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Trail encounters

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Trail encounters

Postby balzaccom » Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:09 am

It was mid-afternoon. We were on the last leg of our hike out of the backcountry, and only about a mile from our car. It had been a great hike, and we were now looking forward to taking off our packs, a nice drive home, hot showers, and a dinner that didn't involved freeze-dried anything.

The weather was perfect for late September, sunny but not warm.


The first couple was young and sportif, wearing only shorts and t-shirts, and they moved briskly up the trail towards us.

"Hi there," I greeted them. "Where are you headed?"

"We are going to the lakes!" the young man replied, with enthusiasm and a French accent.

"Ah!" I gave this some thought. The nearest lake was at least five miles further along the trail. "You realize that they are about five miles--eight kilometers--from here?"

The young man nodded. "About forty minutes?" he asked.

I considered this. "No, closer to two or three hours" I explained.

"OK. Thanks!" he continued up the trail. His girlfriend looked at me.

They were not carrying even a daypack, and I didn't see any bottles. "Do you have any water?" I asked. There was no real source of water for a few miles. We had very little in our packs.

"No, it's OK" he called back over his shoulder.

I looked at the girlfriend. She looked at me. "Maybe we stop before the lakes." she said.

I nodded and watched them hurry up the trail.


A hundred yards later we met an older couple, almost as old as us. Now I was really curious, and I asked them the same question. "Where are you headed."

"Up the traill," the husband replied as he panted uphill past me.

His wife looked at me and asked me how far the lakes were. I told her. "Well, we'll just see how far we get," she said. They each had a daypack, and I asked them if they had water. "Oh yeah, we have lots of water," she replied.

"Good," I thought. "You might want to share some of it with the nice young couple ahead of you."


A half-mile from the trailhead we met the last couple: two young men sitting on a couple of rocks and resting. When then heard me coming down the trail, the first young man turned around quickly and said,. "Oh, good. You're not a bear."

"Nope," I assured him, I was not a bear.

"How much further is it to the lakes?" he asked. He and his partner had a full complement of cameras, tripods and other paraphernalia.

"About five or six miles," I said.

He looked at his watch. I looked at mine. "We left our camp there about three hours ago," I explained. "So that would be about six hours, round trip."

He nodded. He looked at his watch again.

"That means you would get back here about 7 o'clock," I explained. IT would be close to dark by then.

"I guess we better get moving," his partner chimed in. He didn't get up off the rock that he occupied.

"Well, maybe you hike faster than we do," I offered.

They both nodded.

"Then again," I thought,"We didn't stop in the first half mile from the trailhead when we did this hike, and we were carrying full packs.


I wonder how far each group hiked...
Balzaccom

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Re: Trail encounters

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:33 am

As long as day-hikers have the essentials and at least a little water, I think they are fine. I used to, and still do, very long day-hikes, for example the north rim hike in Yosemite- about 20 miles with 5000 feet gain. Those pushing the daylight should be carrying good quality head lamps. Most often the five miles from the trailhead is an easy-to-follow large trail that would be fine to do in the dark with a headlamp. An athletic day-hiker can easily make 3 mph. I think we should not compare this with our rate as backpackers. I have also run into serious trail runners (over Kearsarge Pass and back in a day).

And, most people you see starting out late have enough sense to turn back when they realize they are not going get to their destination. I can understand the European's mis-judging distance. Even if you intellectually know the miles-kilometer conversion, gut feel still is in kilometer mode.

This summer along the JMT it seemed that most of the young backpackers thought nothing of traveling by headlamp and coming into camp at 9PM. Not my style; I am a morning person. On the other hand those arriving at camp at 9PM did not get up until about 8AM; they evidently are night people.
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Re: Trail encounters

Postby kpeter » Sat Oct 05, 2013 6:12 am

I do get nervous when I see dayhikers without water, particularly when they have kids. I see it frequently. Obviously these children don't die or we would hear about it, but a lot of them must be made miserable by the experience.

The only time I ran of of water was when I was 15 and packing with my father--we had those old aluminum army surplus canteens and one leaked. It was an unusual ridge top trail--uphill in the sun--for the last five miles to the trailhead. We wound up hiking without water and experienced the early signs of dehydration by the time we got back. Thank goodness I was already hooked on backpacking or that experienced might have soured me on the whole idea.
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Re: Trail encounters

Postby sparky » Sat Oct 05, 2013 9:03 am

The San Jacinto wilderness is in my backyard. On the other side of the wilderness there is a tram that takes you from palm springs up to about 8,000 ft. From there San Jacinto peak @ 10,800 ft is a stroll.

As you can imagine, lots of unprepared hikers. I have had so many people asking me for food and water, or to lead them back to the tram, I finally just decided I wont hike on that side of the mountain!
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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Re: Trail encounters

Postby markskor » Sat Oct 05, 2013 6:03 pm

Watching an Episode of “House” on TV, he lives by the adage, “everybody lies”…interesting concept. This thread posted here (and on 5 other sites?) bothers me. Who are we to judge?

“The older couple, almost as old as us…was headed up the trail… the husband replied as he panted uphill past me…we have lots of water.”

Obviously pot farmers.

“The second couple was young and sportif, wearing only shorts and t-shirts…with enthusiasm and a French accent.”

The couple was French…nuff said…never get a straight answer there.

“The last couple: two young men sitting on a couple of rocks and resting. He and his partner had a full complement of cameras, tripods and other paraphernalia.”

Certainly some por-no star and his personal photographer, they were just waiting until after you passed.


After many years backpacking, I have come to the realization that any outward show/ what you think you perceived on that first impression, may not always be what it appears. Trying to figure out others, correctly, ascertaining the what’s-what after a brief cursory meeting…not kosher?

Bottom line: In the wilderness, all are equals. Treat everyone with respect and courtesy until they actually demonstrate blatant cluelessness, only then offer to possibly assist. Anything else is IMHO, pompous, self-serving, and ego-centric.

Just my 2¢
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Re: Trail encounters

Postby rlown » Sat Oct 05, 2013 8:11 pm

Balzaccom. You really posted this on 5 different sites? why? is this some sort of funnel to your site?

I understand your concern but what did you actually do?
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Re: Trail encounters

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Oct 05, 2013 8:48 pm

Markskor- I get so much "advise" when I am backpacking I must have the classic "clueless" look! Yes, it is annoying. I think a lot of wanting to give advise is eagerness to tell others where you have been and give yourself a pat on the back. I do not take it as malicious or arrogant - just a bit thoughtless and over-eagerness.

If someone actually stops me and asks how many miles or how long until they reach a destination, I usually say I do not know. It is too subjective of a question - I have no idea how fast they walk, how many stops, etc. Often I do not carry a watch so do not even know exactly how much time I took to get from the destination. I see day-hikers going up trails that honestly are horrible day-hikes with little to see for 10 miles. I keep quiet. I do not want to burst their bubble. Who am I to say what makes a good day-hike for them?

I guess I am a bit on the anti-social side of things. That is why I prefer off-trail travel so I do not have to deal with all this.
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Re: Trail encounters

Postby The hermit » Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:14 pm

Good posta WD. I also never bring a watch. I do ask others about time and mileage. But take it with a grain of salt as i hope others do with my advice. Kinda like cairns or foot prints,half the time they're misleading.
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Re: Trail encounters

Postby The hermit » Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:17 pm

Plus how much value does advice from a downhill Hiker have for someone going uphill?
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Re: Trail encounters

Postby cmon4day » Sun Oct 06, 2013 12:39 pm

rlown wrote:Balzaccom. You really posted this on 5 different sites? why? is this some sort of funnel to your site?


You have way too much time on your hands. Go outside and do something.
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Re: Trail encounters

Postby balzaccom » Sun Oct 06, 2013 1:40 pm

rlown wrote:Balzaccom. You really posted this on 5 different sites? why? is this some sort of funnel to your site?

I understand your concern but what did you actually do?



Sorry if I have offended you. I often post on the different sites (and more than 5) the things I think might lead to interesting discussions.

What did i do? I let those people HTOH. And when I got back to the car, I was still thinking about them, so I thought I would write it up and post it a few places.

The mountains are amazing places...and the people you meet in them are equally amazing!
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Re: Trail encounters

Postby rlown » Sun Oct 06, 2013 7:37 pm

you didn't do anything wrong, really. Other than when the women looked back at you in your story. And then you wonder. Is it a story? I'm kind of confused. You knew they were 3 hours out. no responsibility? Just wondering.

If this forum is just a funnel to your website just say so. might be your livelihood.

I'm here because i like the people here. not about draw to other sites.

russ
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