Getting Started

6:41 p.m. on July 7, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

I've had an interest on backpacking for 15 years or more (currently 31 years old). This year I decided I'm going to learn. My problem is that I don't really know anyone from whom I can learn. So I found out about NOLS and Outward Bound. I took an Outward Bound course, but unfortunately dehydrated pretty badly on the second night (thought I might die) and walked out on day 3. Now this is really killing me. I'm inclined to read 3 or 4 good books, go buy all the gear and start with one nighters and work my way up. My other plan is to do the same, but then take a NOLS 2 weeker next summer. I guess I'm concerned that there may be critical information that I may not glean from reading books.

Anybody out there teach yourself? Good idea or really bad idea? Thanks for any advice. I know that had I been out alone with the limited knowledge I have and dehydrated like I did I'd have been dead as dead.

Stuart

11:08 a.m. on July 8, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

a.k.a. Sascha Bosetzky

I think it is a good idea to start with small trips in areas, which are somewhat populated. If you tell people about your itinerary, carry a cell phone or match up with somebody, you'll always be on the safe side.
Unlike mountainering, backpacking is not in any way a dangerous sport if one doesn't forget one's common sense. Of course, the weather can always turn bad. Here in Germany a whole British schoolclass tragically died in the Schwarzwald, which is not much more than hills, when they were hit by unusual bad weather. But I believe, this would hardly happen to one, who carries a backpack with raingear, warm cloth, food, a tent/bivibag and a sleepingbag, which warm enough even for the unexpected.
One also has to learn to watch one's body. A breakdown caused by dehydration and/or malnutrition doesn't happen out of the blue.
Have fun.

5:54 a.m. on July 9, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Quote:

I think it is a good idea to start with small trips in areas, which are somewhat populated.

Stuart, You have made an excellent start by finding this forum if you want to gain some knowledge of the backcountry. Everyone here is so willing to share their wisdom and experience of their successes and failures. If you have questions (and none of them will be "dumb" ones , so don't feel like they may sound dumb to the folks on here. It will be a genuine question that needs a definite answer).Also you should read everything you can get your hands on and get your body in shape too. It is really different when you hike with all that weight on your back.

Just got back Saturday from my second backpacking trip and it was a great success, just as the first one was.

Thanks and keep those boots dusty!

Hikergirl

6:21 a.m. on July 9, 2001 (EDT)
30 reviewer rep
1,240 forum posts
You need to go backpacking with folks....

who have the experience camping in your environment of choice. They will show you what to bring and how to properly use the equipment.

Post where you camp. You may find yourself some partners very quickly.

Why did you let yourself get so dehydrated? Do you know the warning signs?

Simple test for state of hydration: if your urine is not clear, you need to start drinking!!

8:52 a.m. on July 10, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

EdG - regarding the dehydration

I vaguely knew the warning signs, but just didn't recognize them until the headache hit.

I tend to sweat a lot and we were in a situation where water was not plentiful. I may have an iodine insensitivity as well. The taste is almost more than I can take.

I basically made a series of greenhorn mistakes that combined to put me in that situation.

This is what I have learned.

1. READ THE MAP; Always have a clear understanding of the water sources along your route. Take advantage of the good water sources you encounter. If intermitent waterways are the only sources for the day it would probably be a good idea to carry extra water.

2. HYDRATE WELL BEFORE YOU START; I had a 1000 mile car trip to the hike and I consciously did not drink too much so I wouldn't have to stop so often. Dumb thing to do. I've learned to drink a lot prior to hiking.

3. WATER BLADDERS ARE NICE: I had a pack, Osprey, that made access to my bottles difficult. An attached bottle holster or even better a bladder with a hose would be helpful in sipping as you go.

4.LISTEN TO YOUR BODY; You should be urinating with good frequncy, volume and clarity. If you aren't DRINK. If you are aweating a lot SLOW DOWN. If you get a headache I'd stop, drink and rest until the headache was gone.

5. DRESS RIGHT: I wore my pants out of camp and kept them on too long. I also wore a cottom ball cap. Both contributed to making me hotter than I needed to be.

The bottom line is that due to bad parsonal drinking habits, ignorance and stupidity I let myself get into a bad situation. Some of us have to learn the hard way and believe me I have leraned.

9:41 a.m. on July 10, 2001 (EDT)
30 reviewer rep
1,240 forum posts
Sounds like you and I have had similiar experiences!

I too had to learn the hard way. I am a swet hog. I will wear a minimum amount of clothing while humping the pack.

I know that headache all to well.

I plan my camping around water. I need a good two gallons of water per day in me to operate efficiently. If I am hiking to an area where there are no water sources, I will carry the two gallons and just stay one night (drinking a quart of gatorade before starting out).

Normally I will go on three to four night trips where water is available within a couple of miles and a few gallons can be brought back to camp. I bring a day back with me to carry my two 2.5 gallon water bags in. The water must be treated before using. I personally prefer to boil the water versus using iodine or carrying a filter. Every one has there own method for this of course!

I used to carry water bottles, but had to pull off the pack to get to them. I now carry a 2 litre platypus hydration system so I can drink on the fly. I make it a habit to drink a gulp or two every 10 minutes while hiking. I eat a lot of dehydrated foods so I also get water while eating.

 

Where do you do your camping?

8:50 p.m. on July 10, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Re: EdG - regarding the dehydration

Quote:

I vaguely knew the warning signs, but just didn't recognize them until the headache hit.

If you only vaguely knew the warning signs, you didn't know them.

Quote:

This is what I have learned.

1. READ THE MAP; Usually a good idea, but understand that water sources on maps may simply not be there. Take the season into consideration, and find out from the rangers which streams/lakes have water and which don't. Alot of the springs listed on USGS topos dried up twenty years before you got the map! If you can't hang with iodine, use a filter!

2. HYDRATE WELL BEFORE YOU START;Make that before, during and after!!! Prehydration is a definate must - especially if your body doesn't retain water too well.

3. WATER BLADDERS ARE NICE: Check out the inline filter /bladder combo made by Safewater systems. It is a water bladder that has a microfilter element inline on the drinking tube, complete with carbon for better taste. This may be good for you. No matter what, use a waterbag.

You want to be sipping small amounts frequently - the rate at which the body absorbs water - instead of gulping huge amounts infrequently - so it sloshes in your stomach and makes you sick - In the desert it's called water toxicosis.


Quote:

4.LISTEN TO YOUR BODY;Good idea, but if you wait till your body tells you "I'm thirsty" to drink, you are already 1 to 2 quarts low on water!!

5. DRESS RIGHT:I have convertible pants - the legs zip off to make them shorts - and you can zip them off and on over your boots. Made of lightweight nylon, so cool even in pants mode, good for brush and sun protection too.

The bottom line is that due to bad parsonal drinking habits, ignorance and stupidity I let myself get into a bad situation.

No kidding!!! All I can say is I hope you didn't pay too much money for the course you took - sounds to me like leadership and supervision was lacking - or did you just not listen in class? : )

6:42 a.m. on July 11, 2001 (EDT)
30 reviewer rep
1,240 forum posts
Don't dis the poor guy! Most of us went thru exactly the same learning experience he did! n/m

nm

12:36 p.m. on July 11, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Re: Don't dis the poor guy! Most of us went thru exactly the same learning experience he did! n/m

EdG,

Regarding Lee's comments; that doesn't bother me and rather than address that type of thing specifically the comments themselves will reflect the speaker's character.

I just visited my doctor and based on my symptoms and circumstances he feels that it may not have been dehydration, but rather iodine insensitivity.

Either way it doesn't matter much.

In regards to where I hike, I was in the White Mountains of New Hampshire at the time. I am from Kentucky and so will likely do most of my hiking in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

I just want to thank all whom have responded to my post, either on the board or via email.

Stuart

12:09 a.m. on July 12, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Re: Don't dis the poor guy! Most of us went thru exactly the same learning experience he did! n/m

Excuse me, didn't "dis" anyone. Simply stated facts as I observed them, gave what I know to be correct information on the causes and prevention of deheydration and alternate methods of water treatment. I stand by the comment I made about the course he took, as well as everything else I said. Notice, I said the comment was about THE COURSE, not him.Of course others have been through what he has, I just wonder why. I took a course, and I never got dehydrated, never had an adverse reaction to Iodine(because course instructors advised that iodine is best used as a backup only, due to the fact that many people can have a sensitivity to it, as well as many other proven and well established medical reasons), never got hypothermia, none of that stuff. Did get shortness of breath as a result of a rapid 8k ascent, but it was unavoidable and lasted all of one minute. Why is it that shortness of breath was my only problem? because I took a course that was well structured, well administered, and WELL SUPERVISED, with TRAINED OUTING LEADERS. Any organization that would take people sight unseen and put them in a potentially life threatening situation with no prior classroom instruction, physical evaluation or subsequent CLOSE SUPERVISION IN THE FIELD(necessary due to the lack of the first two items)IS A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN. He said it best himself..."it's a good thing I was with a group or I WOULD HAVE BEEN DEAD" !!!!

...what kind of group is it that lets someone get so far gone? in my opinion, it's the kind you don't want anything to do with!!!!

12:45 a.m. on July 12, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Re: Don't dis the poor guy! Most of us went thru exactly the same learning experience he did! n/m

Quote:

EdG,

Regarding Lee's comments; that doesn't bother me and rather than address that type of thing specifically the comments themselves will reflect the speaker's character.

Very well put, I am definately a smartass. However, please understand that any negativism is directed at the organizers of the course you took, not you. You were a victim.


Quote:

I just visited my doctor and based on my symptoms and circumstances he feels that it may not have been dehydration, but rather iodine insensitivity.

Iodine sensitivity is a common occurrence.
It was more likely a combination of the two.


Quote:

Either way it doesn't matter much.

Actually it does matter...but that's just my opinion.


Quote:

In regards to where I hike, I was in the White Mountains of New Hampshire at the time. I am from Kentucky and so will likely do most of my hiking in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

There aren't any courses in Ky, Tenn, Va at all? I would think there would be at least some hiking clubs that do trips geared to beginners once in awhile.


Quote:

I just want to thank all whom have responded to my post, either on the board or via email.

Stuart

6:15 a.m. on July 12, 2001 (EDT)
30 reviewer rep
1,240 forum posts
Your preachin' to the choir. But I'm happy you had a good experience with your course. n/m

n/m

10:49 p.m. on July 12, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Re: ...And the choir is asleep. ...yawn...

Quote:

n/m

1:09 a.m. on July 13, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

Off the web, in to the woods

Stuart, read some books about backpacking and camping and then do it with a friend or solo. Most of the enjoyment is derived from the sense of adventure. Taking a class really kills the experience in my oppinion. When you get back read another book and it mean much more. The best part about books over courses is that when the author of a book starts whining and preaching or otherwise bothering you, you can shut the book. If you take a course you are stuck with the guy or girl for a couple days not to mention the rest of your classmates.
If you read self help books you might find a class enjoyable. If you think they're stupid a hiking and camping class will probably seem stupid too.

7:08 a.m. on July 13, 2001 (EDT)
30 reviewer rep
1,240 forum posts
Amen, Brother Lee, we were saved by the filtered or boiled waters. Alleluia!! n/m

nm

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