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B the Hiker
07-14-2014, 03:35 PM
Alas, one fatality, but it was someone rock climbing alone.

I was out recently with a friend who hikes a LOT, and it struck me how much hiking muscle one develops over time. When I first started, many moons ago now, I used to roll my ankle something terrifying. Now, even as I'm getting older and slower, I do fee like my legs and ankles can take a lot of burden and still keep me upright where earlier I would have fallen and gotten injured. That isn't bragging! Rather, I think it's just simply that if someone does something long enough, she or he builds up the ability to take what is tossed at her or him better than newcomers.

In any event, I do wish more folks would hike with the AMC and avoid the problems we read about over and over of people starting too late and/or getting lost.

Rescues: http://www.wildnh.com/Newsroom/2014/Q3/SR_Multiple_Weekend_Rescues_071414.html
Climber fall: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/07/14/scarborough-rock-climber-dies-in-new-hampshire-accident/

All the best,

Brian

TJsName
07-14-2014, 05:01 PM
The 2nd incident is what happened to a couple of kids we ran into on Memorial Day. They missed the Greenleaf trail and were heading down the Garfield Ridge. My group was able to get them off the mountain without issue thankfully, but it could have been a lot worse give the weather. They only turned around when they started climbing again, and they caught up to us and asked us where 'the trail head' was. I would guess incident like this (near hits) are even more numerous than actual rescues.

B the Hiker
07-14-2014, 05:28 PM
I managed to catch a group as well. I know there is a desire to minimize signage, but I do think that that particular trail needs a sign making it very clear where people are going. I suspect that hundreds of people go down that wrong trail annually.

Brian

sardog1
07-15-2014, 07:22 AM
This picture is why I became a dog handler and not a ground pounder. If you look closely, you can see their arms lengthening, while their teeth are slowly ground down and another part of their anatomy is constricting more or less involuntarily. ;)

http://www.wildnh.com/Law_Enforcement/images/Andrew_Koert_Rescue_071214_Franconia.jpg

RoySwkr
07-15-2014, 10:39 AM
In any event, I do wish more folks would hike with the AMC and avoid the problems we read about over and over of people starting too late and/or getting lost.


One reason that I rarely hike with the AMC is that makes me subject to decisions made by a leader or consensus that may be less optimal than those I might make myself. People do get lost, injured, and even killed on some AMC trips.

NHClimber
07-15-2014, 11:24 AM
The climber was Brian Delaney, a long time MWV climber. He was not free soloing but instead solo toproping, which is quite safe as a general matter. Unclear what happened but seems he had topped out on the Barber Wall on Cathedral and was preparing to rap. Condolences to the family.

bikehikeskifish
07-15-2014, 11:26 AM
Not to mention feeling pressure to continue so as not to turn the whole group around when I might have done so were I not subject to such strict rules.

Tim

DougPaul
07-15-2014, 11:32 AM
One reason that I rarely hike with the AMC is that makes me subject to decisions made by a leader or consensus that may be less optimal than those I might make myself. People do get lost, injured, and even killed on some AMC trips.
IMO, organized groups with competent leadership are generally good for beginners (who presumably make more rookie mistakes and (knowingly or unknowingly) take more rookie risks).

Experienced hkiers can pick and choose without incurring unjustifiable risk. (Or at least if they do something risky, they understand what they are getting into.)

Doug

wardsgirl
07-15-2014, 11:49 AM
I think that a competent solo hiker is less inclined to take risks that would put them in danger, than would a hiker who relied on the assessment of a group leader in most all circumstances.

miehoff
07-15-2014, 10:06 PM
Alas, one fatality, but it was someone rock climbing alone.

In any event, I do wish more folks would hike with the AMC and avoid the problems we read about over and over of people starting too late and/or getting lost.



I have never hiked with the AMC, I start late all of the time; totally alone, winter and summer, and I take chances. Isn't that what adventure is all about? The last thing that I would want is for someone to tell me how to spend my time in the woods. Yikes!

Driver8
07-15-2014, 11:36 PM
I was out recently with a friend who hikes a LOT, and it struck me how much hiking muscle one develops over time. When I first started, many moons ago now, I used to roll my ankle something terrifying. Now, even as I'm getting older and slower, I do fee like my legs and ankles can take a lot of burden and still keep me upright where earlier I would have fallen and gotten injured. That isn't bragging! Rather, I think it's just simply that if someone does something long enough, she or he builds up the ability to take what is tossed at her or him better than newcomers.

I agree that this is a fine thing. I like to say that with more hiking experience, I get "smart feet." This could apply to my ankles, knees and the rest of my body for that matter, the eyes, ears and mind, too. I noticed on my Zealand hike week and a half ago that rocky descents which bothered me on hikes earlier in the year were coming more naturally with a few tougher recent outings under my belt on the year. That, plus just feeling a long stronger with more challenging outings is a very good feeling.

On the broader theme of the conversation, I am keenly aware of the need to know when to turn around and how to manage one's options in an evolving situation. I cannot conceive of making the mistake the party written up in the news article you reference, who went past the Greenleaf/GRT/FRT junction down GRT rather than Greenleaf. For heaven's sake, go on that tough, challenging, gorgeous, exciting White Mountain hike. But prepare! Study a map and a thorough route description before the hike, and bring a copy or two of both. The only hikes I haven't done that for are easy local hikes and hikes I've done before and know well. I'm not about to go climb a 4K or two without prepping mentally. Blows my mind that much of anyone would, but people do. Thank goodness for skilled S&R people.

Not to go on too much about it, but I will add that I'm always happy to be able to share some useful insight with less experienced, less prepared hikers I run into sometimes out hiking. Descending from Zeacliff to the hut on my recent return hike, I ran into four or five young 20-somethings, clearly, from what they told me, inexperienced and poorly prepared. They were about 1/3 mile below Zeacliff, and it was about 6:30 pm. They'd set up camp earlier somewhere other side of the hut, near the ponds and bogs, I gathered. Were carrying large, heavy frame packs. Were of average fitness. Asked me where the summit was and how long it would take.

Long story short, after asking a few questions about their pace and taking in their level of experience and preparation, I steered them to the cliffs as a destination, then to descend back to their tents. Explained that attempting the summit, at that hour, was a very bad idea, as they didn't want to descend this stretch to the hut in the dark, much less the ladder and scrambles on "Zeacliff Pond Peak" in descending darkness. They took my assessment to heart, were excited at the prospect, if you will, of the prospects on Zeacliff, and, I expect, probably executed the plan I encouraged them on to a T. I advised that they should give themselves plenty of time to get down to the flats in the light (they did have flashlight and headlamps), that the hut was a big asset for safety and refreshment they should leverage, and bade them a safe and enjoyable trip.

I'm glad we met up. They probably had a good experience where, but for our bumping into each other, they might not have. If one hasn't planned sufficiently, or has gotten in over one's head, as has happened to me a time or two even with my best laid plans, it's always a good thing to meet an experienced fellow hiker who can lend a hand or some sound advice, and it's a good feeling to be able to pass that favor on to others when they can use it.

Raven
07-17-2014, 08:15 AM
I agree that this is a fine thing. I like to say that with more hiking experience, I get "smart feet." This could apply to my ankles, knees and the rest of my body for that matter, the eyes, ears and mind, too. I noticed on my Zealand hike week and a half ago that rocky descents which bothered me on hikes earlier in the year were coming more naturally with a few tougher recent outings under my belt on the year. That, plus just feeling a long stronger with more challenging outings is a very good feeling.

On the broader theme of the conversation, I am keenly aware of the need to know when to turn around and how to manage one's options in an evolving situation. I cannot conceive of making the mistake the party written up in the news article you reference, who went past the Greenleaf/GRT/FRT junction down GRT rather than Greenleaf. For heaven's sake, go on that tough, challenging, gorgeous, exciting White Mountain hike. But prepare! Study a map and a thorough route description before the hike, and bring a copy or two of both. The only hikes I haven't done that for are easy local hikes and hikes I've done before and know well. I'm not about to go climb a 4K or two without prepping mentally. Blows my mind that much of anyone would, but people do. Thank goodness for skilled S&R people.

Not to go on too much about it, but I will add that I'm always happy to be able to share some useful insight with less experienced, less prepared hikers I run into sometimes out hiking. Descending from Zeacliff to the hut on my recent return hike, I ran into four or five young 20-somethings, clearly, from what they told me, inexperienced and poorly prepared. They were about 1/3 mile below Zeacliff, and it was about 6:30 pm. They'd set up camp earlier somewhere other side of the hut, near the ponds and bogs, I gathered. Were carrying large, heavy frame packs. Were of average fitness. Asked me where the summit was and how long it would take.

Long story short, after asking a few questions about their pace and taking in their level of experience and preparation, I steered them to the cliffs as a destination, then to descend back to their tents. Explained that attempting the summit, at that hour, was a very bad idea, as they didn't want to descend this stretch to the hut in the dark, much less the ladder and scrambles on "Zeacliff Pond Peak" in descending darkness. They took my assessment to heart, were excited at the prospect, if you will, of the prospects on Zeacliff, and, I expect, probably executed the plan I encouraged them on to a T. I advised that they should give themselves plenty of time to get down to the flats in the light (they did have flashlight and headlamps), that the hut was a big asset for safety and refreshment they should leverage, and bade them a safe and enjoyable trip.

I'm glad we met up. They probably had a good experience where, but for our bumping into each other, they might not have. If one hasn't planned sufficiently, or has gotten in over one's head, as has happened to me a time or two even with my best laid plans, it's always a good thing to meet an experienced fellow hiker who can lend a hand or some sound advice, and it's a good feeling to be able to pass that favor on to others when they can use it.

Sounds good they took your advice.

I used to give occasional unsolicited advice in the mountains but was met with enough negative responses that I stopped. I will still make a friendly comment when kids are involved but beyond that, I will be happy to help anyone who ASKS me for it.

A group of scouts was climbing Ammo Ravine a few years back in the fall. One of the kids was heavier and working harder than the rest to keep up. His leader was pushing him pretty hard....the "dig down deep" kind of nonsense best left for adult athletes IMO, and not young teens. The kid was struggling and clearly was going to do whatever he could to save face and not give up in front of his friends. I mentioned very quietly in passing to the leader that the boy looked like he could use some sugar. It was made clear it was none of my business. Clearly the leader knew what he was doing and was not interested in advice.

It's a tough question as to whether to give advice. If someone is about to get hurt, I'll step in obviously and if kids are involved, I'll say something. Beyond that, not so much these days. I get unsolicited advice as well occasionally too. Like Miehoff, I hike solo throughout the year and don't pay much attention to start times. I also have what I need to do that comfortably. I don't mind advice it if it's delivered well however and don't take offense when it's given.

My thoughts go out to the climber's family. I hiked the loop around Echo Lake Monday and was unaware the accident had happened over the weekend.

TCD
07-17-2014, 08:48 AM
More complete article on climber Brian Delaney. RIP...

http://www.conwaydailysun.com/newsx/local-news/114669-accident-071414

hikerbrian
07-17-2014, 09:23 AM
So sorry to hear about the passing of Brian Delaney, I'm sure he will be missed dearly, and my condolences go out to his family and friends. Just such a bummer.

FWIW, the closest I ever came to getting into serious trouble in the mountains was on an AMC trip led by someone who lacked a couple of key skills. That is not to bad mouth the AMC or to dissuade others from joining AMC trips. Just saying it's not a panacea for safety, especially the more advanced trips.

I have to admit, stories such as Mr. Delaney's fatal fall really make me question whether I should teach my kids to climb or sell all of my trad gear. This has been an ongoing debate in my head since my oldest was born 5 years ago.

There is wide variability among VFTT contributors on when/if to offer advice to other hikers. A couple of years ago I was returning towards the Highland Center after backpacking the Southern Presis by myself on the last weekend of winter. It was a little after noon and a group of 5 or 6 college kids with Zena and Thor outfits were heading on up the Crawford path with sleds and blow up tubes in tow. I asked them where they were headed and they replied, "We're sledding Tuckerman's!" "Wow!" I said, "Long day... Well, have fun!"

So you know where I stand on the issue.

Driver8
07-17-2014, 10:22 AM
Sounds good they took your advice.

I used to give occasional unsolicited advice in the mountains but was met with enough negative responses that I stopped. I will still make a friendly comment when kids are involved but beyond that, I will be happy to help anyone who ASKS me for it.

Agreed. In this case, the group directly asked my advice. "How far to the summit?" quickly became an interactive exercise in which we figured out, together, what probably made sense for them given the time left in the day and their pace. I presumed a bit when I went to so far as to suggest that their packs were awfully big and they might do well to go lighter. They groaned in agreement at that - unsolicited advice, perhaps, but not unwelcome. The advice I gave them about the hut as a resource might seem gratuitous, but my sense of them was that, feeling in over their heads as they appeared to be in that moment, it would be helpful for me to reorient them. It was not that they were incapable of understanding that the hut and croo were there for them in those ways, just that reminding them would recenter them and help them feel more grounded and secure in the situation. I'd help them again in just the same way presented with the same situation.

I've been happy to be helped and advised a few times along the way and happy to be of some assistance with similar frequency. Ran into a trio of young men, who very rarely hiked, who'd gotten lost in the maze of trails at Sleeping Giant in Connecticut at dusk in the fall of 2012. They were calling for SAR as I got to them. We were about a mile and a half from the eastern main trailhead where my car was. They were all fine, just lost, all reasonably fit. I led them to my car - we checked with SAR a couple of times, and I explained we had flashlights and I knew the trails well. Turned out half of the trail we were on was new to me and harder than billed in the cursory guides available for the park. It was good not just for them, but also for me, that we met up - there were a couple of small scrambles for which it helped to have someone holding a flashlight for me. SAR was relieved not to have to go tromping into the woods and welcomed us when we got to the trailhead.

Another time I can think of was on Pico spring of last year. Ran into a group of Harvard B School students, avowedly very inexperienced, just on an outing for the day, who made the summit-vs-valley weather judgment mistake: it was over 60 at the Inn and around 40 at the summit. They were at about 3500', just at the turn onto the ski slopes up Sherburne Pass Trail. Wearing shorts. The bits of guidance I was able to give were how far to the summit and how to get there, per the maps and trail description, and, to one of the kids who was shivering cold that it would help him a lot if he took the jacket tied around his waist and put it on. Chuckle. He went from mildly hypothermic to plenty warm in short order. :)

Hillwalker
07-17-2014, 02:05 PM
Add one more to the list: SELF RESCUE - Since June 16th I have been spending bits and pieces of time hiking with a young lady whom I worked with on the AT Boundary in the Mahoosucs in 2007. We were part of a four person team that cleared and remarked the two AT boundary swaths from the NH/ME line to Gentian Pond. Anyway, this is the year that she finally gets to do her Southbound hike on the AT (MEGA). I re-supplied her at Jo-Mary Rd in the 100 mile, spent two nights hiking with her in the Bigelows and met her at Piazza Rock etc. Anyway this time I hiked in to Speck Pond from the Success Pond Rd and met her at the Speck Pond campsite where we spent the night. Early last Sunday morning we broke camp and hiked down Mahoosuc Arm in the rain. Inside the second tunnel heading West in the Notch I lost my footing on a ledge and fell about 6 feet to the floor of the abyss managing a nice "Granite" Face Plant. Bleeding profusely, but with nothing broken we continued through the Notch scaring oncoming hikers as we went. It took us about an hour and a half to get through and arrive at the Notch Trail intersection where she was to continue up to Full Goose and onward. Instead she insisted on accompanying me back down to Success Pond Road and go with me to the Hospital in Berlin where I could get my two big facial cuts sutured. I then took her to my cabin where we ate Pizza and drank LTB. The next morning I drove her back to the Notch trail where she continued southbound.

No, she is not a romantic interest. She is 32, and I am almost 75. Just a really good friend and former coworker. Who really Orks Cows anyway? As I understand, cow orking is tipping cows with one hand behind your back. Any cow tippers here? Hi dr_wu!


5027

bikehikeskifish
07-17-2014, 02:45 PM
How does one be sure that the advice given during a chance encounter is sound?

Think about that.

Tim

TJsName
07-17-2014, 03:33 PM
How does one be sure that the advice given during a chance encounter is sound?

Think about that.

Other than following the person(s) until they are out of the woods? Maybe get a phone number or an email address. :)

Driver8
07-17-2014, 07:50 PM
How does one be sure that the advice given during a chance encounter is sound?

Think about that.

Tim

How is one sure of anything? The welcomeness of an offering of advice is one measure among many.

bikehikeskifish
07-17-2014, 09:51 PM
How is one sure of anything? The welcomeness of an offering of advice is one measure among many.

I don't doubt people are genuinely trying to be helpful. I have met enough people who were wrong about which trail they were on, or which one they wanted to be on, and how far / how long it was to go. Unless you have gotten your information from a reliable source, book, map, research, it's unknown how good it is.

I can't even count the dozens of people who have pointed out the wrong mountains... although this one is not necessarily dangerous to themselves or others (or maybe it is, if you are trying to orient yourself on a map.

Tim

Driver8
07-18-2014, 12:10 AM
I don't doubt people are genuinely trying to be helpful. I have met enough people who were wrong about which trail they were on, or which one they wanted to be on, and how far / how long it was to go. Unless you have gotten your information from a reliable source, book, map, research, it's unknown how good it is.

Not sure I follow you. If you're referring to the interaction I had with the group on Zealand, my sources were AMC maps, Smith & Dickerman's 4k's book, and my own observations having just hiked the trail in question. And as noted, the interaction was welcome and appreciated, according to my counterparties.

If one holds out for certainty in life, one seldom will do anything. Presented with an opportunity to be helpful by people asking directly for it, I was happy to oblige. Others might respond differently in the same situation. Vive la difference. ...

You make a fair point about misinformation. Countless times have I been given incorrect information on trail, from countless sources. For heaven's sake, the Vermont State Parks' view guide at Ascutney's obs tower labels Lafayette as Washington (just right of Moosilauke) and Kinsman as Liberty (just left). All one can do is sort the wheat from the chaff with the incoming and do one's level best to minimize error with the outgoing.

bikehikeskifish
07-18-2014, 06:13 AM
I was not specifically referring to your interaction, Chris... just a general point for the readership that just because somebody looks or sounds like they know what they are talking about does not necessarily make it so. In other words, learn to be self reliant. And, if you are a leader, keep an eye open for the "tag alongs", those who have no intention of doing their homework and just want to follow a group or leader to a goal and back to the car. If it's just you and one of these tag alongs, what are the chances they could get help if something happened to you?

Tim

TJsName
07-18-2014, 09:44 AM
I think Tim might have been getting at the difference between someone who is experienced and can generally tell if someone knows their stuff and beginners who don't have a great baseline to detect BS. The beginner is forced go on how honest the person seems, which might help, but it's not a great way to go. I've had people (both in and out of my party) very sincerely tell me very wrong things, and it's not until we take out a map and sort it out that they realize their mistake. Being self-reliant is very important.

With the gang I typically hike with I do a lot of the planning and just let people know the trails, time (estimates), and what generally to expect in terms of conditions (tread, water, weather). They know what to bring and are able to navigate without me though, but they have remarked many times that they love not having to plan out the hikes. I suspect that there are a lot of people, especially beginners, that don't like doing the homework, and just go by a map or a website. One of the main pieces of advice I give people is to get the most recent AMC White Mountain Guide and to read the descriptions.

David Metsky
07-18-2014, 10:12 AM
I was hiking north on the Crawford Path one very cloudy day with 50' visibility, going around Monroe. A couple of hikers headed towards me (going south on the Crawford Path) asked how far was it to Mt Washington. I finally got to use the line "About 25,000 miles and some stretches are mighty wet." After an appropriate stony-faced pause I turned them around, brought them to the hut, and sent them in the right direction.

DayTrip
07-18-2014, 01:33 PM
I finally got to use the line "About 25,000 miles and some stretches are mighty wet."

LOL! That one is going in the "toolbox" for future use.

bikehikeskifish
07-18-2014, 02:06 PM
Then you have the case where you don't know the answer and the person asking gets mad at you for being honest and saying you don't know.

I was accosted by a woman between Jefferson and Adams once because I could not tell her exactly how much further she had to go.

Tim

TJsName
07-18-2014, 02:09 PM
Then you have the case where you don't know the answer and the person asking gets mad at you for being honest and saying you don't know.

I was accosted by a woman between Jefferson and Adams once because I could not tell her exactly how much further she had to go.

Tim

And some people want distance to go, and others want time!

peakbagger
07-18-2014, 04:10 PM
A story from an somewhat infamous Meetup trip leader. The organizer sets a very aggressive Mahoosucs in day hike which required a car spot at the Notch trailhead on Success Pond Road. The organizer has a late night the evening before and decides that the hike will be cut short. The leader decides to take the Wright trail down off the ridge. The folks with the leader follow the leader down the trail. Around dusk they come out on the end of the Bull Branch road and the leader insists that they are just a short walk away from the car. They chance upon a few locals and the leader decides that they have no clue what they are talking about and decides to argue the point. The hikers in the group restrain the leader and luckily convince the locals to give them a shuttle back to their car on Success Pond road, which is about 35 miles away. The grateful hikers pony up a significant tip for the locals and decide that they wont be joining the trip leader on nay more hikes.

We could blame it on meetup but even Gene Daniels reportedly ended up on the wrong side of the mountain on occasion (generally when doing advanced bushwhacks)

David Metsky
07-18-2014, 04:11 PM
I remember encountering a couple on Mt Resolution by the old shelter one February or March around 1:00 PM. They had full packs and I asked where they were headed. The guy said Lakes of the Clouds. I mentioned that there's no camping within 1/4 mile of the hut and he seemed a bit taken aback that it wasn't going to offer them any shelter. At that point I said based on how long it had taken them to make it to Resolution I was pretty sure they wouldn't make to Lakes until well after dark and suggested other places along the Davis Path where they could camp. The woman was interested in hearing more but the guy cut me off so I packed up and continued on my way. Since they weren't going to make to treeline by dark anyway I didn't really worry about it.

sierra
07-19-2014, 05:35 AM
I was hiking north on the Crawford Path one very cloudy day with 50' visibility, going around Monroe. A couple of hikers headed towards me (going south on the Crawford Path) asked how far was it to Mt Washington. I finally got to use the line "About 25,000 miles and some stretches are mighty wet." After an appropriate stony-faced pause I turned them around, brought them to the hut, and sent them in the right direction.

I rarely laugh at 6.30 am thanks for that.
I rarely give advice unless asked. People who seem to need it, also seem to not really want it for some odd reason. I once tried to turn around a small party asending the cone on Washington in late winter/early spring conditions. They had no traction and street clothes and jackets. One woman, two men, one of the men was gun ho and the other two were just following him. I was descending and the conditions were awesome if you could navigate in the clouds and had crampons on, not to mention the high winds. The so called leader scoffed at my advice to turn around . I calmly looked at the other two and said, " If you follow him, your in trouble period". I then said have a good day and left them to whatever they decided.

Red Oak
07-19-2014, 06:27 AM
I rarely laugh at 6.30 am thanks for that.
I rarely give advice unless asked. People who seem to need it, also seem to not really want it for some odd reason. I once tried to turn around a small party asending the cone on Washington in late winter/early spring conditions. They had no traction and street clothes and jackets. One woman, two men, one of the men was gun ho and the other two were just following him. I was descending and the conditions were awesome if you could navigate in the clouds and had crampons on, not to mention the high winds. The so called leader scoffed at my advice to turn around . I calmly looked at the other two and said, " If you follow him, your in trouble period". I then said have a good day and left them to whatever they decided. That was the best way to handle that. They did not get the message and you told them they were being foolish if they went higher in a nice way. Franconia notch seems to always have the most terribly underprepared hikers. I always find people up there in late fall without gloves or hats shivering and trying to look like they are having fun.

dug
07-19-2014, 07:16 AM
It's a fine line, and hard to discern who is prepared and who is not.

I was once scolded one raging hot summer day by some AMC trip leader when he saw my light pack and cotton t-shirt. He told me I didn't have enough gear with me and I was wearing all the wrong clothes. It was 95 degrees and humid as hell, so I always wear cotton in that weather. I just told him "all set" as I wandered by.

As I left, he took it upon himself for a "teaching moment" as I overheard him tell lieges "we'll be reading about him tomorrow in the paper, dead from hyperthermia. Cotton kills."

Also, you may not know where I'm going so don't tell me if I'm there. I've been known to call it quits on a false summit or some knob. I don't bag any longer, I hike for the sake of exercise. It's amazing how many people tell me "you aren't at the summit. Doesn't count unless you go all the way".

Driver8
07-19-2014, 11:14 PM
Then you have the case where you don't know the answer and the person asking gets mad at you for being honest and saying you don't know.

I was accosted by a woman between Jefferson and Adams once because I could not tell her exactly how much further she had to go.

Tim

Yeah, sometimes the best answer is "I don't know." For those who want to know how long in time, I always say "it depends on your pace."

I think I best enjoy encountering A.T. thru-hikers on the trail, usually in CT or Mass, sometimes further north. I love to share with them tidbits about views, towns and other stuff they may find useful - they're so smart and trail-hardened, so they appreciate good info and don't need to address more basic issues.

My big thing today, in SW Mass, where the bulge of thru-hikers is passing by, was to encourage them to make the quick side-trip to Zeacliffs. That made an impression on me.

Raven
07-20-2014, 07:25 AM
Also, you may not know where I'm going so don't tell me if I'm there. I've been known to call it quits on a false summit or some knob. I don't bag any longer, I hike for the sake of exercise. It's amazing how many people tell me "you aren't at the summit. Doesn't count unless you go all the way".

This is a good one. I love when people assume where I am going. Sometimes, I haven't even decided yet. I think these same people ask questions like, "is THIS the trail down?"

Yesterday on a Pressie traverse with 4 friends, a solo hiker, nice enough but with an arrogant air, decided to give us the backhanded compliment, "I GUESS you are making okay time." I find this interesting considering he did not know our start time and therefore had no clue as to our pace. Of course, pace doesn't matter if you don't have a target finish time, so I don't even agree with the underlying assumption behind the question.

It is certainly an interesting dynamic out there. If people are nice enough about it and simply trying to be helpful, that never bothers me. I don't much care for the blanket statements people like to hold onto without any other considerations (never wear cotton like you mentioned, never hike solo, never start late, never split up a group). Absolutes like this are dangerous when they take the place of dynamic thinking and decision making based on circumstance. I think as mentioned earlier by Roy, these absolutes and rule lists are great for new hikers learning the ropes so to speak. With experience though, I think people come to realize there are no absolutes and safe travel in the mountains is a result of multiple factors which may vary widely from individual to individual.

Good discussion.

jniehof
07-21-2014, 08:55 AM
This is a good one. I love when people assume where I am going. Sometimes, I haven't even decided yet. I think these same people ask questions like, "is THIS the trail down?"
I know I've told this one before here, but it's been awhile. Coming off the LT to the cars in App Gap. Someone pulls up (NY plates, infer as you wish) and asks "Where does this trail go?" "Er, in this direction, Canada, across the road, to Massachusetts and then on to Georgia." Did not believe me and was rather annoyed that I wouldn't give him a straight answer....

sierra
07-21-2014, 09:28 AM
Once I was descending the Tucks trail and was 1/2 mile below the Hunnington Ravine trail junction when I ran into a group of women. One of the ladies asked me how close they were to the top!! I said you mean the summit? she replied yes it cant be that far. I answered as truthfull as I could. I said, if you think your that close you should not go on, you have know idea what your in for imo. She was not happy and I lost the chance of a lifetime friend right there.:eek:

skiguy
07-21-2014, 01:47 PM
I was once scolded one raging hot summer day by some AMC trip leader when he saw my light pack and cotton t-shirt. He told me I didn't have enough gear with me and I was wearing all the wrong clothes. It was 95 degrees and humid as hell, so I always wear cotton in that weather.

I have had very similar experiences. I usually respond that most of the time I hike naked and you happen to be catching me on a cold day. It shuts them up real fast.

peakbagger
07-21-2014, 02:17 PM
I tend to suffer fools on occasion. If the folks appear to be clueless I usually offer to pull my map out and show them approximately where they are on the trail and try to orient them from where they started and where they are going. Usually their eyes glaze over. If they seem interested, I ask them when they started and based on the current location make a rather conservative guess on when they will be to their intended destinations and when they will get back down to their car. Throw in a question if they have overnight gear or at least a flashlight and occasionally I will get a group to pick a new objective.

My assumption is I to was clueless at one point long ago and others put up with it so I am just paying some past hiker forward.

Driver8
07-21-2014, 03:13 PM
I tend to suffer fools on occasion. If the folks appear to be clueless I usually offer to pull my map out and show them approximately where they are on the trail and try to orient them from where they started and where they are going. Usually their eyes glaze over. If they seem interested, I ask them when they started and based on the current location make a rather conservative guess on when they will be to their intended destinations and when they will get back down to their car. Throw in a question if they have overnight gear or at least a flashlight and occasionally I will get a group to pick a new objective.

My assumption is I to was clueless at one point long ago and others put up with it so I am just paying some past hiker forward.

I'm with you, peakbagger.

As to cotton, I avoid it, generally, but recently it came in handy. July 5 was a much cooler morning than I'd expected. I hadn't made the last-minute weather check before leaving CT, and so didn't bring a jacket or at least a heavier shirt. My long-sleeve, light, thin, wicking shirt for sun-protection and evap was not warm enough.

Solution? Reach into the travel bag before departing and get one of my cotton golf shirts. It looked goofy and awkward over the more normal hiker gear, but it provided me just that extra bit of warm that I needed - nary a shiver from that point forward. Once I got to the ridge line, the early afternoon sun had worked its magic, but in the meantime, that cotton was a welcome friend.

Error on my part not to have more carefully gone through the checklist pre-hike, but being adaptable to conditions and using available tools, as discussed by others above, got me through.

DayTrip
07-21-2014, 03:51 PM
I was once scolded one raging hot summer day by some AMC trip leader when he saw my light pack and cotton t-shirt. He told me I didn't have enough gear with me and I was wearing all the wrong clothes. It was 95 degrees and humid as hell, so I always wear cotton in that weather. I just told him "all set" as I wandered by.

As I left, he took it upon himself for a "teaching moment" as I overheard him tell lieges "we'll be reading about him tomorrow in the paper, dead from hyperthermia. Cotton kills."



Stories like these and others in similar threads about group size, etc make me question the worth of these AMC groups. What exactly are they teaching or not teaching to throngs of new hikers when they make idiotic statements like that? So now there will be 10 more idiots erroneously passing judgement on cotton t-shirts to even more hikers. We need to teach people HOW to think, not WHAT to think. If cotton's biggest downfall is that it wicks moisture away from the body and cools it off that kinda sounds like a BENEFIT to me on a hot humid day. If that AMC trip leader doesn't understand that I would not want him or her out there "teaching" others anything.

And an unrelated favorite is when someone asks you a question so you answer/explain it and then they reply "that's not how you do that". If you already know well then don't ask me and shut up already!

David Metsky
07-21-2014, 03:58 PM
Stories like these and others in similar threads about group size, etc make me question the worth of these AMC groups.
There are hundreds of AMC volunteer led trips every year in the Whites, thousands up and down the East Coast. Don't extrapolate one or two bad experiences to the entire program. With any program of that size you will get a few misguided or misinformed leaders and not hear about the 100's of successful, informed, and sociable leaders.

Driver8
07-21-2014, 03:58 PM
Stories like these and others in similar threads about group size, etc make me question the worth of these AMC groups. What exactly are they teaching or not teaching to throngs of new hikers when they make idiotic statements like that?

I'm cautious not to draw general conclusions. The AMC groups I've come across seem to have been well-led and by and large happy groups. There are bad apples in every barrel, but I think the AMC is a good bunch.

RollingRock
07-21-2014, 06:08 PM
My assumption is I to was clueless at one point long ago and others put up with it so I am just paying some past hiker forward.

I completely agree. If I see a folks that look unprepared or starting quite late on a hike, I just let it go. You learn from experience, mistakes and common sense. If someone asks a question, I gladly assist and take out my map. And as you said, a simple question like 'do you have a flashlight', puts their agenda into a whole new perspective.

DayTrip
07-21-2014, 07:12 PM
There are hundreds of AMC volunteer led trips every year in the Whites, thousands up and down the East Coast. Don't extrapolate one or two bad experiences to the entire program. With any program of that size you will get a few misguided or misinformed leaders and not hear about the 100's of successful, informed, and sociable leaders.

Fair point. Just seems like whenever I read about AMC led trips on this forum it is in a negative context. The only "interaction" I've had with these groups is in passing them on the trail and the groups are usually very large (well over 10 people). Does anyone know how many of these groups go out in a given summer in NH or NE? Dozens? Hundreds? Do they merely ensure safe passage for the guests or are they actually teaching stuff too?

bikehikeskifish
07-21-2014, 07:57 PM
You don't hear about pleasant airline travel either. Nor about traffic-free rush hour commutes. Etc.

Tim

Tom Rankin
07-21-2014, 08:01 PM
There are hundreds of AMC volunteer led trips every year in the Whites, thousands up and down the East Coast. Don't extrapolate one or two bad experiences to the entire program. With any program of that size you will get a few misguided or misinformed leaders and not hear about the 100's of successful, informed, and sociable leaders.Thank you for that.

AMC, Meetup, ADK, 3500 Club, etc., yes they all have good and bad leaders. But from what I can tell, the good outweigh the bad.

As a 3500 Club hike leader, I am always looking for teachable moments. We interview hikers to make sure they have the gear and experience for the intended trip. Sometimes we turn them away, with pointers as to what they lack.

We always have a little talk at the beginning of each hike, discussing staying together as a group, and other topics. We get out a map and describe the intended route. If it's off trail, when we get to where the bushwhack begins, we again get out the map and compass, and show them what we do to determine a bearing.

I also discuss Leave No Trace practices as the hike goes on. Camping above 3500 feet is illegal in the Catskills, and I frequently have to tell people why. We pack trash out if we discover it.

And we do shun Cotton! When it gets wet, it tends to stay wet.

We also teach Winter preparedness classes.

I could go on, but I hope this answers the question posed above: "Do they merely ensure safe passage for the guests or are they actually teaching stuff too?"

Raven
07-21-2014, 09:08 PM
Fair point. Just seems like whenever I read about AMC led trips on this forum it is in a negative context. The only "interaction" I've had with these groups is in passing them on the trail and the groups are usually very large (well over 10 people). Does anyone know how many of these groups go out in a given summer in NH or NE? Dozens? Hundreds? Do they merely ensure safe passage for the guests or are they actually teaching stuff too?

You can look at the calendar of events for AMC-NH or AMC-ME as well as any of the other regions to see what trips are scheduled. I took a look at the NH site out of curiosity. They have about 16 trips planned next month. That doesn't include the Maine or Mass chapters though which are also active. I look at the AMC site once in a while to see what trips they are doing.

The point has been made I think but to agree...the AMC runs a lot of trips and has a lot of volunteer leaders. Most are good. There are a lot of trips run all seasons and if people were getting lost and disappearing in quicksand, etc. we would all be talking about it. It's the idiots that stand out like everywhere as Tim's post exemplified. I have been on very few AMC hikes but on those the leaders were quite competent (although physical issues beyond their control made one hike interesting.)

Another point that may bear mentioning is that many on VFTT whom you may have heard criticize the AMC volunteer leaders may quite simply be far more experienced in mountain related pursuits. My point being, these are VOLUNTEER-led trips, and although there are standards before one can become a leader for the AMC trips, the differences among individual leaders will still vary greatly and some probably simply have much further than others to go on the learning curve.

Grey J
07-22-2014, 07:42 AM
I wouldn't want to lead a group on a hike nor would I want to be on one just because I don't care for that much company on the trail. Two other companions is a group for me. We were coming down Unknown Pond Trail a couple of years ago completing the Cabot loop over the Bulge and the Horn around 3:30 pm on a summer day. Met a couple with a dog just below Unknown Pond. They had no packs, no water, no map, no nothing. Nice folks though. The woman asked me, "Does this trail go all the way around back to where we parked?" I took a few minutes and explained that yes it did, but it would be dark before they got back. I think they continued to the pond and assume they survived.

Tom Rankin
07-22-2014, 07:55 AM
I wouldn't want to lead a group on a hike nor would I want to be on one just because I don't care for that much company on the trail. Two other companions is a group for me. I'm not exactly thrilled with large hikes either, but we do it for several reasons.

Giving back to the club that got me started in hiking is one.

We limit to 12 total with the leader(s), so as not to be too big, but still accommodate the demand for popular peaks.

Most hikes are social in nature. We've met a lot of new friends that way.

When we don't lead club hikes, Laurie and I are usually out just as a couple.

hikerbrian
07-22-2014, 09:23 AM
Fair point. Just seems like whenever I read about AMC led trips on this forum it is in a negative context. The only "interaction" I've had with these groups is in passing them on the trail and the groups are usually very large (well over 10 people). Does anyone know how many of these groups go out in a given summer in NH or NE? Dozens? Hundreds? Do they merely ensure safe passage for the guests or are they actually teaching stuff too?
There's a pretty good chance you've had lots of other "interactions" with AMC groups, you just didn't know they were AMC groups. The trips I most often lead are myself, a co-leader, and 2-4 participants. I don't allow a group size larger than 10 total, and getting to that size is extremely rare. And I don't announce to all passers-by, "Hey, we're an AMC group!"

Most of the trips I lead have some educational component - most often map and compass. I also participate in the Boston Winter Hiking Program as a leader, and this program is certainly about teaching safety and comfort (and fun). I only occassionally lead trips that are without an educational focus.

But that's just me, and there are a wide variety of motivations and focuses among the other leaders I know. My experiences with the AMC, as a participant and a leader, have been overwhelmingly positive (with only a couple of exceptions), and part of my motivation for leading is to "give back" in hopes that others will get as much out of the organization as I have.

griffin
07-22-2014, 09:38 AM
There are hundreds of AMC volunteer led trips every year in the Whites, thousands up and down the East Coast. Don't extrapolate one or two bad experiences to the entire program. With any program of that size you will get a few misguided or misinformed leaders and not hear about the 100's of successful, informed, and sociable leaders.

It's also worth pointing out that just as we are all, as hikers, capable of making mistakes (and hopefully learning from them), trip leaders make mistakes (and hopefully learn from them) as well. Generally, my experience has been that it's people who are newer to a leadership role or a body of knowledge who are more likely to make those kinds of blanket statements (about cotton killing, etc.)

Mike P.
07-24-2014, 07:26 AM
Not to mention feeling pressure to continue so as not to turn the whole group around when I might have done so were I not subject to such strict rules.

Tim

Most of us should be able to talk them out of turning back on our behalf or even sending another hiker. I did it back in the 90's on a Carter Dome trip when the flu made continuing just pact the 19 Mile / Carter Dome junction. Had I continued I might have made Zeta and dropped. If you wait until the very top, you might have a different result.

B the Hiker
11-22-2014, 11:21 AM
The American Alpine Journal just published a report from a climbing guide who happened to be on the scene when the fall took place. Doesn't really shed any new light on the subject, but it does serve as a reminder of how useful it is to have a partner who check over our protection and ensure that everything is as it should be.

http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201212975/Fall-on-Rock-Possible-Rappel-Error-Rope-Soloing


Brian