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Backpacking Achilles Heel

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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Postby Troutdog 59 » Thu Dec 19, 2013 5:51 pm

Not something I mention alot, but for me its a portion of B. Not river crossings themselves, but elevated log crossings. Dam things have given me grief since I statrted backpacking in the 70's. With the use of a walking staff, I have gotten much better at it, but its always in the back of my mind. I have to have walking poles to keep contact with the log or I get vertigo and off I go. I've had numerous folks give me all sorts of advice on how to deal with it, but it still gets to me. I choose wading anytime its an option if I can.
If you stand in the light, you get the feel of the night, and the music that plays in your ear......
In your mind you can hear, a voice so sweet and clear, and the music that plays in your head......
As it flows up from the ground, taking all that hear the sound, close your eyes, it’s about to begin.

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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Postby SweetSierra » Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:27 am

I also don't do log crossings well. If the log is fairly low to the water I'm fine. If it's elevated to the point that a fall could be injurious, I'll cross in the water. I may start to walk across an log (and sometimes I'll be able to do it) but usually I back off the log and head for the water. I used to be afraid of heights or exposure many years ago before I began backpacking and after I first started to backpack. But over time, as I gained experience, I lost my fear of heights. I also hug a wall along a trail with a cliff but I don't feel panicky. I also used certain techniques, like tilting the bill of my cap to the cliff side so I don't see it the cliff. If I don't see it, I'm not fearful. I've been around bears quite a bit and I don't fear Sierra black bears. I don't have a fear of lightning, though I understand why others fear it. I do have an unreasonable fear of being lost (mainly in forested terrain) that stems, I think, from a childhood incident. But generally, being out calms and centers me. Oh, also crossing an extremely steep snow slope with a long runoff into talus or a lake is definitely a fear. I can climb and cross some steep snow slopes (depends on the terrain--if there's trees and such to break a fall, it doesn't bother me as much) and lower angled snow slopes with no problem.
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Postby papasequoia » Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:33 pm

I have just enough healthy fear of each to keep me careful. However, I have made summits when the risk of falling solo or getting hit by lightning was high and realize now how lucky I was. And I have also turned back to avoid the risk at other times and wonder (still) if in each case I made the right decision or should have continued. I don't know if "fear" is the right word, but growing older and having children has certainly given me a different point of view about the dangers compared to when I was younger.
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Postby oldranger » Sat Dec 21, 2013 11:54 am

A & C are basically the same issue to me because they are issues that involve my judgement and skill and if I make a mistake either mentally or physically I am likely to die. For some reason river crossings don't affect me the same way and whether wading or log crossing I don't develop the same level of anxiety that steep angle exposure causes. lightening doesn't bother me because after taking the precautions there is a lot of randomness that I cannot control so"what? Me worry?"

My true "Achilles Heel" is my age related deterioration of my body and mind. I can sense the gradual loss of strength through the full range of motion which makes large step ups and downs associated with off trail travel more difficult, and certainly I travel much slower. I am also considerably less agile than I used to be. Thankfully trekking poles and lighter gear have extended my career and the financial security that came from work and good fortune allows me to use a horse boost on the first day of long trip has helped, too. But I know that my days of demanding off trail travel are limited but hopefully I will be able to do so well into my 70s. Mind? I managed to leave 4 pairs of cheapo light gardening gloves at rest stops along the trail this past summer.

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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Postby rlown » Sat Dec 21, 2013 12:02 pm

I'd backpack with you at any age. And look for your gloves. After all, you bring good booze and that amazing little boom box. :)
Last edited by rlown on Sat Dec 21, 2013 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Postby oldranger » Sat Dec 21, 2013 12:42 pm

Russ

The boombox was a one time thing but bob Dylan did make nice background music for Mark's "duck walk!"

Mike
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Postby John Dittli » Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:23 pm

breaking through the ice, on skis, with a full pack. I was ok with that until I saw "Never Cry Wolf".
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Postby rlown » Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:31 pm

I'm a bit confused by that, John. Have you broken through on skis? Cuz that would be huge and then i get it. I'd be more fearful skating around on untested Ice? never saw the film, but, I have skied full pack back across Loon Lk in Deso. An amazingly scary experience esp when the ice is clear and clean. yeah, i'd probably do it again. :D
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Postby cloudlesssky » Sun Dec 22, 2013 8:07 pm

I normally stay on the trails, but the heights can still bother me early each season on some passes (those carved into granite walls). However as the season wears on I get used to it, only to start the process over the next spring.

I generally don't mind lightning/thunder unless I'm above treeline, then I feel exposed. And of course this happens a bunch every Jul-Aug in the Sierras when you go over passes. I tend to plan my day around hitting the next pass before 2pm just to avoid this.
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Postby John Dittli » Tue Dec 24, 2013 10:26 am

rlown wrote:I'm a bit confused by that, John. Have you broken through on skis? Cuz that would be huge and then i get it. I'd be more fearful skating around on untested Ice? never saw the film, but, I have skied full pack back across Loon Lk in Deso. An amazingly scary experience esp when the ice is clear and clean. yeah, i'd probably do it again. :D


In that film, Mowat breaks thru the ice while snowshoeing with a large pack. He sinks to the bottom like a rock where he struggles out of his pack and snowshoes. Then reaching the surface under the ice he can't find the hole! Returns to the bottom (I'd be sucking water by now) grabs his gun and blasts an air hole through the ice. Finally swims around and finds the exit hole. Of course then he is soaked and it's a full on blizzard out. Hollywood, yes, but harrowing none the less.

I have broken thru a couple of times on skis in the spring. But usually spring "ice" is layered in slush; I've only gone in to my knees. But spring ice for me, is less predictable then early winter ice where I can see (and measure) the thickness. At first I was very cautious, never skating on less than four inches. Now I'm more comfortable with the ice and we wander a mile off shore on two inches.

Too, on winter ice we are prepared for self evac when we go in. Still floating over a transparent surface has it's moments.
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Postby oldhikerQ » Tue Dec 24, 2013 11:58 am

I'm always leery of river crossings. Don't know why for sure, perhaps it's my poor swimming skills which my beloved once described as "controlled drowning". I've never ended up completely immersed just the occasional slip and resulting wet boot and socks. Still, anything more than 6 inches deep freaks me out. Snow crossings are also a pulse quickener. In a moment of casual inattention, I slipped on the snow bank above Iceberg lake and ended up by the shore, Not my finest moment. These days, I am very deliberate when crossing snowfields with any slope. As for the rest, no fears really. Just try to maintain a very healthy respect for the mountains.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost
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Backpacking Achilles Heel

Postby wanderin.jack » Thu Dec 26, 2013 8:01 am

Other: the drive in the car to the trailhead scares me the most.


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