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First time backpacking solo?

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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby rlown » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:12 pm

ChinMusic wrote:
mp88 wrote: Finally, on the third morning there was a guy there with a Magellan GPS and he lead us out there no problem, we just followed the red line on the screen and within two hours we were back on the trail, amazing.

Funny that, huh? :wink:

To each his own. I embrace the technology. I have yet to be eaten by a shark due a rogue point. I know a rogue point when I see one. My GPS ain't even considered modern, as it is a 2004 model.

If I ever lose a trail in bad weather/dark/tree cover/etc. I KNOW I can find the trail quickly and easily. That map may help with starting a fire.


Umm.. don't burn your map.. that maybe all you have to get out.

So, I have 3 with me on most trips.. I print out a map for each, so I dont have to hear the "where are we" crap. The GPS is the go to backup in good or bad weather.

I know where I am because I plan, look at the map and even fly the thing from Google Earth and look at things from different angles.

You have to know where you are.

mp88's comments were on spot.. can't just hike around until you think you reacquire the trail..



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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:15 pm

ChinMusic wrote:
AlmostThere wrote:Do what you will - we'll still come looking for you, just like everyone else.

And with my cell/sat phone I will be able to tell you where I am within 20 feet. You'll be able to be back home for the big game.


Not likely. Bad assumptions breed big mistakes, and betting on electronics to always be right is a bad assumption. As long as it's guiding you true, we won't need to be there. When it subtly sends you off course and something unexpected happens, or when the sat phone drowns or fails, or the gps dies a painful death in the granite, or you accidentally pack dead batteries.... Well, don't burn the map yet.

Also, we don't get out there that fast either. The game will be over by the time the helo picks up the team two people at a time.... If it can fly. We'll be backpacking two days home if it can't.... Happened before, it'll happen again.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby ChinMusic » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:44 pm

AlmostThere wrote: Not likely. Bad assumptions breed big mistakes, and betting on electronics to always be right is a bad assumption. As long as it's guiding you true, we won't need to be there.

If I am lying there with a broken leg, I darn well want GPS with me so I can tell you exactly where I am. Just take my coordinates and make an "X" on your map........... :D
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby TRAUMAhead » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:47 pm

Looks like I opened a can of worms. :-k So other than being proficient at using a map and compass, anything else for going solo, lol? And any recommendations on compasses?

And bringing the cellphone is a nice multitool at 5.4oz, though I agree with less electronics in the outdoors. It's my watch, alarm, gps, any book I want with the Kindle app, knot guide, and more. Majority of the time I use it as a watch, especially tossing and turning at night. For some reason, I have to check what time it is.
“The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong - that’s when adventure starts.” - Yvon Chouinard
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:06 pm

ChinMusic wrote:
AlmostThere wrote: Not likely. Bad assumptions breed big mistakes, and betting on electronics to always be right is a bad assumption. As long as it's guiding you true, we won't need to be there.

If I am lying there with a broken leg, I darn well want GPS with me so I can tell you exactly where I am. Just take my coordinates and make an "X" on your map........... :D


Don't forget to tell us what datum you're using.

If the phone still works.

One mistake tends to lead to a whole bunch of others that seemed good at the time... no telling whether you will be able to do anything you're so confident you'll do. Especially if you are dehydrated out of your mind and left the pack on a rock 2 miles ago.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:14 pm

No, Traumahead, bad assumptions open cans of worms. You just wanted some suggestions. :nod:

My phone goes too - bad light packer, no biscuit - because it does a number of things for me - it's got a few gig of mp3s in it, it's my backup camera, and it's my alarm/watch. But it's a pitiful tiny screen and no gps app for it, not that I would use it for that if it did. And if I end up walking out on a different trailhead and hitching a ride, once I get back to a tower I can call a buddy. Most of the payphones around the trailheads I frequent have been torn out.

I have gone solo. I think the hardest part for me was camp. I'm so used to operating in a team or group I have to get used to my own company all over again. Maybe I should get a knot guide too so I can keep up with my climbing knots.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby ChinMusic » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:19 pm

AlmostThere wrote:
If the phone still works.

Yeah, no one has EVER broken a compass....... :lol:

AlmostThere wrote: Especially if you are dehydrated out of your mind and left the pack on a rock 2 miles ago.

Interesting reminder.......thanks.

After setting up at a dry camp for the evening and finding myself a bit low on water, I will log my tent's waypoint, take my GPS with me, look for water, find water, and KNOW I can find my tent again no matter how far I wondered.....even in the dark.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby TRAUMAhead » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:45 pm

AlmostThere wrote:I have gone solo. I think the hardest part for me was camp. I'm so used to operating in a team or group I have to get used to my own company all over again. Maybe I should get a knot guide too so I can keep up with my climbing knots.
The solitude should be interesting, although I might freak myself out. :retard: Even when I'm home, I seldom like doing things solo like eating out, going to a movie, shopping, etc. Maybe it's just a comfort mindset, I don't know.
“The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong - that’s when adventure starts.” - Yvon Chouinard
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby ChinMusic » Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:06 pm

TRAUMAhead wrote:Even when I'm home, I seldom like doing things solo like eating out, going to a movie, shopping, etc. Maybe it's just a comfort mindset, I don't know.

The mindset might have a lot to do with it. I can go from a group, to solo, and hardly make note of it. I can be by myself for several days and have to remind myself of that. But that is just me. I have friends who would freak out if they found themselves alone. Even when backpacking with a group, which I prefer, I like to do the hiking part alone. I'd rather save the chit chat for camp and listen to nature while on the move.

If I am going to a fairly remote area by myself, I'm bringing a Sat Phone. For something like the AT, where someone should be coming by within a few hours (depends on the season), communication is not as important.

Someone mentioned the SPOT. A great device and concept. It gives your loved ones a piece of mind when you check in (if the signal goes thru). It SHOULD give YOU some piece of mind that help will be coming if the **** hits the fan. I am not familiar with the gen 2 SPOT. Gen 1 was not very user friendly and nearly worthless in tree cover for non-emer functions.

Personally I prefer the Sat Phone but a gen 2 SPOT would probably suffice.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Aug 06, 2011 6:22 am

Chinmusic, I leave you with the words of wisdom my elders in SAR gave me, on a number of occasions - the first bad assumption we make in a long chain of bad assumptions is that nothing will ever go wrong. All the experience in the world only makes you complacent.

You do know how to go without a compass, right? Or are you aware that's possible?

You need to google up the story of the 70-something backpacker with 60+ years of experience who died on Whitney in late 2009. They found his jacket, his shoes, his full backpack, and then found him, sitting dead on a rock. Also google up "paradoxical undressing."

Traumahead, have fun out there.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby ChinMusic » Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:15 am

AlmostThere wrote:You need to google up the story of the 70-something backpacker with 60+ years of experience who died on Whitney in late 2009. They found his jacket, his shoes, his full backpack, and then found him, sitting dead on a rock. Also google up "paradoxical undressing."

And this has what to do with the price of beans?

"Paradoxical undressing" is a well-know phenomena. In simple terms he froze to death and in the late stages felt "hot". Prior to this being well known it was thought these cases involved criminal activity.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Aug 06, 2011 9:50 am

If you go in with the mindset that "someone" is going to rescue you because you have SPOT or that the GPS will find the trail, you will be less vigilent than without. It is a totally different mind set to go in solo, in very remote country, off trail, with the mind set that the buck truely stops at your own outdoor competence. Even if you have multiple gagets, you need the mindset that you are on your own. This keeps you on your toes. Your skill and judgement should be your main "equipment"; the other gagets are just backup.

Do you have a "plan" when things go wrong? Or are you just going to push the button on SPOT? So how are you going to handle the next day or two before someone gets to you?

As for finding a trail in snow- first if you know where you are going there really is little need to follow the trail. Secondly, I am very good at spotting clues of a snow covered trail. I do quite well in snow with just my map.

My main criticism of GPS is that it allows people with few orienteering skills to go to places they really should not be. It is sort of the old saying, "if you have a 4wd truck, you will go where you should not and get stuck". It has been shown that carrying avalanche beacons does not result in fewer deaths. Having these gagets should not seduce you into doing what you would not do without them. I have repeatedly run across people, GPS in hand, who "knew where they were" as a spot on a map, but really had no overall concept of where they were. I am convinced that people who rely on GPS are less aware of their surroundings.

All that said, I also realize there are people who cannot read a map no matter how hard they try. They are not stupid. It is just a spatial apptitude they do not have. My husband is one of these. Other than problems with maps, he has great outdoor/survival skills. I was so glad when he got his GPS because I now worry a lot less about him not finding his way back to camp. When he goes hunting with others, he takes his GPS and a walkie-talkie. I am nnot anit-GPS, but remember it is just a tool- needs an intellegent user.
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