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Psycho

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Psycho

Postby Tom » Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:24 pm

Have you ever acted kind of psycho in the backcountry and didn't realize it until later? Or have you met someone you thought was crazy and then wondered about them later? Not much of a stretch to meet odd people in the Sierra...however did you worry about them after you made camp? I mean worry in the sense of,"are they going to be okay"?

I was telling my wife about getting snowed out during an Mid-October trip quite a few years ago. I spent 4 days wandering around trying to figure out how much snow was going to stick and how the North/South passes were going to treat me.

I ended up getting onto the JMT and looking for people to be 'trapped' with. When I got to the trail it was empty. I traveled south for several more days, struggling over a couple of passes where I made post-holing an art form. Pre-storm and then during the storm had me going almost 9 days without human contact.

While I like solo trips and enjoy getting away from 'things' 9 days is too long for me to not see or talk to someone. So as I was descending the East side of Taboose Pass I came across a backcountry ranger that was heading into SEKI area. She said hi and then I launched into what could have been called a meth-fueled, one sided dialogue that told her everything including what I had done in the last 9 days to revealing what my PIN numbers were. The important news (to her) was imparted. My car was parked at the Copper Creek Trail near Cedar Grove and I wasn't lost and I would be there within a week to pick up the car.

However, as we parted and I got closer to the trailhead I started wondering how psycho, or drugged out I sounded. That night I slept in the back the rangers pick up and wondered whether or not I would wake up surround by DEA agents.

The one person that I met that acted very crazy was near Mono Pass. It was after an intense thunderstorm and he was walking in a zombie like way. I said hi and he grunted. I looked in his eyes and thought that he was tripping on somthing. As he walked by I noticed that his clothes were burned in places and his Kelty (now I'm dating the story) was charred. I fell in behind him and tried to talk to him, but he wasn't in my world. I finally stopped the guy, made camp and fed him. I tried to find out what happened but he wasn't there. I dug through his pack and set up the ground sheet and sleeping bag and guided him over to sit on the set up. I went to sleep trying to figure out what to do with him. The next morning he was gone. He left no trace except footprints that indicated he was headed for the trailhead.

Silly sounding now but sometimes the backcountry sets me into a different world and a different train of thought, but then that's why we go.



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Re: Psycho

Postby East Side Hiker » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:04 pm

What about that bare foot lady on the JMT?

I wonder what they say about us?
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Re: Psycho

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:55 pm

That guy near Mono Pass sounds like a ghost story. Good one for the campfire. :D

I've never seen anyone out there I thought was outright crazy, but a few that seemed to be a bit off...perhaps on the trail so long they forgot normal social conventions. One time my crew had come down from Vee Lake (since the new guy had elevation sickness) and made camp right along the junction with the JMT. It was a busy trail that day with a boy scout troop camped nearby and a few groups passing us as we made camp and tended to our sick friend. Also trucking along were a few of what I took to be ultralight backpackers trying to complete the mileage to Edison Lake. Almost every single one started the conversation with "Do you have any cigarettes?" That evening, after we were all in our bags, lights out, and asleep (or close to it) we had one guy come into our camp and wake each of us up asking for a cigarette. That annoyed me, but as we discussed it the next morning we chalked it up to a long time on the trail. We had all been at our office jobs a few days prior and would be back at them in a couple more days—maybe we shouldn't judge those who live out there all summer.
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Re: Psycho

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:55 pm

Usually my pard and I went to places where there were no people, but one two week trip we did the JMT (Part II) starting from Bishop Pass. We went over Mather Pass and the next day had two interesting encounters (and stock bells during the night).
First we met a desperately chatty woman over 200 pounds who claimed she was doing the PCT to lose weight and had lost over 100 pounds. I believed her. Her skin just hung on her. She was lonely and and had not talked to anyone for days.
Second, further down the trail we ran into this kinda dirty fellow who was grinning like a lunatic and totally ignored us. He had let out all the straps of his pack all the way so that his pack hung oddly behind him. He walked by us like he never saw or heard us. Very strange... :-k
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Re: Psycho

Postby Mike M. » Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:33 pm

In the late 70s, waiting out a wet front down at the Kern Hot Springs, I ran into a group that wasn't exactly psycho, but they do qualify as the most "out-there" folks I have come across on the trail. Father, mother, middle school age son, teenage son, teenage daughter, and teenage male friend. They hiked in over Shepherd Pass with two sides of bacon and lots of rice and beans, carrying all this in cheap external frame packs (Newco?), the kind with canvas rather than nylon fabric. They were a sight to behold: covered in dirt and grease (despite having access to the hot springs), crappy boots or just tennis shoes, the young kid had a mohawk, they did their cooking in heavy-duty metal skillets, they cut down branches to make a lean-to, they had a perpetual fire, and they caught scores and scores of trout. Exactly the sort of campers I try to avoid. I wandered over to say hi during a respite in the storm and they treated me to the most delicious trout I have ever eaten, fried to perfection in bacon grease.

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Re: Psycho

Postby Cross Country » Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:57 pm

If I had to wait out a wet front, Kern Hot Springs might be at the top of my backcountry list. This story reminds me of the time that my wife and I fed some people one of my trout dinner specials at KHS. They loved it too. My wife got pregnant with our first son on this trip, probably at KHS.
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Re: Psycho

Postby Mike M. » Sat Dec 04, 2010 7:09 pm

My wife got pregnant with our first son on this trip, probably at KHS.


I hope you had a hand in that too!! :D

Kern Hot Springs was like an oasis, and except for this one group, I had the place to myself for two full days. This was in the middle of a 23 day solo trip.

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Re: Psycho

Postby Hetchy » Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:55 pm

It's pretty hard to follow that last story. How cool you concieved a child in the Sierra!
Anyhow I had a really strange encounter on the first day of my Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike in April of 2009. The trail angel had dropped four of us hikers at the Mexican border. Though we did not know each other we got aquainted those first few miles. During the morning I pulled ahead of the others and I had covered 18 miles in just over 5 hours. I was just below Lake Morena Butte when I began to hear a very loud conversation up ahead. I came upon an older man sitting in the shade of some grease brush still wearing his pack. His head was bowed and at first I thought he might be unconscious. Directly in front of him was the strangest character. A bald headed man, shirtless, and without a pack. His skin was burned a bright pink. He was hollering in a thick Russian accent at the poor fellow resting in the shade. They both saw me approach and immediately the sunburned bald guy starts ranting at me about how America does not like his country. The fellow in the shade looked pale and like he had heatstroke. I tried to ask him if he was okay or needed water but the Russian dude would not shut his mouth. Finally the resting fellow shrugged his shoulders and motioned to me to leave. I did and fast as I could. I could still hear the Russian guy going on until I crested the ridge and dropped over the other side.
When I got to Lake Morena and stopped my hiker buddies caught up to me. When i asked if the saw that strange sunburnt Russian guy they thought I was joking.. they had not seen him.
Actually for four hundered miles after that nobody believed me. Upon reaching Casa De Luna I ran into the fellow I saw there resting in the shade. He confirmed that it was not an illusion. He said: "That guy was a wierd %$#@er wasn't he?" He said the stranger just appeared out of the brush and began ranting at him while he was taking a break from the hot sun.
Anyhow he said that crazy guy just walked off into the scrub.. no pack.. no shirt.. no water.. in what you and I would call desert.. He said nobody in Lake Morena had seen the guy when he passed through either.
I always wonder what the heck that was all about.
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Re: Psycho

Postby quentinc » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:11 pm

Mike M. wrote:
My wife got pregnant with our first son on this trip, probably at KHS.


I hope you had a hand in that too!! :D

That literally made me laugh out loud.

Other than that, though, this thread makes me nervous because I keep looking to see if I'm going to be the subject of one of these posts :) For instance:

I was coming down the Royce Lakes canyon once, a marvelous place I was sure I'd have all to myself, when some kid suddenly starts whooping and hollering, just to hear his voice echo. It sounded like he could have been a mile away. This kept on for several minutes, until I could no longer contain myself, so I finally shouted out "shut the f... up!" A second later, this guy appears over a ridge a few feet in front of me and I realized it must have been the kid's father. I'm not sure which one of us was more mortified.
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Re: Psycho

Postby Cross Country » Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:19 pm

The closest thing to a Psycho I ever encountered was a woman at Grouse Lake (and her behavior afterwards). My friend and I were camped there when a woman ranger, really short and thin, in her 40s showed up in the afternoon after hiking all the way up the Copper Creek trail that day. When she arrived, my friend Gregg was down by the lake and she asked him what he was doing and he replied "Were cooling some salami and cheese in the Lake". I said "Gregg!". I had told him if we encountered a ranger to let me do the talking (just to be on the safe side of I don't know what). She immediately became angry and told him to get it out of the lake. He did so. It was, of course still UNOPENED. She knew this, as I had pointed this out to her. I had hung some food in a tree. She told me to take it down because this was illegal and to show her our permit and bear canister. I had a canister of course because without renting one from the ranger I couldn't get a permit. She then got angrier telling me I couldn't get all my food in the canister. She was right but as you know I didn't care because at 10.6 there are rarely bears and I had never seen scat at this lake. Also, the bear couldn't have gotten my hung food (not according to my long history of experience). She wrote us a citation for having food in the lake. As it turned out sealed food in a lake wasn't an offense, certainly not if you then comply by taking it out, which we did.
The next morning I had some powdered gatorade just inside the doorway of my tent for anyone to see. I had just used it. Upon seeing this she became nearly livid talking to me with her hand on her gun. I was afraid. At no time in the 2 days had I spoken threateningly or angrily to her. I would imagine I appeared "put out", but no more.
We cut our trip short and 3 days later while hiking out she passed us on the trail. She said in a disgusting tone - oh, it's you guys.
Here's the strange part of the story. My friend Gregg got a citation in the mail for $238. He calls the park service and eventually talks to the supervisor who handles disputes. If we wanted to fight this we had to go to court in Fresno (he said). This is why. After the woman's supervisor tells her that her infraction as written wasn't and infraction after all, she then, apparently, amended it to say that we refused to take the UNWRAPPED food out of the water. Gregg pointed out that this isn't what it said on our copy of the alleged infraction. Nevertheless, to contest this we would have to come to Fresno.
PS: At no time have I claimed to know the specific rule, I'm just telling what happened.
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Re: Psycho

Postby rlown » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:56 pm

jthomascarter wrote:Here's the strange part of the story. My friend Gregg got a citation in the mail for $238. He calls the park service and eventually talks to the supervisor who handles disputes.
...

PS: At no time have I claimed to know the specific rule, I'm just telling what happened.


Another reason to have someone ELSE's name on the permit.. :D

There is no rule about cooling food in the lake that i could find, as long as you're observing it closely. (meaning you're close to it). Fitting your food in the can might be an issue.

You should have done the Fresno trip.

Can Gregg sign all my permits going forward?
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Re: Psycho

Postby John Harper » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:59 pm

We planned an early morning fishing trip to Gaylor Lakes basin. Left the trailhead at Tioga Pass probably 4:30 AM. Upon arriving at the first lake, maybe 45 minutes later, I noticed someone running the trail around the lake toward us.

This guy was running the trail, in the wee hours of the morning. He nodded to us as he ran by and ran right up the trail to the ridgeline. I guess he was some kind of high altitude athlete or training for some mountain assault. We could not believe we saw someone up there at that time of day!

It was pretty bizarre to run into someone that early in the morning, and he had obviously come up the trail long before us, since there is no camping the the Gaylor basin area.

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