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Your "Trip from Hell"

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Re: Your "Trip from Hell"

Postby quentinc » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:29 pm

It's funny thinking about the label "trip from hell." I've reported in the past on a trip where I had to hike 5 days off-trail with a dislocated, torn-up shoulder, and one where I worried about possibly bleeding to death from a non-healing cut on my shin. And yet, except for a few hours of misery, on balance I considered both of those to have been great trips, even while I was still finishing them.

The only unmitigated time from hell was my first Mt. Russell climb, where (not on Russell itself, which went great, but choosing an "optimistic" alternative route coming down from the plateau) I was literally a "Hail Mary pass" away from certain destruction. Somehow I caught the pass (a knob on a ledge I was forced to slide, head-first as it turned out, down to); if I had missed I wouldn't be typing this. I wrote this story up here several years back when it happened. It was one of the pivotal moments in my life.



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Re: Your "Trip from Hell"

Postby East Side Hiker » Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:24 am

I had one trip from hell that didn't involve a bear (when I took my daughter when she was 5 on a trip out of Tuolumne, a bear got our food, and I had to hike out to the Tuolumne store to get food for a week).

I can't even remember the trail, but I hiked up from Kern Flat (I believe), to the east, and it was something else - couple thousand feet in the summer heat. I believe I wound up on the PCT. I also hate that stretch of the JMT in and out of Bear Creek.
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Re: Your "Trip from Hell"

Postby Snow Nymph » Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:35 am

2 hrs on a crumbling wall because my arms and legs weren't long enough to reach to the next handhold. We took a wrong turn coming down from Mt Baldwin. My friend got across a ledge but when I followed my arms and legs couldn't make it across the last big step. I tried going back, and couldn't reach (not sure how I made it across). I tried going up and that was worse. The rock crumbled in my hands, and I also couldn't go back down (also ~1000' drop). My friend was going from all sides trying to figure out how to get me out of this. My legs were like rubber and I felt like my foothold was going to break off everytime I tried to get in a better position. Once I got out of it, it was a long hike out. I think it was 16 hrs round trip.

there's a few others, but too tired to think.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


http://snownymph.smugmug.com/
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Re: Your "Trip from Hell"

Postby hikerchick395 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:06 am

Well, along with a lot of you..."trip from hell?" Wouldn't necessarily call them that because I have fonder memories of such experiences once they are over, than feelings of regret. Some situations will test you and you come out, maybe more experienced or triumphant or just plain relieved. But there is some satisfaction in being challenged.

I guess the one trip that comes to mind that might qualify was in the summer of 1990. We arrived at Onion Valley On Friday the 13th of July. Thunder, lightning, pouring rain. 13 people had been hit by lightning in the hut on the top of Whitney. Still the next morning, we headed out on the trail...our destination was home at Pine Creek. We ended up being out for 8 days. This storm lasted the entire time. At Rae Lakes, we holed up early. We were laying in the tent, eyes closed, and a simultaneous lightning/thunder hit very close. You could "see" the light through closed eyelids and the concussion was like a dynamite blast. On Pinchot Pass, we were caught in the lightning storm and had to run down the creek of a trail. I think that in all of these years, that was the time that we most feared for our lives. The storm continued, and although we rarely bail out on a trip, we opted to hike out at Bishop Pass.

This was supposed to be a continuation of the previous year's hike, Mount Whitney to Pine Creek. We also had to bail out there (Mount Whitney to Onion Valley) because we had giardia (a litlle more hellishness?)
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Re: Your "Trip from Hell"

Postby East Side Hiker » Fri Mar 18, 2011 2:06 pm

When my kids were little, we would always go to Pacific Valley for our vacations - the river is mild and easy, perfect place for kids, not too many people, enough bears to make it exiciting as long as you have a dog...

I remember the July of 1990. We were in Pacific Valley. We had three families and one couple, camped for the month (though the requirement is 14 days max). Canoes, Lake Alpine, sunshine, Pacific Creek winding gently and beautifully through the lower valley before it cascades into the Mokelumne River; and then the "hell" broke loose, as hikerchick395 described. Lightning, rain, excessive runoff...

But in late July 2005, there was a really "hell" one. I was driving from South Lake to Independence with my beautiful woman. There was rain, lightning the whole way, but the previous days just before had been in the upper 90s. We saw fires start in several places between Big Pine and Independence. We were headed for our secret spot in the Alabama Hills, before going to Horseshoe Mdw, but got to Independence and decided to get a room at Ray's Den. Then we heard about the Boy Scout troop being hit by lightning. They had a trip fron "hell." We wound up doing our entire plan for the Cottonwood Basin, Mt. Whitney (when the permits were easyier (spell?)), George Creek, Onion Valley, and Oak Creek without mishap.

I do remember when I worked for the Toiyabe, maybe in 1983, or 82, there was an electrical storm that was recording scores (more like 100s) of lightning strikes an hour. I was on a huge horse leading a pack mule. I had at least 6 miles to go. And what would it have mattered when I got to my cabin - horse and mule still exposed to the lightning; all running around crazy? Rodeo city. The animals held steady. Kept going. Made it.

But I guess thats really not a trip from hell. That's a normal outcome from a day in the Sierra.

My worst day, but it was not in the Sierra, was a peak bagging trip in Rocky Mtn National Park, where I made a huge, huge x-country blunder, that people should be aware of not making. I'd climbed a couple of the Shoshone Pks. Coming down, I dropped into a drainage where I couldn't go down any further. It took hours to figure out how to get out of there.
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Re: Your "Trip from Hell"

Postby quentinc » Tue Apr 05, 2011 10:15 pm

Ironically, and probably as punishment for having posted that I enjoyed all my trips from hell, I just had one this weekend that I did not enjoy!

I did a stretch of the PCT near Lancaster (it was actually more scenic than that makes it sound). There must have been at least 30 downed trees, many of which were extremely difficult to get by because the trail is generally cut into steep hillsides. (It could easily go along the ridge top, but the masochists who designed the PCT could never allow that).

Even when there weren't trees on the trail, overgrown thorn bushes regularly assaulted me.

I saw probably over 200 empty Bud Light cans (must have been a thru-hiker special last season).

Because so much of the trail traverses steep hillsides, I never really found a flat spot to camp (the official "campsites" were not located anywhere near where I ended each day).

On the way back out, both of my feet and my right knee hurt (old age?), my hands and one elbow hurt from gripping hiking poles, and I had a bizarre rash from the pressure of my backpack.

Although I checked for ticks constantly, I later discovered one that had already burrowed rather far into my calf.

After all this fun, I couldn't wait to get back to my car. Of course, then I couldn't find my keys. I dumped every single item out of my pack on the side of the road, searching furiously and cursing to no avail. I do carry a spare key in my wallet, so I figured at least this wasn't the end of the world. Except it turned out that using the spare key only opened the door and not the ignition, and that using it set off a car alarm that I couldn't turn off! At this point, I was hoping a large truck would come by so that I could run into the middle of the road and be put out of my misery. ](*,)

Eventually, I found the real car key. But I don't think I'll be back to the PCT for a while.
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Re: Your "Trip from Hell"

Postby jimqpublic » Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:27 pm

There are so many... Not bad trips so much as days. Here are three:

Thought it was a good idea to climb 13,000' Mt. Goode on skis. Got too icy for double camber tele skis so left them and proceeded on foot. Coming down slipped and slid for a long, long time (500 vertical maybe?) before flying off a snow-covered boulder and into the only soft drift on the whole mountain. Worst part was I had to climb back up a few hundred feet to get my skis.

In a snowstorm headed up from Paiute Pass to look out through a window to the East side, quick jaunt just wearing a jacket (no food, water, compass...). Coming down whiteout kept me wandering in circles for something like three hours before finally finding the pass & my pack.

Headed from JMT up the Shepherd Pass trail for last night of a trip from Horseshoe. My first time on this trail, but companion was ahead and would stop well before the night's stop at Anvil Camp. (No map). Kept going over the pass, stopped at what looked like a good spot but buddy not there. Anvil Camp must be farther. Reached Mahogany Flat and found out from some inbound hikers that Anvil Camp was behind me. Asked them to tell my companion that I was going to trailhead and I'd see him the next day. Got to trailhead near dusk and saw Independence looking close. It wasn't. Kept walking and got home dead tired around 10:00 PM. Planned on 7 miles and ended up at something like 25.
Jim
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Re: Your "Trip from Hell"

Postby RoguePhotonic » Wed Apr 06, 2011 4:52 pm

Other then my first backpacking trip ever that completely destroyed me physically the closest thing I have to a trip from hell was in my very early days of backpacking. A friend, my dad and I hiked to The Devils Bathtub in a late May heavy snow storm. The trip first went wrong when we were only a mile into the trail and my dad that had been trailing behind took a wrong turn and did not cross a creek when he was supposed to. Finally we see him and he sees us but he ignores all our efforts to tell him where to go and starts off in the wrong direction once again. Finally in total frustration he jumps off into the creek with his boots on and then says he can't go on because of his freezing feet so we camped out.

After making it to the lake the next day it snowed all day and night and we were supposed to stay another night but decided to go home. Unfortunately it had never crossed our minds the simple fact that with all this snow there no longer was a trail at all so we were forced cross country through thick bush that was flooded at every turn. Only my boots kept me dry while the other two got completely soaked. After a few hours of fighting through the forest and some careful navigating we picked up the trail about a mile before the trail head and made it out.
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Re: Your "Trip from Hell"

Postby kpeter » Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:04 pm

My trip from hell was about 30 years ago in Northern Idaho, so I'm not sure it qualifies for a High Sierra Topix trip from hell. But it was hellish!

Took place in the St. Joe River wilderness, which is a verdant, rolling-mountainous terrain at modest elevation dotted with many wonderful fishing lakes and absolutely crawling with moose, elk, deer, bear, and relatively few people.

And mosquitoes.

It was a hot, sultry July with the occasional rolling thunderstorm. The rivers and streams were magnificent.

We began to get an inkling of what we were in for when we descended into the first lake basin late in the afternoon and had to stop to pick the swarms of knats out of our eyes, noses and mouths. But as we spat and snorted and picked we discovered to our horror that they weren't knats--as nasty as knats can be, but the most voluminous billowy clouds of miniature mosquitoes we had ever seen--a new variety for us and one we had accumulated no physical tolerance.

I'm not normally overly allergic to mosquito bites, but each of these began to swell up to silver dollar sized welts. By the time we got to camp we were so driven to distraction that we were jogging to try to keep them from landing. By the time I got my tent set up (it seemed like it had 116 stakes!) one of my eyes was swollen shut from several bites and the other one was starting to go. I ducked into the tent and spent about an hour tracking down and exterminating all the mosquitoes that came with me. But the blessed relief!

It was at that point that I realized that I was hungry and needed to relieve myself. I could not see out the door of the tent--the netting was completely black. If I moved my hand to within about an inch of the netting, hundreds of little probosci began to poke eagerly through the netting. Looking out a side window, I saw that all of my white guylines were covered with rows of waiting mosquitos.

I thought if I waited until the night got cold, I could more safely come out. After waiting in torturous conditions for hours I realized that the night was never going to get cold. And you can guess the rest.

The trip was originally scheduled to be 5 days long. We made it out in 3. The DEET ran out at the end of the 2nd day. I spent the first couple of days at home soaking in colloidal oatmeal baths as if I were covered in a poison ivy rash.
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