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coldfeet
02-07-2006, 08:56 PM
I think that if I'm going to get serious in this "hobby", I need to be able to help those around me in case of an emergency...I say that because If I'm tagging along with others into the woods, I better know how to get out in case of an emergency, can my group depend on me?....after a lot of thinking I truthfully have to say "yes" and "no"....on a marked trail it's a yes...but on a bushwack I'm no help at all....is a GPS the answer?...I'm sure the real hikers will say "no"....read the map, study the compass and learn it that way...sorry guys, easier said than done....do you stick with the same partners for comfort or try new ones once in a while? (no dirty comments please) ;) just trying to get better and helpful..thx

audrey
02-07-2006, 09:53 PM
My most frequent hiking partner can't find his way out of a paper bag (sorry Pat!). He can't even read a road map, so I think compass training is futile. I occasionally make noises about who'll rescue us if I get hurt...but I think I'll keep him anyway.

David, most people will find it pretty easy to learn the rudiments of route-finding. I'm no expert with the compass but I haven't gotten lost yet. Next time you come to New England, we'll all have to go on a bushwhack!

That said, I've been on a few hikes with GPS experts and they are really impressive. I enjoy the challenge of map and compass, though.

Lawn Sale
02-07-2006, 10:19 PM
I am very adept at the map & compass, having taught it in the military and for part of a state hunter safety course, so I am confident in my abilities should I run into any particularly tough paper bags, or the elusive multi-layered plastic bags.

But, I almost prefer to hike alone. I have no set pace, it varies with the day, and I dislike hiking to a schedule. I don't mind hiking with other people, and do enjoy the company...most of the time, but it's much different from having a hiking partner.

I guess I would say my two hiking partners are "myself" and "I", and they join "me" every time. I know I can rely on them in a pinch, and they've never let me down. We have the same likes and dislikes, and chat openly with one another. We're getting to know each other better over the last few years since the divorce, but it's been a long process.

I have been let down by too many other people, so it's hard for me to completely trust someone else. I have to while ice climbing, but that's vastly different from hiking.

LenDawg
02-07-2006, 10:41 PM
I usually go with the same group of people. In this case, I think you gain a certain level of trust in those people, and realize that if, God forbid, something where to go very wrong, your group has people who can get things done under pressure. Often, during hikes, I go through hypotheticals in my head and guess who would need to take which roles. As far as hiking with different people, I think that is a good idea if you don't feel comforable. But remember, getting comfortable with a group takes time too.

snowshoe
02-08-2006, 05:42 AM
I am on a search and resue team so for me I feel confident in any situation. I mainly hike solo and feel confident in myself. I also now when not to take chances. but when I do hike with others I feel more confident even if it someone new to hiking. You just have to use common sense and be prepared.

Tom Rankin
02-08-2006, 06:11 AM
I think that if I'm going to get serious in this "hobby", I need to be able to help those around me in case of an emergency...I say that because If I'm tagging along with others into the woods, I better know how to get out in case of an emergency, can my group depend on me?....after a lot of thinking I truthfully have to say "yes" and "no"....on a marked trail it's a yes...but on a bushwack I'm no help at all....is a GPS the answer?...I'm sure the real hikers will say "no"....read the map, study the compass and learn it that way...sorry guys, easier said than done....do you stick with the same partners for comfort or try new ones once in a while? (no dirty comments please) ;) just trying to get better and helpful..thx

As for hiking partners, I feel very safe with mine. :D

I'd recommend you take a wilderness first aid course. The 3500 Club sponsors them once or twice a year. Laurie or ERD might have details.

This will also give you more stuff to carry! :D

Another thing to consider is group size. Those who wish to solo hike are free to do so (and I've done it too, even in Winter), but a group of 3-4 is generally the recommended minimum for backcountry hiking.

Jay H
02-08-2006, 06:11 AM
Well David, basic rudimentary map reading and dead reckoning skills are useful, (and not just in the woods or just for hiking either). Simple experience should get you more familiar with compass use or go out and learn orienteering or perhaps take up geocaching.

A great park that isn't that far from you to learn about compass skills is Harriman, it's big, it's not terribly far from you and there are good maps for it from the NYNJTC. AMC actually does some orienteering classes in it near the silvermine area as there is a designated Orienteering course there. Pick a free weekend and have fun. If you want, I can set up something for you to bushwack to, and can come along and help you out. I know of a couple good places to go that are good.

Jay

Nessmuk
02-08-2006, 06:47 AM
I am on a search and resue team so for me I feel confident in any situation. I mainly hike solo and feel confident in myself. I also now when not to take chances. but when I do hike with others I feel more confident even if it someone new to hiking. You just have to use common sense and be prepared.Same here, on all you mentioned above. Often my destinations involve long solo bushwhacks. There's nothing like navigating alone with basic skills in the backcountry to build up confidence.

Sometimes I get to thinking when solo about all the decisions that I make totally on my own. Whether spending the night and deciding on just the right spot to camp, or sitting down for a 5 minute rest break, there isn't anyone else there or that I've seen all day to influence my decisions or prevent me from making any changes at any moment (within the bounds of my itinerary at home of course). There are higher level thinking decisions, involving observational navigation for instance that I get to discuss with myself and ponder at length. At the other end of the spectrum I am amazed at the subconscious decisions made with every step, particularly on difficult terrain. My feet somehow decide (computer processing?) within a split second where to land among the rocks and branches without a conscious thought other than to choose an acceptably safe if not the best spot. You just think differently, more deeply, when solo. Maybe I think too much about such philosophical things when solo that never enter my mind when with others. :o

Something to consider - getting injured when solo is a dangerous thing to have happen for sure. But when not solo people tend to take more risks and weigh them differently without even thinking (for example, jumping down off a rock I would not do solo but might in a group). So I think the chances for injury during a trip with 2 or more people more than doubles. Of course that's offset by the chance for successful rescue.


...but on a bushwack I'm no help at all....is a GPS the answer?...I'm sure the real hikers will say "no"....read the map, study the compass and learn it that way...sorry guys, easier said than done....Although I am not myself a GPS toter, I would not begrudge someone with me from using one as a navaid. If they are not feeling very proficient with traditional map & compass and terrain association observation skills, I'd offer to make improving those skills one of the goals of the trip. If on the other hand they feel that carrying a GPS alone is enough and therefore don't "need" any map & compass skills to get my injured butt out of the woods, then I guess I'd rather not have someone with that thought process along at all. :(

Pete_Hickey
02-08-2006, 07:01 AM
I'll second the orienteering. IMO, much better to work with map&compass THEN to move to GPS, than the other way around. I'll bet there are orienteering clubs in your area, and they probably have (at least) monthly events. The evnets consist of giving you a map which indicates where there are 'markers' Your job is to find the markers. They usually have easy routes (where themarkers are just off a path), and more difficult, where you have to bushwhack some distance. You will also have to make decisions... "It's only one third the distance if I bushwhack, but will the bushwhack be slower than taking the trail?"

Orienteering is a very good way to improve your map&copass skills.

I never thought of depending on a hiking partner, mostly because my first 20 years or so of hiking was all solo. When I'm with someone, I think of it more as taking a walk with them, not much more.

But now you've made me think.. If someone is hiking with me, are they putting faith in me knowing what I'm donig???!!!! Scarey thought! hmmmmm Maybe I'll write up a disclaimer and make people sign it before they hike with me.

Nessmuk
02-08-2006, 07:16 AM
But now you've made me think.. If someone is hiking with me, are they putting faith in me knowing what I'm donig???!!!! Scarey thought! hmmmmm Maybe I'll write up a disclaimer and make people sign it before they hike with me.That is a very scary thought, and is why any licensed guide for hire will have insurance and a "hold harmless" form to sign. The ADK makes everyone sign a disclaimer on club published trips even though no one is being paid to lead. These days if you are considered "expert" at anything even if unofficially so and something happens to go wrong you can expect there are those out there after a fast buck from you.

jbrown
02-08-2006, 08:01 AM
Aside from when I go solo, I have two different "groups" that I generally hike with. In both groups, I'm the best navigator, and have lead the way off-trail a couple of times. In general, however, both groups are hiking on established trails so we don't worry too much about getting lost. I learned the compass work in Scouts and have tried to keep my edge over the years even though I don't use the compass all that much.
As far as injury is concerned, I've got medical professionals in both groups; a PA in group 1 and a doctor and PA in group 2. (I'm certified in first aid and CPR as well.)
The guys in group 2 are overall more experienced hikers, three of them are 46ers, so I have alot of faith in their capabilities.
I'm closer to the guys in group 1, my brother, his brother-in-law, my cousins and a couple of good friends, but they're not as experienced in the backcountry. For sheer guts and determination, I'd put group 1 up against anyone for getting me out of a bad spot. I trust those guys with my life.

SherpaKroto
02-08-2006, 08:04 AM
It is very important that whenever you head out you know the skills of those you head out with. I've been in situations where I have been the most experienced, and many where I've been the least. Knowing this ahead of time definitely makes me think, and react differently (this is both good and bad...). There have been times when it has been great to be able to trust the skills of my partners. There have also been times where I've regretted that.

As far as skills go, there is nothing that can replace good map and compass skills (knowing the lay of the land helps a lot also). Reading a map of an area that you know and trying to visualize the contours, landmarks, etc really help. Don't just look at a map: READ it. You will be amazed at what you see. Practice pinpointing wheer you are by triangulation (i.e. when you can see 3 distant objects, try to plot a straight line to your position. Where the 3 lines meet is where you are! This takes practice, but eventually you will get very good at knowing where you are, even before looking at the map.) When I am going to a new area, I read the map in advance, imagining what will come ahead. I fail miserably at imagining the views, but do well at knowing what the trail/route will feel like.

Mapping software has helped me. I always had trouble with declination. Now I just print my maps oriented to Magnetic North. that's one thing that you might try initially. BUT, learn how to calculate declination offset! "Commercial" maps orient to True North.

And Audrey gave you the best advise here, without even realizing it: you are never as good as you think you are. That's why she has never gotten lost :)

sapblatt
02-08-2006, 08:13 AM
I have had the benefit of hiking with a lot of knowledgeable people who know a lot more than I do. As I have gained experience I have become more skilled. It is very important to hike with people that you are comfortable with - people who would turn around when necassary, not push on foolishly, watch the time and weather, etc. I have seen a few people that I would not hike with again - needless risk takers, taking people beyond their comfort zones. It goes beyond oreinteering as well - how prepared are you to spend the night? What would you do if someone was sick or injured? Better to have an idea in your head of how to handle the situation than to wing it when it happens. The more I hike the more I know there will eventually be a situation - I even thought it was happening last weekend, but we were able to make it out.
The people I hike with regularly are a good mix/fit for me.

Nessmuk
02-08-2006, 08:21 AM
Practice pinpointing wheer you are by triangulation (i.e. when you can see 3 distant objects, try to plot a straight line to your position. Finding 3 suitable distant objects at useful angular separations outside of wide open mountainous areas is a rare bonus. As you said, you get 3 crossing "lines of position". One of those LOPs is redundant, but a good check that you are correct with the other two. You only really need 2 LOPs to define where you are, especially if you have been keeping up with terrain reading with the map as you go. Best accuracy is if the two are separated in angle close to 90 degrees.

In practice, much of the time you only need to see one distant object LOP, the other crossing LOP may be right at your feet in the form of a stream, lakeshore, long linear ridge or ravine, treeline, etc. There is a tremendous amount of additional information out there if you look for it.

and... Yes I couldn't agree more with you about reading the map, absolutely do that map study before you go! :D

Charly
02-08-2006, 08:32 AM
I am very adept at the map & compass, having taught it in the military and for part of a state hunter safety course, so I am confident in my abilities should I run into any particularly tough paper bags, or the elusive multi-layered plastic bags.

But, I almost prefer to hike alone. I have no set pace, it varies with the day, and I dislike hiking to a schedule. I don't mind hiking with other people, and do enjoy the company...most of the time, but it's much different from having a hiking partner.

I guess I would say my two hiking partners are "myself" and "I", and they join "me" every time. I know I can rely on them in a pinch, and they've never let me down. We have the same likes and dislikes, and chat openly with one another. We're getting to know each other better over the last few years since the divorce, but it's been a long process.

I have been let down by too many other people, so it's hard for me to completely trust someone else. I have to while ice climbing, but that's vastly different from hiking.

Not sure if you are aware LawnSale, but I am a Nationally Registered Paramedic who has extensive wilderness medicine experience and training (Wilderness Paramedic), extensive search training, extensive navigational training and experience and extensive backcountry & technical rescue training and experience (and extensive structural and wildland firefighting, confined space, hazardous materials---in case we fall off a 4000 footer into a vat of something nasty :p -, leadership, incident command, professional mechanic experience and skills).








and I have admirable welding skills! :D

Charly
02-08-2006, 08:34 AM
and to answer the question, NOW I am confident in them, since I have been hiking with LawnSale!

Pete_Hickey
02-08-2006, 09:58 AM
said, you get 3 crossing "lines of position". One of those LOPs is redundant,.NOt redundant if two of them are 180 degrees apart. :)

Puck
02-08-2006, 10:32 AM
All skills can go out the window in an emgergency/survival situation. Panic has been known to kick in making one disbelieve thier compass and map. I have heard it called map bending. I have read of people smashing thier compass out of frustration because it was "wrong"

A good person to be in the woods with will be able to make a mental map as they go, stopping every so often to look behind them so they know what the woods will look like on the return. And when things get tough, sit down and stay calm. Panic kills. (I wonder if Panic and Cotton can unite to form deadly alliance?)

tonycc
02-08-2006, 12:03 PM
And when things get tough, sit down and stay calm. Panic kills.
Panic happens, the key is learning how to control it. It depends on the situation as to what type of control you need. While the Full Stationary Panic is usually best, most times it really helps to be versed in, and make sure your partners are also skilled in, the "The Modified Stationary Panic" (http://www.mcmanusbooks.com/books/pleasent_misery/pleasent_misery.html) (see Dr. McManus's excellent journal article on this procedure). At other times, it may be critical for the scare-ee to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the scare-er. In this case you should be certified in the Full Bore Linear Panic (http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1280065) technique. :rolleyes:

And yes, I do trust myself and most of my partners in being able to get ourselves out of the woods. Most of us are competent in the use of map/compass and GPS. We are also certified in WFA. If only I could figure out how to get my son to be able to tell up from down without watching which way his spit falls, I could say all my partners. :D

Tony

Nessmuk
02-08-2006, 12:07 PM
NOt redundant if two of them are 180 degrees apart. :)hmmm, not sure what you mean there Pete. :confused: You gain no new useful LOP information from the second object 180 degrees away from the first. You might gain confidence that you haven't made an object identification error when combined with other terrain observation clues, but no new position info is gained from the second 180 angle-only measurement. A single straight LOP is all you get from either one by itself, or from both observations combined together.

If you can reliably estimate a relative distance between the two, that could be one more helpful, though rough, clue. Use everything ya got.

coldfeet
02-08-2006, 12:10 PM
Nice to hear the advise....will ask about an orienteering class....guess I've been lucky and others have invited me to join them on hikes....i did try to learn while hiking but the goal that day was to hit the peak....need to try what JayH mentioned.....go somewhere for a weekend or day and learn the skills and practice.....I never tried that because the day i get to go out i just wanted to hit a peak.....

If there ever was a rule to this hobby, it should be.....learn how to use and read the maps for a good year and then go out into the woods...instead us new guys (me) just buy gear and drive somewhere and try to do what others have taken years to do and learn....take care and thx...

Rik
02-08-2006, 12:17 PM
Nice to hear the advise....will ask about an orienteering class....guess I've been lucky and others have invited me to join them on hikes....i did try to learn while hiking but the goal that day was to hit the peak....need to try what JayH mentioned.....go somewhere for a weekend or day and learn the skills and practice.....I never tried that because the day i get to go out i just wanted to hit a peak.....

If there ever was a rule to this hobby, it should be.....learn how to use and read the maps for a good year and then go out into the woods...instead us new guys (me) just buy gear and drive somewhere and try to do what others have taken years to do and learn....take care and thx...

I don't think you need to read maps for a year before going out. Just start with easier stuff. Follow trails marked on the map to learn how what you see and what is on the map relates. Use your compass too. Sit on top of mountains with good views and use the map and compass to figure out what you are looking at. I love maps but reading them and not going out there doesn't sound very appealing.

Pete_Hickey
02-08-2006, 12:18 PM
.will ask about an orienteering class....

David,

Google on "Long Island Orienteering Club". They're right in your back yard! They have events in Sunken Meadows!

BTW, I might be down that way this weekend.

tonycc
02-08-2006, 12:22 PM
Nice to hear the advise....will ask about an orienteering class....guess I've been lucky and others have invited me to join them on hikes....i did try to learn while hiking but the goal that day was to hit the peak....need to try what JayH mentioned.....go somewhere for a weekend or day and learn the skills and practice.....I never tried that because the day i get to go out i just wanted to hit a peak.....

If there ever was a rule to this hobby, it should be.....learn how to use and read the maps for a good year and then go out into the woods...instead us new guys (me) just buy gear and drive somewhere and try to do what others have taken years to do and learn....take care and thx...
On a more serious note than my previous one above, you can learn these skills while walking on safely marked trails. I almost always have my map in my front pocket and I regularly look at it and figure out exactly where I am. Pull out the compass and use it to orient the map in the correct direction.

The people who I don't trust are the ones who never look at a map and rely on those around them to figure everything out.

Tony

Nessmuk
02-08-2006, 12:29 PM
All skills can go out the window in an emgergency/survival situation. Panic has been known to kick in making one disbelieve thier compass and map. I have heard it called map bending. I have read of people smashing thier compass out of frustration because it was "wrong"

A good person to be in the woods with will be able to make a mental map as they go, stopping every so often to look behind them so they know what the woods will look like on the return. And when things get tough, sit down and stay calm. Panic kills. (I wonder if Panic and Cotton can unite to form deadly alliance?)I've been with people in training (I, as a smiling bystander following their progress) who will ignore an obvious major object they observe right in front of them because it is not on the map where they think they are. "Everything else matches, so the map must be wrong" is what they say. They "bend the map" to force fit it to where they think they are instead of making logical sense out of it. The more tired they are the more likely this is to happen. Then they get more panicked, then they bend the map more, get more panicked, etc. Compound errors (errors based on previous errors) are the hardest to retrace and recover from.

I also stress to constantly look behind, particularly when in a location where trail or terrain is changing. I have stories about neglecting to do that too.

Puck
02-08-2006, 12:53 PM
So how does one go about training another to be a good companion?

I have such a goal with my son. Get him comfortable with navigation, know first aid and survival. I usualy try to ge my kid to try these things. I get a response..."Dad you know where we are, why are youasking me?"

I told him that he will be responsible for planning a three day backpacking trip, trail slection, navigation, campsites, food, cooking...everything. I will only drive the car following his directions. I just know we are going to eat freeze dried food from EMS and cookies

sapblatt
02-08-2006, 01:03 PM
I told him that he will be responsible for planning a three day backpacking trip, trail slection, navigation, campsites, food, cooking...everything. I will only drive the car following his directions. I just know we are going to eat freeze dried food from EMS and cookies
You are lucky you have a teenaged son who wants to eat freeze dried food and cookies with you! I hope to have the same in 10 years! :)

Mad Townie
02-08-2006, 01:22 PM
Whenever I'm heading into the woods, the first thing I do (before starting) is check the map, look at where I'm planning to go, and figure out how the hell to get out of there if I have to.

Where are the roads? Where are the spots where those foolish little lines on the topo are really close together? Where are the blue lines long and wide enough to present a likely crossing problem? In other words, if I have to bail, what direction do I want?

Then I remember to bring my compass!

timmus
02-08-2006, 01:28 PM
But now you've made me think.. If someone is hiking with me, are they putting faith in me knowing what I'm donig???!!!! Scarey thought! hmmmmm Maybe I'll write up a disclaimer and make people sign it before they hike with me.

Oh... That puts the Cliff/Redfield trip in another perspective. I thought I could have complete faith and trust in a half naked man walking around with an axe all the time.




About hiking partners, I don't like when they rely on me for their needs and security. That's why I go solo, or with experienced hikers who thinks the same.

I would probably be a bad leader, leaving people alone behind, not sharing extra food, doing extra miles when everybody else is tired...Of course, I don't know about CPR, and my orienteering skills are just enough to get myself out if I get lost.

But I always make sure I know where I am and where I go, so far I never got lost, and never got injured (that's luck, though, not skills).

Of course, I am a totally different type of hiker when I go out with my kids, but that's so obvious, nobody needs the details.

Neil
02-08-2006, 01:29 PM
Coldfeet,
If you are out bushwhacking you will make sure you know pretty much where you are at all times and how to "get out".

One of my best map reading lessons was a result of a broken compass. My first compass was a cheap thing and the needle turned on a cristal or something. I convinced 2 friends to come bushwhacking with me in NW Ontario on the grounds that with my new Map and Compass skills we didn't need trails. We got out there and sure enough the compass didn't work. We spent 3 or 4 days wandering through the Canadian Shield using the map only. We did fine and REALLy got to know the map and the terrain.

Another lesson was in mapbending. More off trail stuff in the CDN Rockies. After having bent the map to its breaking point on a solo trip I experienced an interesting mental sensation when it suddenly snapped back to match reality. I couldn't believe how dumb I had been and that one experience taught me what no book ever will.

I have advanced first aid training, have taught first aid, and work in the health field. But, one thing that niggles at me in light of this thread is the correct decision making process in case of a backcountry emergency. Say there are two of you and one becomes immobilized, do you always wait until the 2 of you are reported miising and hopefully get rescued or does one go for help leaving the other behind? Or, does it depend on the circumstances (ie. serious head injury vs. broken ankle)?
In winter any other party members who remain out overnight with the victim risk becoming victims themselves.

sleeping bear
02-08-2006, 02:52 PM
This is a pretty intersting thread. Here are my thoughts...

Having recently relocated here I've found myself for the first time hiking with people I don't know. I find this to be somewhat daunting. I'm never really sure what to expect. I do find this board very interesting to read, and it gives me an idea of what each person is all about.

I feel pretty confident in my own skills, and that others could rely on me in the event of an emergency. However, I wonder if those I hike with know me well enough to draw that same conclusion. Were I not so confident, I would seek out hiking partners that I knew I could trust or go with larger groups

But even then how do you know? People may seem fine, and then freak out under pressure, overestimate their abilities, or make poor decisions. Probably the ability to think rationally, exercise sound judgement, and make good decisions are probably your most important skills.

Since joining this site I've gone with a few other people on hikes that they planned. I've usually asked if I can tag along, to which everyone has been very welcoming, and I am really appreciative of that. However, if it was me, getting messages from someone I know nothing about, asking if they can "tag along", I might be a little wary. Who is this person? Personally, I like to know more about who's coming with me.

I will say though, that all of the hikes I've been on so far have been great. The people I've tagged along with appear to know their stuff, have it together, and a few have appreared aprehensive about hiking with a complete stranger (a good thing).

sleeping bear
02-08-2006, 02:59 PM
So how does one go about training another to be a good companion?

I have such a goal with my son. Get him comfortable with navigation, know first aid and survival. I usualy try to ge my kid to try these things. I get a response..."Dad you know where we are, why are youasking me?"


If you're really serious, sign him up for a course through NOLS, Outward Bound, the Wilderness Education Association, or the AMC. There are many other life skills that come from being proficient in outdoor leadership.

--M.
02-08-2006, 03:19 PM
Since it hasn't really been said, I'll offer it: get lost.

Take a good map & compass out to a park of appropriate size (large enough to get lost in, small enough to find your way out of), stow the map & compass for an hour, and bushwack until thoroughly lost.

After you rediscover the truth about walking in circles, your orienteering skills will begin to emerge.

Also useful is at least one experience with a compass-bearing exit. Teddy Roosevelt used to take a compass and walk along a straight line, scraping politicians in tow, through whatever bog was in front of him. No deviations from the line were permitted, and he saw where he ended up. This and the 'follow-the-stream' method will work in certain circumstances.

I hope you have fun with this!

--M.

king tut
02-08-2006, 03:23 PM
In summer hiking, i don't think you need a partner unless you have some medical conditions(i.e. heart problems, diabetes, etc.) that could cause problems. I do a good amount of my hiking by myself in the summer, out of convenience and i enjoy the wilderness solitude. Unless you are doing an extreme bushwack or something way out in the backcountry, then i don't see the need to have gps knowledge. I do 99% of my hiking on trails. Having others with you is nice if you want company, but i think the general public is way too paranoid about breaking a leg, getting eaten by a bear, getting lost in the woods, etc... The odds are that your drive to or from the trailhead is more dangerous than your hike.

Winter hiking is different though. I prefer to have someone w/ me on bigger hikes just because the footing can be unpredictable, the trail can be lost easily, and death from extreme temperatures can happen.

NH_Mtn_Hiker
02-08-2006, 04:07 PM
...Say there are two of you and one becomes immobilized, do you always wait until the 2 of you are reported miising and hopefully get rescued or does one go for help leaving the other behind? Or, does it depend on the circumstances (ie. serious head injury vs. broken ankle)?...
It definately DEPENDS!
If you've just started out on a 3 day backpacking trip and you're only 1/2 mile from the trailhead, you probably should go back for help when the victims immediate needs are taken care of. (Since the 911 call is 3 days away.)

If you're on your way out from a 3 day backpacking trip and you're hurrying because someone is going to call to report you missing in 6 hours when the mishap occurs, then it may be better to just wait for rescue, especially if it's going to take 4-5 hours to get out to get help. (Not much use if you didn't stick to your itinerary and are not where rescuers would expect to find you.)

There are many other possible variables, such as: type of injury, weather, detail of itinerary, other hazards, etc.


...In winter any other party members who remain out overnight with the victim risk becoming victims themselves.
That's why we should be prepared on every hike for the possibility of being out overnight.
Boy/Girl Scout motto: "Be Prepared"

timmus
02-08-2006, 04:39 PM
Since it hasn't really been said, I'll offer it: get lost.

Take a good map & compass out to a park of appropriate size (large enough to get lost in, small enough to find your way out of), stow the map & compass for an hour, and bushwack until thoroughly lost.

After you rediscover the truth about walking in circles, your orienteering skills will begin to emerge.


--M.

I totally agree with that.

At age 15, my father pushed me in that little game, near my uncle cabin up north. It was a perfect spot : 10 square Km area, surrounded by a lake, a road, and a brook coming down a mountain. I intentionnally got lost, and tried to find my way out with a map and compass. Couple of hours later I was back at my uncle's cabin.

But I must say, when you're 15, life sucks, so I didn't care much about getting out or not.

Nessmuk
02-08-2006, 05:57 PM
Since it hasn't really been said, I'll offer it: get lost.

Take a good map & compass out to a park of appropriate size (large enough to get lost in, small enough to find your way out of), stow the map & compass for an hour, and bushwack until thoroughly lost.

After you rediscover the truth about walking in circles, your orienteering skills will begin to emerge.I'm one of several instructors in a trek leader/guide training program. My students are usually college age types, many come with less outdoor experience than you might think. They've had the "theory" discussion and some point practice before their final field evaluation. I'll run my group of students through a pretty awful bushwhack with map and compass, using gps is not allowed. I don't participate in navigation decisions at all in this phase, I just follow the pack. Some of them get it, most don't right away. We almost always get "lost" or at least they will be severely navigationally challenged. Usually after a couple of hours, more or less, we eventually come to terrain they can recognize without help. I wouldn't mind just letting them go until dark without finding our way back to the campsite. Its never had to go quite that far. Almost but not quite.

Perhaps more important than actually "getting lost", is the afterward debriefing discussion. Surviving panic and group indecision arguments have their own rewards, but otherwise if they don't go away understanding what happened then there is little point to doing it. At the end of the exercise I'll go over every step of the way where we were, show them how I continuously used terrain observation with map and compass to record our locations. I'll point out where we were, find out why the leader and others made the decisions they did, and analyze in detail what happened before the next day's outing. It can be quite eye opening. As any instructor knows, it's amazing and very rewarding to see the "light come on" when finally they "get it".

sierra
02-08-2006, 06:22 PM
Good thread and some interesting thoughts by all. I think its imporntant to rely on yourself even in group situations. Let me explain, now I understand we all start as beginners but self reliance is key when in the backcountry, if everyone in the group is self reliant, you will end up with a strong group ready to overcome any situation by all contributing. As far as navigating, Im lucky I can navigate very well without aids for quite awile, my sense of direction is excellent. Ive cross country traveled in the Sierras and been lost in CO and always find my way in a decent amount of time. I once got lost bushwacking with a fellow rockclimber, we where out there for some time when I asked him, how much food and water do you have in your pack? His response was, forget that, get me out today and soon!!! that is a good illustration of panic in an otherwise routine situation where clear thinking is all you need, yes I got him out that day.
Ive also been with guys on winter routes where decsions about weather and turning around where hotly contested, I remeber one time when the guys I was with where so set on continuing in adverse conditions,I left the group to descend ( they followed soon after) I know breaking up a group is ussally not the recommended thing to do, but would you stay with a group heading for certain disaster? its a question you all should think about, thats where self reliance can come in handy.
As far as medical training, I have zero, I would do my best to help someone but I am not a doctor, I could wing CPR, use duct tape and splints, drag someone if I had to, but an MD IM not.

prino
02-08-2006, 06:41 PM
Interesting Post.... There are some good links at this site...US orienteering (http://www.us.orienteering.org/)

BorealChickadee
02-08-2006, 06:56 PM
puck and sapblatt- My teenage son is my best hiking partner and usually the only one. Since he was three he has led the way on hikes. I always had him find the trail markers even as a little guy. Some of it was my fear that I would get hurt and he might someday have to find his way out on his own(obviously not when he was three). Then geocaching helped with his GPS skills. Now he really needs to learn my new Rino. But I always try to get him to navigate even thoughhe has no interest in the preplanning. He's perfectly content to let me plan everything, except what book he will bring.


I've hiked with more experienced people and less experienced. I trust my son because in the end I know he would do anything to help me. With those I've met on the forums, I know that I've been lucky and have hiked or canoed with those I can trust explicitly to do whatever was within their physical capabilities. I hope others can feel the same aboaut me. I know I'd never leave anyone behind and feel strongly about not splitting up a group or if for logistics someone has to go ahead that they plan ahead to backtrack and help someone at a slower pace.

AS for navigation, I guess I might have to trust someone else for navigation if I had to, baut the thing is I wouldn't follow blindly anyway. I just have this thing about knowing that in the end I have to take care of myself. So I'd better know damn well where I am.

Mad Townie
02-10-2006, 06:17 AM
Not enough can be said about panic. Now I'm not inclined to panic, and I've been playing in the woods for a half century (yikes!), but one time about 15 years ago I was hunting with a couple friends and got hit with it.

I had fallen asleep in the midafternoon (that's how I hunt :D ), and I slept a little longer than I should have. I had everything: warm clothes, compass, map, some knowledge of the area (though it was fairly new to me), food, light, etc. I woke with a start and realized it was starting to get dark. My first thought was, "Oh no, they'll wonder if I'm lost." My second thought was that I should get moving, and I began to run through the woods in the direction I thought was correct, heart just pounding. Had the compass, but didn't look at it before starting!

It took me about a minute or two to stop, ask myself what I was doing, take a deep breath, check the compass and start WALKING in the right direction. My instincts hadn't been far off, but that incident was a great lesson in how panic can just hit you without warning. The most important skill at a time like that is to be able to grab that panic, wrestle it into submission and start acting rationally.

Got back to the other guys, they hadn't been out long and weren't worried.

Life is good.

Lawn Sale
02-10-2006, 05:08 PM
I was also lost once in my life, while bow hunting for bear near Flagstaff lake. I knew I needed to head back, and started going in the right direction, or so I thought. The compass said it was correct, but none of the terrain looked familiar, so I checked it with my other compass. After a few hours and no signs of familiar trails or terrain, I was getting worried. The woods were thick with scrub, and it was impossible to see any distance. I started to panic, and like Mad Towne mentioned, it's unnerving to say the least. I remembered my training for Hunter Safety and sat down to reassess the situation, as it was now getting on twilight. As I stood up to look around I could hear a car in the distance, and it kept getting closer and closer until it passed about 10' from where I was sitting. I couldn't see the dirt road from the stump I was sitting on, and cursed myself for giving up too easily. As it turns out I was only about 20' off from where I thought I was, not bad, but it was a valuable lesson to learn.

And no, that one didn't come out in hunting camp that night...

Kevin Rooney
02-10-2006, 05:35 PM
I do my best to hike only with people I trust. Over the years I've discovered a few who just couldn't/wouldn't come thru in the clutches - I don't hike with them anymore -life's too short. I don't hike with whiners, either. They drag down the energy of others, and become a liability.

Neil
02-10-2006, 06:07 PM
Here's a story...
Me and my friend were bushwhacking in a tractless region in a huge empty national park in Manitoba, Canada. We were rank beginners and were learning our map and compass skills on the fly. At one point in our trek we sat down, grabbed a bite and carried on. After only a minute of travel I checked the compass and it was pointing almost 180 deg. the wrong way. We couldn't believe it, in fact we were "sure" it was wrong, it just had to be. We backtracked to our rest spot and carefully examined our surroundings, debated the evidence we had and, against all our instincts, decided to go with what the compass said. At the time, based on all the available non-compass data this made no sense to us at all but we did it. Our target was a lake and we followed the bearing through deep and thick scrub forest. We were far away from any road and felt like we were lost and getting more lost with every step but we stuck with that bearing for more than two stressful hours. As I'm sure you surmised we came out smack on target. That was a pretty intense lesson allright.

dug
02-10-2006, 06:12 PM
Me? Yes.

My partner? Hmm...doubt it!! ;)

Nessmuk
02-10-2006, 06:23 PM
After only a minute of travel I checked the compass and it was pointing almost 180 deg. the wrong way....
As I'm sure you surmised we came out smack on target. That was a pretty intense lesson allright.I've had similar experiences also. "Trust your instruments" is a common phrase flyers will say when disorientation rears its ugly head. If you don't, you die pretty quickly.

True, there are places in the Adirondacks where a compass may misread by tens of degrees for short distances due to ferrous deposits, but its very rare. I'd always thought most of the time when an old timer tells a story about the time his compass was wrong, he was suffering from temporary disorientation, like in Neil's story. It is possible for a compass to become reverse magnetized by 180 degrees. That's one reason why I carry a spare compass. In fact I carry 2 spares, just in case a friend loses theirs.