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Anyone battle fear on the trail?

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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby dave54 » Thu Dec 26, 2013 1:44 pm

As mentioned above, driving to the trailhead gives me more concern than being on the trail itself.

I am very comfortable in the wilderness. I feel I am in my element. Solo off trail does not bother me. Lost is simply part of the adventure ( I just sit down and think through how I got there and always navigated my way back) I am aware of the risks and take appropriate precautions, but it is not fear or apprehension.
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Dec 26, 2013 7:48 pm

If you tend to be a natural worry wart (that's me) this tendency does not go away just because you backpack. I simply have to keep it in perspective and not let it stop me from going. I find that detailed planning tamps down the worries for me. I have been in plenty of fearful situations - but most on alpine climbs. Backpack fears are really pretty minor compared to climbing. With experience, I have learned to listen to my intuition and distinguish normal worries from potential dangerous situations. Some fears get more pronounced when I solo, but at least I do not have to worry about other people.
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail? (the non-natural angle)

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:27 pm

With all of the posts in this and the "achilles heel" thread, I'm surprised I didn't see a post about 'non natural' hazards, or maybe I missed it. On trail I don't worry about much and even off trail backpacking I don't tend to get too stressed about stuff. I agree with WD that climbing is another matter, for even though I have not done climbing as difficult as she has, I have still had some close calls.

Getting back to the non-climbing realm I have only one persistent fear and this is usually at lower altitudes and usually, but not always, off trail. This concerns running into humans whose use of the wilderness is vastly different than yours and mine. The main (but not only, see below) fear is stumbling upon a well-guarded or booby trapped growing area. Back in the 80's a grad student of a friend of mine was killed execution style in the northern Coast Ranges while doing geologic field work--it was theorized that he had simply stumbled into an "unsafe" area. Virtually every geologist has been or knows folks who have been threatened by armed folks while off trail. My first grad student had to flee his field area when confronted by an armed "guard" in a gully above Hwy 70 in the Feather River canyon. That led to the biggest bust in the history of Plumas Co. (2008, I recall). I ran into two guards, one armed with a shot gun and one armed with a machete while walking a public dirt road in San Diego county back in 1991--apparently the green fields in those days were being disguised beneath the cover of avocado groves there. After an uneasy conversation that neither side understood (language barrier), we parted amicably (or so it seemed). In the mid 80's, while doing field work, I crawled through the brush once to avoid a couple of guys on horseback armed with AK47s (in the "wilds" of the SF Peninsula).

Getting to higher Sierra stuff and non-natural hazards that are not associated with high value agriculture, I recall once backpacking to an unnamed lake in what I once called the "Land of the Giant Brookies" north of I80. It was Memorial Day weekend (ie this was NOT hunting season). We parked along a jeep road and walked in. Hiking back to our vehicle the next day there was sound of gunfire the likes of which one seldom hears, even on opening day of deer season. There was a whole caravan of folks in various 4WD vehicles, many or all of whom were obviously plastered, and they were firing an impressive array of ordinance in every direction from those vehicles. No, they weren't aiming at us, but, on the other hand, they weren't aiming anywhere, so it was pretty scary. I recall it was a few years later that a friend of mine and his family camped in a campground in this area. Late that night a bunch of folks of the same strain as those noted above, came into the campground and started firing all over the place, apparently not at each other or anyone else in particular. Not a good family experience for my friend.

This brings me back to the fear one of my friends had when going his first backpack trip to the High Sierra. He was headed to Susie Lake in Desolation Wilderness and he was worried about "non natural" hazards. Our conversation went about like this. My friend: "So, Wak, there's one thing that worries me". Me: "What?" Him: "Are there any... I mean, yunno, reds out there." Me "What do you mean?" Him: "Well, cuz I been watching Deliverance and sh_t.."

I assured him that he had nothing to worry about in Desolation and he had an enjoyable trip. In general, I don't sweat things in any of the High Sierra wilderness areas including the NPs, but there is some of that backcountry in the I80 country that would give me the heebie jeebies.

At lower altitudes, it goes without saying that the various "farms" continue to be a hazard. Another sort of folk that has scared me in the past were some of those dredging for gold. They are as heavily armed as the guys guarding the green stuff for they think every one is trying to take their gold. I can recall one meeting in a north Sierra canyon. Several of these guys gave me and a fellow geologist the evil eye then discharged their hand guns randomly as they walked about. Whereas they weren't shooting at us, it was clear this was meant to intimidate us, and intimidate it did, for I did not return to that spot for nearly 20 years. Another time, I went to fish the Middle Fork American (I recall, or perhaps it was the very lowest Rubicon), with a graduate buddy of mine. This fellow confronts us and asks us what we were doing. When he was convinced we were in fact really fishing, he let us go on our way without any hostility. What was memorable about this guy was where he had his handgun tucked. Let's just say I hope it never discharged accidentally, unless the guy wanted to sing for the Vienna Boys Choir.
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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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby oldranger » Fri Dec 27, 2013 5:06 pm

Ah yes miners! Once in the early 70s during spring vacation my ex, her youngest brother, youngest sister and I were touring on and off highway 49. Going down a FS road we we greeted with a scene right out of Deliverance---a tobacco chewing hillbilly with Tobacco juice dripping down his chin and a rifle in his hands and across his chest. Thinking quickly if not with much bravado I asked, "is this a private road?" "Yup." So we turned around without incident.

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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: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby rlown » Fri Dec 27, 2013 5:11 pm

OR, Sounds like any one of your other low elevation trips. ;)
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby sekihiker » Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:18 pm

I just finished reading this thread from beginning to end and have little to add. I feel really fortunate to have had my experiences with fear spread out over many years. These include exposed climbs and dangerous water and snow bridge crossings with full pack and many close encounters with rattlesnakes and one with a cougar. However, if early in my hiking career I had been awakened in the middle of the night by a bear licking my neck, I doubt that I would have had all those experiences.
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby 87TT » Sun Jan 19, 2014 9:06 pm

I am cautious when called for. Stay aware of my surroundingsat all times. Respect the conditions IE weather and physical hazards. But never afraid..................And I am always armed. ;)
I will admit mostly concerned with two legged critters with the odd cat thrown in.
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby Tom_H » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:06 pm

87TT wrote:...I am always armed. ;)


That's your choice, but I have to say that the backcountry is where I feel more safe than anywhere else. A gun would be nothing more than unnecessary weight to haul around. I've run into some rednecks at trailheads, but never met anyone in the backcountry who was anything but nice. I've dealt with bears, boars, rattlesnakes, alligators, and bobcats and never needed a weapon.
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby OzSwaggie » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:02 am

I haven't been really scared on the trail, yet. Usually I'm too busy and delighted by everything! But I can worry a lot while I'm at home in my loungeroom trying to plan a trip, and imagine all sorts of what if scenarios! The worst one is what if something horrible happened to my partner and I was all alone trying to deal with it. I don't actually think that's a bad thing to keep in mind, as it stops us doing things beyond our ability or experience level. And keeps us reluctantly coughing up money to hire a SPOT.

(At the moment I'm afraid I'm gonna be left stranded at North Lake trailhead after ten days in the wilderness and no-one will give me a ride into town because I look like I probably smell bad!)

(Sorry, I don't mean to be facetious, I know your fears are more serious than that ...)

Once we are actually on the trail, these fears magically disappear - but I guess that's because I haven't had your bad experience.

I think it must be really awful to be scared while on the trail, and if I was frequently really scared I probably would not enjoy it and would just stop doing it. After all, its not something that HAS to be done in life, and there are lots of other ways to enjoy the world. Although, I wouldn't take up sailing. I am scared of deep water that I can't see the bottom of. And heights. And spiders. Oh, and the dentist ...
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby OzSwaggie » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:07 am

Oh I feel silly now. I was playing with my new knowledge of the "active topics" button and mistakenly thought this was a new thread that no-one has responded to yet. Oh dear. Now I'm gonna have to add "looking like a ninny on HST" to my list of things I'm afraid of. I'm gonna sign out now and just read.
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby rlown » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:24 pm

don't feel silly. it's really ok to add to existing threads :)
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby OzSwaggie » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:02 pm

Oh thanks you are very kind, just that I think it's kinda nice to read the thread before adding to it! So I have read it now. Very interesting, too!
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