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#176815 - 05/01/13 10:00 AM Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking
Robotmoose Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/13
Posts: 79
Having grown up in the Scouts, I always went on trips with at least several comrades, but as full-time work and full-time college have kind of drawn all my old hiking buddies apart into their separate lives, it's hard to get even a single wingman out on the trail with me.
To date, I've gone on two trips solo, but these were at Point Reyes, which is basically "Backpackerland! The New Disney Theme Park!".
Personally, I yearn to return to the national and state wildernesses, but therein lies my problem: a wee anxiety about going into untraveled terrain alone.

I've been out seeking advice, and have found these blogs:
1. http://bwca.cc/activities/hiking/articles/solobackpacking.html
2.
http://hikingdude.com/hiking-alone.php
3.
http://solofriendly.com/10-tips-for-hiking-alone-safely/

There is also a wealth of additional information on the subject to be found, but I thought I'd pick a few brains here for personal advice on what anyone's done or would do to get into the swing of the solo backpacking trip.
If I can name one thing that is personally holding me back, I think it's just a deep-seated (14 years) to the BSA's buddy system: two heads are better than one.
The idea of having a Clouseau moment in the wilderness without a wingman around is a threshold worth overtaking.

So, what say ye, Backpacking.net board o' messages?
Any advice for an old dog looking to become a lone wolf?


Edited by Robotmoose (05/01/13 10:07 AM)
_________________________
"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready."
"The joy of living is his who has the heart to demand it."
- Theodore Roosevelt

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#176816 - 05/01/13 10:02 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Leave an itinerary with someone you trust and STICK TO IT. I don't care if you have people telling you "random is fun" and making it up on the fly is something they do ALL the time. Eventually this comes back to bite them. Suicide by wilderness is a popular method. Along with the itinerary, it helps to leave an accurate description of yourself and your gear, and have the person you leave it with be trustworthy enough to call the appropriate jurisdiction when you designate they should. And to do it with an ACCURATE description of your car, where you left it, and any alternate routes you might have done in the event the one you planned wasn't feasible due to weather.

Don't be a drunken idiot in the backcountry.

Stay hydrated, warm and know how to navigate yourself around with a map.

Brought to you by the Search and Rescue Volunteers of California.
_________________________
"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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#176817 - 05/01/13 10:53 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: lori]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1911
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I couldn't agree with Lori more. A detailed itinerary with a trail map ("trail 101 to trail 203; take 203 to 187, then 187 back to 101...") is part of the key to safe soloing. The other part is leaving it with someone who is absolutely reliable, and will call authorities a minute or two after your "drop-dead" return time passes. And, be sure to include the emergency numbers (local sheriff, park or agency management, SAR, etc.) on the written itinerary. Sometimes, in addition to the person at home, I've sent a copy of the itinerary to the management agency and also left a copy on the seat of my car.

Along with the itinerary, establish a time by which you will call the person you leave it with to tell them you're off the trail and heading home. When you establish that time, be sure to allow for a late start the last day, some extra time to hike out (there's always the chance you'll find some view to linger over), and the drive time to get back into cell phone coverage.

For example, I know I'll be up by 6 and on the trail by 7, which will put me at the trailhead by 9. Let's call that 11, in case I oversleep or have a second cup of tea. Another hour back into cell phone range means noon - and let's add another 3 hours, just because. "OK, Karol, if you haven't heard from me by 3pm, call the emergency numbers on the itinerary and have them start looking for me."

I used to hike solo a lot. For those trips, I never did any off-trail; if I became injured, I wanted to be very easy to find ("Hey, here's a guy lying here in the middle of the trail - is he the one we're looking for?") I also specified my most likely campsites in the itinerary.

I now rarely travel alone. I'm not afraid to do so, I just find that nowadays, I enjoy company. But, maybe once a year, a night or two all on my own is a nice way to recharge the batteries.

For more insight on hiking alone, read the first couple of chapters of Colin Fletcher's Complete Walker IV - there's a lot of good info in there on leaving a plan. (He did often leave an itineray that consisted of "thataway" or "mucking about" as his projected route of travel, but always made sure he contacted someone by the time he said he would. At least, that's his story.)


Edited by Glenn Roberts (05/01/13 03:26 PM)
Edit Reason: add "with a trail map"

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#176818 - 05/01/13 11:19 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I solo a lot, and mainly for the same reasons, but also because I like being out there solo.

I was apprehensive too at first, but after the first time out I got comfortable with it. I think the fear of something going wrong is overblown. We certainly hear of solo hikers getting into trouble now and then, but we seldom hear about those that don't, which certainly out number those that do by a lot.

Lori's advice about navigating is probably the most pertinent. If you're not lost and you're not injured you're good. Not getting lost is pretty easy if you've got experience hiking and using maps and keeping track of where you are. Not getting injured is pretty easy too if you don't push yourself too hard or do inherently dangerous things while out there.

I solo almost exclusively off trail, and I tend to wander and not follow a specific route. So, when I leave a map of where I'm going I draw a route on it to show where I will likely be, and a line around the area I will be in, and I stay within those boundaries. This gives me the flexibility to wander and the SAR team a pretty good idea of where to look if I don't return on time.

I have a few things I bring to make it easier to be found. I bring an emergency blanket that is made from the foil like material and I keep it with me. Those are pretty easy to spot from the air. I also bring a piece of bubble foil insulation which has a foil like side to it. The two of these together make a pretty good emergency shelter that's light, warm, and visible.

I bring my cell phone. It's doesn't always get a signal in the deep and steep valleys we have here, but almost always gets one on the ridges, and in many cases it will send a text message even when it won't make a voice connection.

I always bring some extra food, at least enough for a couple days. Not 3 full meals, but enough to survive on without starving and to keep my energy up.

I bring enough LED lights and batteries to hike out at night if the need arises. I always bring a compass and a map and a GPS. If I do have to make a call or send a text for help I want to know my lat/long so I can include it. The goal is to make it as easy on the SAR folks as possible.

In short, I do all the same things I do when I backpack with others.

I'll suggest you do a short trip with the intention of spending a night or two at a particular spot that is well known just to get the feel of being out there alone. The first night you'll shake off a lot the uneasiness you feel now. The second night you'll sleep better and shake off most the rest of it. After that you can plan a trip like you would if you had friends with you and be comfortable with it, and from then on you'll probably really start enjoying going solo. If you find you don't enjoy it, well, start haranguing your friends to get out there with you again, and if that doesn't work then look for some new friends that will smile

_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#176819 - 05/01/13 12:29 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: billstephenson]
lori Offline
member

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

I was apprehensive too at first, but after the first time out I got comfortable with it. I think the fear of something going wrong is overblown. We certainly hear of solo hikers getting into trouble now and then, but we seldom hear about those that don't, which certainly out number those that do by a lot.





Let's think about that a minute....

How are you going to hear about those who vanish alone into the wilderness? If they don't leave an itinerary, don't tell anyone they are going, and no one knows where they are, is anyone going to assume they didn't just move to Mexico, get murdered somewhere in town, or.....

It has happened that while on a search for one subject we have found the remains of some unrelated missing person in an area where no one was reported to be missing. We do not know how many people are out there dead in the wilderness, unknown, unheard of and unaccounted for. Therefore it is impossible to speculate on how many there are who've gone out solo and gotten hurt.

I will not, for example, go anywhere off trail while solo. Nor would I go bouldering and climbing alone. Things that increase risk of injury in isolated places where hardly anyone goes are better done with others.
_________________________
"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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#176820 - 05/01/13 01:04 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2912
Loc: NorCal
Plenty has been said already, so I'll just add a couple thoughts.

Hike in established, well-traveled areas while you get your solo legs under you. Better to be in an area frequented by others to not only calm the inevitable jitters but get ready assistance should you need it (including simple trail instructions).

Consider toting a SPOT or InReach device to communicate with somebody back home, and allow you to SOS should you truly get into trouble. (With some exceptions, cellphones generally don't connect in the backcountry.)

If I didn't solo I would seldom hike, so I've adjusted to the whole idea of being the only person around; in fact, I kind of like it that way. Having a family means having the responsibility to make it back home, so I do what I need to assure that will happen.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#176821 - 05/01/13 02:05 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Rick_D]
PerryMK Online   content
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1230
Loc: Florida panhandle
Leaving an itinerary with someone is a great idea. If you don't have anyone to leave it with, then leave one in an easy to find place so that if someone walked into your home it would be readily noticed. Middle of table with nothing else on table, middle of made bed, taped to front of tv or computer screen. Even if you do leave a copy with someone, a backup in in your home probably won't hurt.

I have a whistle attached to my shoulder strap. My thought is if I fall and hurt myself so I can't move, I can probably reach it. It's better than having to dig through a pack with a broken wrist (common fall injury). Three long blasts is a universal SOS signal, and one can last much longer blowing a whistle than yelling for help.

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#176824 - 05/01/13 05:58 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: lori]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Lori, you can leave an accurate route of where you want to go off trail.

As far as not hearing about those who vanish, I don't think many do. I've heard of reports of hikers who were never found, but generally speaking it's not because they were off trail. It's because no one knew where to look, trail or no trail.

Either way, this is like every other decision you make while backpacking, you have to know your limits and skills and be careful and cautious.

Bushwhacking, like every other skill, is best learned with experience. For me, I started out not going very far off trail, and learning to read and remember the lay of the land and its unique features, and how to get back to where I started. I explored defined areas in detail and practiced and learned how to go further, and back. I focused on learning that skill, and I did it solo.

With experience you learn how to never be lost. I don't think this is some difficult to obtain skill, or gift. I think it's a matter of practice and experience.

We're talking about backpacking here. I can understand why some, even many, backpackers feel safer on a trail. I don't. I don't see how it makes me one bit safer. It doesn't protect me in any real way I can imagine. If you know where you are on a trail that makes you feel safe. I know where I am off trail, so I feel just as safe as you, and there's no real statistical evidence that I know of that proves me wrong.

It's not necessarily safer to be with another person. That depends on their skills. Even on a trail that other person could be endangered if you were injured, and in that case we might say it would have been safer to be solo.

Aside from that, there are too many great spots out there that no trail leads to. Why would I want to dismiss those just because of that? Some are only a few hundred feet off trail, even less, and almost no one ever visits them just because of that. It's not because they are dangerous in any way, it's just because there is no trail that goes there.

The only reason I started backpacking is because I wanted to go further and stay longer on my bushwhacks. If a trail gets me closer to some place I want to go I might take it, but otherwise I'm out there in the middle of it all.

If someone wants to learn and hone and take advantage of those skills I see no reason to discourage them. That's exactly the kind of person I'd be thrilled to go hiking with.

W_D did 140 miles of solo bushwhacking last Summer. It's not unsafe. You need to learn, practice, and gain experience to do what she did, but that's true for anything worth doing.

I understand your concern though. I suspect you tend see every newbie and most other backpackers as potential SAR missions, and with good reason. We all are.

If no one ever went, there would be no SAR missions, but that's not what we're seeking here. We're seeking how to do it right.
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#176825 - 05/01/13 05:59 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
goldenteardr Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/18/13
Posts: 8
Loc: az and nm
Going Solo has some very interesting psychology attachments to it. For example: you cannot get lost if you feel at home where you are. People get lost when they are not at home in the wilderness. I suggest that you first think about taking some survival classes. Like Cody Lundin or Tony Nester or some other persons that know what they are doing. If you need a GPS or the safety of a cell phone you are not ready to be solo. There is a list of requirements to be at ease in the wilderness. You need an open mind and desire to be alone. It is liberating to be sure. As some may find the list uncomforable and I do not wish to offend anyone you can PM.

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#176827 - 05/01/13 06:46 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: billstephenson]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
You've misinterpreted here... I stay on trail solo not because I am afraid of getting lost, but because if I get HURT there is a higher probability of someone coming along and finding me!

You can't predict what will happen, and it's entirely possible that people will never find you five feet from a trail, if you are unconscious.

Survival training is NOT necessary for leisure backpackers. Leave an itinerary and do your best to mitigate the risks that exist. Have reasonable expectations for yourself and your abilities. Developing a level of comfort in the wilderness somewhat decreases the chances that you will panic and fall into that state of shock from which comes many dumb decisions that double and triple the danger you are in.

I'm plenty comfortable with cross country navigation, enough that I tend to let people rely on me too much in groups. I try to encourage everyone to develop their own skills so that if I am out with a group and incapacitated someone is able to start navigating the group out of the wilderness. This is also why I recommend that EVERYONE in the group take their own filter, map, and be ready to be self sufficient in the event a group split somehow happens. Groups don't make you impervious to risk - they merely diminish it. Just like everything else we do is intended to do.

If you want to label what I share discouraging, fine. It hasn't discouraged anyone I hike with. Facts are facts. There are plenty of risks, and letting them scare us off makes no sense - we're at more risk on a freeway, after all - but it would be negligent to ignore them because we want to feel safe.

Fact is, an experienced backpacker's remains have been out there all winter, and a forum full of other backpackers are still searching for him. And he was solo, cross country, and within a day of his being reported missing, search teams armed with his itinerary covered a lot of ground. And he remains missing. No one knows why. It wasn't that he didn't prepare. Then there are veteran backcountry folk like Randy Morgensen, and the gent with decades of backpacking experience we were looking for in my first season in SAR, found dead sitting on a rock not far off the Whitney trail. Solo hiking increases risk in many ways. Wanting to play it down in the name of being helpful isn't going to be my habit.

I get flack from people because I do go out by myself, too. I don't take umbrage because I know that they are also concerned because I am female, I "know better," and sometimes, people get a little bothered because I'm a "bad example" or not practicing what I preach. The bottom line is that we do what we do out of some need to do it - I won't deny that's there. But it's pretty irresponsible to not acknowledge the truth of the matter. One misstep, one rock zipping out from my boot in the wrong place, one trip and fall and blow to the head, and I win the "booby prize" from my team for being a SAR subject complete with a ride in a stokes litter. Because of course, my itineraries are going straight to a SAR team member....
_________________________
"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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#176829 - 05/01/13 07:32 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: goldenteardr]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3141
Loc: Portland, OR
you cannot get lost if you feel at home where you are

I don't think that this is a matter that can be defined by one's feelings. If you are unable to locate yourself in relation to the nearby landscape, you will not be able to reliably find a return route and thus are lost until you can locate yourself again or you have discovered a return route.

Whether you freak out about this is quite important to your eventual safety, but just "feeling at home" doesn't mean you are home free.

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#176830 - 05/01/13 07:33 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Because many of the topics are the same for group or solo, here is my short list for you to peruse;

It is generally safer to go in a group (although some groups...). On your own, YOU are the one who needs to recognize when you need to stop and take care of yourself for whatever ails you at the time. No one else will stop you and say "Dude, your lips are turning blue. We need to stop and get you warmed up." You need to develop a system to recognize these things in yourself before you push it too far whatever the cause is. Understand what health problems can occur and why. Understand your limitations.

Navigation. Don't be a part timer on this. Know how to stay found where ever you are.

Get a personal locator beacon for your families sake. Except for this, the rest of your gear is likely going to be the same as usual.

Each journey starts with a single step. Don't try to skip steps on your journey and only you will know what these are. Don't be in too much of a rush in this.

Oh, and don't be worried if you start talking to yourself on these solo's. You will stop this as soon as you get back to civilization. Of course if you bring a dog like I do, you will have someone to talk to after all. wink



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#176834 - 05/01/13 09:34 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: skcreidc]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 751
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Ok once again I'll be the black sheep, I hike solo all the time, probably twice a month solo, cross country, far from any trails, roads, or help. I always prepare for the worst and try to give as accurate iternerary as possible. Most places have little to no cell phone reception, I don't carry a spot or sat phone. SAR would have a tough time finding me if TSHTF. And I really don't care, if I end up in a bad situation so be it. If I die doing what I love, ok. I hold nobody accountable except me. Years and years of this have me reasonably comfortable with most outdoor situations. I actually relish the time I spend on the fringe. I spend a large amount of time reading maps to find the most secluded spot, far from roads, trails, or even good water sources. I say if it's in your heart go, just be ready to deal with anything and everything on your own.
_________________________
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.

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#176835 - 05/02/13 01:37 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
I've not read any of the (many) replies to the original question, so forgive me if this is redundant, but other than the Nike slogan ("just do it"), I suggest picking a section of trail and a time of week and year where you expect a good few other hikers coming by. This will both increase your actual safety by some unknown margin as well perhaps as help your psyche. I.e., if you don't stray far off trail, you know that someone is likely coming along in the not too distant future who can perhaps help out if you get into some situation you can't handle alone.

If loneliness is a concern, an MP3 player packed with music and/or audiobooks can help, though I think that unless you're on quite a long trip it's very nice to just have some extended "alone time". It can be difficult in normal life to have that, to touch base with yourself and see how well you and yourself get along so to speak. Hopefully the results aren't alarming.

I find that when I'm with a group I miss hiking solo sometimes, and when I'm solo I on occasion miss hiking with a group. For one thing, you don't tend to get any photos with you in them when hiking alone! :-)

And I don't think that hiking alone is inherently dangerous. Sometimes group dynamics are such that the group is collectively smarter than any individual in it. And sometimes it's the reverse, the group as a whole is dumber than the average IQ of the group as a whole. In the latter case, hiking solo can be safer than hiking with the group.

In any event, it sure is nice to take breaks exactly when you want them, for exactly as long as you want, to make camp whenever you feel like it, to walk the pace that you want to walk, all without consulting or compromising.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#176838 - 05/02/13 06:18 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: BrianLe]
PerryMK Online   content
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1230
Loc: Florida panhandle
Originally Posted By BrianLe
For one thing, you don't tend to get any photos with you in them when hiking alone! :-)

I discovered the magic of the self-timer. Most cameras have one and the aren't too difficult to use. There are all sorts of mounting options ( mini-tripod , camera clamps , hiking pole camera attachment , handheld mono-pod , etc.). I have the handheld mono-pod option and have taken it on vacations but for hiking I usually just wait for an available stump or something.



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#176839 - 05/02/13 07:26 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: PerryMK]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
Self-timer not so easy when your smartphone is your camera. Still do-able, but not-so-easy. And in general, harder to get the "shot that you want", i.e., some notable and recognizeable feature in the background for example.

In any event, while indeed do-able, I just find that what actually happens is that on a long trip I'll end up with at least a few photos with me in them in stretches where I'm hiking with others, and close to none in extended periods when I'm hiking solo.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#176840 - 05/02/13 09:11 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: rockchucker22]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By rockchucker22
If I die doing what I love, ok. I hold nobody accountable except me.


I'm only bringing it up because people don't think about it... do you know your life insurance won't pay out if no one ever finds your remains?

Part of SAR is sometimes picking finger bones out of dense manzanita for the family back home.
_________________________
"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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#176841 - 05/02/13 09:12 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: BrianLe]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
A Stick Pic or a Joby Gorillapod do the job nicely.
_________________________
"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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#176842 - 05/02/13 09:29 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: lori]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 751
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Originally Posted By lori
Originally Posted By rockchucker22
If I die doing what I love, ok. I hold nobody accountable except me.


I'm only bringing it up because people don't think about it... do you know your life insurance won't pay out if no one ever finds your remains?

Part of SAR is sometimes picking finger bones out of dense manzanita for the family back home.
I guess its good I have no insurance. Self employed and I've never had health or life insurance!


Edited by rockchucker22 (05/02/13 09:36 AM)
_________________________
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.

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#176843 - 05/02/13 10:01 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: rockchucker22]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By rockchucker22
Originally Posted By lori
Originally Posted By rockchucker22
If I die doing what I love, ok. I hold nobody accountable except me.


I'm only bringing it up because people don't think about it... do you know your life insurance won't pay out if no one ever finds your remains?

Part of SAR is sometimes picking finger bones out of dense manzanita for the family back home.
I guess its good I have no insurance. Self employed and I've never had health or life insurance!


Do you know that when you go missing, people risk their lives to find you even if you don't care if you're ever found?

Which is not to be discouraging, but merely informative and food for thought. It was in fact very startling to me to discover that the mandate for SAR volunteer work is to search for the lost, for free, and that we could stomp through the wilderness for a hundred miles and find the person, then be turned away by them... But, you can't pre-emptively waive it.
_________________________
"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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#176844 - 05/02/13 11:48 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: lori]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
But it's pretty irresponsible to not acknowledge the truth of the matter.


I don't see how I'm not acknowledging the truth here.

Quote:
Survival training is NOT necessary for leisure backpackers.


Well, it doesn't hurt to bone up on it wink

Quote:
Fact is, an experienced backpacker's remains have been out there all winter,
...
Then there are veteran backcountry folk like Randy Morgensen, and the gent with decades of backpacking experience
...
Solo hiking increases risk in many ways. Wanting to play it down in the name of being helpful isn't going to be my habit.


Geez Lori, I feeling kind of hammered here.

I discussed some of the risks and some ways to decrease those risks, and in no way down played them. I concede that you're better qualified to articulate those risks than I am, but I think if you read my comments again you'll see I was not being dismissive of the risks.

I don't think it's near fair to put solo bushwhacking up there with rock climbing. It's not near that level of risk, at least not the way I do it. And I am not offering my comments here as a complete course on solo bushwhacking. I am offering some general observations and tips on going solo and solo bushwhacking.

And I am not professing to be some kind of expert on bushwhacking, nor am I extolling the virtues of the pastime or recommending it. But I cannot, in all honesty, warn those who ask about going solo that it's anymore dangerous than driving your car to the corner store. I have no evidence or experience that leads me to that conclusion.

I honestly don't think solo hiking, or solo bushwhacking, actually increases your risk of death or injury by any significant amount. If I saw statistical evidence that indicated it does, I would acknowledge it. I live in Missouri, our State motto is "Show me". If you have proof that it does increase the risk of injury or death significantly, or even at all, show me.

If you do not, tell us.

--

I suspect this maybe another sort of regional thing, like having campfires. I recall getting blowback about bushwhacking and going solo when I lived in Ca, and I was always the only one perturbed with the "Stay on the trail" rules they love so much out there. Life is different here...

Here, in the Ozarks, you don't hear that "Stay on the trail" mantra. Not even from the Forest Service. In fact, the last time I looked, the NFS encourages hikers not to use trails in the wilderness areas. The Leatherwood Wilderness, for example, doesn't really even have any trails. None that are maintained by the NFS, though there are some that are maintained by Horsemen and the NFS does not prohibit them from doing that.

The popular outdoor guidebooks written by Tim Ernst lists dozens of "Bushwhacks" to scenic spots. Hillbillies go into the forests and trails don't matter much to most of those that backpack. Tourists Hikers use trails here, and attracting tourist is the main reason they were made. Hillbillies bushwhack.

Our children grow up bushwhacking here. It's what they do when their parents chase them out of the house. They have campouts with friends by the time they're 8-10 years old, and every parent and kid knows that they go way further than they're told they can, but they almost never go so far as to not figure out how to get back. That has not happened once since I've lived here. When they turn 16 they drive further into the boonies and have creek parties and hike and explore where there are no trails, and parents everywhere rejoice in the opportunity to get some alone time.

I cannot recall one solo bushwhacker dying here because they were not found in time (or any other reason) in the 20 years since I've lived here. During that time I know of one solo hiker that died on the Ozarks Highland Trail, and that's it. Most of the fatalities I can recall are people falling off of cliffs. Most of those are day hikers traveling in groups.

Trails are fine. I have no problem with trails or those that use them, but you can't make trails to all the good spots and they kind of screw up the scenery anyway. And not every place should have a trail going to it. You'd never find those special camp sites, or best hunting & fishing spots, or where the morels are growing, because a trail would change all that.

Ozarkers bushwhack solo all the time here, and we are not falling on our heads and dying out there. I swear this is true. Maybe in California they do. It wouldn't surprise any of the hillbillies I know if they heard that's the case wink

To put this in what I believe is a proper perspective, I do know of a lot of Ozarkers that have been injured or died while driving solo on our curvy mountain roads. That's something to really be worried about.



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#176845 - 05/02/13 12:01 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: lori]
billstephenson Offline
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Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
"It was in fact very startling to me to discover that the mandate for SAR volunteer work is to search for the lost, for free, and that we could stomp through the wilderness for a hundred miles and find the person, then be turned away by them... But, you can't pre-emptively waive it."

That is interesting.

I suppose that if I wasn't lost, or needing help, and didn't call for it, I might have to politely decline being rescued. I'm sure I'd be startled by the attention though. shocked
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#176847 - 05/02/13 01:07 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Rick_D]
Rick_D Offline
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Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2912
Loc: NorCal
An item I forgot to mention earlier is leave your shoe model and size along with your initerary. Hugely helpful to trackers, I'm told.

Cheers,
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#176849 - 05/02/13 01:34 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
wandering_daisy Offline
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Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
I do a lot of solo, off-trail, long trips (like 14days). I prefer to have company mainly for safety reasons, but if I were to always depend on a group I would do a lot less. Solo backpacking does carry more risk, albeit smaller than you may think. You need to accept this risk and be responsible - make it easier to find your body. All comments regarding leaving your trip plan, have bright stuff so you are easily found, become proficient at navigation before going off-trail, etc, are good points. Solo in backpack in environments that you are familiar with. This is no time to try off-trail if you have never done it. Start small and work up to longer and harder trips.

I really hike safer when solo, because I know there is no back-up. I tend to get hurt less, BUT, IF I get hurt, things are more serious.

A lot of us solo, but to say it is as safe, is denial. Statistics are in your favor, yet, statistics really mean little when YOU are the 0.01%!!

Aside from the safety issue, I am seldom "lonely" when I solo. I have been 8 days without seeing a single person and it really does not bother me at all. I think you have to evaluate your own personality and be realistic. Probably one reason I do not easily find backpack partners, is that I am a bit of a loner, and am more intimidated by asking someone to go with me than just going myself. Very out-going people do not seem to have any problem joining a group or going on the internet and finding a backpack partner.

By the way, I do not consider something like doing the PCT or JMT "solo" as really going solo. When you are on one of those "big name" trails you are really hiking by yourself in one big unorganized group. There are a lot of highly used trails that going alone is not a lot different than being in a group per se.

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#176851 - 05/02/13 02:15 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: wandering_daisy]
squark Offline
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Registered: 03/14/11
Posts: 66
Loc: SF bay area, CA
Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
...Probably one reason I do not easily find backpack partners, is that I am a bit of a loner, and am more intimidated by asking someone to go with me than just going myself. Very out-going people do not seem to have any problem joining a group or going on the internet and finding a backpack partner. ...


Thanks for that. People often say "go with friends" and if you don't have any "make new ones" like that's an easy thing.

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#176852 - 05/02/13 02:23 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: wandering_daisy]
OregonMouse Online   content
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Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6738
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Random thoughts here:

I also do nearly all of my hiking and backpacking alone. However, I have many years' experience in the back country behind me.

Since my pace is quite a bit slower than most, I've found that I'm actually safer alone. With a group, I'm always pushing to keep up, which makes me more prone to falls and accidents. I'd rather go at what is a comfortable pace for me, and that's no longer 2-3 miles per hour, more like 1 to 1 1/2. I do not need the anxiety of knowing that other people are either way out ahead of me waiting or that they are deliberately slowing their pace so I can keep up.

Since I am alone and am therefore more vulnerable, and since I'm well aware that at my age even a minor accident will probably end my hiking career for good, I am extra careful.

I always leave an itinerary with a family member who (1) can be trusted to call at the specified time if I'm overdue and (2) will not panic and call if I'm just a few minutes late. I specify a specific time to call if she hasn't heard from me, usually 24 hours later than I plan to come out (I'm always prepared for that much delay and it wouldn't be unusual--I've also been known to come out a day early). Since many trailheads have no cell phone reception, I always allow plenty time for me to drive out to where I can call. In some cases that's not until the nearest town, which may in some cases be several hours' drive from the trailhead. When in doubt, for planning purposes I assume no cell phone reception except within a few miles of towns.

I carry a PLB in case of serious emergency. Like the "ten" essentials, it comes with me when I'm way from camp fishing, finding water, etc. The chances are therefore excellent that if I'm past the 24 hours after I said I'd emerge and I haven't pushed the button, that I'm just running that much more behind schedule, or that my car broke down. The only other likely possibility is that I'm dead!

I will go off-trail if it's easy off-trail (no more than easy Class 2) and I've indicated it on my itinerary. There is quite a bit of off-trail travel that involves following officially abandoned trails still in use or various "use trails," some of which are more-used than the official Forest Service version, and don't involve anything more strenuous than sharpened navigation skills. I always go well off-trail to find a camp site and, in case of a lake, generally prefer to camp in the less-impacted areas near the inlet or outlet. If the off-trail stretch becomes too difficult, I turn around.

Like W_D, I'm pretty much of a loner and prefer it that way.

And also like W_D, I don't consider traveling a well-populated trail (to me that's where you regularly meet 3-4 people in a day) to be traveling alone.

As with every other aspect of hiking and backpacking, for going solo start slowly and work up. First, acquire plenty of experience--a lot more than you think you need--with all your gear and your navigation skills in all sorts of conditions and weather. If you've had no experience being stuck in a three-day storm in the high Rockies which ends with 6-8 inches of snow and then a night down to 10* F, going alone is not the time to learn to cope. Ditto backpacking for several straight days in our steady Pacific NW rain.

Second, once you have a good fund of experience, start with short overnight trips (close enough to the trailhead that you can easily bail out) and work up from there. Stick to well-populated trails. Do be more cautious and remember that alone you're more vulnerable. If you acquire new gear, start by testing it thoroughly, first in your back yard or car camping in a nearby state park, then on short overnight trips. Pick bad weather for some of those testing occasions!

As for finding people to go with: generally you'll find any number of hiking clubs and a number of meetup groups in and around the nearest population center of any size in your area. Google (or other search engine) is your friend! That's a good way to gain experience with a group and meet potential hiking/backpacking partners. That's what I did when I started getting really into backpacking after my kids were grown and were no longer around (or just not available) to go out with me.


Edited by OregonMouse (05/02/13 02:29 PM)
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#176853 - 05/02/13 02:30 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: billstephenson]
lori Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I am not trying to make anyone think it is so dangerous you should never hike solo. The facts are there - stuff happens, and some stuff is more likely to happen to a solo hiker than a group hiker. Additionally, solo hikers who are not aware of the risks rarely ask, so this is a golden opportunity to provide information.

In the context of the thread we are talking about a backpacker who wants to know the risks - not a lifelong outdoorsman who practically lives out there. They are different creatures. I would assume for example Larry Conn was injured or killed, not that he was lost. Being lost is more likely with the occasional hiker who just doesn't see the need for a map, let alone know how to read it. Level of comfort doesn't mean much sometimes - you can make a mistake in the sierra many times before it becomes a problem....

Should i be writing a two page disclaimer that taking risks into consideration is your choice and you can assume i'm full of it if you like? Or provide links to the many cases where the risks are published clearly in the media, so you don't have to assume it's personal?

You won't be searched for unless someone reports you missing, by the way, so not sure where you are coming from there.
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#176855 - 05/02/13 02:38 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: squark]
Rick_D Offline
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Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2912
Loc: NorCal
Couple seasons ago I had two very different fall backpacking experiences.

* An October trip into Desolation Wilderness--reputedly the nation's most heavily traveled--and mine was the only car in the parking lot, I saw nobody on the trail, I camped two nights without seeing or hearing anybody, and I finally met two people when I was a couple hundred yards from my car on the walk out. Camped on a small creek at a canyon lip and had a glorious, quiet time. Even the critters had all fled for winter.

* Weather held and I took a November trip into the Grouse Ridge area with a couple friends. Because of the late date we presumed we'd have the place to ourselves. We would be wrong. We got stuck behind a caravan of what turned out to be UC Berkeley students headed for a day hike on the very crappy trailhead road in (pro tip: leave the Camry at home). We left them behind on the trail but when we got to our destination lake, there were a couple DOZEN parties already camped there. We found an overlooked hunk of rock to camp on and cooked before the sun set, then listened to kids yelling until about midnight. Was this November or August?

Yeah, I like soloing.

Cheers,
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#176856 - 05/02/13 02:51 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: billstephenson]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
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Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1911
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Could we have a case of apples and oranges here? I've never hiked west of the Mississippi, but I'm wondering if the wilderness areas in Bill's area are significantly smaller than the wilderness areas in Lori's area? That would make a difference in the risk level they each have. Yes, it's possible to get hopelessly lost in even a tiny bit of wilderness - but the risk of doing so is probably a lot less than in a huge area. As you come east, even "wilderness" areas are more heavily traveled, making the risk of being hurt and not found for days somewhat smaller. Likewise, hiking in the woods is different (I assume) from hiking in the Sierras or other western areas. So, I'm wondering if both of you are on the same page, generally, but the miscommunication is coming from slightly different frames of reference?

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#176857 - 05/02/13 04:39 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: wandering_daisy]
rockchucker22 Offline
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Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 751
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Thank you WD! You put my exact thoughts into words.
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#176862 - 05/02/13 08:22 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
aimless Online   content
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Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3141
Loc: Portland, OR
Robotmoose, as you can see the question of solo backpacking does generate quite a few comments and advice.

I agree with much of the advice given so far, especially about leaving an itinerary, gear description and instructions with someone who will notice if you do not come back on time. I presume after reading the discussion above that you understand that if you suffer any injury or incapacity while you are solo and off-trail, you'll either need to self-rescue or else carry a signaling device such as a PLB to summon help. Further, you can't predict when injury or incapacity might happen, so you'd better have a plan for it.

Now that you understand that, I expect what you had in mind when you posed the question was something more mundane than that. I backpack solo almost exclusively. It is a lot like hiking with someone else, but not quite. You listen more to your own mind when you are alone, surrounded by quiet. This can be a double-edged sword, especially if you aren't used to that much solitude.

You can always take something like an MP3 player to give you a way to distract your mind and give it something soothing to focus on, but I hope you'd reserve it for 'emergency' use only, because, as inane and fretful as your mind can be at times, I think the greatest gift of solo backpacking is that you get to hear yourself think. It isn't always pretty, but if you stick with it, it is very informative, even humbling.

It is especially humbling because there is never anyone to save you from your mistakes and no one else to blame when you do something incredibly stupid, as almost certainly you will. Lucky for you, there are no other witnesses, and those mistakes are rarely fatal.

Anyway, good luck. I think every experienced backpacker should give solo hiking a shot. Stay in familar territory to start with, with similar weather and terrain to that where you normally hike. A known trail is best for the first trip. I hope you try it and love it.

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#176886 - 05/03/13 10:53 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Glenn Roberts]
billstephenson Offline
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Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
Bill's area are significantly smaller than the wilderness areas in Lori's area?


Absolutely. The corridor along the Buffalo River is a pretty big stretch of wilderness, but nothing like Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia.

Still, you have more of this out there too....

Lost Hikers may be charged for SAR

I don't think they went more than a mile on a trail and got lost.
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#176895 - 05/05/13 08:04 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
verber Offline
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Registered: 01/26/04
Posts: 269
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
I understand the buddy system issue. It's good to have the second brain, the person who could render aid or go for help. When solo you have to find ways to adapt.

My solo trips aren't much different from trips I take with others. I will do off trail routes, though I map them out carefully and leave marked maps behind. Other than that, I mostly second everything Lori said.

I would add them when I find myself confused, scary, thinking something is risky, I have found the best thing to do is STOP. Don't let emotions / fears drive you. For example, if it's dark and you are having trouble navigating (can happen to the most experienced folks), consider sleeping where you are and figure things out in the morning when you have light and are rested.

I think a Sat Phone or even better, a real PLB (not a spot) can address most of the really scary issues of solo except an even which results in your suddenly being rendered unconscience and never waking.

--mark

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#176897 - 05/06/13 03:28 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
Robotmoose Offline
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Registered: 04/19/13
Posts: 79
Thank you everybody, it's been very insightful and encouraging to read all this. I've mostly just been reading all these replies and thinking it all over. Anyway, I've left this discussion with this general consensus summed up in ten points:

1. Take a quality map and compass, rely on them more so than electronics. (GPS is nice as a tool, but I've always kept my use of it to scale. It's nice for getting a UTM coordinate of where I am and where I want to be and translating that onto a paper map, but total dependence on the device is foolish.)
2. Know that I'm out there on my own, and act accordingly.
- also, don't be surprised by some loneliness, or need for outside stimuli. Ideally seek said stimuli by the feedback from nature, and less electronic noise-makers (my preference).
3. Don't be an idiot/drunken fool.
4.Leave an itinerary, and clothing description with friends or family, and instruct said friends and family to relay this information to the authorities should I fail to return within an acceptable timeframe (24 hours was suggested).
- I really liked Bill's idea of selecting a perimeter zone within the destination to remain within, thereby giving some freedom to roam, but also limiting myself to a searchable zone that can be communicated to SAR.
5. Topo maps are always a plus when going off-trail because they can be used to navigate away from potentially deadly terrain features.
6. Use my brain. If I wouldn't normally hang out on a cliff face alone, I likely should't backpack there as well.
7. Recognize that I alone am and shall be responsible for my own choices, actions, and safety.
8. Stop. Stop to check the map, stop to think, stop when I feel lost. Blundering on is bad.
9. Be aware. This is why I dislike ipods and iphones,they generate a bubble of ignorance around many of their owners. Said bubble, generated either electronically or simply through stupidity could be at best idiotic and at worst deadly in the woods.
10. Be prepared.

Finally, two quotes from my personal hero have definitely been useful to me while preparing myself:
"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

I might have some nice trips, I might have some lousy ones, but it will be greater to try despite the risk of potential failure than to simply hang up my hat because I can't get a buddy. That would be choosing a nightmarish life lived shaking in cowardice, threatened by the mere specter of risk.

"Speak softly, and carry a big stick"
Behave quietly and thoughtfully, but be prepared to take action should the occasion arise.
_________________________
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- Theodore Roosevelt

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#176903 - 05/06/13 06:22 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
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Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1911
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Nice summary.

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#176923 - 05/07/13 11:46 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
BrianLe Offline
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Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
Agreed this is a pretty good summary.

On the first item, rather than relying on a quality map and compass more than electronics, I would say instead just bring a plenty adequate map and compass and have good experience at land navigation, and to a lessor degree, compass skills. But if my GPS tells me that it’s got solid signal from 10 satellites and I have no data to suggest the GPS-given location is wrong, I’ll err on the side of using that data point over my current best guess on the map, particularly if I’m in an area without long sightlines.

I don’t mean to dispute your overall point here, just saying that practically speaking “don’t rely on GPS” is quite different than “don’t trust GPS results”. I certainly have seen situations where the GPS just flat gives an incorrect result. Part of using the tool is understanding the limitations. In practice, the GPS pretty much “just works”, however (within the constraints of how it works and what it can do).

Ahh, this stuff gets tricky to talk about, doesn’t it? For example, by “quality map”, I hope that no one thinks that they have to go out and buy an expensive and tedious to fold/refold big paper map (Green trails, USGS, forest service, blm, whatever).

The idea of a perimeter zone depends very much on the type of trip you contemplate. For trips I hike solo, the idea of an itinerary or a perimeter zone doesn’t make sense. What I do instead is call or email or text when I can to update the home front on where I currently am, plus establish ahead of time a best guess at resupply stop locations. On one such trip I brought a SPOT and punched in “I’m here” at lunch and dinner each day --- but with a solid “set expectations” discussion with my spouse ahead of time about what it would (not) mean if I failed to check in a time or two.

The “bubble of ignorance” with smartphone or mp3 player --- again, very situational. Many, many people walk very long distances solo and listen to music and/or audio books a lot with no issues. It depends on experience and on the nature of the trail in question.

With the above, I don’t mean to detract from the many good points made.
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#176925 - 05/07/13 12:45 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: BrianLe]
Robotmoose Offline
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Registered: 04/19/13
Posts: 79
Originally Posted By BrianLe
Agreed this is a pretty good summary.

On the first item, rather than relying on a quality map and compass more than electronics, I would say instead just bring a plenty adequate map and compass and have good experience at land navigation, and to a lessor degree, compass skills. But if my GPS tells me that it’s got solid signal from 10 satellites and I have no data to suggest the GPS-given location is wrong, I’ll err on the side of using that data point over my current best guess on the map, particularly if I’m in an area without long sightlines.

I don’t mean to dispute your overall point here, just saying that practically speaking “don’t rely on GPS” is quite different than “don’t trust GPS results”. I certainly have seen situations where the GPS just flat gives an incorrect result. Part of using the tool is understanding the limitations. In practice, the GPS pretty much “just works”, however (within the constraints of how it works and what it can do).

Personally, I regard the combination of paper map, compass and GPS as kind of the "Holy Trinity" of land navigation. When used properly, it's a fantastic system, and I hope what I'd written earlier wasn't disparaging toward GPS navigation. It's very nice because someone who knows how to use one can jot down the UTM coordinate the unit is reading and transpose that on a map and know exactly where they are. It's also nice in areas where, as you've mentioned line-of-sight is troubled at best.
Tracks are also nice, because if you have to retrace your steps, they're right there in your handheld.
So, maybe I should have said something to the nature of "Keep GPS use in perspective: it's a useful tool, but not something that should be relied on solely. Be aware that not all tools work properly, and when something doesn't look right, use the other tools (map, compass and visual) to discern the trouble and work around it."
I really think that's more in line with a safe mindset regarding GPS, thank you for bringing that up.

Originally Posted By BrianLe
Ahh, this stuff gets tricky to talk about, doesn’t it? For example, by “quality map”, I hope that no one thinks that they have to go out and buy an expensive and tedious to fold/refold big paper map (Green trails, USGS, forest service, blm, whatever).


What? I only buy maps that're made out of paper pressed from rare tropical rain forest tree pulp and printed using expensive inks made from dyed organic llama tears and the hopes and dreams of little children in sweatshops!

Naw, what I meant by "quality" was quality of information. I am partial to USGS quads because they work with UTM, their level of detail is very good, and they tend to be relatively up-to-date, but they're not the end-all of maps.
Ultimately any topo map that's the right scale, has UTM grids in a standardized format (NAD27 or WGS84), it's recent to within a decade and from a reputable source (not a necessarily a high-end brand, but not some chicken tracks scrawled on a Post-it either) will work.


Originally Posted By BrianLe
The idea of a perimeter zone depends very much on the type of trip you contemplate. For trips I hike solo, the idea of an itinerary or a perimeter zone doesn’t make sense. What I do instead is call or email or text when I can to update the home front on where I currently am, plus establish ahead of time a best guess at resupply stop locations. On one such trip I brought a SPOT and punched in “I’m here” at lunch and dinner each day --- but with a solid “set expectations” discussion with my spouse ahead of time about what it would (not) mean if I failed to check in a time or two.


Checking in is a good idea if ever possible. I have an In-Reach on my "sometime this year, maybe" list which could facilitate that. I think the itinerary and perimeter are still reasonable to utilize as a primary system, though. Too many variables can count against the favor of electronics, making it conceivable that serious trouble could ensue without a failsafe.
I am in the habit of taking my phone with me. I chose the phone I have because it is rugged and water-resistant so it could live in my pack. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to fire off a text message or two on some of my hikes, sometimes not. It would be useful for sending out "checkpoint" messages whenever possible, but I like to reserve the battery for serious emergencies. It's still a basic "phone-phone" not a "smart-phone" so it does have ten days worth of juice, and SAR can locate the last tower it pinged. It is essentially my current failsafe.


Originally Posted By BrianLe
The “bubble of ignorance” with smartphone or mp3 player --- again, very situational. Many, many people walk very long distances solo and listen to music and/or audio books a lot with no issues. It depends on experience and on the nature of the trail in question.


You're right about that, music players have revolutionized how people hike alot these days. They can change up the BPMs on their music and up their mileage considerably, or listen to audiobooks, which can offset some of the loneliness. I won't argue these tools aren't useful, but they're certainly not for me. All it takes is that clash of high-hats on the end of a drum solo to mask the rattle of an upset snake, or spacing off listening to a book to miss a turn.

It comes down to one of those "do what works for you" things, but know that if the electronics interfere with awareness or safety, maybe it's time to unplug. Perhaps that was the point I should have stressed when elaborating on the be aware point.

Originally Posted By BrianLe
With the above, I don’t mean to detract from the many good points made.


Not at all!
One of the reasons why I posted that list up was for feedback to evolve and refine the points made, and I'm very glad you gave your thoughts because they have been used to refine and enhance the statements into things that're more practical if not more realistic.

Now I'm gonna go back to reading my gold-plated organic llama tear map thingy...


Edited by Robotmoose (05/07/13 01:06 PM)
_________________________
"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready."
"The joy of living is his who has the heart to demand it."
- Theodore Roosevelt

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#176927 - 05/07/13 12:58 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: BrianLe]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2912
Loc: NorCal
Shockingly shocked a lot of maps are wrong. Most maps probably contain errors--they're usually tiny and sometimes critical. A GPS will often identify and clear up such errors and keep a trip on the right path, literally. For XC the value can't be overstated.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#176930 - 05/07/13 01:24 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Rick_D]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6738
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Lots of maps contain errors, including the supposedly sacred Google maps. I've seen quite a few! GPS can steer you wrong, too, although most of those are the car navigation variety ("turn left at the next intersection") that have sent people down closed Forest Service roads to their doom. I would say about that navigation "trinity," don't trust one item alone without some backup from the other! I personally don't use a GPS, but if I were going to be navigating in deep snow (I'm not), I would undoubtedly change my mind.

With maps: I haven't taken a whole map with me in years. Instead, I photocopy (on my scanner) the portion(s) of the map I need. I used to cut up the original maps, but I soon realized that copying was an easier way that would preserve the original maps. In the case of maps on waterproof paper, the copies make a far less heavy and bulky wad! I keep the copies in a gallon plastic bag so I can read the maps through the plastic and keep them dry. If they get folded to bits, no big deal, because I have the original map in pristine condition at home to copy for the next trip.

I like to use Forest Service maps (the maps of wilderness areas are particularly helpful) or similar large scale trail maps for planning. I could pore over them for hours! For the actual trip, I use USGS maps. I have the old TOPO! software for Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, but unfortunately it is not compatible with the newest Mac operating system. As long as my old computer keeps working, though, I'm fine.

I agree with Robotmoose about getting spaced out on music and missing a hazard or a turn. I've seen it happen! I don't take music with me (there's plenty in my head if I want it), but if I did I'd listen to it only when in the tent at night.



Edited by OregonMouse (05/07/13 01:28 PM)
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#176932 - 05/07/13 03:08 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: OregonMouse]
Robotmoose Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/13
Posts: 79
I used to carry the whole map, but alot of the retail maps have gotten huge lately, including weird booklets and things, it's just too complex for my "Keep it simple, stupid" life philosophy. So lately I've gotten into the habit of measuring our the sections I want, and then marking them off in a blue-tape rectangle. Then taking the map to a copy store and asking them to copy the blue-taped area onto two or three pages of legal paper, which I hose down with water proofing spray at home. It's worked out well so far.

I also use TOPO USA with my Earthmate, and thus far the maps have been decently accurate. Sometimes I'll run a print copy of the Delorme maps along with my copies of the master map so I can compare the two.

It's funny, because when I was a young Scout, I never took navigation seriously. Everywhere we went, we had incredible trails all over to follow, with signs even. Why bother with a map and compass when these nice trails took me where I wanted to go? Now, the shoe's on the other foot: I'd rather not follow the trails if i can help it, which got me into maps.


Edited by Robotmoose (05/07/13 03:37 PM)
Edit Reason: I had to kill off a giant run-on sentence
_________________________
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#176937 - 05/07/13 05:46 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
topshot Offline
member

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 242
Loc: Midwest
Yes, a good summary. I think I've followed all those points (most of the time). smile

I prefer to hike solo, but my first trip out west I hooked up with another person "just in case". The next summer I did 7 days on my own, including some off-trail or rarely traveled areas. I did turn around a couple times when the terrain was more challenging then I cared for.

My biggest "weakness" I have is not having a SPOT or similar device should I become seriously injured that I can't self-rescue. Not worth it for one trip a year, but if I'm able to go more often or have more money I can spend, I'll get one for my wife's piece of mind.

The only stupid thing I know that I've done (after the fact) was setup my shelter in a 12,000' rock basin as a storm approached. Kept me out of the rain and hail and the thunder was really cool in surround sound (!), but the hiking pole (aluminum) needed for my shelter could have spelled my doom in said lightning I suppose (though the surrounding peaks were much higher targets and I never felt the tingling you get before a strike). As an electrical engineer, I fully understand the dangers of lightning, but I never even thought about that (I love thunderstorms - just not getting wet).

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#176940 - 05/07/13 07:01 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: topshot]
Robotmoose Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/13
Posts: 79
Originally Posted By topshot

The only stupid thing I know that I've done (after the fact) was setup my shelter in a 12,000' rock basin as a storm approached. Kept me out of the rain and hail and the thunder was really cool in surround sound (!), but the hiking pole (aluminum) needed for my shelter could have spelled my doom in said lightning I suppose (though the surrounding peaks were much higher targets and I never felt the tingling you get before a strike). As an electrical engineer, I fully understand the dangers of lightning, but I never even thought about that (I love thunderstorms - just not getting wet).


I've actually done the total opposite of that when I was younger: my buddy and I were pinned in a canyon when a rainstorm started, so we set up camp in the first flat spot we found.
Bad idea, the one flat spot in the bottom of a canyon. By sheer fortune I'd failed to talk my buddy out of taking along a tent, and no sooner had we had it up did we get thunder, lighting, hail, driving rain. We ended up with a standing inch of water on the floor of the tent.

I think that falls under both the "be aware" and "don't be an idiot" points... blush
_________________________
"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready."
"The joy of living is his who has the heart to demand it."
- Theodore Roosevelt

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#176942 - 05/07/13 08:43 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
ohiohiker Offline
member

Registered: 07/20/07
Posts: 127
Loc: Ohio
I think survival knowledge, skills, and experience are important for any backpacker, and especially so for one who goes solo. It's your safety net for when people, gear, or the weather forecast fails.

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#176945 - 05/08/13 09:51 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
Maps and MP3 players:

I'm heavily biased towards USGS maps just because anyone can easily print a good topo map for free in that format. Some collegues and I surveyed the options for doing so and wrote up instructions for use by folks in our local outdoor club, but these are applicable anywhere in the U.S.:
http://www.mountaineers.org/foothills/hiking/docs/how_to_print_usgs_maps_for_free.html

I do understand the MP3 distraction issue. I can't recall it ever causing me a problem, as I guess I sort of manage to split my consciousness sufficiently well. I did have an experience 2 years ago of setting up camp and then walking a forest service road uphill a ways in hopes of getting internet connection --- watching the signal strength on my phone screen I sort of tuned out the warning rattle and almost stepped on a snake right in the middle of the road. It wasn't that I was listening to anything, just that my concentration was elsewhere on this easy-to-walk surface.

I will say that even on shorter trips I'll sometimes bring an MP3 player as a sort of "mood changer". In particular I find that the right music can help me easily deal with a long climb that might otherwise feel like a slog. That doesn't mean that I stay disconnected from my surroundings all day (!). My own tendency is to use music or stories for long relatively boring stretches, "long green tunnel" or really barren, viewless terrain.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
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#176946 - 05/08/13 10:06 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: ohiohiker]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By ohiohiker
I think survival knowledge, skills, and experience are important for any backpacker, and especially so for one who goes solo. It's your safety net for when people, gear, or the weather forecast fails.


The problem is that the "bushcraft" sort of skills die quickly and are not often practiced.

Contingency planning is what I encourage... Prevention, prevention and prevention, with a healthy respect for edges, steep slopes, fast water and gnarly weather.

Convincing people who have survived bad conditions to reconsider hiking into the night in the driving rain up a high pass while wearing shorts and tank top is a lost cause, since their "experience" tells them you're just making unnecessary noise. Convincing them they need survival skills would be about that hard...
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

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#176948 - 05/08/13 12:40 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: lori]
Robotmoose Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/13
Posts: 79
Originally Posted By BrianLe
Maps and MP3 players:

I'm heavily biased towards USGS maps just because anyone can easily print a good topo map for free in that format. Some collegues and I surveyed the options for doing so and wrote up instructions for use by folks in our local outdoor club, but these are applicable anywhere in the U.S.:
http://www.mountaineers.org/foothills/hiking/docs/how_to_print_usgs_maps_for_free.html

*explodes*
That's fantastic, I'll have to bookmark that for later use!


Originally Posted By BrianLe
I will say that even on shorter trips I'll sometimes bring an MP3 player as a sort of "mood changer". In particular I find that the right music can help me easily deal with a long climb that might otherwise feel like a slog. That doesn't mean that I stay disconnected from my surroundings all day (!). My own tendency is to use music or stories for long relatively boring stretches, "long green tunnel" or really barren, viewless terrain.

I can definitely sympathize this idea. Music and audiobooks are great media, and could be useful tools, I guess I should have said "it's just a matter of knowing when it's appropriate" in my summary than to advocate disavowing them altogether.


Originally Posted By lori
Originally Posted By ohiohiker
I think survival knowledge, skills, and experience are important for any backpacker, and especially so for one who goes solo. It's your safety net for when people, gear, or the weather forecast fails.


The problem is that the "bushcraft" sort of skills die quickly and are not often practiced.

Contingency planning is what I encourage... Prevention, prevention and prevention, with a healthy respect for edges, steep slopes, fast water and gnarly weather.

Convincing people who have survived bad conditions to reconsider hiking into the night in the driving rain up a high pass while wearing shorts and tank top is a lost cause, since their "experience" tells them you're just making unnecessary noise. Convincing them they need survival skills would be about that hard...


I couldn't agree with your statement more. People should know the basic "keeping alive" skills for bad situations, and better yet should just assume an attitude of preparedness and general readiness. However discipling in bushcraft and "survivalist" ideals is a truly lifelong endeavor that can in some ways be antithetical to the core ideals of backpacking.
It's good and necessary to be prepared, but it's overkill to be Bear Grylls.


Edited by Robotmoose (05/08/13 12:42 PM)
_________________________
"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready."
"The joy of living is his who has the heart to demand it."
- Theodore Roosevelt

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#176951 - 05/08/13 03:22 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: lori]
ohiohiker Offline
member

Registered: 07/20/07
Posts: 127
Loc: Ohio
Originally Posted By lori

The problem is that the "bushcraft" sort of skills die quickly and are not often practiced.

Contingency planning is what I encourage... Prevention, prevention and prevention, with a healthy respect for edges, steep slopes, fast water and gnarly weather.

Convincing people who have survived bad conditions to reconsider hiking into the night in the driving rain up a high pass while wearing shorts and tank top is a lost cause, since their "experience" tells them you're just making unnecessary noise. Convincing them they need survival skills would be about that hard...

I agree. Prevention is definitely the first and best defense.

Isn't survival training hands-on contingency planning? Such as, "how do I avoid hypothermia after slipping and losing my pack and getting soaked at the swift water crossing?"

Some "bushcraft" sort of skills die quickly and are not often practiced. Essential ones, such as knowing how to start a fire with wet wood, or even just how to start a fire is more at the training wheels level where it's not easily forgotten even if not practiced often. Some essential survival-related knowledge is of the easily-remembered "trick" type, such as stuffing clothes with dry grass or leaves for insulation or knowing that wet wood will usually burn well if de-barked or split.

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#176952 - 05/08/13 06:24 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: lori]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 751
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Originally Posted By lori
Originally Posted By ohiohiker
I think survival knowledge, skills, and experience are important for any backpacker, and especially so for one who goes solo. It's your safety net for when people, gear, or the weather forecast fails.


The problem is that the "bushcraft" sort of skills die quickly and are not often practiced.

..
I don't see how fire building/ making, knife skills,shelter building, finding food off the land....ie "bushcraft" die quickly. Most of these skills, once learned, are life long. Simple knoledge that isn't easily lost to lack of use.
_________________________
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.

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#176953 - 05/08/13 07:28 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: rockchucker22]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
That would be why search and rescue trains so often on navigation and survival skills, no doubt - we're all remembering them that well.

Navigation and knots are very perishable... shelters, fire building, and the like less so. Remembering everything when the adrenalin is high, especially difficult - which is why we try so hard to get it down to the point some of this stuff is almost muscle memory.
_________________________
"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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#176955 - 05/08/13 07:47 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: lori]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 751
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Originally Posted By lori
That would be why search and rescue trains so often on navigation and survival skills, no doubt - we're all remembering them that well.

Navigation and knots are very perishable... shelters, fire building, and the like less so. Remembering everything when the adrenalin is high, especially difficult - which is why we try so hard to get it down to the point some of this stuff is almost muscle memory.
That makes since. Navigation was taught to me as a very young boy in the mountians of Colorado, so I always find it baffling that anyone who enjoys the outdoors that doesn't know how to navigate. I know it's way more common than I realize. Actually I have a friend who I hike with that never knows where he's at. Amazing really, I just have to shake my head.
_________________________
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.

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#176960 - 05/09/13 10:45 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: lori]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By lori
That would be why search and rescue trains so often on navigation and survival skills, no doubt - we're all remembering them that well.

Navigation and knots are very perishable... shelters, fire building, and the like less so. Remembering everything when the adrenalin is high, especially difficult - which is why we try so hard to get it down to the point some of this stuff is almost muscle memory.


I agree with that, but I'd say that bushwhacking solo is a good way to keep them sharp too. You don't need to go far off trail into the wilderness to experience the solitude and newness of traveling on seldom tread ground though. Even out west I could find that by hiking just a few miles or less.

You know, more than anything, the weather is what scares me and it really doesn't matter if you're 6 hours from your car on a trail or off trail if you're not prepared to deal with it.

It's not near so wild out west as it is here. We get weather fronts pushing through here that can be just vicious. I think knowing how to get and understand the weather forecasts is really an important skill to learn and practice too.

In fact, it's probably one of the most overlooked, underused, and underrated skills, while at the same time the being the one most likely to save your butt around here, and probably right up there in the top three out west too.

The NOAA puts out some great products. Their radar images offer incredible coverage for the mainland US and if you can get them off the web you can estimate down to a few minutes when a storm front will be hitting you.

The NOAA hourly weather graph is amazing, and it's darn accurate for 72 hour out and pretty good for as far as it goes. I make it a point to study it before I go out, and I make it a point to find some high ground to try and get an update after 48 hours if I haven't got one before then.

The great thing about that hourly graph is it gives you so much important info and you can adjust your plans accordingly. It will tell you which way the will will blow and how strong, and when. If a front is passing by in the middle of the night and the wind will be changing directions and blowing hard you can set your shelter up to deal with that, and in a spot that will offer some protection. I always use that info when setting up my shelter. Sometimes I don't use anything but a groundcloth if I know there's no chance of rain or dew.

I've planned short trips that were just amazing with that forecast. Get in just after a hard rain, and get out just before another and spend one or more perfect days hiking to waterfalls.

I've got the NOAA weather radio on my GMRS handheld talkie, and it's worth carrying if the weather is iffy and on longer trips. It will often get a signal when there's no cell service, even down in the canyons and hollows here.

If you really pay attention to the weather forecasts you'll know exactly when the perfect time to be out there will be, and exactly when to bail out or hunker down.

I know there is a "weather be damned" sort of mentality to backpacking, and I admire that somewhat, but the truth is we have choices in the matter. All you have to do is make it a point to use a weather forecast and there really isn't any compelling reason not to.

I've used the weather forecast to practice backpacking when it's nasty and to experience being some particular spot in extraordinary conditions. I think that's great fun, but it's sure nice to have a bailout option. I've used it to cut trips short too, and was home safe, dry, and warm before things got really ugly out.
_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#176963 - 05/09/13 12:43 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: billstephenson]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1911
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I agree that keeping a weather sense about you is also a survival skill, and I agree that modern technology sure helps out a lot. But, in the spirit of "Hey, you crummy kids, get off my lawn," I feel obliged to point out that, way back when, forecasts were at best a shot in the dark, accurate only in the sense that the Farmer's Almanac was accurate.

One of the early books I bought (after Colin Fletcher's original Complete Walker) was a book about predicting weather in the backcountry. It was very heavy on cloud shapes and wind shifts, and what they told you about coming weather. I never did get it all committed to memory.

Now, who else can I distract with stories about the good old days....

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#176966 - 05/09/13 02:21 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: lori]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"Navigation and knots are very perishable... shelters, fire building, and the like less so. Remembering everything when the adrenalin is high, especially difficult - which is why we try so hard to get it down to the point some of this stuff is almost muscle memory."

I think that a significant factor here might be long-term vs. short-term memory. It's possible to learn something, perhaps via a class or another way, and then not do it much after the initial exposure. But then retain the memory of having known about it, having once known how to do it. I think that sort of thing can get you into trouble.

Things that truly do become "muscle memory" are more likely to come back at need ("it's just like riding a bike").

There are also "detail nuances". E.g. (for example), even if you're good at lighting a fire, you might not be any good at finding/making dry kindling and just in general about getting a fire going and sustaining it in really wet conditions.
_________________________
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http://postholer.com/brianle

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#176979 - 05/09/13 05:30 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: rockchucker22]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By rockchucker22
Originally Posted By lori
Originally Posted By ohiohiker
I think survival knowledge, skills, and experience are important for any backpacker, and especially so for one who goes solo. It's your safety net for when people, gear, or the weather forecast fails.


The problem is that the "bushcraft" sort of skills die quickly and are not often practiced.

..
I don't see how fire building/ making, knife skills,shelter building, finding food off the land....ie "bushcraft" die quickly. Most of these skills, once learned, are life long. Simple knoledge that isn't easily lost to lack of use.


I have to agree with this. I understand how to build a crude shelter. We used to that when we were kids, but I don't practice it now. I mastered all the skills needed a long time ago, and I still use those skills, but I don't apply them directly to bush crafting.

Not everyone has those skills though, and as Lori pointed out, they are not required to backpack. That's really the sticky part of this business.

I suppose it's easy to pick up an issue or two of Backpacking Magazine and romanticize about doing something you've never done before, to the point of convincing yourself you know all you need to know.

I grew up doing stuff. I tend to forget that a lot of people don't. I used to ride my bike ten miles to get to a park big enough to do some bushwhacking in. I rode it to the Kishwaukee Forest Preserve when I lived in Illinois and to Griffith Park when I move to LA. By the time I was 15 I was cutting up cars and putting them back together, and by 16 I was driving to and bushwhacking in the Sequoia NF when I could get away.

But most of the city kids I knew and grew up with in LA didn't do that. I asked one guy I worked with for close to 12 years to come with me to Sequoia once. He declined, said he hadn't left the San Fernando Valley in 22 years and had no desire to. He leads hikes out there now. He's probably good at it. He would have learned and practiced enough to be good.

_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#177018 - 05/11/13 09:57 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
ndsol Offline
member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 678
Loc: Houston, Texas
Might I suggest another approach. You grew up in the Scouts. There are many troops that would love to have you work with the boys on being the adult leader for backpacking trips.

I did not grow up as a scout. But a few years ago I became the high adventure adult leader for a troop even though I don't have a son. It gave me a way to ensure that I could go on big trips and, hopefully, the scouts would learn. We have been to Big Bend, the Winds, Yellowstone and a few more local areas. This summer we are scheduled for the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness in Colorado. It can be a win-win situation.

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#177031 - 05/13/13 05:15 AM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: ndsol]
Robotmoose Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/13
Posts: 79
Originally Posted By ndsol
Might I suggest another approach. You grew up in the Scouts. There are many troops that would love to have you work with the boys on being the adult leader for backpacking trips.

I did not grow up as a scout. But a few years ago I became the high adventure adult leader for a troop even though I don't have a son. It gave me a way to ensure that I could go on big trips and, hopefully, the scouts would learn. We have been to Big Bend, the Winds, Yellowstone and a few more local areas. This summer we are scheduled for the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness in Colorado. It can be a win-win situation.



I definitely would if I could!
I'm technically a registered Nature and Enviornmental Science Merit Badge Counselor, but I'm insanely busy: full-time work at night (graveyard shift) and full-time school during the day (Parks and Rec Management and History) I barely have time for laundry during the week.
I really, really wish I could pay my Scouting Career forward, and I hope to be able to do so once I've moved on to a University, but for the present time, I gotta become self-sufficient in solo backpacking.
_________________________
"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready."
"The joy of living is his who has the heart to demand it."
- Theodore Roosevelt

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#177222 - 05/21/13 12:10 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6738
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Wearing my moderator hat here:

This discussion of solo backpacking has gotten derailed into a discussion of weather forecasting. (Partly my fault!) I have therefore taken the liberty of moving those portions to the Off Topic forum.

If you want to discuss solo backpacking, carry on here. If you want to discuss weather forecasting, head to Off Topic and carry on there!

Moderator hat now removed.


Edited by OregonMouse (05/21/13 12:32 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#177497 - 05/31/13 01:48 PM Re: Advice for those getting into solo backpackpacking [Re: Robotmoose]
GlockGuy619 Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/31/13
Posts: 6
I am going on a 6 day, 5 night trip this summer and here is my plan.

I am going to email my family a document with the following information:

1: My Hiking Itinerary, including a map. (which I will stick to)
2: A recent photo of me and everyone in my party.
3: A photo of the tred pattern of the shoes I, and others in my party, will be wearing (SAR guys will love you for that).
4: Phone Numbers of the local law enforcement agency of where I will be hiking.

This will all be put into a single email, that way if something happens, it can easily be forward to local law enforcement or search and rescue.


Edited by GlockGuy619 (05/31/13 01:49 PM)

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