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ON the Internet, we're all mistake free!

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ON the Internet, we're all mistake free!

Postby balzaccom » Thu May 10, 2012 8:58 am

This is from a post on our blog...


Have you ever noticed this? The minute a story comes out about someone who needs rescuing in the mountains, the internet message boards are filled with people who never, ever make that mistake, and here’s why. These posters are quick to point out all the things they do right, and how smart they really are about all this.

OK, fine.

We’re not so sure. In our experience, most disasters in the mountains aren’t caused by a single bad decision, but a combination of decisions that slowly lead to a really bad situation. And if you read the accounts carefully, you can usually find about three or four points in every story where a different decision would have led to a different result. Of course, not always for the better—but still. There were options. There are almost always options.

We’ve been on lots of trips where we took stock of where we were and decided that it was time to back off, back out, or back down. No, we weren’t facing certain death. But we just decided that we had gone far enough, pushed our luck with the elements far enough, or simply didn’t like the way things looked.

Or we’ve been slightly off trail, confused about the map, separated from our hiking partners, running out of water, getting cold, or worried about how late it was getting. None of those are very dangerous situations in and of themselves. We just didn't like the odds.

So we bailed. We turned around. That’s not very adventurous or determined, but it always seemed like the right decision at the time. You might read this and think that we are just like everyone else on the internet—that we’ve never made a mistake and we can’t imagine finding ourselves in a situation that requires rescue. You'd be wrong. In fact, we’d suggest just the opposite.

We CAN imagine ourselves in that situation, and that’s why we turn around (or chicken out.) We never like being in a situation where there is only one possible option to get out. The first option is always that you can turn around and go home. That’s a pretty good option in many cases, even if it doesn’t lead to epic or heroic adventures. Epic is over-rated.

The single best piece of survival equipment is your brain. And the best way to use it is to avoid situations with few potentially good outcomes. (You might explain that to the idiots who star in those outdoor survival shows on TV. They are clueless about this.)

The most famous example of all might be the Donner Party. They started a bit late, took an ill-advised cut-off, lost more time in the desert, and started up into the mountains when they were weak, low on food, low on energy and out of time. And that’s when the snows hit. Lots of people made similar mistakes, but not all on the same trip, and not in a year when the snows were massive. They left themselves with only one option, and it wasn't a good one.

Of course, if the Donner Party happened today, we would hear lots of explanations about how stupid they were, and how the various posters on the internet never find themselves in any trouble whatsoever when they travel, because they always make sure that …yadda yadda yadda.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/



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Re: ON the Internet, we're all mistake free!

Postby oldranger » Thu May 10, 2012 9:12 am

Balzaccom,

i had to laugh when I read this,

The single best piece of survival equipment is your brain. And the best way to use it is to avoid situations with few potentially good outcomes. (You might explain that to the idiots who star in those outdoor survival shows on TV. They are clueless about this.)


You've got it exactly right. I picked up a hitchhiker a few weeks ago as I traveled between Bend and Boise. My passenger mentioned how he enjoyed the survival shows. I replied they were pretty stupid because you should be smart enough and prepared enough to avoid those situations. Damned if I'm going to drink my own piss!

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: ON the Internet, we're all mistake free!

Postby SandStorm » Thu May 10, 2012 1:17 pm

Gotta love the Backkountry Keyboard Kommandos™.

Speaking of the TV grub-munchers, the whole "survivalism" fad is irritating as hell. It's nothing but a massive, BS-saturated marketing campaign which generates "experts" faster than the internet and will end up getting people killed. Pop culture and "reality" TV are bad enough as it is but this is just the worst. :\
:soapbox:
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Re: ON the Internet, we're all mistake free!

Postby RoguePhotonic » Thu May 10, 2012 5:02 pm

Lol I have always enjoyed the survival shows even when I know the advise they are giving will probably get you killed. I love the outdoors and like to watch people bumble around in the wilderness.

There is something to be said about being smart enough to not find yourself in a bad situation but there are always those times when the only wrong move you made was being there in the first place. We can all try to say how we will react and handle something while we are safe and warm with a full belly in our chairs but until we are there we can't know for sure.
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Re: ON the Internet, we're all mistake free!

Postby dave54 » Thu May 10, 2012 7:30 pm

I have always heard the best outdoor skill to have was not how to survive any scenario in the woods. The best skill is knowing how to avoid them in the first place.
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Re: ON the Internet, we're all mistake free!

Postby Slugman » Thu May 10, 2012 9:10 pm

Most serious incidents involve some elements of bad planning, poor decisions and plain old bad luck. We can minimize risk through good sense and preparation, but even the best get into trouble, sometimes.
Last edited by Slugman on Thu May 10, 2012 10:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ON the Internet, we're all mistake free!

Postby Cross Country » Thu May 10, 2012 9:40 pm

I started out very young in the wilderness as a boy scout and among other things took the motto to heart "Be Prepared" As balzaccom said, use you brain.
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Re: ON the Internet, we're all mistake free!

Postby Fly Guy Dave » Fri May 11, 2012 7:32 am

One of the first merit badges I ever earned in the Scouts was Wilderness Survival and I recall the instructor saying that these skills are used only if you were stupid enough to get into the situation in the first place. After spending a couple of sleepless nights shivering out in the woods and eating more or less raw hamburger for a couple of meals, I was solidly convinced.
"Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man." --Jeff Lebowski

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Re: ON the Internet, we're all mistake free!

Postby Troutdog 59 » Fri May 11, 2012 10:08 am

Good topic B! I tend to agree with Slugman,
Slugman wrote:We can minimize risk through good sense and preparation, but even the best get into trouble, sometimes.
I do not consider myself infallable and often choose an alternative if the first choice isnt working out.

That said, it CAN happen to anyone. Having spent alot of time in the outdoors (I'm a geologist by profession and like to fish, hike, ski, etc), I consider myself pretty experienced in the field, but I almost got myself lost in the woods one night in what would seem like the most unlikley places. My wife and I camped at White Wolf CG in Yosemite. We pulled in late and got a camp site. After setting up the tent, my wife went about setting up camp, and I took off to collect some firewood. Like any camp area, I had to walk aways to get to downed wood. I went up a slope, along a thin ridge, and then found a wooded hillside dropping off on the other side with ample dowed wood to collect. I gathered our fire wood and started heading back, but soon noticed something didnt seem right. There was wood everywhere! Why would I have walked right by it? It was then I realized I had not followed the thin ridge back to the proper slope. I had instead come up the slope I had collected the wood from, then dropped straight down. I was heading into the Tuolumne River Canyon. I adjusted my route, but was running out of light, when I got a big break. When we had arrived, we had driven past the campground and stumbled into a employee housing area just down the road. They directed us back to the CG, and on the way out we heard them fire up their generator. Standing there in the fading light, I heard the faint sound of the genrator to the SW. I followed the sound to the source and then up the road to our CG. To my embarrasment, there was my wife talking with two park rangers about her husband being lost in the woods. All were glad I made it back, even if I felt pretty stupid, but it does show that the slightest little deviation can get one into a pickle in a wink.
If you stand in the light, you get the feel of the night, and the music that plays in your ear......
In your mind you can hear, a voice so sweet and clear, and the music that plays in your head......
As it flows up from the ground, taking all that hear the sound, close your eyes, it’s about to begin.

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Re: ON the Internet, we're all mistake free!

Postby Jimr » Fri May 11, 2012 11:07 am

I almost got lost in Dusy Basin, but then I was frying on acid at the time. Thank goodness for yellow tents. :whistle:
What?!
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Re: ON the Internet, we're all mistake free!

Postby markskor » Fri May 11, 2012 12:07 pm

I got lost once at night in Yosemite Valley BP camp,
somehow I lost my tent, spent the night curled up under a tree - but...
It could have had something to do with Tequila shooters.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: ON the Internet, we're all mistake free!

Postby RoguePhotonic » Fri May 11, 2012 12:35 pm

I can't say I have been lost in anyway while camping or hiking. The closest I have come is when I hiked into The Devil's Bathtub out of VVR. After two days of snow fall there was no trail on the way back which at the time was a concept that hadn't occurred to me. We took off cross country through dense forest but I always knew which direction I was going and that I would eventually hit the lake. In the end I picked up the trail again about a mile from the trail head.

Since I have never done drugs and have never been drunk I guess I haven't had that privilege yet. :p
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