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Been Lost Long?

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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Re: Been Lost Long?

Postby sekihiker » Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:59 pm

In the early 1970's, my wife and I hiked to Redwood Meadow in the Kaweah River drainage. We decided to return via the CCC trail on the south side of the canyon which was shown on the Starr's Guide map. We got "lost" [my wife's word] after we ran out of trail which was littered with deadfalls. The Kaweah River was down below but the trail was nowhere to be found. We worked our way past Castle Rocks where we eventually ran into some beautifully preserved switchbacks which looked like they hadn't been used for years. They took us to Paradise Creek and we found our way back to the car at Buckeye Flat.
For me, the most interesting part of the trip was our overnight stay on the south side of Kaweah Canyon. We were between Redwood Meadow and Castle Rocks. We found a fairly flat spot and put down our sleeping bags with a four foot stump at our feet. The next morning, I was awakend by a the sound of something landing on that stump. It was the largest owl I've ever seen and he was eyeing my toes which were sticking out of the bottom of my bag. I quickly pulled them in and he flew away, disappointed, I'm sure. We were "lost" for about 24 hours.



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Re: Been Lost Long?

Postby balance » Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:48 pm

Some trailheads have three or four variations within the first hundred yards. Once I've fumbled and stumbled through that maze, then it's all good because my map and compass have never let me down.
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Re: Been Lost Long?

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Apr 24, 2016 12:27 pm

I've never been off route for too long but I have some memorable detours going back to childhood.

The first I remember was when I was a kid of about 11 or so hiking to Vogelsang L. with my family. My dad was hanging back with my mom and younger brother and had gotten well ahead of them when I crested over Tuolumne Pass and apparently missed the Vogelsang cutoff. I recall my dad had the topo. I had studied the topo enough before the trip that something didn't feel right as I headed in the direction of Emeric L. I did feel a little scared and uncertain as to where I was, but I eventually decided to turn around, which turned out to be the right call, and I found the cutoff I had missed.

The most recent was me missing the Hoffman Mtn road end with my family last summer (going too low in fact) on return from Woodchuck--probably cost and extra hour or a bit more. This was my first route miscue in something like 7 years and it resembled the earlier one, in which I took the wrong gully toward my car (also on a family backpack) to another off trail kickoff somewhere else in Sierra NF. On that one, though I realized my error before I had descended below the level of my car, so I didn't really lose much time.

My most memorable error was on the return from Edyth L. via Cherry L. in May 1986. After 3 days of the best off trail navigation I had done to date, I really missed the target exiting Kendrick Creek canyon and took me and my death march buddy 800' higher than intended on the rim. We were already really beat at that time and this error broke our spirits. We were also out of trail snack food, so we sat on the top of the ridge, got our stove out and cooked up some extra dinner and breakfast food which turned out to be a package of Top Ramen and some hot chocolate (not together, of course). That was enough to get us back to our car that evening.

I also remember having trouble finding my Pathfinder on its maiden voyage (Nov. 1992) which was parked at the end of a 4WD spur in the greater Lakes Basin area. It was getting dark and cold and Judy and I were a bit concerned. After wandering about for a half hour or so, we succeeded in locating the car.

I have a couple of memories of glitches on topo maps, too. The best is a certain trout-bearing lake in the Russian Wilderness. For years it was shown on topo maps (including the USFS Russian Wilderness topo) as being at the head of this drainage. Judy and I hiked there one day and were baffled to find only a patch of brush there. A few years later we were hiking off trail on the ridge above and we could look down and see the correct location of the lake which was on this little shelf 800' higher than shown on the topo map. It would have been an extra nice story if this mislocated lake had giant fish, but I'm sorry to say it had only average brookies to 11". It was, however, a novelty to fish a place that was not correctly placed on the map.

I can't say I've ever used maps with as enormous errors as those encountered by WD, but I have a memory of an old (pre WWII) topo used as a base for a geologic mapping exercise in a class I took as an undergrad back in the fall of 1979. This area was on the west flank of the southern Inyos. As most geologic mapping classes go, the first day involved the instructor taking us around, showing us the rock types and checking to see if we were locating ourselves correctly. We were at this one outcrop and the instructor was inspecting our maps to make sure we had located it in the correctly on the topo. He went through the maps of a half dozen or more of my classmates saying "good"---ie that they had placed themselves at the correct spot on the map. Then he got to mine. He looked at my map, wrinkled his brow, and explained to me gently that I had mislocated the outcrop by more than a half mile (a truly enormous error at the scale we were mapping). After he had finished with his explanation I replied "No, I think I have us located correctly. There is an error in the topo map." My classmates looked at me like I was crazy. I then showed the instructor some of the inconsistencies in the map that led to my conclusion. I recall they had to do either with the presence of a false pinnacle shown on the map or the lack of a really big one that existed and wasn't shown. At the end of this, my instructor was convinced and everyone else had to revise their outcrop locations.
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: Been Lost Long?

Postby SSSdave » Mon May 02, 2016 11:03 am

As a young man I recall getting lost between Mattie and Virginia Lakes one afternoon. I had camped at Mattie a couple days, a quite difficult cross country destination from Glen Aulin, and then tried to reach Virginia Lake. Got into an area with really big dim cold damp with patches of snow red fir with horrible mosquitoes. Could not tell exactly where I was at. Finally climbed up to a ridge line saddle where I might get a better view and sat there at least an hour unable to make sense out of what I was looking at. Took some photos. After the trip sized it all up and noted I had apparently got turned around in deep forest and going in the wrong direction. In any case it was more a case of not knowing exactly where I was in order to go some where versus actually being lost. At the end of that day had hiked out to the trail going to McCabe Lake. With a compass and trails nearby one can always simply go in a direction towards a perpendicular trail. My topographic map skills improved considerably over that first decade and certainly would not be lost like that again.

Hiking off trail at night, especially on moonless nights, it is more difficult to NOT GET LOST than to know where one is. A view camera friend and I hiked off to Eagle Ridge at Ebbetts Pass during June on a night of a strong wind storm. It was so strong that it was difficult just to make our way much less tell where we were haha. Well at one point after not being where we thought we were, we decided to just go over a steep ridge where we saw with our headlamps a dense red fir grove, and spend the night instead of continuing to fight against the wind. It was all steep slope with big trees. We slept up against the trunk of a couple big trees. In the morning as the front moved east we found out where we were and down climbed into the Pennsylvania Creek drainage where we spent a couple days.

David
http://www.davidsenesac.com/2016_Trip_C ... les-0.html
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Re: Been Lost Long?

Postby rlown » Mon May 02, 2016 11:22 am

SSSdave wrote:As a young man I recall getting lost between Mattie and Virginia Lakes one afternoon. I had camped at Mattie a couple days, a quite difficult cross country destination from Glen Aulin, and then tried to reach Virginia Lake. Got into an area with really big dim cold damp with patches of snow red fir with horrible mosquitoes. Could not tell exactly where I was at. Finally climbed up to a ridge line saddle where I might get a better view and sat there at least an hour unable to make sense out of what I was looking at. Took some photos. After the trip sized it all up and noted I had apparently got turned around in deep forest and going in the wrong direction. In any case it was more a case of not knowing exactly where I was in order to go some where versus actually being lost. At the end of that day had hiked out to the trail going to McCabe Lake. With a compass and trails nearby one can always simply go in a direction towards a perpendicular trail. My topographic map skills improved considerably over that first decade and certainly would not be lost like that again.

...


David
http://www.davidsenesac.com/2016_Trip_C ... les-0.html


Been there, done that. A fun but weird place to navigate. I missed V twice before i had it down pat. Two paths (or 3).. Either the trail to Mattie, or up the slick rock from California through the cut, and then from Mattie to Upper Mattie, over the saddle, turn left and stay level on the hillside. Our last 2 trips there were up the 300' rocky cut which intersects the Mattie trail from the cold mtn trail, then straight through the forest to the gap that leads towards Virginia Lk. Recently, I Iearned what I thought was a sprain on my first trip to Mattie was actually an ankle break ('91).. All healed.

I don't mind being a little misplaced. It's everyone around, if a group trip, that keeps asking, "where are we?" :)
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Re: Been Lost Long?

Postby oldranger » Tue May 03, 2016 8:14 am

Giantbrookie

I seem to remember a time when we were heading from Breeze to Upper Chain and you didn't make it. My son noted you were taking a different route than we were. I told him that didn't mean we were going the wrong way. Of course you weren't lost, the lake was! And you really wanted to fish the lower lake anyway. And that's where the backcountry daiquiris were anyway!

Mike
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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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