Scenarios in which you can get separated from your pack?

10:01 a.m. on November 12, 2011 (EST)
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After reading and posting in the thread about survival kits, and not wanting to hijack the thread, I decided to start a thread where we could discuss the possibility of getting separated from our packs or survival kits.

What are the scenarios you envision (or that have happened) that could cause you to become separated from your pack?

What is the method you have found works best for you to carry your emergency items. On your person, in a bag, some other way, and why?

Feel free to discuss all aspects of technique and your reasons for it here, but lets please leave discussion of the individual items we have chosen for our kits over in the 'What's in your survival kit thread' as much as possible.

I look forward to everyone's input.

3:22 p.m. on November 12, 2011 (EST)
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 I once got separated from my pack in the High Sierra near Yosemite in 1980. I was taking a short hike to go check out something on the other side of a huge meadow. I had only my snowshoes and the clothes on my back. The sky was overcast but otherwuse it was a clear day, I could see for miles in every direction. It was about an hour before dark. I thought I would be right back to my pack and gear. I had not set up my tent yet.

The meadow was about 2 miles long and I had hiked to the opposite end. A breeze picked up and it started snowing quite hard, I could no longer distinquish anything around me. I found a big Ponderosa Pine that had a cone shaped hole around it in the deep snow with huge limbs covering the hole like a roof.. I got down into it and dug out a space to bed down. 

I was wearing all wool clothing from my socks, pants and shirt with long polypro underwear beneath that. I had on fingerless wool glove/mitts a wool balaclava hat and my mountaineering boots.

I used my Yukon showshoes as shovels to dig the snow out and make a space to bed down. I didn't see any way I was going back to my pack and gear that night. It was dark by the time I had made the pit bigger.

I stayed in the hole all night shivering now and then but made it thru the night okay. In the morning the sky was clear and blue. It had snowed maybe 5 inches of fresh powder on the surface around me.

In the snow here and there I could see my tracks from the night before and followed them back to my pack and gear. They were buried under the snow but made a higher mound than the rest of the snow.

After that incident I started carrying my lighter and other small things in my pockets. Had I had them that night I could have made at least a fire from the branches of the pines around me.

I spent the late winter and spring in the park that year from January to May. In the high sierra the snow often falls deep and solidifies quick as its warm moiture from the pacific ocean 300 miles to the west. I have seen it snow 4 feet in one night burying my tent and collapsing it down onto me. And having to dig my way out through the compacted frozen together snow.

3:35 p.m. on November 12, 2011 (EST)
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One year at Yosemite, I skied out to Dewey Point (on the skis in my picture), leaned them up against a tree and walked to the edge to take some pictures. When I turned around, I had no idea where my skis were. It took me at least 20 minutes to find them, retracing my steps, which turned out to be not all that far. It was getting dark so finding them quickly and getting the heck back to camp was a priority.  Learned my lesson on that little venture.

4:30 p.m. on November 12, 2011 (EST)
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i had to drop my backpack (100 liter mystery ranch backpack) on a winter hike up mount adams in the white mountains.  i was coming off a trip to Asia, so i was jet-lagged going in; due to the weight, the climb, and my fatigue, my legs were shot.  the top of my winter pack can double as a fanny pack in a pinch; i crammed some basics into it and continued to where we camped, about 45 minutes further up.  one person in my group emptied her pack and descended with someone else; they split the the contents of my pack among them and carried it all back.

since then, i started including a light frameless summit bag (holds 40-45 liter) so i can tote more gear if i have to drop the pack again.  i haven't had to since, fortunately, lesson learned about getting enough sleep before the hard trips.  i'm just glad no one poached my pack.  

5:33 p.m. on November 12, 2011 (EST)
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    I was skiing the ridge at Bridger with a couple friends and it was an epic day.  For last run we all had our own ideas what run to hit.  So, being 20 years old and all, we decided to split up and meet at the bottom for some Henry Weinhardts.  I headed south on the ridge as I spotted a line eariler that had yet to be hit and wasnt really snowboard friendly for my buddies.  The approch was pretty mellow but the drop in to the semi gladed chute was wildly tight and hair raising.  A little ways up from the cliff I stopped to take in one of those Montana sunsets you read about.  I had my K1000 in my pack and took it off to shoot some film.  After putting my camera away I made a smoke offering to the Gods.  As I prepared to get back on my way I stepped uphill to reach for my pack and started a small slide.  I was forced to point my skies down hill so I wasn't off balance when I dropped in.  The pack held its ground and stayed behind.  Luckily I was uphill from where I had to go and on skis.  I made it back to the lodge with a good story and no pack.  It snowed a couple feet that night and after a round of blasts the next morning to prevent any big slides I finally made it back on the ridge by noon, after a couple runs/searches  I didn't turn up a thing and never recovered my gear. I loved that camera too! Its the only time I've been separated from my gear, and hopefully remains the only time.  

Other scenarios I think about would be the unfortunate bear encounter where after all else has fails you drop your pack, as a distraction, retreating from a charging bear.  (I'm sure someone would like to take this moment to say how I handled the bear situation wrong but please refrain as that is the point.)   And you find yourself disoriented and unequipped in the wilderness.  

I also know more than one person who has lost a rifle in the woods after getting so excited about shooting a nice buck that they leave their rifle at their shooting position running to their kill only to never relocate said rifle.  I'm sure, similar to Garys post, that something like that could happen with a backpack.  That's where camouflage isn't desirable and bright colors are in allot of cases. 

Another possibility is theft.  I think it was Rambler that posted about someone making a trade with him when he wasn't looking and swapped out a bunch of crap for quality.  Could have left him nada too.

So thats just off the top of my head, I'm sure I could postulate several realistic scenarios given more time.

9:38 p.m. on November 12, 2011 (EST)
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I know of several incidents where someone took off their pack, leaving it by the trail while they headed down the embankment to pump some water out of the stream. In these incidents, the person slipped or otherwise severely turned or broke an ankle, rendering them unable to get back up the steep embankment. In a couple of the cases, the victim was there for a couple of days before someone spotted the pack (maybe the practice of hiding your pack so passersby can't spot it has a downside) and investigated. This is the source of the advice to either keep your pack with you or have a fanny pack you can wear with emergency gear when you go even a short distance to get water or answer the call of nature.

12:14 a.m. on November 13, 2011 (EST)
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Most cases of pack loss are due in some form or fashion to negligence. Leaving your pack behind for any reason can turn out to be a costly and bad mistake (i speak from experience).

I left my pack behind once at my campsite with my tent setup etc and went for a couple hours of day hiking to come back to an empty campsite with a bunch of cheaper lesser quality gear 'kindly' left in its place.

Unless you lose your pack in a water crossing turned bad you should never ditch your pack, it is your lifeline.

I have read/heard of several people losing unattended packs to bears in many different parts of the country.

I always keep some basic supplies on my person now, and only leave my pack behind if I am going less than 100 yards or so. I make a trip to get water before I set up camp, and try to choose sites close to a water source when practical.

3:22 a.m. on November 13, 2011 (EST)
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Stream/river crossing.

So I carry the most important "E" essentials in a fanny pack.

3:47 p.m. on November 13, 2011 (EST)
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 I once left my water filter at a stream area where I used it, only about three hours later when I made camp did I realise I had left it behind. Being to close to dark I figured I would go back the next day and get it. I forgot in the morning and went on down the trail It was four days before I luckily returned the same way and saw it sitting right where I had left it. Tho I had no filter for those 4 days I boiled all my drinking water.

I once found a backpack sitting off the trail in the grand canyon I passed it by thinking someone had left it there to go to the toilet. A week later as I was coming back the same way I saw it again still where it had been before. I was close to a ranger station so  I told them about it. Turned out a hiker had left it and gotten lost while looking for water. He was found days after the day I had seen the pack and could not remember where he had left his pack. Had I not found it he would have not gotten it back. I was in a side canyon off the Tonto Trail when I saw it.

Another time in Jackson Hole, I had a daypack that was camouflaged. I went on a dayhike and stopped along the way to snack, then got up and left it behind. It was 2 hours before I realized I had and went back to look for it. I was bushwacking on this hike so had not followed a trail. I never saw the pack again.

9:59 p.m. on November 13, 2011 (EST)
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Best bet is to keep some basic survival gear on your body (around your neck or in your pockets) all the time.  In my avatar photo I am wearing a fanny pack for just that purpose; I only take it off to sleep.  Knife, fire making gear, compass, whistle, those sorts of things go a long way if  you lose your pack.  Losing/misplacing your pack happens to a lot of people, don't think it can't or won't happen to you.

10:37 p.m. on November 13, 2011 (EST)
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Looks like it might not be bad to have a brightly colored pack.

6:56 a.m. on November 14, 2011 (EST)
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I am actually surprised at the amount of people that lose/misplace their pack/gear outside of some extraordinary event that caused you to purposefully ditch it.

 

 

7:27 a.m. on November 14, 2011 (EST)
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I've never misplaced or lost my pack, yet. The largest scenario I see happening and has been talked about is putting it down for a few minutes while  you wonder off.

The thing that constantly is in my nightmares is sitting it down near the edge of a cliff and then it somehow rolls right off the 100-foot edge. That's why I always make sure I never sit it at the edge of any cliff.

10:26 a.m. on November 14, 2011 (EST)
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In boy scouts years ago, my nephew leaning over a cliff to look down lost his glasses. (in the days before Croakies and Chums)

Someone climbed down and retrieved them luckily unbroken.

2:01 p.m. on November 14, 2011 (EST)
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I have not left my pack unattended - ever. I can't speak on that. I will speak on safety of others. If I were to see an unattended pack, I would yell out as loud as possible to see if anyone was separated from it unintentionally. I would carefully inspect the surroundings for signs of it's owner. If no answer, I would leave the pack, flag the location on my GPS, and report it back at the ranger station. I do believe there is something to leaving an ID/contact info tag on your pack for just these sort of situations. If someone found my pack 'cause I was acctidentally separated from it, and found my name, it would likely aid in emergency assistance.

I can see leaving my pack at basecamp if someone is there to watch over it and I'm pushing for a summit at a fast pace. But never on my own (unless my life depended on it) would I leave my pack behind.

I have a day hike first-aid kit that fits in my pocket, as well as my "group-sized" kit that stays in my pack.

 

2:34 p.m. on November 14, 2011 (EST)
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One situation that Xterro hinted at that happens all the time. On multiday expeditions where you are doing a lot of peakbagging, doing a major peak, or even thru-hiking when you take a short side excursion, you are not going to pack up your tent, sleeping bag, the remaining two weeks of food, and snowshoes/skis/canoe/kayak you used on approach to take them with you for fear of some thug carrying everything off during your absence. You do leave your pack, tent, and other gear unattended for those side trips. Rarely do you leave a member of your party out of the enjoyment of the side trips and peak bagging. For one thing, there are very few thieves in the backcountry. The vast majority of backcountry travelers are honest and look out for each other. Plus the thieves would have to pack out all that gear. For another, if you are practicing LNT and appropriate precautions (such as a bear box and using the bear-muda triangle), bears, marmots, and other critters won't tear into or carry your gear away.

Yes, I noted a couple of posts above where someone returned to camp and found some churl had exchanged his/her cheap junk for a full top of the line camping kit or a bear had destroyed everything in its search for food. Personally, in many decades in the woods and hills, I have never lost anything in the backcountry. I have lost a food supply to a clever and very rapid marmot from the open trunk of my car in the parking lot (I turned my back for about a minute and turned around to see the marmot scurrying off across the parking lot dragging the food bag - not serious, since it was the end of the trip). And I have seen broken windows on cars at certain trailheads. A friend in Seattle warned me to remove my climbing-related sticker from the window of my car before parking at certain trailheads for climbing areas in Washington - seems that is a signal to lurkers that there might be a full kit of climbing gear in the car. Just as the round spot on the windshield signals that a GPS receiver might be tucked in the glove compartment of the car. And thievery occurs in sporadic spurts in popular climbing areas, like Yosemite Valley.

Nonetheless, backcountry thievery is minimal. Forgetfulness and accidents are orders of magnitude more common.

3:45 p.m. on November 14, 2011 (EST)
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Good points Bill - perhaps living in SoCal and being the victim of a few thefts (in the city) has left me jaded :/

I can see your point where thievery in the backcountry is minimal, as most who venture there perhaps have a deeper respect for their fellow creatures/environs than others nearer to San Bernadino. I would be more concerned about day hike trails close enough to urban areas to become crowded, but given your valid points above, backed by considerable experience and wisdom, I will reconsider my philosophy for the backcountry trips...

I will say on my last weekend trip the first weekend of November, up the Vivian Creek Trail towards a San Gorgonio Summit push, we had several who were too tired (from lugging full packs through the snow) to make it the whole distance. Camp was set up just south of Half-Way while I took the others on an aditional day hike. Our basecampers enjoyed some fine books and recovery by the fire. (trip report in craft).  

The location at which we set up camp would have been fine for leaving equipment unattended, in hindsight. Not visible from anywhere near the trail itself.

12:14 a.m. on November 15, 2011 (EST)
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I'm in the camp (no pun intended) of those who leave their pack & other gear behind for day hikes while backpacking.  On most of the trips I took this summer, I did this ... I'd pack in to a spot, then day hike from there.  It really didn't make sense to pack up my whole kit for the day hikes.

Having read the stories (story?) here about someone's gear being stolen in the backcountry, I continue this "base-camp" practice with some trepidation.  But I'd like to believe (perhaps naively?) that the risks are minimal.

That having been said, I do pack up & take with me on my day hikes anything that might be particularly high risk ... my cell phone comes to mind.  I have it with me for the up to 14 hours of round-trip driving to/from most of my favorite Sierra destinations, then pack it backpacking because I don't trust leaving it at the trailhead, and I take it on the day hike because I don't trust it at the base camp).

More specifically to the point of the OP, I don't really pack a "survival kit" per se.  My survival gear is packed throughout my pack - it's all just part of the gear I pack.  Perhaps I should revisit this approach so I can easily pick it up to take on my day hikes from the "base camp".

1:12 a.m. on November 15, 2011 (EST)
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I was on a trip where packs left us  – or should I say a tent containing three people and most of their gear – blew away in a violent wind storm.  They cut their way out of the tent.  The policy on that trip was everyone wears their survival kit 24X7.  That was about all they salvaged.  If they had to rely solely on only their survival kits it would have been very very tough to get out with all of one’s digits, as we were two long days from the road head, even by skis.  Fortunately three others were along on the trip so it was merely a dreadful experience.

As Bill describes, I frequently leave my pack behind.  My day pack in these circumstances contains minimal gear, but enough to survive the night for the given season.  I find one’s resourcefulness and understanding about the theatre of operation are far more important than what you bring along. Gary survives in a tree well wearing only some wool layers, while others in similar circumstances wander around in the night and freeze to death, despite being better outfitted for the moment.  He knew what to do, they didn't

Nevertheless my description of minimal gear can run to almost twenty pounds on a winter day trip out of a base camp.

Ed

1:50 p.m. on November 15, 2011 (EST)
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falling on a steep decline

5:39 p.m. on November 15, 2011 (EST)
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My hiking buddy accidentally kicked his pack down a hill during a break.  It landed in a rather deep lake but, because everything inside was inside an enormous traash bag, the pack floated and Eric was able to retrieve it with just some easy swimming. 

6:00 p.m. on November 15, 2011 (EST)
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I left a pack once on the AT near Roan Mountain. I hid it (I thought) in a very concealed spot and went down a side trail about 1/4 mile to a water source. I returned about 1/2 hour later to find a passing hiker had spotted it pulled it from its spot and was sitting contemplating what it was doing there. There was no ill intent on the part of the hiker but the experience is a constant memory to me on how badly I underestimated my pack concealment and how things could have ended so much worse. I keep my gear in sight from now on.

6:10 p.m. on November 15, 2011 (EST)
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FromSagetoSnow said:

My hiking buddy accidentally kicked his pack down a hill during a break.  It landed in a rather deep lake but, because everything inside was inside an enormous traash bag, the pack floated and Eric was able to retrieve it with just some easy swimming. 

 Soccer anyone ?

9:30 a.m. on November 21, 2011 (EST)
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I haven't ever lost or misplaced my pack, though I have misplaced my camp a few times :) 

It is easy to not pay enough attention when you are wondering away from camp, and subsequently realize you aren't exactly certain where it is. Or even worse, think you know where it is, only to find it isn't there. I've done both of these, but not when the conditions meant the outcome was likely to become serious. If you misplaced camp, and your pack/gear, when the weather and/or temperature were harsh, the situation could be dire. 

I was caving with a friend a week ago, and the opportunities to loose your pack are endless in a deep and extensive cave system. Heck, the opportunities to lose yourself are endless ;) 

12:59 p.m. on November 21, 2011 (EST)
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gonzan said:

I haven't ever lost or misplaced my pack, though I have misplaced my camp a few times :) 

 We are both in the same camp.

I have wandered away to fish up and down streams before only to emerge from the rhododendron to no camp. I always find it over the "next hill" but not where I thought it was (or I was).

This is a good use for the ole GPS receiver, but then again that's cheating or at least I feel like it is. Sometimes I like to use the GPS receiver, and sometimes I like to stick with just the map. Whichever I feel like practicing I guess.

Counting stream crossings helps if all the streams you count are marked on the map, sometimes they aren't.

Which brings me to the most plausible scenario in which I could get separated from my pack. - stream crossings in fast current. I often leave my main pack behind on hikes away from camp and carry just the essentials in my "sub pack" and I guess I could get separated from that in the same manner.

The second would be if someone stole my main pack that I left hidden while I was away I guess.

1:55 p.m. on November 21, 2011 (EST)
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I would suggest that when setting your pack down and wandering off(water, exploring surroundings, etc.) take a bit of that fluorescent tape that is used to tie around trees and mark off a tree in the area. Not necessarily the tree right above your pack but one in the vicinity. 

This will make it visible from some distance and not necessarily key others off to you gear being there being that this method is utilized to mark boundaries for property, hunting spots, etc.

5:14 a.m. on November 23, 2011 (EST)
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Or a ball of string

12:31 p.m. on November 23, 2011 (EST)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

I would suggest that when setting your pack down and wandering off(water, exploring surroundings, etc.) take a bit of that fluorescent tape that is used to tie around trees and mark off a tree in the area. Not necessarily the tree right above your pack but one in the vicinity. 

This will make it visible from some distance and not necessarily key others off to you gear being there being that this method is utilized to mark boundaries for property, hunting spots, etc.

 Yes Rick, a visible marker is a very good idea.

I have used flagging tape for waypoints when bushwhacking  before, and when night fishing away from camp I have used a strobe light hung at camp or at the stream near where I am camping.

What I would really like is a quality strobe light with an 'on at dusk function' so I could turn the strobe on earlier in the day as I leave camp and conserve battery life.

This is not something I do all the time or when there are others back at camp, but for solo applications well off the beaten path it is good as a back up plan provided I get fairly close, close enough to see the strobe.

2:41 p.m. on November 23, 2011 (EST)
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2:51 p.m. on November 23, 2011 (EST)
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overmywaders said:

trout,

Don't forget to use this -- http://www.amazon.com/Clapper-Sound-Activated-Switch-Each/dp/B0000CGKLR

 Why didn't  I  think of that?

6:40 p.m. on November 23, 2011 (EST)
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And for something completely different - and practical - a remote RF luggage locator. Put it on your pack, walk away, and then trigger the remote alarm to lead you back to camp... http://www.amazon.com/Travel-Remote-Controlled-Luggage-Locator/dp/B003AO0P4O

8:12 p.m. on November 23, 2011 (EST)
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This is why I always carry a package of breadcrumbs with me when I'm backpacking.

10:44 p.m. on November 24, 2011 (EST)
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Trout

An LED on at dusk off at dawn blinker would not be hard to build.  How long would it have to last?

11:29 p.m. on November 24, 2011 (EST)
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ocalacomputerguy said:

Trout

An LED on at dusk off at dawn blinker would not be hard to build.  How long would it have to last?

 I didn't wish to hijack the thread so I sent you a PM.

Thanks, Mike G.

3:53 a.m. on November 25, 2011 (EST)
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I know that a bunch of you guys carry GPS's. Could you not mark where you drop your pack so that it could be found later, or to find camp for that matter? Then of course there locater beacons. And then still yet there is the remote proximity alarm.  And last but not least there is the timed exploding dye pack!

8:31 a.m. on November 25, 2011 (EST)
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apeman said:

I know that a bunch of you guys carry GPS's. Could you not mark where you drop your pack so that it could be found later, or to find camp for that matter? Then of course there locater beacons. And then still yet there is the remote proximity alarm.  And last but not least there is the timed exploding dye pack!

 The short answer is yes you can. If you are on a trail system you have a marked path to follow and this becomes more or less linear navigation if you stay on trail.  Off trail navigation is more complex.

I always note the coords for my camp, food caches if any, where I hide my pack, or anything else of interest. I mark these on my topo with my own legend system (icons that are easy for me to remember) as well as with my GPSR.

So in this scenario I theoretically have a redundant system, I can navigate by terrain with my topo using the known coords I have marked on it, or by using the GPSR's trackback feature & directional arrow, or simply by using the GPSR & a roamer to validate my current position on the topo.

However when it comes to practical application it has been my experience that when it is dark it is much harder to navigate by topo & terrain, even though I may be using a handrail such as a stream or line of sight ridge top (you can see ridge top profile if the ridge is between you and the moon and match that to the map) .

The GPSR can tell you where you are and allow you to fix your position on the map (it doesn't care if it's dark) and that's great, but even using the trackback feature and a roamer I can and usually do go off course some because there is, of course, no line painted on the ground for me to follow, or painted blazes like on trails.

So when trying to retrace your steps and head back to camp, deviating even 20 or 30 feet from the GPSR trackback route that you took can send you off course and cause problems. In river canyons (day or night) with steep sides and huge boulders this can become something of a chess game. You can feel like a rat in a maze to some degree especially in the dark. Of course as long as you follow your handrail (a stream for example) and do not overshoot your target you can find your camp, pack, etc.

Which brings me to the reason I like to use a strobe for night time, or a ribbon tied to a stream side limb for daytime to mark my target (camp, etc).

By the time I get close to camp, let's say close enough to see a strobe at night, I am usually tired, possibly wet or hungry, and basically just ready to be back at camp, I don't care to spend an extra hour wandering around trying to pinpoint the location of my tent or backpack using my GPSR, or a topo, roamer, and flashlight.

Using a visual marker, such as a strobe, to validate the location I'm trying to find brings the trek to an easier, faster, and more definitive close.

Technically I consider this cheating, but when I am the one out there by myself, and I'm tired, it makes a lot of sense.

2:18 p.m. on November 25, 2011 (EST)
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apeman said:

I know that a bunch of you guys carry GPS's. Could you not mark where you drop your pack so that it could be found later, or to find camp for that matter?

I tried this this summer.  I had camped off trail, and went on a day hike.  I set a waypoint in the GPS at the point on which I needed to exit the trail to get back to my campsite on my return.

Unfortunately on my return, I walked right past the spot and the GPS still didn't think I had arrived.  Fortunately this was really just a test of its functionality, as i could visually recognize the spot anyway.

So I don't know if there's an issue with how the GPS works in this regard (it's a DeLorme PN-60w) or just a lack of skill on my part in how I used the tracking.  Probably the latter.  But in theory it should work...

5:31 p.m. on November 25, 2011 (EST)
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Did you keep going to see where it took you to?

5:45 p.m. on November 25, 2011 (EST)
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No, I was already past my "it's time to head to the trailhead" time as I had a 5 mile hike to the TH, then a 6+ hour drive to get home ... and I had work the next morning.  However it would have been interesting to experiment more with it though to see if it (or I) were at fault.  I need to try this again locally.  

The issue I have with the current generation of GPS units of all brands is that they don't do "trail routing".  When you "route to a waypoint" they give you a straight line back to the point, not the route on the trail.  Apparently the issue is that the maps used in the devices are basically "images", not routable data.  I came close to not buying one at all because of this huge shortcoming in the current technology.  Sorry, maybe this is getting too far off topic...

7:06 p.m. on November 25, 2011 (EST)
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I think we are still on topic bheiser1, this relates directly to getting separated from your camp / pack.

Just for clarification I use a Garmin Etrex, a fairly spartan unit.

7:25 p.m. on November 25, 2011 (EST)
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Trout, ok, good - I thought maybe my rant went a little too far :).  Have you tried using the Etrex to route you back to a waypoint?  If so did it get you there?

7:52 p.m. on November 25, 2011 (EST)
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bheiser1 said:

Trout, ok, good - I thought maybe my rant went a little too far :).  Have you tried using the Etrex to route you back to a waypoint?  If so did it get you there?

 Well...more or less.

It does display either a trackback trail (with numbered waypoints) which is a crooked little black line that lets you zoom in or out, or on another page you can just use the directional arrow that shows you which way to walk.

It isn't hard to walk right past your pack using the trackback trail  feature, however using the Lat / Lon or UTM coords displayed by the GPSR on another page will get you very close, within feet, IF you noted those coords when you left your pack behind. You have to remember which way to walk to match the coords up or you will end up doing the Texas Two Step trying to get to that spot. This is where the GPSR's directional arrow can help.

Latitude numbers increase as you move north, Longitude numbers increase as you move west.

UTM numbers increase as you move East and North, also called the Easting & Northing.

9:03 p.m. on November 25, 2011 (EST)
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Only one person has stated the obvious way not to lose your pack -- blaze the trail you are taking away from your camp and you can find your way back.

Perhaps breadcrumbs, according to historical records, don't work. Other traditional methods do, e.g., markers of stones left in a pattern to indicate turns, or blazed trees; however, these disrupt the "wilderness" experience of other hikers and should, except in emergencies, be avoided.

However, there are biodegradable markers that disappear quickly. Edible paper printed in bright colors and left as strips on bushes can serve as blazes. Just eat your way back to camp.

A more elegant approach is the use of clear, UV-fluorescing water-based spray paint. Just spray a bit on objects as you go; it will degrade in 24 hours of sunlight, in the meantime, you can just use a small 365nm LED flashlight and the spray will stand-out brightly, night or day, in the color of your choice.

9:23 p.m. on November 25, 2011 (EST)
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overmywaders,  you are talking about using an invisible paint with a fluorescent tracer and UV LED...right?

11:47 p.m. on November 25, 2011 (EST)
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yes.

7:52 a.m. on November 26, 2011 (EST)
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one other thought - if i take the pack off when i stop in the winter, i stake the pack down with the shaft of an axe through the haul loop.  if i have a nightmare, it's seeing my pack or summit bag go sledding away.   not so much of a risk on a trail, where a tree will eventually stop it, but on an open slope, it's a big problem. 

7:17 p.m. on November 27, 2011 (EST)
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leadbelly2550 said:

one other thought - if i take the pack off when i stop in the winter, i stake the pack down with the shaft of an axe through the haul loop.  if i have a nightmare, it's seeing my pack or summit bag go sledding away.   not so much of a risk on a trail, where a tree will eventually stop it, but on an open slope, it's a big problem. 

 That's a good point, I will remember that. Most times we don't even have snow here, but I hope to travel to places in the future that do.

I have been snowshoeing twice, and skiing a few times, I would love to do more.

October 30, 2014
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