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#170235 - 10/08/12 05:26 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: lori]
balzaccom Online   content
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2039
Loc: Napa, CA


Lori, you are always so logical...Sigh.

Actually, I love sitting in a campgroung watching people set up their tents. A nice cold drink in hand, and it's hard to find better entertainment. After about 15-20 minutes, I usually go over and say hi.

And yeah, if they ask for help, I give it to them. It's only fair for the grins they have given me.
_________________________
balzaccom

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

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#170237 - 10/08/12 06:29 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: lori]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
I believe survival skills are important. However, experience teaches me that it won't happen Unless the person has a motivation to put effort in, and a good ninety percent of backpacker just don't.


That's an interesting observation. Is this your experience because of the classes you lead or your SAR work (or both)?

Most of the backpackers I run into here are fairly well skilled and prepared. We don't have many SAR incidents here that I know of, at least not for backpackers. I could see how that might not be the case out West. I don't know about the East though, I suppose the AT gets their share like that.

I don't think there's anything special about Ozarker's backpacking, it's just not a "trendy" thing to do here, so most that do backpack here are involved in outdoor recreation and familiar with outdoor skills, and not many tourists actually come here to backpack like they do out West. In fact, I'd venture to guess that most those here with little experience and skill head out West to backpack (so you get to deal with them wink ).

_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#170242 - 10/08/12 08:05 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: billstephenson]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By billstephenson
Quote:
I believe survival skills are important. However, experience teaches me that it won't happen Unless the person has a motivation to put effort in, and a good ninety percent of backpacker just don't.


That's an interesting observation. Is this your experience because of the classes you lead or your SAR work (or both)?

Most of the backpackers I run into here are fairly well skilled and prepared. We don't have many SAR incidents here that I know of, at least not for backpackers. I could see how that might not be the case out West. I don't know about the East though, I suppose the AT gets their share like that.

I don't think there's anything special about Ozarker's backpacking, it's just not a "trendy" thing to do here, so most that do backpack here are involved in outdoor recreation and familiar with outdoor skills, and not many tourists actually come here to backpack like they do out West. In fact, I'd venture to guess that most those here with little experience and skill head out West to backpack (so you get to deal with them wink ).



People from all over the world head to California to backpack. People from all over California show up on our trails locally - I talked to a number of folks last weekend who drove more than 200 miles from San Francisco to backpack five miles to a lake off Kaiser Pass. I also talked to some hunters and randomly met four members of my 2,000 member hiking group. I was merely rambling out overnight on a whim myself.

You can bet that I have gotten really really tired of explaining to people what the 10 essentials are and why we look for more day hikers than we do backpackers, and why we end up looking for "experienced" backpackers quite a bit more than one would expect. It is easy to make the same mistakes over and over without serious consequence. People can get wet or blistered or delayed here, even stay out overnight unprepared, and the Sierra Nevada can forgive until next time.

However, we do, every great once in a while, have to identify bones we find while on searches for other people. People do not always tell anyone where they are going, so putting together such puzzles is in the realm of genetic testing these days.

I'd guess that it's one in five hundred or so that will really get stuck out there (or lost) and need rescue. We have a lot of search callouts, two or three per month for hikers from early spring through fall - this is still remarkably few given we are often called for mutual aid searches in three of the most tourist-ridden parks in the national park system.

Still not enough that your average businessman who goes backpacking on a lark will say, hey - I really need to know how to build a fire before I go. Most of them say "eh, I've got matches" and figure it's that simple, and since you are not able to whip out a credential or diploma that says you know more than they do, "I know what I'm doing." They always do until they don't.
_________________________
"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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#170247 - 10/08/12 09:17 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: lori]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Lori, we used to get called out occasionally (military) to assist SAR and Sherriff's department search the desert for missing backpackers. Found one body just a few hundred yards, well actually the Sherriffs Helo found it, just as we were showing up in a Jolly Green, from a house and highway. We were asked if we could backtrack the trail, and determine what happened. No problem. The person did absolutely everything wrong. That's about how we summed it up for the Old Man, slang for the Commander, who in turn faxed our findings to the Sherriff's department.
(It'd be a long story to go into it all, but the deceased, had they had the proper survival skills, could have easily survived. Instead someones life was wasted, and all those families, and others affected by the death of a loved one. One year, '80's, we got so many assist calls, that I almost lost track of my humanity, and developed pretty much a "tough ****" attitude". I recovered, but I was so sick of helping recover bodies, which wasn't my job anyway, that it was hard to feel sorry for the backpackers/hikers who were killed, by arrogance and ignorance. We too found remains of a skeleton, that we weren't even looking for, but to be honest, the Riverside County Sheriff was looking into that one as a possible homocide and body dump, we never heard anything else about it. So Pika's and Marmots aside, coupound factures, concussions, and a 1000 other things can hurt people unexpectedly, who ponder their security while sitting on granite. But hey, at least they "planned", I think.....Heck, when were you working with a SAR? Maybe we crossed paths?
J.


Edited by jbylake (10/08/12 09:26 PM)

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#170251 - 10/09/12 12:56 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By jbylake
So Pika's and Marmots aside, coupound factures, concussions, and a 1000 other things can hurt people unexpectedly, who ponder their security while sitting on granite. But hey, at least they "planned", I think.....Heck, when were you working with a SAR? Maybe we crossed paths?
J.


You're talking around the basic fact that people who do the best they can to mitigate risks are going to stand a better chance if something does happen. What you are calling "survival skills" is what I think of as plain ol' common sense - why the F would you leave home, drive 100 miles up a country road, park, hike another 10 - 100 miles, and do all of it without even thinking about the fact that you can't run to the pharmacy, the hospital or call for help?

Planning is ALWAYS the first step. You have to plan... to learn survival skills! You have to think about things to buy into the notion that you need survival skills. You have to WORK TOO HARD to maintain compass and map skills, knot tying, fire building skills - it takes TOO MUCH PLANNING and too much work to maintain those skills, if you only go backpacking once a year. You have to do more than walk up to Half Dome with half a liter of water, wearing flip flops, all 16 miles on granite steps and steep hills - you have to understand what you're up against and get ready for it. People don't understand why that kind of effort is needed - it's just walking, isn't it?

"Survival Skills" in the sense of fire building, etc. are useful, but as I have said repeatedly - people don't understand what that means either. And you won't get them to understand if they think they have what it takes. You are saying survival skills are necessary but not planning - interesting that your way takes much, much more forethought and work than simply leaving an itinerary, huh?

Please answer the original question of what survival skills I would use surrounded by granite for miles. It would probably illustrate the point for you that different skills belong in different environments. I doubt you could last long without some preparation for the task. Not really any way to build a fire with just rocks.

I have been and continue to be a SAR volunteer in Fresno County. Am sadly missing a call out tonight - not for a hiker, but for a Yosemite employee. The information is posted on the Conservancy blog. She was NOT backpacking, day hiking, or anything. And yet she is missing. Sometimes there is no way to prepare at all. Signing on to work at a luxury hotel doesn't require navigation skills.
_________________________
"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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#170264 - 10/09/12 11:43 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
This post is directed towards the OP, jbylake.

From my perspective I have no idea why Lori bothers continuing "this" discussion. It doesn't seem to be getting anywhere. You, jbylake, HAVE added to this forum, but this thread is not a good example of that. Lori's point of leaving an itinerary being probably the most important thing you can do should be underlined. jbylake, in your example of what happened to you, which was very unfortunate of course, did you leave an itinerary? Or at least tell people what you were going to do? It seems to me you were very lucky if you did not tell anybody. You were lucky anyway that you were not injured even more seriously.

I might be the only one here who thinks this way, but what would make this an interesting thread is REAL INFORMATION. That guy who died in sight of homes or a highway who did a million things wrong; list the top 4. Or 2, or just the worst. Git a real discussion going. Some of the best info presented here was Finallyme's list of things to think about in a survival situation. One of the most interesting reads out there is the annual Accidents in North American Mountaineering; that's got some real info/analysis in it. But up to now, I really have no idea what you want out of this thread; its a total mystery to me. And I do understand survival techniques btw.

This is not meant to be a personal attack or anything so please do not take it that way. If you don't like my suggestions, I will not have hurt feelings, but I will also will not be joining in on the discussion either.

Sincerely, Chris

ps In a survival situation, your best tool is your brain. That is why I always carry extra, just in case.



Don't take yourself so serious, people.


Edited by skcreidc (10/09/12 12:16 PM)

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#170267 - 10/09/12 12:04 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: skcreidc]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By skcreidc
From my perspective I have no idea why Lori bothers continuing "this" discussion. This thread died to me soon after it started. You HAVE added to this forum, but this thread is not a good example of that. Lori's point of leaving an itinerary being probably the most important thing you can do should be underlined. In your example of what happened to you, which was very unfortunate of course, did you leave an itinerary? Or at least tell people what you were going to do? It seems to me you were very lucky if you did not tell anybody. You were lucky anyway that you were not injured even more seriously.



Don't take yourself so serious, people.


I don't take myself too seriously. I take safety seriously, or I would never have bothered to volunteer - it costs a lot of money to volunteer for SAR, a lot of training, and a lot of studying.

I am assuming your post was directed at me. The situation was entirely hypothetical - I NEVER go cross country hiking in the alpine by myself. I do not assume any rock is stable (the big ones do move) and I won't take the risks other people do, repeatedly. I DO know that people frequently go solo, and hope that they are blessed with the good sense to be adequately prepared for it, or to come back anyway. The majority of the time, it's easy to go out without a clue and come back still without a clue.

I post because this is the internet and I'm aware that many more read than post. If you want to claim survival skills are necessary, give specifics and info on where you would use one or the other, and why.

I cannot and will not post specifics on searches without permission, because doing so will get any volunteer (or sworn deputy for that matter) in a world of trouble. Our SAR team respects the privacy of the folks we rescue and also the policy of the law enforcement agency we work with to not divulge information on the activities of the sheriff's department. If you want specifics on searches there are a variety of accounts on some search team pages. There is a very good thread on High Sierra Topix written and posted by one of our recent search subjects, who was stuck in Tehipite Valley and received a helicopter ride to safety with us.

_________________________
"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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#170268 - 10/09/12 12:11 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: lori]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Actually no, Lori, its' directed towards the OP, jbylake. I'm fine with your posts. I'm sorry, but I apparently really suck at this forum communication stuff.

I will work on the clarity

Chris

note; I edited previous post. Hopefully that clears things up. Gotta get to work!


Edited by skcreidc (10/09/12 12:17 PM)

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#170270 - 10/09/12 12:48 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: skcreidc]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
I guess I am frustrated because this COULD be an interesting thread packed with knowledge.

My opinion of course.

Chris

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#170272 - 10/09/12 02:59 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: skcreidc]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
From my perspective I have no idea why Lori bothers continuing "this" discussion. This thread died to me soon after it started.


I think this has been a pretty interesting discussion. Lori's offered a scenario of a difficult situation that even a very skilled survivalist would be seriously challenged with. I think I mentioned ice storms.

Both of these situations could be easily avoided with good planning. While mine is not very likely for a hiker to encounter, Lori's is almost commonplace out West.

But I agree that the conversation would be more helpful if took a turn towards focusing on the practical and technique as well as real life experiences. I think Lori's tried to do that with her scenario. I'll try too...

The way I see it is, there are probably two major categories you can use for backpackers; Those who have taken the time to learn how to plan and hone skills, and those who haven't. Here, the vast majority of backpackers are in the former, but not out West. Lori's confirmed what I suspected, there are many more once a year types that head out there, and many more tourist types that head out for the first time.

Planning by the book, so to speak, is all good until your plans tank out on you. If you have skills you might be able to adapt, but skills with no plan won't always bail you out, Lori's scenario demonstrates that pretty well.

Honestly, I don't have a good plan for ice storms, or even the more common vicious thunderstorms we get here where straight-line winds and downburst can hit 60-70 mph and tear up a mature forest. My only plan is to avoid being out there when that happens. If that fails, I suppose I'd try to find some big rocks or ledges to hunker down in, but thunderstorms moving at 40+mph don't give you a lot of time to do even that. Your only chance in an ice storm is to get out, and the longer you dawdle at that the worse it will be for you.

Part of my plan is to keep a very close eye on the weather forecast when I'm out there, and that has saved my butt more times than I can count. Two years ago a buddy and I got out about 10-12 hours before a nasty ice storm hit where we were backpacking in the Ozark NF. We hiked back to my car and drove to a high point to get a phone signal so I could check the forecast while he called his wife. Had we not done that, and stayed where we were, even if we could have made it to our car the next day we would have been stuck for a week or more, and we were not well prepared for that.

This is why I carry my cell phone, how I use it, and why I consider it an essential piece of gear. It's not perfect, but when it works it is an amazing tool. The "Plan" should always include not using your survival skills out of need.

On a even more practical level, learning how to fall is a survival skill that is worth considering and honing. I slip and fall every time I go bushwhacking, it's just a part of traversing the forests here. Jim's brought that up a few times and talked about ice ax techniques, but even the more common slip and stumble type falls can be dangerous and there are techniques to lesson that.

When I was young we hung out with a friend who was a stuntman. He taught my brothers and I how to fall, and while that may sound silly, it's not. It's a skill you can learn. The object is to avoid breaking bones and serious injury with some level of control, and that doesn't mean it won't hurt. For example, you don't want to land on the palm of your hand with your arm extended straight, and it's better to slide with and into a fall than tumble, and it's better to tuck your head in and roll while landing on your back shoulder than on your head. It takes a bit of practice to get to the point where it's intuitive, but it's pretty much like riding a bike after you've got it down. Football players are really good at falling down, and you can see those techniques in practice by watching them wink

_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#170273 - 10/09/12 03:44 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: billstephenson]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
You are probably right Bill. Lets just say I was hoping for a different discussion direction given the title of the thread. It IS 6 pages long and growing. No worries.

As far as planning; if you haven't planned, you shouldn't even be out there. That's at the start of backpacking 101.

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#170286 - 10/09/12 06:49 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: skcreidc]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Originally Posted By skcreidc
This post is directed towards the OP, jbylake.

From my perspective I have no idea why Lori bothers continuing "this" discussion. It doesn't seem to be getting anywhere. You, jbylake, HAVE added to this forum, but this thread is not a good example of that. Lori's point of leaving an itinerary being probably the most important thing you can do should be underlined. jbylake, in your example of what happened to you, which was very unfortunate of course, did you leave an itinerary? Or at least tell people what you were going to do? It seems to me you were very lucky if you did not tell anybody. You were lucky anyway that you were not injured even more seriously.


If you had read the post, you would see that I did notify both the land owner, and the Amish folks, who owned the adjoining property, where I was going, and when to expect me back. That's why I knew, or hoped anyway, they'd come looking for me.
Also, I could type for an hour, and someone would have came back and said if that person that died had planned properly, nothing would have ever happened.

Lori, WTF?, really, Now we're at WTF? I never, ever mentioned that planning for a trip was not necessary, as a matter of fact that should be the first thing someone should be doing, depending on the trip, a day to weeks ahead of time. No one ever said that planning for a trip wasn't necessary. My point was, and I won't repeat it again, because some here seem quite offended by it, is, that you can plan until the end of times. But what happens when your plan fails? Can the person deal with it? In the example I gave with my own fall, Although there wasn't much to plan for, it was, as I said, a very simple trip, that didn't require much planning. Food, water, shelter, etc..and notifying folks where I was going and when I'd be back. Heck, all I was essentially doing was walking a sheep herding trail around a mountain to a valley at the top, which I was told was spectacular, with a stop over each night.

Planning, didn't include fortune telling however. All of the planning in the world wouldn't have told me that the earth had given out from under a 3 to 4 foot section wide path, and that I would step on what was now, a "natural" bridge of about 4 inches to a foot of dirt.

I really don't get what part of this either Irk's people, or makes people think that I don't think planning is important. The only point I was trying to make, actually not even that, I just was curious how many people knew what to do, when even the best plans went awry.

skcreidc, as to your comment about what said person did wrong, well that would take a few pages of discussion which I'm not going to go into. Having said that, that person was a United States Marine, from a nearby Marine post, and should have had the survival skills to have lived, especially due to the fact that, said Marine's camp was in the middle of the desert.

So, to sum up, without someone blowing their top:
A. plan for your trip (seems everyone here agrees upon that)
B. Know your limitations (part of planing)
C. If the absolutely unexpected rears it's ugly head, can you deal with it.?

Enough said, on my part. Didn't ever intend on offending anyone, or starting a heated discussion. My only intention was to see who had the survival skills, or even thought they were even important enough to bother with, to survive, when the best laid plans go horribly wrong.

Lori, I'm a little taken back by your "F?" (question?). So, being a SAR volunteer, maybe a little reflection on some of the rescues you've been on, where the worse happened, and it became a recovery, rather than a search, could it have been survivable, had the person had the skills to survive? Granted, some accidents are not survivable, say, falling off a 200 foot cliff, headlong.

And I'm not referring to day hikes with kids, on flat earth, where you'd meet 30 or 40 people on a well marked trail, stop for a PB&J, then meander on back to camp. This probably isn't even the forum for people who do this kind of thing once every three or four years.

My interest, and original question is primarily intended for those who are going on tough trek, for days, maybe even longer, where help, no matter how well you planned, might not even bother looking for you, until you're itinerary say's you're a day or two over due for your return.

I don't know of a single case, where someone plans to die. I'm a living example of what happens, when you do plan, and still have a catastrophic event occur. And, I'd like to add, that it wasn't my only close call, but enough about that.

Skedric, from my perspective, nobody has been forced into continuing "this" discussion. Not trying to stir a stinking pile of pooh, here, and never intended to.

You know what I do, when I read something that I don't want to discuss, or look at? I just go onto the next thread...and also, Skedrick maybe you should actually read the threads. At no point did I ever say that leaving an itenerary was not necessary, or foolish, or anything else. I can't even see where I've ever disagreed with Lori. I sense that you're a bit upset that I posted it at all, with your "perspective that you have no idea whay Lori bother's continuing this thread". Do you actually think I'm baiting her? Are you kidding? That's the inference I get.

So let's ALL, calm down, take a deep breath, and take this thread for what it started as, a simple question. Nothing more.
And just let the thread die a natural death. I really love this forum, especially for the short time I've been here, and would never intentionally post or state something just to, what's the term, "flame bait", or whatever you call it.
J. thanks

















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#170298 - 10/09/12 09:33 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: jbylake]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By jbylake
So, being a SAR volunteer, maybe a little reflection on some of the rescues you've been on, where the worse happened, and it became a recovery, rather than a search, could it have been survivable, had the person had the skills to survive? Granted, some accidents are not survivable, say, falling off a 200 foot cliff, headlong.

And I'm not referring to day hikes with kids, on flat earth, where you'd meet 30 or 40 people on a well marked trail, stop for a PB&J, then meander on back to camp. This probably isn't even the forum for people who do this kind of thing once every three or four years.

My interest, and original question is primarily intended for those who are going on tough trek, for days, maybe even longer, where help, no matter how well you planned, might not even bother looking for you, until you're itinerary say's you're a day or two over due for your return.



The difference between people who survive and people who don't is not a matter of survival skills. It's a matter of planning (YES IT IS possible to decrease risk by learning about where you are going, what's likely to happen, and what you're likely to need while you are there and in the event something goes wrong - this is extremely specific to environment a lot of the time) AND MORE THAN THAT attitude - the difference between survival and not surviving is a choice the person makes when things go wrong.

Read "Deep Survival" and you will understand more completely that there is no way on earth to completely keep yourself safe - you don't know how you will react til you are in it.

What you do more than anything else is NOT PANIC. It's sometimes (most of the time) that simple.

Skills don't seem to make a difference - and you need to quantify "skill" because "experienced hikers" die all the time. One of my first callouts was an oldster who'd backpacked all his life in the Sierra who died sitting on a rock in Whitney (this was in the papers). He'd avoided hypothermia all his life and then, there he was, off his itinerary, wandering confused, his last contact with anyone some hikers he told he was going north on the JMT (he was going the opposite direction). In true hypothermia-dazed fashion he ignored their course correction and went off to sit a ways from his fully loaded backpack and die.

To fully bullet-proof yourself:

Don't go alone. Go with people who know what the symptoms of hypothermia and dehydration (they are similar) are so when you start down the road of Stupid Addle Brained Decisions they force you to stop and get warm/hydrated.

Don't go unprepared - know where water sources are, if they are uncertain, carry enough to get out and back again if the first one doesn't prove out... know the specific risks for the area and mitigate them.

Don't go without navigation. Have a map. Knowing how to read it well enough sometimes lets you get away without a compass, but have the map.

Leave an itinerary.


The top killers in Yosemite are rocks and water. There are more water rescues (recoveries, more than 90% of the time) by far than any other kind, in general. Water crossings kill hikers sometimes. Falling off rocks kills climbers, mostly, but also claims hikers.

To quote "Lost Person Behavior": Being overdue accounts for 16% of search incidents. Hikers are often delayed because of poor estimates of fitness/travel time, lack of light, and blisters, especially if carrying heavy packs or hiking for the first time (or first time in a long time). Many hikers discard equipment when lost or in trouble. Many lack skills for remote areas.

If found within 24 hours, 97% of those searched for are found alive. This drops to 76% after 24 hours, and drops to 60% after 48 hours.

The best thing to do, if you are lost and unable to determine with some certainty where you are/which way to go, is STOP. (If you left an itinerary.) Conserve resources and energy. Put out a poncho or brightly colored item, set up the tent (there's a reason Sequoia NP asks what color your tent is when you pick up the permit - helicopters look for them), and if you see other people signal them. (You'd be surprised, but sometimes people do not.)

In scenarios accounted for by (somewhat old) statistics: 68% of search subjects got lost, 16% were overdue, 7% incurred some sort of trauma, 4% were somehow stranded, and 2% had medical issues. 1% will evade search teams (fugitives or mentally ill).

The most appalling gaps in skills with hikers is in navigation. Time and time again, I instruct people attending the hikes I lead to have maps, and even provide links, and explain that even hiking in a group you need a map. They don't bring one. Three times now I have come upon groups searching for a missing member of their party while just out hiking for fun.

"Planning" to be lost? Sure! Plan to pay attention to landmarks, trail turns, forks in the path, and most of the battle is won. (Off trail is another story.)

The more preparation you do for the worst, the calmer you will be if something does happen - and THAT will make the difference. So if I am harping on planning, and you think that is misguided... sorry, but preparation and planning makes all the difference in the world. Try sitting in a car with a driver who's never turned a key, then sit in a car with someone who's clocked 100,000 miles in all conditions and road types - the calmer the driver, the less likely there will be an accident on the way to the destination. People who know how to plan and implement a safe backpacking trip are easy to hike with, because you don't need to tell them a thing. They have their own tums, their own map, their own water treatment and don't end up bumming fuel off you unless something catastrophic happens with their stove. And in a crunch - they stay calm.
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#170304 - 10/09/12 11:30 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: lori]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 751
Loc: Eastern Sierras
I think the whole point has been missed all together, not all aspects of survival are symbiotic with backpacking. The OP was trying to encourage a intelligent conversation on the basics of wtshf. No matter where, what, or who you are.
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#170307 - 10/10/12 12:02 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: rockchucker22]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3149
Loc: Portland, OR
If you haven't read any intelligent conversation in this thread about what to do when the stuff hits the fan, then it seems to me you are dismissing a lot of useful information that has already been offered, as being unintelligent or useless.

However, if you think something else would be more to the point, please share it, rather than simply dismissing what others have shared and then stopping at that. Then maybe we can figure out why your think what has been said so far is so off the mark.

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#170308 - 10/10/12 12:27 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: rockchucker22]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By rockchucker22
I think the whole point has been missed all together, not all aspects of survival are symbiotic with backpacking. The OP was trying to encourage a intelligent conversation on the basics of wtshf. No matter where, what, or who you are.


You can think that.

I don't see where the OP really wanted conversation. He wanted to tell us over and over again the same thing. So we can agree with it? I agree with the idea that survival skills are a good thing to have, but it's not why people survive. There are no "basics" other than being prepared beforehand and staying calm - you don't do the same things in a desert as you would in a forest, or in a winter wonderland. There are specifics, mostly. But he didn't talk about that much either.
_________________________
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#170309 - 10/10/12 12:55 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: lori]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
I absolutely concur with Lori 100%. All the "skills" in the world aren't going to save you if you don't have the skill to remain calm when things go south. And even then, sometimes conditions can alter the mental faculties of even the calmest individual, and they end up responding unexpectedly. Many people who survive do so in part because they steadfastly refuse to accept their situation as fatal. This isn't foolproof by any means, but it certainly helps. Non-outdoors people frequently survive situations simply because they truly have no idea how bad it really is. This is especially true with kids. Some people survive because they are too pissed at the situation to give in. Anger can be a powerful survival tool too.

It is way too shortsighted to assume that "learning" survival skills equates to survival versus death. Survival skills only work if they are practiced, and the practitioner has used that practice as an opportunity to become more comfortable in the outdoor environment. As that comfort level increases, the fear of the unknown decreases, and fewer situations result in panic. Occasional backpackers never have a chance to think through unexpected scenarios because they don't spend enough time in the field. Reading a book, watching TV or taking a weekend class are no substitute for experience. Practice, practice, practice. Experiment in a controlled environment. We all (here on this board anyway) do it, but most of us don't call it being a "survivalist."

Had the OP posted his experience in his original post I believe this conversation would have taken an entirely different path.

MNS


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#170315 - 10/10/12 09:24 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: aimless]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 751
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Originally Posted By aimless
If you haven't read any intelligent conversation in this thread about what to do when the stuff hits the fan, then it seems to me you are dismissing a lot of useful information that has already been offered, as being unintelligent or useless.

However, if you think something else would be more to the point, please share it, rather than simply dismissing what others have shared and then stopping at that. Then maybe we can figure out why your think what has been said so far is so off the mark.
I didn't say I haven't read anything intelligent. What should be a place of discussion has degraded to mud slinging. Information can be gleaned from anywhere, but when you have to wade through bickering it belittles the knoledge shared. Not trying to stir it up, just my outside observation. Forums can be tough, as the reader can't see subtle nuances that make face to face conversation more productive. Once again not trying to argue just point out another perspective.
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#170316 - 10/10/12 09:59 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: rockchucker22]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
One thing about this forum is people can have different opinions and we never seem to get around to fighting.

We all at least say we plan and leave itineraries. Most of them could probably be improved. In the past, we have had separate threads on this which were very good.

Unfortunately, we don't have a big volume of knowledge of how people screw up as it seems the reports are kept confidential.

To keep in line with what I believe the OP's intent is, I'll present the following scenario. Falling in a fast moving stream.

If I had the opportunity to teach this, say to a group of scouts, I'd have them take a swimming test in a pool or lake and see how fast they could swim. Then I'd take them out to a fast moving stream and toss a stick in to see how fast the water is moving. It's most likely, they will be at the mercy of the water. From this they should learn not to walk across logs over a fast moving stream. Often there is a slow area not far away.

In a fast moving area, I'd try to float with my feet downstream. If it was feasible, I could make a simple life jacket out of my shirt or pants.

The second half I really have no great idea. If I fell in, I'd try to pick an angle to slow water where I could stand up. I might teach rescue techniques such as reaching with a long stick or tying a stick to the end of a rope and throwing it past the swimmer so they can catch the rope. Going into the water for a rescue often a bad idea which results in two fatalities.

Depending on the temperature of the water, I might teach getting the person stripped down after rescue and inside a sleeping bag. Then make some coffee (coffee is always my solution) to help them warm up.

If I really wanted to learn this scenario, I'd go white water rafting where they teach survival techniques before you go out. Most of them actually have you get in the water.

Going back to prevention as I ramble in my mind. It's possible to get in trouble in about 8 inches of water. It's easy to have your legs swept out from under you and hit your head on a rock. The prevention is twofold. First of all water often looks shallower and slower than it appears. Tossing something in the water to see how quickly it is flowing is a good safety measure. Crossing facing upstream and using your poles for balance can make it safer. You can safely feel with the poles before stepping to see if there is a quick drop off in the bottom. If things start to get uncomfortable, go back the way you came.

Feel free to pick my thoughts apart. That's how I learn
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#170317 - 10/10/12 10:13 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

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


Unfortunately, we don't have a big volume of knowledge of how people screw up as it seems the reports are kept confidential.


That's not entirely true - there are books and research available to anyone on Amazon. Anyone can purchase Lost Person Behavior and learn more than you probably need to know about statistics on searches.

Yosemite SAR - there is a webpage that provides anecdotes about some searches (not all, that would be an overwhelming amount of information) that are done in the park.

What is not do-able is to tell specific details about searches I have been involved in. People can and do tell their own stories. Angels in the Wilderness is a book written by a woman who broke both legs on the unmaintained trail into Tehipite Canyon. There are lots of others. Forums like this one sometimes have posters that tell their own stories.

I've already told my story of being stupid and dehydrated a few times over on forums.
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http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#170320 - 10/10/12 10:44 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

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



The second half I really have no great idea. If I fell in, I'd try to pick an angle to slow water where I could stand up. I might teach rescue techniques such as reaching with a long stick or tying a stick to the end of a rope and throwing it past the swimmer so they can catch the rope. Going into the water for a rescue often a bad idea which results in two fatalities.

Depending on the temperature of the water, I might teach getting the person stripped down after rescue and inside a sleeping bag. Then make some coffee (coffee is always my solution) to help them warm up.


The stream crossing techniques discussed in many a backpacking book (Allen and Mike's Really Cool Backpacking Book has good illustrations) are good reading.

One of the things such reading encourages, and I agree with, is prevention - assessing the situation. On a day hike out of Kings Canyon we came to a high elevation stream around 2 in the afternoon. It was *barely* crossable. I turned the group around because we would have, if we'd continued on, been arriving back at that stream at 6 pm - one of the lessons you learn about spring hikes when snowmelt is high, the streams are at their peak in the late afternoon. If you are facing a barely crossable stream in midday it will be uncrossable later.

Some good information and discussion Here.

Treatment for hypothermia is called for if the person actually shows symptoms of it... the details of hypothermia If a person develops severe hypothermia, which can happen a lot faster when immersion is a factor, you should not move the person, wrap him up as described, and start by rewarming (gently) the extremities. It is possible to inadvertently cause death by cardiac arrest if you warm the torso too quickly or jar the hypothermic person. Putting hot water bottles or heat pads in the palms, groin, or armpits is where to start. Severely hypothermic people cannot rewarm themselves.
_________________________
"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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#170321 - 10/10/12 10:59 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: Gershon]
balzaccom Online   content
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2039
Loc: Napa, CA
Originally Posted By Gershon
One thing about this forum is people can have different opinions and we never seem to get around to fighting.

...

To keep in line with what I believe the OP's intent is, I'll present the following scenario. Falling in a fast moving stream.

If I had the opportunity to teach this, say to a group of scouts, I'd have them take a swimming test in a pool or lake and see how fast they could swim. Then I'd take them out to a fast moving stream and toss a stick in to see how fast the water is moving. It's most likely, they will be at the mercy of the water. From this they should learn not to walk across logs over a fast moving stream. Often there is a slow area not far away.

In a fast moving area, I'd try to float with my feet downstream. If it was feasible, I could make a simple life jacket out of my shirt or pants.

The second half I really have no great idea. If I fell in, I'd try to pick an angle to slow water where I could stand up. I might teach rescue techniques such as reaching with a long stick or tying a stick to the end of a rope and throwing it past the swimmer so they can catch the rope. Going into the water for a rescue often a bad idea which results in two fatalities.

Depending on the temperature of the water, I might teach getting the person stripped down after rescue and inside a sleeping bag. Then make some coffee (coffee is always my solution) to help them warm up.

If I really wanted to learn this scenario, I'd go white water rafting where they teach survival techniques before you go out. Most of them actually have you get in the water.

Going back to prevention as I ramble in my mind. It's possible to get in trouble in about 8 inches of water. It's easy to have your legs swept out from under you and hit your head on a rock. The prevention is twofold. First of all water often looks shallower and slower than it appears. Tossing something in the water to see how quickly it is flowing is a good safety measure. Crossing facing upstream and using your poles for balance can make it safer. You can safely feel with the poles before stepping to see if there is a quick drop off in the bottom. If things start to get uncomfortable, go back the way you came.

Feel free to pick my thoughts apart. That's how I learn


OK. I suggest that the last sentence be put first. The first question you have to ask yourself when facing a fast moving stream is: Do I have to cross this? What will happen if I don't?

Because that's the whole key here. You spend too much time talking about the potential scenarios ONCE YOU GET IN THE WATER. And not enough time explaining that it might be smarter to wait until morning, when the snowmelt is slower and the water levels are lower...You don't have to cross the stream.

And losing half a day hiking is WAY better than losing your life.

Look at another scenario:

My wife and I were near the top of the Chilnualna Falls trails in Yosemite in the spring. We were well above snow level, and following in the footsteps of a few other people who had gone before us. It was a long, steep, hard trail.

The top of the trail was under 2-3 feet of snow, and it looked like it led out to a ledge (maybe 20-25 feet) that would then afford a full view of the falls. We couldn't see the falls from where we were, but we could hear them clearly.

But the footsteps stopped short of this ledge. And it was a ledge--a cliff dropped off several hundred feet to our right, and the cliff face was on our left.

We knew the trail had to lead in that direction. But it was under 30 inches of snow. And we couldn't see what was under that snow. If the ledge was flat, there was no problem. We could slog through the snow, and see the falls. We'd hiked five miles or so to see them. But if there was tricky footing under that snow...

And so we turned around. Because we decided that seeing the falls wasn't worth a 1% chance of falling off that ledge. We could come back to see the falls. We couldn't fall back up that cliff.

That's not a clever wilderness skill. We didn't need an axe or Bowie knife(a snow shovel would have been handy!).

In my experience, those are the kinds of situations that get people into trouble. And no amount of knot tying or preparation for cold water swimming can make up for the skill of avoiding the risk to begin with.
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#170322 - 10/10/12 11:57 AM Re: Survivalists? [Re: balzaccom]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Balzacom,

I agree, prevention is always easier than salvation.

In my opinion, practicing the salvation, when safe, can lead one to be more motivated to prevention. If a person in a training class, even if done with a friend, gets wet in a shallow cold mountain stream, they might be pretty motivated to not do it again.

We could also get caught up in someone else's mess. For instance, we might have to rescue someone who fell through ice on a pond. Without training, we might walk out. With training, we might find a long branch and slide out on our stomach with our arms and legs spread wide. In that case, it would be helpful to have something like a couple tent stakes tied to us with a lanyard to help us get out if we fall in.

Getting the training, even if it's simplified training with a friend, might motivate us to tell the uninformed person in the group not to do something.
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#170329 - 10/10/12 01:54 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: Gershon]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3149
Loc: Portland, OR
It's true that in order to avoid a danger, you first must be able to see the danger. One big problem with neophytes is they are often too ignorant even to see the dangers they expose themselves to.

For such beginners even a basic survival-skills course would probably be too advanced. It would most likely leave them with a distorted view of how to engage with the wilderness safely. What they'd need first would be some instruction in how to use the ten essentials, and a few group hikes under their belts.

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#170332 - 10/10/12 02:55 PM Re: Survivalists? [Re: aimless]
balzaccom Online   content
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2039
Loc: Napa, CA
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?
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