Aug 27, 2012 at 9:59 am #1293403
Have any of you had any near death experiences or close calls while on the trail?
Hypothermia? Broken legs? etc.
Would be nice to hear from real world experiences so we can all be a bit more paranoid and safer out there.Aug 27, 2012 at 11:15 am #1906472
My knee was killing me on my last hike – does that count? ;-)Aug 27, 2012 at 11:22 am #1906473
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
Near death? No. But I have had hypothermia. It was on my first ever backpacking trip and I was going with an "experienced" person (my boyfriend at the time). That was a lesson in and of itself, but I digress…anyway, as I was inexperienced I wore cotton clothing, had my sleeping bag in a non-waterproof sack, and didn't have much in the way of emergency gear. It was a gorgeous 70 degree summer day (July) in Alaska at 4500'. Then it became a snowstorm in July with temps below freezing at 4500'. And it was quite literally that fast- it was sunny, we saw a heavy cloud come in, it began to rain, and then it began to snow. I was completely unprepared. My bag got wet, my clothes were wet, I got chilled, and I got hypothermia. What saved me was my boyfriend reluctantly allowed (after I begged) me to get into his warm sleeping bag with him. I learned a lot from that one experience- no more cotton clothes, I keep my spare clothes and sleeping bag in waterproof sacks, I always have a hat or balaclava and gloves, never depend on the weather to stay nice, and I learned that I need to be able to depend on myself and not an "experienced" partner. I learn on every trip, but that one trip was one of my biggest learning experiences.Aug 27, 2012 at 11:31 am #1906479
I took a slide down the chute on the south side of Forester Pass last year on the PCT. You can read all about what I did wrong here : http://Postholer.Com/journal/viewJournal.php?sid=ef61922009621f72594ad85d87dd0989&entry_id=23810. If you click on the pictures you will see five photos pop up. The second picture shows the steps across the chute then a butt slide in the middle with a second set of steps cut back to the far side. I had another pretty sketchy ascent of Mather a few days later then had a very iffy stream crossing in north Yosemite that swept me downstream a ways. Of the three Mather was by far the scariest because it was the only one that I had time to think about. But I don't think any of those were near death though they may have been a bit closer than I want to admit.Aug 27, 2012 at 11:54 am #1906484
several incidents while climbing that I try hard to block out of my mind.
but nothing nearly so exciting while on trail … although I did step on a rattlesnake once, turned a switchback and felt something squishy under my foot. looked down to see a nice 5 footer coiled up underneath my shoe, trying to warm himself in the morning sun. jumped about 10 ft real fast and both of us were fine.Aug 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm #1906490
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Almost hit by lightning one summer about 5 years ago. Retreated to a tree line as a storm rolled over and watched as the open area I left got hit.Aug 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm #1906512
@bookLocale: Northern California
I had a scary crossing of the Lyell fork several years ago. I didn't go in but but it was a close call. Anyway, this summer (a much lower water year) I spent about an hour looking for a better crossing upstream. No luck. I kept my boots on and very tentatively entered the stream…and just started laughing out loud. It was nothing! I'd completely psyched myself out.Aug 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm #1906538
In big sur. Never did find it. Was only wearing a thin baselayer. Others shared clothing but I still had mild hypothermia by morning. Really sucked.Aug 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm #1906539
…Aug 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm #1906670
when I was working in the Bob Marshall I had a couple very close (close as in feet) calls with grizzlies, never attacked, but inadvertently coming within a few feet of a grizzly is an experience you tend remember :)
probably my closest to "near death experience" was working the same job and getting swept away by the Middle Fork of the Flathead during a ford, that was very scary- I ended up over 2 river miles down stream before climbing out
not a trail, but dumped a canoe on the Bighorn River in December- that was a little too close for my likingAug 27, 2012 at 7:08 pm #1906673
I almost go smoked by a 30 lb rock on a climb 2 weeks ago … A few feet to the right and id be tenderizes asian bear meat
Its a risk you take when you climbAug 28, 2012 at 9:11 am #1906831
@williamlawLocale: SF Bay Area
I had a heart attack while snow-shoeing in the Sierra 5 years ago. Not really near-death, but it makes you think about it.
I now carry a Spot messenger (I usually go solo). Also, I always have my down jacket with me as it gets cold when you are sitting around waiting for the helicopter ride.
Also, I almost got run off the road twice in one trip earlier this summer. So going to the mall might be riskier.Aug 29, 2012 at 9:27 am #1907207
@brianleLocale: Pacific NW
I wouldn't call this "near death", but the closest I came was getting out of Colorado on the CDT last year in early October as winter decided to make a sudden and abrupt appearance. A couple of other thru-hikers I talked to just a day or two behind me had it worse; one told me that he was literally writing his will in his tarp as the snow was just literally falling in feet rather than inches, from it being all bare ground shortly before.
My own experience was of very low visibility — not a true white-out, but close enough. Wind was blowing a mix of rain, freezing rain/sleet and snow on me, varying by the hour, but I recall one side of my face numb all the time and just being wet through. It's one of those times when you think to yourself "so long as I feel strong and don't injure myself, I'm fine — I can just keep going".
Took an alternate route to try to get to lower ground faster. Route markers disappeared, and my bushwhacking led me to a cliff that didn't seem nearly so steep on the topo map contours as it did "in person". It was just sort of one thing after another.
My trail journal entry for this particular day is here:
That's about as risky a situation as I've been in. My hiking partner was swept off his feet by a "creek" at the start of the trip and injured; I had just crossed that same creek, and went into the water to help pull him out, so I guess I was somewhat "near death" there too, but didn't feel at risk since it wasn't me that went floating down at high speed. And later we were sort of semi-trapped by high creeks (rivers) and high snowy passes with food supplies on the low side, so we had to do some creative navigating to get out of that one.
Overall I'd not suggest doing the CDT as a true thru-hike in a high snow year unless you want to accumulate some "interesting stories to tell".Aug 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm #1907338
Does a lightning strike about 50 yards away count? Was on a low ridge (50 ft?) at not very high altitude.
I knew from reading that lightning ground strikes start with a low current upstroke that creates an ionized path which the bulk of the current then follows. I now know about that from hearing it happen …. zzzttBANG!Aug 29, 2012 at 7:38 pm #1907415
@pecosLocale: baba yaga's porch
I was heading out late one Friday with two friends to ozette on the olympic paninsula. It was january with freezing temps. A culvert had frozen over causing the road to turn into an ice rink. I lost control and rolled my volvo off a 50' embankment landing upside down in the ozette river.
When all was said and done, no major injuries except my pride. (I had to call my father in-law to come pick us up).
When the tow truck finally got my car up it looked like a gold tootsie roll… and who knew volvo stationwagons had 3 roll bars.
I never made it to ozette, but ive been to the river :)Aug 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm #1907436
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
I tried hiking up a creek in a dense redwood forest that turned into more of a ravine. When skirting along the sides, the soil was very loose and I almost slipped down a sort of rock wall or cliff and would have hurt myself extremely badly. I got down to the bottom of the creek and it was almost dark and thunderstorms were approaching. I did not want to be at the bottom of this ravine. It was clogged with fallen trees and I had to go under a tree that had water all the way up it. Going underwater to get under that tree was one of the scariest things I have ever had to do.
If I had fallen off that rock wall, I would have crippled myself and been stuck in a creek that was about to flood with water.
One of my friends showed me a place in Mount Diablo where he once almost fell waaaaaay down and would have instantly died. It was rock that he slipped on and he managed to grab on to a nranch and pull himself up.Aug 30, 2012 at 7:08 am #1907528
@flriderLocale: The Southeast
…but I managed to get heat stroke about a mile and an half from water in Ocala National Forest, in June, in 95-degree heat with 70% humidity and no shade cover.
It was…not fun. Heat cramps, I stopped sweating, the whole nine yards. If I hadn't made it that last mile and an half to Farles Campground, well, the buzzards would be picking at my bones right now.Aug 30, 2012 at 1:11 pm #1907627
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
"Have any of you had any near death experiences or close calls while on the trail?"
I got pretty cold last March on a trip in the Los Padres. I was shivering and wet and all that. But I don't think I was near death.
I experienced a huge rock come tearing down the slope in Washington on the PCT. It wasn't quite a close enough call to say it was a near death experience.
The closest to a close call near death experience, one that I still shudder every time I think about it, happened in India at the Agra Fort. I almost fell out a window when I slipped on a wet spot on the marble floor.Aug 30, 2012 at 1:35 pm #1907640
spelt with a tParticipant
@speltLocale: SW/C PA
This didn't happen to me, but I was watching (and not in a position to help). A couple years ago I was out on the Des Moines river after a flood. The river was still high and debris was everywhere. Some of the people in our party were, charitably speaking, morons. That might not have been so bad by itself, but they were also inexperienced and inattentive. They went broadside and flipped just in front of a huge strainer and they and the canoe were sucked under in about a second. I was downstream and figured I had just seen them die. When they popped up I was astonished. I don't think they had any idea how lucky they were.Aug 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm #1907683
An ex walking mate a few years ago neraly died on the trail.
He took so long in the morning to get ready that after 5 or 6 days I was ready to shoot him , sadly I don't carry nor own a gun.
FrancoAug 30, 2012 at 3:13 pm #1907686
@davidlutzLocale: Bay Area
That's very funny Franco!
I've been on both sides of that experience……Aug 30, 2012 at 9:15 pm #1907821
"I had a heart attack while snow-shoeing in the Sierra 5 years ago. Not really near-death, but it makes you think about it."
Glad you pulled through that Bill. That's as near death as I hope to come.Aug 31, 2012 at 6:57 am #1907885
@brooklynkayakLocale: Atlantic North East
I was in two rock slides, both in Utah and both when the rain came down on the trail.
I got out of one without injury, but lost a toe in the other.
I always cringe when I see people camping in those potential falling rock areas.Sep 1, 2012 at 6:58 pm #1908339
@scribestrollerLocale: Central Plateau
After three days heavy rain in Kaweka Forest I heard from high above a CRACK/swish/ silence. Dived off the track and covered up. Seconds passed and I'd just about decided that I'd jumped at a shadow when a 15 kg knob of wood landed on the track like a mortar shell.
Too often for my liking on high routes in NZ "Forest Parks" (as opposed to our "National Parks", which draw more tourists and have a LOT more $ spent on track construction/maintainence) the 'track' puts you one slip from a death fall. And sometimes the footing aint great. Had several occasions last summer to kiss the tread on a new pair of Salomen Quest 4D GTX boots. I had to trust them on some footholds I didn't have full confidence in (or retreat and go days out of my way). They held, I lived.
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