Backpacking Achilles Heel

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cloudlesssky
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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.
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Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by 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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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by Fly Guy Dave » Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:38 am

I'd have to say that the only one that bothers me is D. I've had two close encounters with lightning, one in SW Montana and the other in Eastern Oregon, and it was a very close call both times. The prickly sensation all over your body and the bomb-like explosion that follows immediately and the smell of argon in the air afterwards...that just doesn't leave you, so when I start hearing thunder getting closer, I make sure I am in NO WAY exposed. I'm not afraid, per se, but I get rather nervous and I take NO chances.
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by rlown » Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:37 am

Argon is odorless: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argon" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

You smell ozone i think: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozone" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I love the smell of Ozone in the afternoon.. :) but only in short bursts, and hopefully far away.

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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by Fly Guy Dave » Thu Dec 26, 2013 1:10 pm

I stand corrected, I thought it was argon, but I guess it was ozone. The only thing I can compare it to is an "electrical smell" the kind of musty odor that you smell when some electrical appliance is overheating or malfunctioning.
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by dave54 » Thu Dec 26, 2013 1:37 pm

Not sure why, Must have has some psychological trauma as a child. Streams crossings always give me pause, even shallow slow water I can step across or wade through with with shoes barely getting wet.

Heights, storms, ice... none of the others bother me. I am appropriately cautious but not afraid. Not so with stream crossings.

It seems odd because in a boat I have no problems. I can solo paddle across big water in wind and chop and do not have the same apprehension as crossing a simple mountain stream.
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by SweetSierra » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:11 pm

Dave54,
It's interesting how there can be a fear of something with seemingly no cause. I'm at home in the mountains and so being unreasonably cautious or concerned about something bothers me. I've wondered about my apprehension in deep forests. When I was 12 or so, I spent summer vacations at an isolated mountain cabin with a friend's family on Pine Ridge in mid-elevation Sierra on the way to Shaver Lake. The cabin was several miles down a dirt road and there were no other cabins in the area. I wandered all over the forest with my friend on casual trails and deer paths and without her parents, sometimes into the evenings. One day I walked down a ridge in back of the cabin to a stream that had cans of soda cooling. When I looked up, I couldn't remember the way back and panicked. I walked a little but nothing looked familiar. Then I yelled until someone answered. It was perhaps only ten minutes.
Maybe that explains why (but I'm not sure) in the past when I'm walking off trail and drop down into a forest (and with someone who can navigate through a forest), I feel a sense of dread. If I'm on a trail through deep woods, I'm fine, though I'm still glad when the terrain opens up and I can see the sky.

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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by Tom_H » Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:55 pm

SweetSierra,

It's interesting how each of us is different. I grew up in a house with parents who fought like mad dogs. Every time we moved to a new place though, there was either a forest or a large woodland adjacent to the house. The woods became my refuge. It was there I could go and listen to the quiet of the wind whispering through trees, the chirping of southern song birds, the trickle of water through streams. The woods is where I could go for safety, for tranquility, for solace. I remember playing in the woods as early as age 3. Somehow I developed more than just a sense of direction but a oneness with the forest. It became the place that felt like home.

Nowadays, when I am in a city or urban area, I still am a little out of my comfort zone. Put me in a bad part of town with loud people and I am out of my element. Sleazy parts of inner cities scare me. Arguing people make me apprehensive. Nature always comforts me.

Even though I encountered all kinds of animals in the woods, none ever bothered me if I didn't bother them. People, on the other hand, always have been harder to predict. I am fine with nice people, but if someone becomes belligerent, my level of uncertainty skyrockets. If a city is not laid out in a grid, I can get disoriented easily. In the forest, I always seem to know where I am. When on instructor training expeditions in forested mountain areas that were new terrain for us, I was always the first to find a level camp or a source of water. Compatriots used to say, "How do you find these places?" I was never able to explain it other than a sixth sense. With the water, it always seemed that I could smell the increasing humidity in the air as I got closer. As for the flat spots, something about the rest of the terrain just told me where to look.

In civilization, I have always been just a little on edge. Except for rare exceptions like the one above, the wilderness has always been my safe haven, particularly the forest. From a really young age I just knew how to build shelters, find water and something edible, start a fire with minimal gear, and find my way back to my starting point.

I fear the future day when no wilderness is left for people like me to find a place of tranquil refuge. Humans came from nature, have mastered nature, and now seem hellbent on destroying it. I hope that day never comes.

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