel.

I ran across another example while doing shipwreck research at Channel Islands National Park. The lone survivor of a swamped fishing vessel, a lady named Bernice Brown, swam to Anacapa Island and survived there for 14 days until she was rescued by the Coast Guard. Anacapa has little, if any, natural fresh water. This occurred in March, 1946. That sounds like pretty tough stuff for any era.....

I am curious, as one who has participated in many rescues, what are your criteria for determining "capable of a rescue."

Top
#155805 - 10/13/11 10:53 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6742
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Interesting topic, ppine! I'll ignore the comment about women except to say that while growing up in the western US, I met a lot of really strong women, still taking care of ranch chores and riding long hours in all kinds of weather in their 70's and 80's. One of them (our landlady) remembered as a child going with her mother to take baked goods to Butch Cassidy and his gang. (Confirmed by reputable historians, BTW.)

I grew up going on backpacking and horsepacking adventures with my parents (some rather foolhardy considering their lack of experience at the time), and they encouraged me to "be a good sport" and not complain. We were in a lot of tough spots weather-wise at high altitudes in the Rockies, and I learned to laugh and joke about them as well as learning the skills to cope with the adverse conditions. That was back in the 1940's and 50's.

Forward to the first overnight backpack five years ago with my grandson JP, age six at the time. We hiked in about a mile and found a lovely stream to sit beside and eat our lunch. All of a sudden, this big yellow jacket shows up and starts buzzing around JP. I told him not to bat at it or it would sting. Well, that wasp kept buzzing around his head for several minutes (seemed like several hours!) and JP sat there like a statue until the critter finally went away. Did I ever praise him for being so brave!

I recently read an article by Francis Tapon about the characteristics of those who manage to complete the long trails (PCT, CDT and AT). While prior conditioning, light packs, avoiding injury and having enough money were important, the one characteristic that stood out was the will to finish!


Edited by OregonMouse (10/13/11 11:11 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

Top
#155809 - 10/13/11 11:16 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By ppine
This is the one quality I demand in my comrades in the outdoors. If anything goes wrong they should not be complainers, and must be capable of a rescue.

Women as a group have come a long way , and have impressed me greatly in the last 20 years or so.

Young people these days tend to be focused on the indoors and show a lot of fear and little understanding or interest in nature.

Would anyone like share some experiences that demonstrate mental toughness?


My entire life.

I am a middle aged woman who volunteers for search and rescue. I reject your notion that women have "come a long way" - we've been there all along.

Stereotypes piss me off, so you know. I find them to be useless.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

Top
#155813 - 10/14/11 12:22 AM Re: Mental toughness [Re: lori]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2039
Loc: Napa, CA
Yeah...women have impressed me for a lot longer than the last 20 years. I first hiked the ten mile round trip trail to Velma Lakes above Tahoe when I was about nine month old, on my mother's hip. My sister (then 4) and brother (then 8) accompanied us.

I share PPine's dislike of whiners on the trail, but I have found them of all shapes, sizes and certainly genders.
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

Top
#155833 - 10/14/11 12:50 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: balzaccom]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By balzaccom


I share PPine's dislike of whiners on the trail, but I have found them of all shapes, sizes and certainly genders.


I have had to carry out gear for men on backpacking trips before. Sometimes they don't just whine, they plop down and give up entirely.

The women I've backpacked with have all made it out and back in style, wearing their blisters without complaint. Can't say the same about the men. Men are a varied bunch, some got all whiny butt about the cold, the miles - some of them just go, others say they can and stop 1,000,000 times to catch their breath.

My mom backpacked and fished. I backpack and fish. My friends backpack and fish. I clean my own fish, keep up with the young guys on SAR - this weekend I am conquering my fear of vertical surfaces for high angle training, along with the 10 other women on the team, and the dozen or so men who show up. This one guy will be wearing a heavy jacket and be whining about how cold it is, I'm sure. Predictable.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

Top
#155840 - 10/14/11 02:33 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: lori]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6742
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
We women were designed to give birth to children, so our pain threshold is far higher!
lol
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

Top
#155843 - 10/14/11 02:49 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: OregonMouse]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I can't reference the studies off the top of my head, but I believe you are exactly right. Women are more pain tolerant than men, and also exceed in several other parameters.

Men do take the edge when it comes to heavy lifting....

Top
#155844 - 10/14/11 02:55 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: lori]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I have backpacked, climbed and SARed(is that a verb?)with women for many years, sometimes with a romantic interest but more often not. I like good partners who can carry their share of the load, add to the group expertise, and do their best in tough spots. In my opinion, sex has nothing to do with those qualities;it is a minor criterion when choosing a team.

A lot of times, you want the ladies - when caving, and tight passages need exploration, for instance.

Top
#155863 - 10/15/11 11:04 AM Re: Mental toughness [Re: oldranger]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
In my opinion, mental toughness is learning to do those things that are difficult for the individual. My son was very afraid of heights at the beginning of the season. He had to be led on trails I was indifferent to. After few times out, he'd have to stop to gather the courage to go across a particular section. Sometimes he'd stop for 5 or 10 minutes before going, but he always did it.

For myself, what others might perceive as toughness is simply indifference to the things I can't change. I'm not one to go past my personal boundaries of endurance, but the more I get close to them, the bigger they get.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

Top
#155866 - 10/15/11 12:25 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: lori]
ppine Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 184
Loc: Minden, Nevada
Lori,
OK you win. I was trying to pay all members of your gender a large compliment. Women have always been tough, or none of us would be here. My Mom as an example, raised on a berry farm out of Olympia, WA could do all sorts of outdoor stuff. She had her own caulked boots for hiking in the swampy Cascades.

She was a "girly" girl some of the time because of our culture then. The first State to give women the right to vote was Wyoming I think because women worked right along with the men in the outdoors.

The women I have met in Alaska and BC that savy the bush are tougher than most of the men in the lower 48.

Top
#155867 - 10/15/11 12:30 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: oldranger]
ppine Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 184
Loc: Minden, Nevada
Oldranger,

Rescuers as you know need several attributes like calmness under pressure, specialized knowledge (ie. z-drag for boat rescue), first aid, and maybe most of all mental toughness to overcome unpleasant, difficult, long extractions.

Please expound if you like based on your experience.

Top
#155868 - 10/15/11 12:32 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I also reject the idea that mental toughness, whatever that may be, is gender specific. I've hiked with both sexes and I think it just depends on how people are brought up and what they are exposed to as they grow up. Some people like the outdoors and some don't; some can take bad weather, some can't. I know a few guys I would never want to go anywhere with because they complain too much about everything.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

Top
#155873 - 10/15/11 01:28 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I think I would agree with you for the most part, especially calmness under pressure. Specialized knowledge, or even just basic knowledge (how to stay warm, how to build a fire, etc) is helpful, but I have had good trips with many people who did not know how to set up a Z system (we use it for vertical evacuations).

I guess I am a little unclear about "mental toughness." It really helps if one can stay focused on priorities and blot out secondary issues. If one has prior experience (previous unplanned nights out, actual first aid situations, etc) it is a big help. The first time is always more of an adventure.

In an emergency, it seems to me that what counts is not just individual expertise, but the ability of the group to come together and cooperate, work productively, and get the job done. Sometimes when it hits the fan, the group, as such, disintegrates, and first responders will encounter absolute chaos. Other times, the group operates effectively, frequently without a designated "leader", and stabilizes the situation quite well.

I like groups where I know my experienced companions capabilities, perhaps with some new folks added in. They may have unexpected and welcome skills. Those groups generally work out well.

Top
#155877 - 10/15/11 07:29 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: oldranger]
ppine Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 184
Loc: Minden, Nevada
Oldranger,

I have responded as much to your writing as anyone's. You have touched on some very important stuff here.

Mental toughness or the lack of it, shows up after 20 miles, in the snow, at night, when it is below zero and you would rather be somewhere else instead of helping a person you just met. Thank God for the outdoor people like EMTs that show up with the first morphine.

Top
#155886 - 10/16/11 11:04 AM Re: Mental toughness [Re: oldranger]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
I think mental toughness has as much to do with motivation as anything else. People can be mentally tough in situations they WANT to be in, and they can be mentally tough in situations where they find themselves wanting to survive (that is a different phenomenon in my opinion), but the same person can be a major whiner if they aren't feeling motivated in some way to be where they are.

For example, my son will start whining about hiking before we even get out of the car, he hates it that much. But he will walk 10 miles in an amusement park one day, and at least another 10 the next day walking around a city (which he loves), and only occasionally mention his discomfort (which I know must be extreme because in this case my legs were tired too). If he is doing something he loves he can push past the pain (and he has a high tolerance), but if he isn't then you better have your earplugs in.

I think you will find that the people who are not "mentally tough" in the outdoors are that way because they don't really want to be there, and are there for reasons other than because they love the outdoors.

MNS
_________________________
YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.

Top
#155894 - 10/16/11 01:02 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: Gershon]
ppine Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 184
Loc: Minden, Nevada
Friends,

I would like to share some experiences I have had with a very special person, Rudy Park of Redmond, OR. He has taught me more about mental toughness than anyone I have ever met.

Rudy grew up in the hard scrabble volcanic country of eastern OR. He was small so he wanted to prove himself by wrestling and playing football. He had a good saddle horse but could not afford a car so he used to ride 20 miles to his GFs house and back 20 miles in the dark. He rode bare-back horses and bulls for fun and once won against Larry Mahan. Rudy became a smokejumber with the USFS and fought fires for many years, when one day it occurred to him that the smart guys flew slurry bombers and did not carry 75 lb. packs. He flew firetankers in Alaska for 10 years, with winters in Mexico. Got a business degree from U of O. Bought a sailboat and sailed to Hawaii and married a brilliant Hawaiian attorney named Cheryl. Moved to Europe living in Holland and an island off of France.

Rudy has had more injuries than any 10 people I know. (He also was on the US ski team while in France). If you meet him you will not forget him. He is in his mid 60s, but if there is work to be done, he will show up first and leave last. Under duress he tells jokes and lifts everyone's morale. If he meet sales people in a store, he oftern gets Christmas cards from them months later.

He never complains, and always volunteers with friends who have serious medical problems. We all need to have a friend like Rudy who has seen the dark side of life in war, big forest fires, multiple major injuries, friends with terminal diseases and comes out much stronger and more optimistic than before.


Edited by ppine (10/16/11 01:05 PM)

Top
#155895 - 10/16/11 01:08 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: OregonMouse]
ppine Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 184
Loc: Minden, Nevada
OregonMouse,

Great writing. It is all about one,s will.

The truth will come with 10,000 miles in the saddle.
Corb Lund
Spring Creek, Alberta

Top
#155902 - 10/16/11 04:50 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
Everyone has their mental toughness threshold. Some people we perceive as really tough just have high thresholds. I think the women you see outdoors are the high toughness threshold types to begin with. The low tolerance women simply stay home. Men have to prove their "manliness" so more who have no desire to be outdoors may end up out there and whine.

There is mental toughness and emotional toughness- and they are different. Some really tough outdoors people can be whiners in other venues- the guy who faints during his wife's childbirth.

I am pretty mentally tough about 80% of the time, but I do have a few items and times when I get really freaked out. I think it is my subconcious trying to tell me something - will never know but these moments of weakness may have saved my life. Sometimes retreating is the best choice.

I would not say toughness is all good. People who survive and live long also have the ability to accept help when needed and accept emotional support. People who can never show vulnurability may expose themselves to lots of unhealthy stress. By the way, I think breaking down and crying is not necessarily a sign of weakness. Often it is just a pressure release valve. You cry. You feel better. You go on.

I have had some backpack partners who may not have been all that mentally tough but they really added to the morale of the group by being so upbeat on a daily basis and emotionally supportive.

Top
#155912 - 10/16/11 08:24 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: wandering_daisy]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
I am pretty mentally tough about 80% of the time, but I do have a few items and times when I get really freaked out. I think it is my subconcious trying to tell me something - will never know but these moments of weakness may have saved my life. Sometimes retreating is the best choice.


In my opinion intuition is formed from information that has reached your subconscious, but not your conscious. Trust your intuition. Everytime I have ignored mine I have paid a price.

If mental toughness means the ability to ignore the little voice that tells you this is not a good idea, then mental toughness may not be a good thing.
_________________________
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
Yogi Berra

Top
#155916 - 10/16/11 09:59 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: wandering_daisy]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
Some really tough outdoors people can be whiners in other venues- the guy who faints during his wife's childbirth.


Ah yest! How about a training film (quite graphic about emergency childbirth) given in what was essentially a basic training course for park rangers? We were cautioned that if we felt like tossing our cookies to leave the room and do so quietly outside. A couple did leave, and I just barely hung on.... Later, when I was attending the birth of my children, it was a totally different situation and I managed quite fine.

Which brings me to my best friend, with whom I have hiked and SARed for many years, a gentleman who is an absolute rock of incredible endurance, tenacity,and stamina, as tough a dude as I know (he comes from a Texas ranching family in LBJ country). Not only did he faint during the birth of his son, as he fell he overturned the gurney!

I suspect we all have our vulnerabilities; some of us are lucky and never have to face them.

Frankly, I have been on operations where I cried, after the action was completed or when there was a break. I am not the least ashamed of this. For one thing, they were pretty brutal. I think that releasing your emotions helps you reorganize and continue on.

Top
#155917 - 10/16/11 10:03 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ringtail]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I love the tagline, "If you are going to be stupid, you have to be tough."


Edited by oldranger (10/16/11 10:04 PM)

Top
#155931 - 10/17/11 07:42 AM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Not a matter of winning or losing. "Come a long way" may be true of society at large, but it's still clearly got a long way to go.

And there is also the matter of mentally tough but physically incapable - I run into people all the time that have no clue of their own limits and try to backpack anyway. One could argue they are mentally tough enough - flesh weak, spirit strong. I still wouldn't want to hike with them often.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

Top
#155932 - 10/17/11 08:39 AM Re: Mental toughness [Re: lori]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Introducing the concept of exceeding one's limits is an interesting twist to the concept of mental toughness. In that perspective, "mental toughness" might fuzz over into one definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.

Or, perhaps one aspect of mental toughness is having sufficient objectivity to realize that things change, and the old solutions you came up with no longer work.

I found, about 10 years ago, that the body wasn't quite as resilient as it used to be. Joints were talking to me more often, feet and leg cramps became companions after long days, etc. Since there's a limit to how much conditioning can offset these effects of aging (and a limit as to how much time there is for conditioning in an otherwise full life of spouse, job, grandkids, etc.) I had to change my old ways.

Although I really liked the gear I was carrying, I could no longer haul 30 pound loads around anymore. So, I made the switch to lighter gear and new techniques that took me down to a 20-pound weekend load. That helped with joints and trail-weariness (and I've still got the ultralight option, when I need to get to a lighter pack in another 10 years.) It required me to rethink how I cooked, and how roomy a tent I needed, and several other things - it required a mental shift from "cushy" camping to minimal-without-discomfort camping.

It also required accepting certain things: given the practical limits of my ability to do conditioning, I had to give up 15 mile days, and accept the fact that in easy terrain, 10 would be my limit - and more like 8 if there were a lot of up-and-down. Foot and leg cramps were a 15-minute expectation at those limits - but working through them was a whole lot better than not backpacking.

So, perhaps one part of mental toughness is the ability to accept and adapt to what you cannot control. (Now, if I could just learn to accept those day-long rain hikes...)

Top
#155937 - 10/17/11 10:51 AM Re: Mental toughness [Re: wandering_daisy]
ppine Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 184
Loc: Minden, Nevada
Wandering daisy,

Good thoughts. I do not believe in being macho, or suffering in silence if there is a choice. Crying can be a great emotional outlet. Most of us have been on trips led by someone who wanted to push the participants for no really good reason.

Fear is a very positive thing in the outdoors. It keeps us from making most mistakes. What I am trying to elude to is that people with mental toughness can overcome their fear, fatigue, etc. when it matters.

Most worthwhile outdoor endeavors should be considered team sports. I believe backpacking, canoeing, rafting, etc. all backcountry trips should consider the group, and by extension you must be able to rely on your comrades. You can do them alone, but it adds an element of risk.
The military has done extensive training in this area, and their conclusion is that they can weed out people who don't have this quality. They believe under serious duress, the process is 90 percent mental and only 10 percent physical.


Edited by ppine (10/17/11 10:55 AM)

Top
Page 1 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 >

Shout Box

Highest Quality Lightweight Down Sleeping Bags
 
Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bags
 
Lite Gear Talk - Featured Topics
Water Systems
by Sponge
11/22/20 07:06 PM
Trekking Pole Tents: What if the Poles Break?
by Glenn Roberts
11/17/20 03:06 PM
$25 QUECHUA MH100 vs $250 MSR ELIXIR 2 Comparison
by walkingnatur
11/14/20 02:16 PM
Backcountry Discussion - Featured Topics
Backpacks
by Erok
11/22/20 09:52 AM
Hiking in Banff Mountain Trails
by stella73
11/19/20 11:00 PM
The Scariest Encounters Women Have on the....
by BZH
10/16/20 11:06 AM
Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
Featured Photos
David & Goliath
Also Testing
Just testing
Trip Report with Photos
Seven Devils, Idaho
Oat Hill Mine Trail 2012
Dark Canyon - Utah
Who's Online
1 registered (), 85 Guests and 0 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
Erok, Roosterr, stella73, DutchTrail, YouTuberJake
12937 Registered Users
Forum Links
Disclaimer
Policies
Site Links
Backpacking.net
Lightweight Gear Store
Backpacking Book Store
Lightweight Zone
Hiking Essentials

Our long-time Sponsor, BackcountryGear.com - The leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear:

Backcountry Forum
 

Affiliate Disclaimer: This forum is an affiliate of BackcountryGear.com, Amazon.com, R.E.I. and others. The product links herein are linked to their sites. If you follow these links to make a purchase, we may get a small commission. This is our only source of support for these forums. Thanks.!
 
 

Since 1996 - the Original Backcountry Forum
Copyright © The Lightweight Backpacker & BackcountryForum