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Unscheduled cross-country sidetrips

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Unscheduled cross-country sidetrips

Postby Strider » Fri Jun 16, 2006 7:11 am

Of course, no one in this forum has ever gotten 'lost!'

Excuse me if this has been posted before, but I was curious if anyone had stories about being 'off-mission' on a hike.

One snowy spring, we had 'trail identification challenges' on the way from Quaking Aspen to Maggie Lakes, and after two nights of sleeping with our firewood, we came down in Balch Park. The upside was finding a small but spectacular stand of Sequoias.



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Postby LarBear » Fri Jun 16, 2006 9:37 pm

Memorial Day several years ago-Monanche Meadows. A freak storm that wiped out all of the trail signs. We started east and followed a canyon to a dead end. Climbed to the top and couldnl't see any landmarks (still snowing). At 11 , after 3 hours of exhausting tramping we did we we were trained to do. We sat down, cooked a meal and made a plan. We headed straight south because we knew we would hit Sherman Pass Road. After a night's rest we hit the road at noon and one of the group hitched a ride back to our trailhead and the cars. We later figured out that we had initally walked in a complete circle .
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Postby LarBear » Fri Jun 16, 2006 9:38 pm

Memorial Day several years ago-Monanche Meadows. A freak storm that wiped out all of the trail signs. We started east and followed a canyon to a dead end. Climbed to the top and couldnl't see any landmarks (still snowing). At 11 , after 3 hours of exhausting tramping we did we we were trained to do. We sat down, cooked a meal and made a plan. We headed straight south because we knew we would hit Sherman Pass Road. After a night's rest we hit the road at noon and one of the group hitched a ride back to our trailhead and the cars. We later figured out that we had initally walked in a complete circle .
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Postby hikerduane » Fri Jun 16, 2006 10:14 pm

In my younger days, I never carried water, relying on springs and small rivers/creeks/riverlets. I always wondered why, when I took my pack off at the end of the day, that I felt like I was going to float away. Dehydration. On one week long trip with my young Dobie we had lots of water to drink (every hour or two) bping in and out of the Desolation Wilderness. We did a loop to the west side to Loon Lake and then back east into Desolation. The trails shortly after leaving Loon Lake get pretty faint depending on where you go. The day we left Loon Lake, I kept trying to make the trail in one spot because that was where it should be according to my map. Years later I found it started down the road another half mile or so as told to me by an old rancher who ran cattle in the area. I met him again a few days later on that trip. Anyway back to the trip. We made our way to Upper Bassi and followed the faint trail until it hit another road which I refused to believe we were on. As we kept going southeast instead of east I finally decided we had enough of that. I just made a left off the road and headed north thinking I was way south, close to civilization. I hit a small thin ribbon of water which was cold and we drank it up since I didn't have any water and hadn't had any for hours. We hiked another hour in the middle of nowhere I thought, so I finally stopped and took my pack off and got my ground cloth out and put my sleeping bag on it and laid down for a bit. I finally ate a small amount and found some water close by. It was warm but I drank anyway. That was the most tired I think I have ever been and I was in my mid to late 20's at the time. The next morning we got up, had next to nothing for breakfast (still dehydrated) and headed off. Within 30 minutes I found some tracks and followed them to a marker and took the trail to a lake, Lake #3. I was "found". I've since been thru there again, went the right way around the mountain, this time sleeping about 3/4 mile from the house on private property at Upper Bassi. I scouted the trail that night a short distance from camp to make sure I went north instead of southerly. I found the same meadow where I drank the cold water on my first trip and it was dry the second time around. After leaving the house, the trail gets real dicey, if you take your time, you can follow the blaze marks on the trees (some of them) and follow the old faint trail and work the old trail out. A real challenge. The second trip thru, I knew where the trail split and never saw where I made the wrong turn from the first trip. I finally lost the trail when it went around a bush and there was nothing on the other side. As it turned out, I was only a short distance from a 4X4 road to Barrett Lake, on the edge of Desolation so I was found again.
Piece of cake.
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Postby SSSdave » Sat Jun 17, 2006 7:39 am

Not much chance of that happening during the day as I tend to really analyze my routes on topos beforehand and on trails or routes compulsively regularly check where I'm at. There are times when I come to trails that are not on the topos or the trail that are on the topos are mismarked and that can lead to me stopping frequently to make sense out of what I am looking at. Recall the trail between the east Mineral King trailhead and Monarch Lake is so mismarked at the top of switchbacks. Sometimes on crosscountry routes I will come to locations that confuse me due to the difficultly of seeing landmarks or complex terrain. That won't last long however and is simply not being certain of the exact location rather than being totally in the wrong place.

We night hike sometimes, including night hiking crosscountry. Now that can be extremely difficult and I have ended up at places I wasn't sure about till we woke up in the morning and could see. Of course a thousand foot cliff might be a couple hundred feet away, but in the inky black of a cloudy or moonless night, one cannot see anything beyond the puny range of a flashlight. Sometimes I have to hike back to camp after late dusk shots. By time I return from a couple miles distant, it can be ugly dark. I will only do so if I am confident there is no chance I won't be able to find my way back. Places in heavy forest are examples of places where I'd never do so as one could die from exposure overnight in our high mountains any month of the year. ...David
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Postby giantbrookie » Wed Jun 21, 2006 4:05 pm

I can't say we've had much in the way of spontaneous cross country because of being lost given that we've never really been far off any route, but we've done a lot of impromptu cross country, not because we were forced to, but because we spontaneously decided on something different while being out there. I do very meticulous planning on topos before going on a trip, but I hate to be bound to my itinerary. Thus, if the occasion dictates, we've done many cross country routes decided on the spot (with ample analysis of the maps, however). Better examples were two trips that were supposed to be in and back trips that were developed into loops during the course of the trip. One of these involved looping around Mt. Goddard, another involved the legendary Kendrick Creek area.

I guess I should add that in the "old days" (i.e., pre Secor) many peak bagging routes were what amounted to spontaneous cross country because there was almost nothing in the way of route descriptions in the existing guide (Voge, then Smatko, then Roper). One could scout feasibility on a topo map, but the final choice of routes awaited visual inspection of the given face/slope/ridge first hand. Many routes were developed on the fly and they differed radically from anything in the guidebooks of the time. Of these, my favorite is probably a (still unlisted) class 2 route on Mt. Maclure (otherwise a class 3 or harder peak from any direction) that I spotted looking at it from the summit of Mt. Lyell. I had not actually intended to climb Maclure until I spotted the route.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Postby dave54 » Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:23 pm

Some of our most serendipitous discoveries have been made this way... :D

I am sure most of us here have one or two 'secret spots' they have accidently found by this method, and keep returning to those lost locations.
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