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 5 of 6 < 1 2 3 4 5 6 >
Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#156601 - 11/01/11 10:46 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: Richardvg03]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By Richardvg03
Hey old timer! I haven't done much hiking... i crossed the continent of Africa this summer but I wasn't hiking much of it. I'm at UCSD now and it's kicking my ass!!! I'm thinking about doing something over the Thanksgiving holidays though!


Crossed Africa? Wow, now that's something I'm sure we'd all love to hear more about!

And School's kicking your butt huh?

Good!!! laugh

Keep your nose in those books until you can bullseye every damn question they'll ask you. I'll send you my spiritual support in waves and gushes and even if it doesn't help you stay awake while studying you can know I'm pulling for you when you're turning in your papers wink

Plan something fun for the holidays and do it. I'm sure you've earned it.

And stay in touch, even if you're not getting time in wilderness I still want to hear about what you're up to.
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



Top
#156634 - 11/02/11 12:47 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: billstephenson]
ppine Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 184
Loc: Minden, Nevada
My brother spent 7 months in Africa driving from London to Nairobi. He sent many eloquent letters which I still have. Africa is the great enigma. They are some of the most fun-loving and generous people on earth. I have worked with Nigerians, and people form Cameroon and they become friends in about 2 hours.

Top
#156864 - 11/06/11 12:17 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
ppine Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 184
Loc: Minden, Nevada
Are Americans any different than people from other cultures when it comes to mental toughness? What about Canadians, or Russians, or Hungarians?

Top
#156881 - 11/06/11 08:56 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I doubt very much that there are any significant differences. How would this be measured in any objective way?

Top
#156886 - 11/06/11 11:01 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: oldranger]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Yeah, that's a wide scope to view the subject with. But if we reduce it to backpacking it might be easier to compare if you focused on gear and techniques and the level of comfort derived from them vs effort to employ them. For me, that's an interesting subject, and one that spans time too.

I've read a lot of history on the european and american explorers. They all endured their hardships, but those arctic explorers really stand out to me.

It'd be hard to argue that any particular place or time took more toughness than another, it really has more to do with how I'd imagine I'd do in their shoes, so it's certainly not objective, but those Northwest Passage explorers got themselves into some really big messes and more than a few managed some amazing escapes from them. For them, it was a pure struggle with nature as opposed to more of a struggle with civilizations in an unknown land.

Unlike the european explorers of the lower americas, being brutal offered no advantage to the arctic and sub-arctic explorers, so they were of an entirely different kind of character. It's hard to imagine any of them trading places. Cortez and his men wouldn't have had a chance in those conditions.

As it relates to backpacking and exploring, both time and place still, right now, require different personal characteristics to endure the hardships one may encounter, and the "toughness" required is not the same for the locals who are acclimated and know how to get by in their local conditions, as it is for the outsider.



_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



Top
#156888 - 11/06/11 11:06 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: oldranger]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2039
Loc: Napa, CA
Originally Posted By oldranger
I doubt very much that there are any significant differences. How would this be measured in any objective way?


Well, we could just make uninformed generalizations for the sake of argument...grin.

That said, I think that people tend to rise the the occasion, and if you want to meet really mentally tough people, talk to those who don't have a choice.

Backpacking is a recreation. The people who are really tough are the ones who are walking away from their homes in the Sudan, for example.
_________________________
balzaccom

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

Top
#156914 - 11/07/11 11:38 AM Re: Mental toughness [Re: balzaccom]
ppine Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 184
Loc: Minden, Nevada
People that grow up with poverty, oppressive political regimes, and severe climates are examples of people with mental toughness. Africans as a group know a lot about poverty, and the situation in Sudan is an intense example. People from eastern Europe, Russians, people from former Soviet republics have mental toughness because they have dealt with communism. People from northern Finnland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Siberia, and Alaska can tell you all about physical hardship. The list goes on. Americans except for war times, have had not had to deal much with these problems. The current recession has affected us all to some degree, but to hear people talk about it is more depressing than the reality.

The point I am trying to make is that as people we are realatively soft. We expect a lot.

Top
#156918 - 11/07/11 12:03 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Ridiculous generalizations. I know plenty of Americans with a lot of mental toughness.

Trying to make such conclusions based on gender or racial stereotyping only makes me doubt the rest of what you post.

While I would accept that there are perhaps more Americans who are lazy or entitled, I will not accept such absolute assumptions - get out and work with some of the poverty stricken unemployed folks in our cities and towns, and you will change your tune pronto.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

Top
#156927 - 11/07/11 01:43 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By ppine
The point I am trying to make is that as people we are realatively soft. We expect a lot.


I'll have to presume that, in context, you mean Americans. If that's the case I'll have to disagree with you because that's not been my experience. Sure, there are those that game the system, and those that cheat, but there are many, many, more that get up and go to work everyday, and work damn hard.

I've seen my neighbors get up in the middle of the night, in the middle of the winter, during the middle of a vicious ice storm, and go to work. I wouldn't ever, not in a thousand years, call them "soft".

I've worked hard too. From the time I was 14 years old I've worked hard. I've sweat, bled, and worked long hours. I've done more than a few shifts that lasted well over 24 hours without a rest. And I wasn't alone either, right there with me were others working just as hard.

I've mostly been, and mostly worked with, the self employed who all work hard, and I've personally known thousands of people that get up while it's still dark every morning and head off to factories or construction sites, and don't get home until it's dark out again. I've seen farmers and laborers out in their fields putting in, and taking out, crops, and they were working damn hard for long hours too.

There are millions of examples of this all around us, all of us, everywhere in the U.S. For most of us, we are surrounded by them everyday, and yet for some of us, we never look at them, or even think about them.

There are a few who've never really worked up a sweat putting bread on the table, and some of those are the very ones that disdain those who do, and call them "soft". The media is full of those types, but it's an absolute falsehood that those I've hung around with have it soft. No one who's ever worked with them would say that.

Being poverty stricken and depending on government and charitable aid is not a soft life. Being unemployed when there is no work isn't either. It never has been. I've seen those affected by it all my life. They are not soft. I've known a lot of successful self employed people that came from their ranks.

Americans are a pretty tough lot. If life is easier for us it's because our ancestors worked hard to make it so. There is no shame in that. There is, however, a responsibility to do the same.

_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



Top
#156946 - 11/07/11 04:36 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3149
Loc: Portland, OR
The point I am trying to make is that as people we are realatively soft.

I don't know. This sounds to me a lot like a man who thinks there are no flies on him, but there may be one or two on you. wink

Top
#156965 - 11/07/11 10:38 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: aimless]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2039
Loc: Napa, CA
I would add that you can't tell whether people are tough or not until they need to be. Pretending to be tough, or seeking recreational opportunities to be tough are not good indicators.

You can only really tell when someone is in a very real and very tight spot---and then see how they react.

And frankly, Americans seem to do this just about as well as any other people.
_________________________
balzaccom

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

Top
#157049 - 11/09/11 12:06 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: balzaccom]
ppine Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 184
Loc: Minden, Nevada
The responders to this topic have been all over the map. The tone of some of them is telling much more than the words used. We have 12 pages so far which proves that some people are passionate about this topic.

Opinions seem to fall into 3 general groups. The first group is thoughtful about the topic, and agrees with the idea that mental toughness is important. These are people with SAR experience, career outdoor professionals, or people with a serious approach to being in the backcountry.

The second group seems to be very defensive about the topic, possibly because they are forced to look at their own shortcomings or lack of experience.

There is a third group that seems to have difficulty in grasping the topic altogether.

From the discussion of topics like this, I would not hesitate to sign up for a trip with the likes of Oldranger, Tom D, or wandering daisy.


Edited by ppine (11/09/11 02:03 PM)

Top
#157051 - 11/09/11 12:22 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
GrumpyGord Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 927
Loc: Michigan
I think that you are missing a lot of us who just go out there because we enjoy solitude, minimalism and seeing nature. If I wanted it to be a competition and a test of manhood I would join a sports team. I agree that we need enough wisdom to get out of difficult situations but that does not mean that I have to go looking for trouble. I spent my whole life racing rats in the business world, I do not want my hobby to be a test.

Top
#157056 - 11/09/11 01:14 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
I freely admit I have not read all the responses. But I tend to agree with GrumpyGord here. Furthermore, you may have misinterpreted the second group response (in general). The tone of your original post may have set the tone for much of the discussion; it seemed a little sexist. I am from a family of strong willed women (and men), hence my sarcastic response.

My great great grandmother lived in Iowa with a gentleman farmer who became addicted to opium. It ruined his life apparently and left my gggmother few options. She decided to leave for San Francisco with three kids; two hers and another she took in when her friend and friend's husband died. After spending some time there working to earn the money to take a ship to Los Angeles, they left early in the morning of May 18, 1906. For the next two days they could see smoke rising from San Francisco as they sailed south. Great great grandmother Memo died when I was 3, so I never got to talk to her about it. But Great grandma Ruth would tell me some pretty amazing stuff about that trip and meeting the Indians in what is now L.A.. I'd say great great grandma was pretty tough mentally and otherwise. Mental toughness is a quality that is just necessary in life. It comes out when it is needed, or in some instances you give up and perish.

Some people consider backpacking a kind of vacation and are not interested in having any more trials and tribulations than necessary. Some people consider backcountry travel something they HAVE to do. That is the beauty of it; every person gets to take from it what they will.

Top
#157057 - 11/09/11 01:18 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: skcreidc]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6742
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I think that for most of us, backpacking is a form of recreation and relaxation. I feel far more at home in the wilderness than at my house!

On the other hand, the wilderness can quickly turn from a place of beauty to a nasty cruel environment (been there, done that), and you do need some toughness--and skills--to be able to cope with those conditions. It could mean the difference between life and death!


Edited by OregonMouse (11/09/11 01:21 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

Top
#157062 - 11/09/11 01:39 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: OregonMouse]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
OM, for myself getting out and away is something I have to do. It is my place to get centered and brush away the (what I consider) contrived trappings and stresses of our society. And of course mental toughness is important out there in the back country. But mental toughness is just important in life. Period. I get what ppine was saying. But when I got dropped off in the mountains to map geology alone for 7 days, I loved it. As egotistical as this sounds, I am very confident in the back country off trial. I want to be there. My wife would have hated it. She is not into it; she likes nice trips like hut to hut in the Dolomites. But I do not consider myself mentally tougher than her. She is plenty tough when she wants to be.

Another thing too, if you have the skill set, mental toughness doesn't come into the equation nearly as often unless you put yourself in the position to need it. Say...hiking the JMT in January. No matter how much you have prepared, that trip would be about both skills AND mental toughness.....and maybe some luck too.


Edited by skcreidc (11/09/11 01:45 PM)

Top
#157063 - 11/09/11 01:41 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: OregonMouse]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
A lot of people who are mentally tough end up dead because they cross the boundary into trying to do too much.

All 4 hikers who I read about that died in Colorado this year could probably be classified as mentally tough.

And all the wimps came back. Sometimes mental toughness distorts judgement and that's not a good thing either.


Edited by Gershon (11/09/11 01:41 PM)
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

Top
#157064 - 11/09/11 01:51 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: Gershon]
ppine Offline
member

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

You have missed the point entirely. You are refering to bad judgement. Most of the people who perish in the outdoors give up and that is what costs them in the end. Wimpy people are the first ones to give up.


Edited by ppine (11/09/11 01:52 PM)

Top
#157067 - 11/09/11 02:01 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: OregonMouse]
ppine Offline
member

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

How do you define "the wilderness?" It always sounds like "the ecology" or some other dated phrase. The Wilderness Act has come criteria, but I always have liked "greater than five miles from the nearest dirt road."

If you really feel more comfortable in the backcountry, why don't you live there ? For many people it is a fantasy that evaporates after the first heavy snowfall. The solitude we all value as a contrast to our regular lives becomes overwhelming quickly, like in a month. Have you ever had any friends that had become "bushy" (mentally challenged by too much time alone)? It is a sorry condition for any human. As a species we are much more social than most of us backpackers realize or care to admit.

Top
#157076 - 11/09/11 02:41 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
You want to do a trip with WD. She is a lot better looking than I am. And I have never met her....

Top
#157080 - 11/09/11 02:59 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: oldranger]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
"A superior pilot uses their superior wisdom to avoid situations where they need their superior skills."

The goal is to have as many safe returns from a trip as safe departures. Personally, I've never been in a situation in any activity where the outcome was in doubt. If you don't want to go backpacking with me, that's fine. I prefer to use good planning to avoid bad outcomes. It's a "Hike your own hike thing."
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

Top
#157081 - 11/09/11 03:05 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By ppine
Gershon,

You have missed the point entirely. You are refering to bad judgement. Most of the people who perish in the outdoors give up and that is what costs them in the end. Wimpy people are the first ones to give up.


You are incorrect - statistics do not prove your theory of survival of the fittest.

The highest rate of survival of lost hikers goes to children, who by definition are inexperienced. This is due to the fact that kids will stop when tired, find shelter when it's raining, and eat and drink, rather than wearing themselves out trying to follow the incorrect mental map they don't yet have the ability to develop.

When you hit the teen years, the rate of survival resembles that of adults, in the 80-88% range. Experience in the outdoors makes no difference. Experienced backpackers die at the same rate as the inexperienced.

You are of course entitled to believe otherwise, but one of my first callouts ended with finding the decades-of-experience man dead of hypothermia sitting on a rock. His full backpack and his boots were neatly leaning against boulders not 1/4 of a mile away.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

Top
#157084 - 11/09/11 03:18 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: ppine]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By ppine
The responders to this topic have been all over the map. The tone of some of them is telling much more than the words used. We have 12 pages so far which proves that some people are passionate about this topic.

Opinions seem to fall into 3 general groups. The first group is thoughtful about the topic, and agrees with the idea that mental toughness is important. These are people with SAR experience, career outdoor professionals, or people with a serious approach to being in the backcountry.

The second group seems to be very defensive about the topic, possibly because they are forced to look at their own shortcomings or lack of experience.

There is a third group that seems to have difficulty in grasping the topic altogether.


I think that conclusion is silly, especially about the last two "Groups". What "shortcomings" and "lack of experience" are you specifically thinking about?

You opine that "We have learned here that many people are pretty causual about this sport, and have never really been faced with big challenges."

And you go on to suggest that we should "try pushing your limits a little more".

Exactly what do you suggest?

I don't see how pushing myself to hike 20 miles in a day is going to make me tougher. I know it will make me tired and sore. It'd probably cause some unnecessary wear on my body. But when I wake up in the morning I don't think I'd be a bit tougher.

I go backpacking every year in below freezing temps. Not because I think I'm tough, but because that's when the bugs aren't biting here. And going backpacking in the extreme heat, when the ticks and chiggers are out in the billions, would only prove they will bit me and I'm susceptible to heat stroke, no matter how tough I think I am.

I tell people all the time that bushwhacking in the Ozark Mountains is "Tough". I don't mean I'm tough when I do it, I mean as compared to hiking on trails. And I tell people the trails here are tough. I mean as compared to most all the popular trails out west, and the AT.

You assume I'm "pretty casual about this sport".

Having hiked with quite a few people, I know from experience that most don't like my style of hiking, so without knowing anything about your style, I could easily assume you wouldn't like it either. I might go further and assume you'd be challenged by it, but that'd be a stretch on my part. And it'd be a big leap to assume you're not mentally tough enough. I never even assumed that about the people that have come back from hiking with me and told their friends "He's crazy" and "I'll never hike with him again".

I can only conclude that they don't like my style. I think it would be a huge leap to conclude they were mentally weaker than me. That's not even a tiny bit of the reason. They just don't like it. And it take no "toughness" at all on my part because I love it.

Why is that line of thought so difficult for you to grasp?

Maybe you should offer some suggestions on how we should "try pushing your limits a little more", and provide some detail on the benefits we'll receive as a result. I don't think you've clearly articulated that yet.

"The point I am trying to make is that as people we are realatively soft. We expect a lot."

That either. What exactly do you mean by that? Why are we soft, and what do we expect?

_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



Top
#157096 - 11/09/11 04:11 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: billstephenson]
Frankendude Offline
member

Registered: 10/04/10
Posts: 69
I find the whole notion of "mental toughness" as a badge of honor a bit laughable. I have well over 1000 free-fall skydives and 2000 river miles on class IV+ water, in rafts and hard shell kayaks. Been in a few tight spots and seen some ugly stuff. Never thought of myself being tough, mentally or otherwise. I just learned as much as I could, sought out those who had already survived doing what I was comptemplating, proceeded cautiously and tried to make the best decisions I could under the circumstances. Sometimes we seem all too willing to pat ourselves on the back for doing the obvious. If you want to talk about real mental toughness, talk to a parent in a pediatric oncology ward. Or be the spouse who has to unplug his wife from life support the day after her only daughter's wedding. Being there for someone else, whether outdoors or not, sometimes demands some toughness. Mental toughness saving your own butt in the outdoors, Ha, piece of cake !!!!


Edited by Frankendude (11/09/11 04:14 PM)

Top
#157097 - 11/09/11 04:14 PM Re: Mental toughness [Re: Frankendude]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Thank you. That is a very meaningful perspective...

Top
Page 5 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