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Old 11-13-2003, 04:43 PM   #1
mtgoat
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Hiking Safety, Talk about your biggest mistake

.....while in the outdoors. We can all learn as well as chuckle together over our worst experiences. If we are here today to tell about them then we learned as well as lived through them. If you didn't make it then I will bow my head in silence for you after you tell us how you are still here if you didn't make it.

Once this gets going I will tell of my raft trip from hell.
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Originally posted by Jeff:

Everyone is encouraged to get out and experience the Great Outdoors, especially the Adirondacks. But not everyone has the same skills and/or experience. There are some basic guidelines that ALL should follow. Here are some tips presented by the N.Y.S. Dept. of Environmental Conservation Hiking Safely and Backcountry Hiking and Camping Rules.

Last edited by Kevin; 12-08-2004 at 10:43 AM..
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Old 11-13-2003, 05:30 PM   #2
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Delirium descending Armstrong from a long, muggy day of hiking through Gothics on my way to a air matress, food, and shelter (tent) in the saddle between Armstrong and Upper Wolfjaw. Jeff actually got upset I was taking so long, but I was seriously losing my ability to balance and make decent spacial judgements. Looking back on it, I don't even know how I got down. Once I stopped carrying the 50+lb pack and started putting up the tent I was fine.

Didn't ruin the trip, but gave me a reality check that high humidity/temps requires extra replenishment of fluids .
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Old 11-15-2003, 12:47 AM   #3
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Like Kevin...We were going into the Santanonis for our first trail-less peak experience under a blazing 97 degree sun in the middle of blackfly season. I was loaded up with a 75 lb pack. I had 3 changes of clothes, including winter boots (in case it got cool at night ), a 4 person tent (for my wife and I), enough chow to feed an army, and TWO NALGENE BOTTLES OF WATER...(with no methods of water purification). We dumped our gear off near Bradley Pond and started off towards Panther with a with our pal Weasel leading the pack. (Big mistake :O He's very, very fast!) Upon summiting, we were feeling pretty bushed. After topping off Couchy, we noticed that the humidity had jumped to about 95% and we were completely out of water. "I'm not comin' back to this sweltering, bug-ridden, dismal wilderness again! I doin' Santanoni!", I exclaimed to Weasel. He pulled out a bottle of Whiskey and proceded to take a monster pull off from it, and then handed it to me. Still thirsty, and with half-a-buzz-on, Santanoni was bagged. We started to head back. Somewhere between the summit and 4 corners, my partners pulled ahead of me. Shortly thereafter, my quads started to get rubbery. I then thought that I heard someone calling to me from behind a rock..(OK BUDDY!) 'Christ', I thought. 'I need water, BAD!' My hands were a bloody mess from grabbing ahold of trees on the way down. I finally hit water, and sucked down like a gallon in about a minutes time! My friends said I looked like a zombie when i reached camp. Needless to say, the very next day I dialed up Campmor and bought 2 of the biggest Platypus bags they had!

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Old 11-15-2003, 01:33 AM   #4
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Head, I did the bradley pond thing recently, and I will not go back during any season other than "bone dry" or "frozen over". What a swampy hell hole that part of adk was a month ago! Trail was a disaster waiting to happen (all mud, and even parts of it were a full stream of running water!). Probably wouldn't have been so bad if I was expecting it. My biggest mistake was ignoring the forecast for cold temps and rain, and not having any decent rain gear.
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Old 11-15-2003, 01:52 PM   #5
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My biggest mistake or worst experience wasnt all that bad at all, but I can assure you that it will never be repeated. The week had been pretty warm or whatever, so i decided to go on a little dayhike with a bunch of my friends in NC.

We went with very little....I had a bag of trail mix, some water, and a good ol' cotton sweater (I thought about taking a wool one, but I dismissed it when I thought about what temperature it would probably be on the trail ). For some reason the temperature began to drop pretty rapidly, and I became miserable. Then to top it all off, it began to rain.

Of course I didnt bring any raingear at all, so all of my cotton apparel began to soak all the rainwater up like a sponge, and then stopped insulating anything. AS the weather got increasingly bad, I got more and more miserable...it was terrible.

I will never, ever go out unprepared again.
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Old 11-15-2003, 08:38 PM   #6
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Which one?

A couple months after my first high peak last year I decided to go with my friend to do Lower Wolfjaw from the Ausable club... in mid-June. It had rained the night before and the trail was now a stream. It felt as if it was 90 degrees and 100% humidity. My pack was not easily accessible in the car so I didn't drink on the ride up. My friend, as always, set a fast pace and I was regretting my decision to go. The heat, humidity, and black flies were all at their worst. I didn't drink enough on my hike up and felt sick at the summit; I didn't feel like eating or drinking and was a little dizzy too - this scared me and I forced myself to drink. My friend looked at me and asked if I was ok; this independent and strong willed person just said, "no". He took my pack saying that he'd rather carry it out than me and we headed back very slowly, giving the black flies plenty of time to chow down. I kept drinking and felt much better as we got to the base trail and was even calling out all the places to eat on the drive back. I now drink a lot on the drive up and haven't hiked in similar conditions since.

On Saturday of Columbus Day weekend this year, I decided to hike Skylight from the Upper Works (Calamity Brook) alone. I knew that I would probably get out in the dark but no big deal, I'd done that before and it wasn't bad. I ended up hiking Gray as well and I had to turn my headlamp on shortly after the Colden Damn. This meant I did about 6 miles in the dark and my headlamp started dimming. I got turned around once and started backtracking. Fortunately I realized it and because I was very familiar with the trail, was able to get going back the right way. I mentally cheered myself on as I came to landmarks I remembered but got a little nervous when I came to a bridge I'd never seen before. I checked my map, got my bearings and realized the reason I'd never seen the bridge was because I'd always rock-hopped this crossing. I kept my head and got out by full moon light at 11:45 pm. My lessons learned on this one were quite a few: always carry extra headlamp batteries, bring a headlamp that has more than 2 LED's, bring a compass and map (I only had the map), and definately keep your head and don't panic. I got nervous but never panicked because I was the only one who could get me out; I had to rely on me.

Last Saturday I went to the Adirondack Loj to do Street and Nye but when I inquired about the stream crossing was told it would be difficult because the water was high. The only hike I had left to do from the Loj was Marcy so that's where I headed. When I got to the damn I found that my hydration pack tube was frozen. I wasn't about to turn back so I slipped the tube through the fleece sleeve in my pack and put it through my pit-zip into my jacket. It was thawed soon after the Phelps trail cut-off. Unfortunately I was still thinking warmer temperatures (from the weekend before) but it was below freezing and I only had thin nylon pants on and my legs were freezing. They warmed up completely after I was in bed at 10:30 that night. They just got colder especially after I made it to within a half mile of the summit. I actually thought about turning around the wind was so strong and I was so cold. I made it to the top and hurried back down. I joined the Boy Scouts for the last three miles out in the dark and got to see the eclipse on the ride home. Next time I'll have my Bergelene long underwear on and probably snow pants and bring my cramp-ons.

I've learned a lot these past two years of hiking and hope that my experiences will help some newer hikers...

The one thing that everyone keeps telling me is don't hike alone but I keep doing it. Anyone want to hike with me? I'm a slow moderate persistent hiker.
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Old 11-15-2003, 09:24 PM   #7
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There have been a few, but one that comes to mind is my first time in the Sewards. It was early June, we were expecting warm weather, of course. We climbed Seymour the first day okay. Next day we went up the Ward Brook herd path to Seward. We were wearing blue jeans and cotton sweatshirts, which are okay as long as they are dry. Right after leaving Seward, it began to rain. It didn't rain a lot, but the wet branches on the closed-in trail got us completely soaked. We didn't have any raingear, except possibly a cheap useless plastic poncho. The wind was blowing across the ridge pretty good. We began to shiver uncontrollably. I was so intent on climbing Donaldson and Emmons that I insisted we continue, even though we should have definitely turned back. I have never been so cold. I wish I could have taken my temperature that day, I'm sure it was a few degrees below 98.6. We finally reached Seward on the return and just kept going down as fast as we could. My hands were so cold, I could not use my fingers to change my wet sweatshirt. Upon reaching our lean-to (Blueberry), we managed to get dry clothes on and eventually warmed up, after several hours. Of course we had hypothermia but I didn't know what it was called at the time. I feel stupid for being there wearing cotton and no real rain gear. It was a lesson not to be repeated!
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Old 11-16-2003, 01:59 PM   #8
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After summiting Marcy in January some years ago, literally on hands and knees due to high winds, my four companions and I were descending back toward tree line. Rather suddenly, I became extremely tired and wanted to take a nap. So, to get out of the high winds, I thought I would curl up behind a large rock (still above tree line). My buddies, knew what was going on - I was becoming hypothermic. They managed to get me below tree line, set up the tents, put me in my sleeping bag, and stuff food and water down my throat. The next morning, I was fine and I hiked out. That was 24 years ago. Only within the past couple of years did I get the nerve, and desire, to return to the high peaks in winter.
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Old 11-16-2003, 05:45 PM   #9
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Got heat exhaustion climbing Cliff and Gray from the Loj in 90 degree heat last June. Drank eleven quarts of water, but neglected to keep my electrolytes up.

Had cramps all over my body, starting from Gray and fought them all the way back to the Loj. Couldn't bend over to take my boots off without my stomach muscles (which I thought I had lost years ago) cramping.

From now on, I bring Gatorade mix.
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Old 11-17-2003, 09:10 AM   #10
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Can really say that this would be “the worst” or that it was all that bad. But it did teach me a valuable lesson. I backpack a lot with my family and kids. They are proficient hikers and each are approaching the 46 and should finish within the year (son’s – 12, daughter’s 10). Anyway, on a trip to the Sewards in September we packed-in to Ward Brook, hiked S,D & E on the 2nd day and Seymour on the third morning before heading out.

Anyone that’s done this range know it’s a pretty rigorous couple days and we pretty much devoured most of our food stores by the time we reached the summit of Seymour. No biggie right, all we had to do was walk down to our camp, pack up and walk the 5.5 miles out to the trailhead. About halfway back to the car, my son started to slow up. He was carrying his regular load (about 20 lbs, or just under 20% of his body weight) and he never has a problem with it. In fact he’s usually the one out front and is one of the fittest in the group.

We stopped to find out what was up with him and noticed that he was shaking uncontrollable, and really groggy. We were still about 3 miles from the car. As someone with some medical background, I immediately recognized it as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Problem was, we did not have much food left to give him. We basically all rifled through our packs and came up with a chocolate powerbar and a few other odds and ends that we forced him to eat (he insisted he was fine). He was okay enough (but still weak) to get to the car. Once he slugged a coke down at the car and got some other food in him, he was picking on his sister again within 15 minutes. We had both consumed about the same amount of calories for the weekend, but his 100 lb tank ran out long before my 190 lb one did.

LESSON:
When your hiking with kids or otherwise petite people, make sure that they are regularly putting calories in. The average kid has significantly less fat storage than adults do and they will burn through them fairly quickly on a vigorous undertaking. For 2+ days in the backcountry with kids (which can’t be beat, btw), plan for 2-3 lbs daily rations for EVERY person in your group. Don’t make the mistake that just cuz they are smaller they can get away with less food. They will eat as much, if not more than adults.
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Old 11-17-2003, 01:40 PM   #11
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Mavs,

If you ever end up in a similar situation you can boil birch bark. Even get them to chew on some from some younger trees. There is a fairly high amout of ready to asimilate sugar in birch that the body can use. It is not a complete fix but can and will provide that jump necessary to keep someone from going into shock. So some chewing followed by a little food (to give some substance and stamina) and some birch tea can get someone going for a few hours.

Last edited by mtgoat; 11-17-2003 at 10:32 PM..
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Old 11-17-2003, 09:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by mtgoat
Mavs,

If you ever end up in a similar situation you can boil birch bark. Even get them to chew on some from some younger trees. There is a fairly high amout of ready to asimilate sugar in birch that the body can use. It is not a complete fix but can and will provide that jump necessary to keep someone from going into shock. So some chewing followed by a little food (to give some substance and stamina) and some birch tea can get someone going for a few hours.
Thats a pretty sweet little piece of information. In all of the wilderness schools and programs I have been through, I have never heard that one. Good little tip.

*Runs away to get his notebook to jot that one down*

Last edited by Jeff; 11-18-2003 at 01:01 AM..
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Old 11-18-2003, 12:42 PM   #13
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That was one of those things I learned in an advanced surivial course from Uncle Sam.
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Old 11-18-2003, 06:05 PM   #14
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I hiked Marcy in the rain...in swimming trunks. It seemed like a good idea at the car. Can we all say c-h-a-f-i-n-g! It was brutal.
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Old 11-19-2003, 03:10 PM   #15
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Mavs00 wrote:
Quote:
When your hiking with kids or otherwise petite people, make sure that they are regularly putting calories in.
Excellent comment Tim...I'd say that's good advice for just about everyone, and, I'd say it's even more important when hiking in the winter.
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Old 11-20-2003, 12:27 PM   #16
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I'd say it's even more important when hiking in the winter.
Two words: Trail Mix

(nuts are high in protein and fat, good for slow-burning energy)
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Old 11-20-2003, 01:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kevin
Two words: Trail Mix

(nuts are high in protein and fat, good for slow-burning energy)
True, but have you ever tried to eat frozen peanuts . I prefer softer (water friendly) foods when I hike in the cold. I'm not beyond dropping chunks of candy, cookies, dehydrated fruits, etc. into cocoa or hot water when it's cold.

Sometime the energy expended in EATING the food, outweighs the benifit of the food itself.

You are correct in warmer weather, nothing like a handful of "salt and sweet" to soothe the palete during these times.
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Old 11-20-2003, 01:11 PM   #18
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Originally posted by Kevin
Two words: Trail Mix

(nuts are high in protein and fat, good for slow-burning energy)
Kevin

Everyone knows eating trail mix makes you grow a nice coat of fur and a long bushy tail to wrap yourself up in when it gets too bad.
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Old 11-26-2003, 09:11 PM   #19
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I have to tell you about my experience doing Allen. It was September of 2000 and absolutely beautiful weather. It was the only peak in which I did an overnight hike and it was the year after the big storm with all the blow downs...quite an adventure just getting there and back. (I used notes from Dan Hulme on the Lexicom website which helped a lot.) I had no problems getting to the base of the mountain where I set up camp.

As I recall I set up camp around 5 pm and ate dinner. I then got anxious and decided not to wait until morning to do the climb up which I figured would be less than 2 hours. I knew I would be returning to camp in the dark but didn't think it would be all that bad.

I got to Allen just at sunset. It started to get dark and although I took time do the register I rushed out leaving my hiking pole (which I returned for after 10 minutes...costing me another 20 minutes back and forth of dusk "daylight".)

As I was negotiating the steep and slippery descent all I could think about is what would happen if my headlamp went out on me. It would be impossible to find my way back. I kept thinking how stupid it was of me to go up there when I had to hike down in the pitch black night. Man was I relieved when I got to camp. I will never forget it. It was my first backpack experience and I didn't get a whole lot of sleep that night.
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Old 11-26-2003, 10:04 PM   #20
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Two summers ago, heading to Couchie from Times Square, we got lost in the swamp at the low point. We didn't know the trail continued on the right side of the swamp. We went left and when we couldn't find the herd path, we kept going. Then we tried to "short-cut" back to where we thought we got lost - BIG mistake. We were lost somewhere to the south of the swamp for only about an hour and somehow bushwhacked our way thru the thickest cripplebush to the top of the first knob towards Couchie after the swamp using map and compass. But that "lost" feeling just wants to overwhelm you - a terrible feeling.

Lesson learned: when you lose the trail, stop immediately and retrace your steps back to the last place you remember being on the trail or herdpath. From that point, look around closer and you'll find a clue to get yourself back on track.

Important Note>>> This is a corollary to the asking directions theory mens' wives subscribe to when the man gets lost driving.
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