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#170333 - 10/10/12 03:35 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: lori]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
To fully bullet-proof yourself:

Don't go alone.


I'm going to step out on a limb here and say that I believe there is a point where you can go alone and be just fine. I've done day hikes and bushwhacks practically all my life, and over the past few years I've been doing more and more solo trips.

That said, I never take any real unnecessary risks out there, I don't do wet crossings when there's even a slight chance of getting swept away, or climb where it's dangerous, and I make sure the weather is going to be perfect during the time I expect to be out.

I go slow, and don't wear myself out, and I take the time to stop, rest, rehydrate, and eat. My hikes are modest in terms of miles and difficulty, in as much as a bushwhack can be here in the Ozarks. It's not that difficult to climb a mountain if you're not in a hurry.

I really can't imagine never going alone.

_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#170334 - 10/10/12 03:36 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: balzaccom]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By balzaccom
But from what Lori has been saying (and she seems to have more specific experience than anyone else on these boards!) It's not the neophytes by the experienced backpackers who somehow ignore the danger...maybe because they've come to think of these situations as minor risks, rather than major ones?


The top contenders for "things to worry about" from the newbies in the hiking group, and in my backpacking class, are usually animals and bugs, and the women worry about random wild mountain men some of the time (being women we are usually socialized to expect that).

Experienced backpackers, or at least backpackers with a handful of trips under their belt, worry about getting hurt or dehydrated, or hypothermic. At least, the ones in my immediate acquaintance would say it - I hesitate to call it worry, they tend to be rather self assured about it. Having allowed myself (and being forced by circumstances one time) to slip into a state of mild to moderate dehydration, I'd say that's my biggest concern, simply because I seem to continue to get there despite all the sipping and water source research I do.

Actual statistics on searches implemented(see above) would indicate that getting lost is a bigger problem, and I tend to agree with that. I don't fear getting lost myself, but I am aware that despite ongoing refresher courses (SAR trainings slam you to the mat on compass skills regularly, and expect GPS proficiency as well as working with interpolators and triangulating skills) I am at risk as much as anyone.

Complacency can lead to mistakes, and some of my first search incidents were for veteran outdoorsmen (not just hikers, also hunters), so I try not to succumb to that "I'm an expert, I can handle it" assumption myself. Because I consider myself a well-researched and well-read, experienced backpacker - not an expert by any means. I think Wandering Daisy would qualify for expert status well before I would.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#170359 - 10/10/12 06:37 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3141
Loc: Portland, OR
WARNING!

As a moderator I am posting a general warning. I just had to remove one post and all replies to it because it moved too far away from civility and too far toward personal sniping. That has no place in this forum.

All participants are now warned. Keep it clean in the clenches. The subject matter here is not persons or personalities and it will not be allowed to become so.

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#170365 - 10/10/12 11:03 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: billstephenson]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By billstephenson
Quote:
To fully bullet-proof yourself:

Don't go alone.


I'm going to step out on a limb here and say that I believe there is a point where you can go alone and be just fine. I've done day hikes and bushwhacks practically all my life, and over the past few years I've been doing more and more solo trips.

That said, I never take any real unnecessary risks out there, I don't do wet crossings when there's even a slight chance of getting swept away, or climb where it's dangerous, and I make sure the weather is going to be perfect during the time I expect to be out.

I go slow, and don't wear myself out, and I take the time to stop, rest, rehydrate, and eat. My hikes are modest in terms of miles and difficulty, in as much as a bushwhack can be here in the Ozarks. It's not that difficult to climb a mountain if you're not in a hurry.

I really can't imagine never going alone.



And I wouldn't imagine that I'd ever expect you to not go solo. I go solo too, sometimes. I have rules for that and follow them. It's not going to be a cross country trip - I might bend that one if I know the route/area well. It's usually somewhere I've been before, or a place I know is more popular and likely to have other folks at least on the trails... It's also usually preventive SAR and so my SAR commander has a very detailed itinerary and expected return time.

But the most oft-repeated advice you'll get is not to go alone. A 70-something year old friend and career hiker (he goes 3-4 times a week, now that he's retired) was instructed by his doctor to never go alone. He has health concerns that make this sound advice.

And for a beginner, who doesn't understand his/her limits yet, or what it means to be hydrated or not, it's good practice.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#170376 - 10/11/12 10:31 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: lori]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
In my opinion, the added risk of a cautious hiker/backpacker going alone is very similar to driving alone without an extra set willing eyes to look for hazards.

I've seen no statistics comparing the safety of hiking alone to hiking with others. I don't think there could be any as nobody knows the mix of people out there. We also don't know if a fatality that occurs when a person is alone would have occurred if they were with someone.

Always hiking with a group may actually increase risk. Many won't become proficient at navigation. Many will not do any of the planning. Many won't have even basic skills to spend a night. They will just follow a group.

The most common fatality or rescue I see in Colorado news is for a person who got separated from a group. I'd hate to have the first time I hiked/backpacked alone be when I got separated from a group and lost.

I agree with filing a plan with someone. To make it really good, I put a picture of me with my pack on, a picture of my footprints, a map of where I'm going and a picture of my tent, and a picture of my car. I email this to a friend so he can email it to SAR if the need arises.

I also leave a copy of the plan on the dash of my car and leave the doors unlocked. I also have the return date written in big letters on the plan so a ranger who sees it there for a few days will know when I'm expected back. I've been told they mildly pay attention after the car is there two nights.

Personally, I always call the Forest Service before I hike. Sometimes they give information which causes me to change my plans. If the conditions are significantly different than what they told me, I call them back with an update.

It's also important to check the weather online here. It can look really nice, but a big snowstorm or severe thunderstorms might be just over the horizon.

As with most activities that are considered dangerous, a person's safety mindset has more to do with a successful outcome than the activity itself. The word "experienced" means nothing to me in a news article. Often from the content of the article I could change that to "lucky until then."

This is for SAR team members. In my opinion, SAR reports should be published. Perhaps they could be released 3 years later so identities aren't so clear. There is one victim written account here which has some good information.



Edited by Gershon (10/11/12 10:43 AM)
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#170383 - 10/11/12 10:56 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

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


This is for SAR team members. In my opinion, SAR reports should be published. Perhaps they could be released 3 years later so identities aren't so clear. There is one victim written account here which has some good information.



You aren't alone, but, as long as they are attached to law enforcement agencies, SAR units follow the same policies. And think about this: would you want everyone in the world to know you were drinking urine to stay alive, and then you were found three miles from your car?

And Yosar does not publish everything... no way. That park rarely has a day go by that the searchers don't go out. The radio traffic is incredible to listen to.

As already noted, nothing stops books from being written, and there's plenty of those.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#170385 - 10/11/12 11:41 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: lori]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By lori
Originally Posted By Gershon


This is for SAR team members. In my opinion, SAR reports should be published. Perhaps they could be released 3 years later so identities aren't so clear. There is one victim written account here which has some good information.



You aren't alone, but, as long as they are attached to law enforcement agencies, SAR units follow the same policies. And think about this: would you want everyone in the world to know you were drinking urine to stay alive, and then you were found three miles from your car?

And Yosar does not publish everything... no way. That park rarely has a day go by that the searchers don't go out. The radio traffic is incredible to listen to.

As already noted, nothing stops books from being written, and there's plenty of those.


Lori,

Usually safety reports are published without names in aviation. Yes, all the dirty details come out and some people get embarrassed, but they save a lot of lives.

So what if someone knows I drank filtered urine to stay alive? They probably wouldn't mess with me after.

It amazes me that Yosemite has so many rescues. Last year, I talked to the local SAR in early August and they hadn't had a rescue all year.

Perhaps a sanitized book of rescues in the gift shop at Yosemite would prevent some of these rescues. It could earn SAR some extra money, too.

There is a nagging concern I have for myself. Since I've never had a bad situation in the wilderness and have never run across someone who has, maybe I'm underestimating the dangers. A book of local rescues could dispel that and at least make me more alert. As you say, it will probably never happen, so I read news accounts every so often.

_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#170387 - 10/11/12 11:51 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: Gershon]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
Yosemite has lots rescues because it has lots of use. Some relatively dangerous places are easily accessible (seasonally very swift water even next to roads). Many trails are quite strenuous, iniviting those who probably should not go up them. Yosemite is also a world class climbing center - very difficult climbs- requiring a specialized rescue team for climbing rescues. I do not think a book of rescue details in a gift shop would make a lick of difference. There are plenty of signs of the dangers, and many people just ignore them anyway. I think a bit of the problem is the glorification of stupidity that is shown on reality TV that young people now are watching.

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#170393 - 10/11/12 12:22 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: wandering_daisy]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2026
Loc: Napa, CA
Agreed. But it shouldn't surprise us that there are so many rescues in Yosemite. AFter all, each year we read of people who die there---and you have to assume that there are many other close calls that people survive.
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balzaccom

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

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#170430 - 10/11/12 08:30 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: balzaccom]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
If you ignore the big sign that says DO NOT SWIM and go in the water anyway, yes, you get into big trouble.

It's no surprise at all that the majority of medical issues and callouts are on the trail between Half Dome and Happy Isles. Half Dome could be (should be) described as an "attractive nuisance." Everyone, whether they have ever hiked a mile before or not, feels that they MUST DO IT AT ALL COSTS and make the attempt - or so you'd think looking at the statistics. Bad shoes, no water, no common sense, no experience, doesn't matter. I've given away more water, snack bars and advice on that trail - so I rarely go up it any more. And only in the wee hours of the morning before the tourist rush.

I met one of the cable rangers on her way down for the day, last year. She told me the permit system had cut the number of daily incidents from a dozen to less than six. That's kind of huge.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#170432 - 10/11/12 08:46 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: lori]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 751
Loc: Eastern Sierras
It's the same with death valley. Every year tourist go off trail with no water, get confused and bam they're skeletons. I do alot of desert hiking, even if it's a 2 hour hike I prep for overnight. A big reason I got into light weight equipment.
_________________________
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.

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#170433 - 10/11/12 08:47 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

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


So what if someone knows I drank filtered urine to stay alive? They probably wouldn't mess with me after.

It amazes me that Yosemite has so many rescues. Last year, I talked to the local SAR in early August and they hadn't had a rescue all year.

Perhaps a sanitized book of rescues in the gift shop at Yosemite would prevent some of these rescues. It could earn SAR some extra money, too.

There is a nagging concern I have for myself. Since I've never had a bad situation in the wilderness and have never run across someone who has, maybe I'm underestimating the dangers. A book of local rescues could dispel that and at least make me more alert. As you say, it will probably never happen, so I read news accounts every so often.



I doubt it would help. It's like survival skills training - the people who need it the most won't be the ones really motivated to seek it out.

We have a few "repeat offenders" locally who never learn from their own experience. We go looking for them anyway. A little annoying, but not everyone is as functional as everyone else...

On the other end of the spectrum we have people like the fellow who signed up for my backpacking class - he did not want to even go out there without someone who "knew what they were doing" and so paid for himself and his teenagers to attend a class. They learned a lot and had fun, and it was evidently a positive experience - he intends to sign up for the hiking group in spring and continue to learn. He'll be one not likely to be a search subject.

If people paid attention to the safety classes we (SAR) teach at REI, to the signs we post on all our trailheads in our area, to the basics of hiking posted a million places on the internet - it would reduce the number of incidents. And I think it does. The classes are well attended. On preventive SAR hikes people I talk to are paying attention to things like leaving itineraries with someone. But, these are all people who tend to seek out the information.

It's just that far too many are not open to it - and sometimes, you run into people who just don't care who tells them the risks and how to be safer. They do what they do. Don't care about the risk. Thru hikers determined to hike through the night into a storm because they "must be X by Tuesday" are not concerned by lighting on high passes.

Sequoia - Kings sends out a 10 essentials flyer with all confirmations for wilderness permits you reserve, and they have an excellent set of four pdfs on their website on wilderness safety and planning trips. You do not need the details of searches to learn wilderness safety. Things like those pdfs and all the information provided in backpacking books and classes are well informed by the many incidents that have taken place. And people who are looking for them get it. The non-receptive folks who we short haul off ledges probably just throw away or ignore....

There are people who live here who do not know search and rescue exists. I sometimes mention to co-workers that I volunteer for it. "What's search and rescue?" This is why we walk in parades and show up to local community events to man a booth, and show kids how to tie a bowline on a bight, or hug a tree. Every once in a while, families take a trip where they have never been, to camp or hike where they never have before. I've had members of the hiking group call ME directly when someone they know gets lost (or they think the person is lost... long story) - and I have to tell them to call the national park, or the county sheriff. It is not even on the radar that getting lost while hiking *might* happen. These are not folks who would even imagine picking up a book about this sort of thing.

So, awareness, then exposure to basic prep for venturing into the outdoors, then experience. Survival skills is a looooooong way off for some people.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#170435 - 10/11/12 09:28 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
Barefoot Friar Offline
member

Registered: 01/23/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Houston, Alabama
If I were out in the wilderness and something went horribly wrong, could I survive long enough to be rescued or else reach civilization?

I think so. I think that, for me, the biggest factor is that I know my limitations. I know what I don't know. I know how far I can push myself, and I know when to quit.

I know how to build a fire with only what I can find in the woods. If I were injured, sick, or freezing to death, it would be really difficult. But if it was something else (like getting hopelessly lost, or stranded by a rushing stream, or something else), and if I had my pack and its contents still with me, it wouldn't faze me.

I know that the very first thing to do when facing an unforseen difficulty is stop and make a cup of tea. Coffee might work, but there's something reflective about brewing tea that just gets the mind working straighter. Stop and nurse that cup of tea, and think about something else for a little bit, and when you come back to the problem often an answer will begin to form. I think panic is the absolute worst thing to have in the backcountry. A wet sleeping bag in cold weather can be dealt with. An injured hand or foot can be dealt with. Panic saps energy and fogs the mind and makes really simple things into impossible mountains.

I know enough bushcraft to build a whole cabin if I need to. I've never actually done it, so maybe I know less than I think. But I'd give it a try if it came down to it. I'm good at figuring things out.

I bet I could go out in three seasons with only a razor blade and a bit of mason twine and make it ok for several days. I don't want to do that, because it doesn't sound fun or safe to me. But if I had to I could.

But here's the rub: I do have common sense. I heard a couple local radio personalities talking about common sense one time. One of the guys said that we need to start calling it uncommon sense, since no one seems to have it anymore. My common sense makes me take rain gear even when no rain is forecast, food when I'm only planning to be out for a little while, and a map even though I know the area. My common sense shies away from rough streams, especially in wet weather, and it sends me home when I get hypothermic. (Which actually happened. Once.)

The sad part is that I think that the people who need it most are the ones least likely to have it. For us, this is something approaching a passion. We know how to be reasonably safe and prepared. For most people who are just beginning, that drive just isn't there yet. Sometimes you have an experience like I did once that makes you sit up and take notice, but sometimes that experience just nearly kills you.

That's my two cents.
_________________________
"Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls."

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#170438 - 10/11/12 10:04 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: rockchucker22]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3141
Loc: Portland, OR
even if it's a 2 hour hike I prep for overnight

I've come to the point where I do this for almost any day hike I take, even if it's on a popular trail. For example, today I was day hiking on what is normally a very popular trail, and I met the usual hordes of people on the first two miles. For the next eight miles I met not one soul. The final mile was back to business as usual: hordes.

If I'd got myself in trouble expecting someone to appear in ten minutes and save me, I'd have been very disappointed over those eight miles. The good thing was I has enough in my pack to emergency bivy overnight if I'd had to, along with a flashlight capable of letting me creep out in the dark, if I were still able to self-rescue. Lastly, I had the PLB with me and could have pushed the big red button, if need be.

Of course, nothing bad happened. Though I'm not sad about that. grin

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#170768 - 10/21/12 03:07 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3967
Loc: Bend, Oregon
TO EVERYBODY

This thread has become nothing but an "I said you said" and has very little value as far as survival information goes (its lost in all of the words) and really isn't very interesting either.

Maybe we should have had a "survival information usefull thread" and a "lets argue about it so any latent value will be lost in the dust" thread.

Hey - lighten up you guys...
When someone tries to antagonize you - ignore it - drop it - this isn't a place for personal arguements.
JB thanks for trying to start this, sorry you've been put on the defensive.
Jim smile
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#170808 - 10/22/12 01:32 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: Jimshaw]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I disagree. There's info and references to more info buried in the thread somewhere. More than he said/ she said.

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