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Plan B and B-yond

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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby markskor » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:06 pm

Sirlight states, "For me when going solo, these must actually be "plans", and not a spur of the moment thing. I consider this rule number one of solo hiking.”

Respectfully, I do not agree. For me the main criteria, “number one” rule for solo hiking is to not to do anything stupid. Regarding plans – set plans – I suppose that if you have someone at home to placate, perhaps leaving a written itinerary, written in blood, has merit. Having a Spot along too then should also be considered, probably even more important than any pre-made plans as with a plan only, the one at home would have to wait until after the due date (might be too late) before any SAR type action would be initiated. Of the two options, carrying the Spot type device would seem to be a more important tool to use today. By leaving daily bread crumbs, one then could still vary the route slightly and still remain in contact and on schedule.

A combination of the two would probably seem to be one’s best insurance for: 1) the fastest possible rescue and, 2) keeping the home front appraised of daily trip progress.

All that being said, I do neither and have done so for years. At one time I made plans scrupulously, followed them to the letter, and missed a lot. Plans made months in advance do not take into account changes presented when actually at the mountain. Weather changes, trailhead quotas get filled, fishing opportunities vary, and new Sierra adventures present themselves daily. If I am at one lake and not getting any action, if another fellow hiker then tells me about better fishing off my intended route, what are my options? Do I stay on route and not catch fish, or do I follow my heart? If the fishing is great, can I stay over a day? How many chances do you have to do what you dreamed about daily for so many months?

Everyone starts out with some plan initially. Solo, you set out boldly and attack the mountain, only to realize (soon enough) that it is the mountain that always sets the pace and always wins no matter how good of shape you are in. After a few days, you accept this fact, take what the Sierra gives, and humbly acquiesce to current conditions…or often kill yourself trying to keep to a pre-set agenda.

I always set out with a plan and a specific trailhead in mind. When I go out with 10 days food and a winter’s plan routed, it is not uncommon though to start north but end up east. I have the maps; I have enough food and enough confidence in my abilities, and 10 days could allow me to go almost anywhere. With rule # 1 (above) always in mind, who knows here my boots will actually lead me?
Just my 2¢
Mark
Mountainman who swims with trout



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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby TehipiteTom » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:50 pm

Good topic. I'm a compulsive planner and I like to stick to my plan if it's at all possible, but sometimes...

In 1997 I led a Sierra Club trip out of Cedar Grove up onto the Monarch Divide. Plan was to go in via Wildman Meadow, Grizzly Lakes, and Harrington Pass, and explore the lakes on the north side west of Kennedy Pass.

Got to the Roads End ranger station to pick up the permit, and was told Monarch Wilderness was closed because of a fire. Had to re-route on the fly, with the whole group looking over my shoulder (figuratively at least, maybe literally for some) the whole time.

In a couple of minutes I came up with a sweet route that stayed close to the Divide all the way from Kennedy Pass to Kid Lakes. Now, I could do that because a) it isn't hard to plan routes on the Monarch Divide (you can pretty much get from any lake basin to any adjoining lake basin), and b) I had studied the maps of this particular area for years. Still, I looked good in front of the group, and it really was an awesome route.
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby lambertiana » Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:07 pm

Fortunately I have not had to resort to Plan B due to trail conditions, permit availability, or fires. But I have had to do it a couple times for medical reasons.

The first was last year when I was with a group of friends and we were going from Onion Valley to Rae Lakes. My son developed pretty bad altitude sickness going up the south side of Glen Pass, so we descended to Charlotte Lake and stayed there for a few days while my friends went on to Rae Lakes. On one of the days I went over Glen Pass to visit them as a dayhike. The bonus on that Plan B was that on one of the days at Charlotte Lake I went up to the saddle on the divide south of Charlotte Lake (just south of Mt Bago) and had the most outstanding view looking down into Bubbs Creek and across to the East Creek drainage. And the little pond below that ridge was very nice spot with absolutely zero evidence of human presence.

The second time was this year. I had planned on going from Lake Basin down into Muro Blanco, and then down the South Fork to Paradise Valley. But on the way down Red Pass to Marion Lake, my friend took a hard fall and jammed his hand into a crevice. He had a compound dislocation of the distal joint on two of his fingers - the tips of the fingers bent all the way back onto the back of the fingers, tearing open the skin on the underside of the joints so he could look inside. With his 18 years experience as an ER nurse he was able to dress it reasonably well. And then going up Cartridge Pass he had a boulder roll onto his shin, removing a good amount of skin. So when we got down from Cartridge Pass, we decided that the scrambling and brush in the lower part of Muro Blanco would be a challenge for him with his injuries, so we just went up to the JMT and went out over Pinchot Pass. But it was still a nice trip.
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby East Side Hiker » Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:56 am

I am a definate proponent of changing plans once I begin a trip. I do it all the time.

But starting in Tuoloumne and winding up at whitney Portal!!! That beats all the trip changes I ever heard of! What a trip that must have been. Practically the entire JMT.
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby markskor » Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:58 am

She was kinda cute... at first, going only as far as Reds Meadow...
Like I said before....Chit happens.
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Re: Plan B and B-yond

Postby maverick » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:19 pm

Markskor writes "She was kinda cute...", that would make a good reason for a good Plan B!
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