Versions of reality

9:16 a.m. on October 4, 2013 (EDT)
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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...

11:14 a.m. on October 4, 2013 (EDT)
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Nicely written, Balzaccom, and food for thought.

You've created some nice imagery of the people involved, enough so that I can imagine the following scenarios: 

  • The first couple will certainly get there, and only then realize they might not have been quite as prepared as they should have been. They will be tired and dehydrated when they get to the lakes, so they'll drink too much water and get cramps on the way down. They'll get back in plenty of time, but they'll be cold and exhausted.  
  • The photographers will amble along, pausing often for pictures, and hopefully, at some point, will realize they can't make it to the lakes and back before losing daylight. They'll turn around and amble back, arriving at the trailhead in the dark.
  • My money's on the older couple. They have the necessary equipment and supplies, and  they've planned their hike. And if they don't get to the lakes, at least they'll get back to the trailhead safely and with time to spare.

Just a few guesses. Again, well-written! 

11:54 a.m. on October 4, 2013 (EDT)
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These scenarios are played out every weekend in every state. It is a wonder that more people don't need SAR. Giving advice when it is not asked for is a slippery slope.

The only people that get lost on the way to my house are the ones that rely on GPS. We lose a few people each year in the Nevada Outback to GPS users taking short-cuts.  I wish we could give outdoor people a class in common sense.

 

9:33 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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You need a GPS to find your house, ppine? No maps or roads? 

5:56 p.m. on October 8, 2013 (EDT)
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Sorry. Didn't mean to sidetrack the thread, Balzaccom. That was a real question for ppine, though - he must be quite far off the grid.

If I can ask, what conclusions would YOU draw? You have the advantage of having met all those people, and you must have had your own ideas abut how well they would do. 

6:34 p.m. on October 8, 2013 (EDT)
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I think most people who here in Red Rock (from out of the area) are clueless about water in particular. So many tourists...many hung over or sleep deprived or both...and they decide to head out to the Rock and hike, But they bring little if any water and don't realize how much they are losing due to insta-evaporation in the hot sun. I have often given my water to them because they don't even understand where they are. I also see them scramble on the sandstone and get themselves in places hard to come down from. They let their kids run amok and it is really scary.

6:51 p.m. on October 8, 2013 (EDT)
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"Oh. Good. You're not a  bear." LOL!

12:56 a.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Peter1955 said:

Sorry. Didn't mean to sidetrack the thread, Balzaccom. That was a real question for ppine, though - he must be quite far off the grid.

If I can ask, what conclusions would YOU draw? You have the advantage of having met all those people, and you must have had your own ideas abut how well they would do. 

 No Worries about the sidetrack

The young French couple were moving fast and obviously in good shape.  I bet they got the farthest--but they might have been pretty whupped by the time they got back to the trailhead.  But they were quite athletic.

 

The older couple didn't get as far, but made it back in fine shape--although this trail doesn't have a lot of great views for the first few miles, so they may have felt disappointed.

 

And I doubt that the two guys got more than another mile along the trail.  It start to climb a bit at that point, and my guess is that they decided there were better things to do...

 

And we did make it to hot showers and a nice dinner that night!

9:19 a.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Every time I read a post in this thread I can't help but think of things from the other direction.  I understand the point you are making balzacom, and I'm not disputing your perceptions, but as someone frequently on the receiving end of snap judgements on the trail I'm left wondering about the differences between perception and reality.

Due to my body type I generate a lot of heat while climbing often leaving me red faced and drenched in sweat  Combined with my tendency to hike with a scruffy salt and pepper beard along with my "funky" hat I make quite a sight coming down the trail.  People often look at me as though they should ask me if I'm OK and many do ;)

The truth of it is that I am an endurance athlete capable of riding a road bike for 7+ hours w/o stopping and have done numerous rides of 100+ miles in a day. I can hike 12 hours with a full pack day after day, but because of the way I look doing it people are afraid I'm about to drop dead.

Just saying that we all have our own versions of reality based on perceptions that may or may not be accurate.  Again, not really talking about your specifics here balzacom, just the concepts in general.

11:11 a.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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I agree, Lonestranger.  And in fact we presented out own weird appearance to the other hikers.  M always starts the morning cold, wearing many layers.  As the she and the day warm up, she peels off many of those layers and adds them to the outside of her pack. By mid-morning she looks like the family Joad on vacation.

 

And I wear the same shirt and pants that I have worn for the past ten years on the trail.  The shirt is stained where a pine tree dripped pitched on the front many years ago, and the shorts have a nasty tear that has been repaired in the seat from an overly aggressive tree stump near the JMT. 

 

And we do not hike fast.  2 MPH is really racing on the trail for us.

 

So I am sure that the other hikers had their own amusing thoughts about us when they met us on the trail!

11:19 a.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Perception works both ways. I'm pretty scrawny and I have graying hair, and after a few days in the bush I can look pretty scruffy. Add a beat-up pack and big pair of boots, and I get tourists coming up to me all the time asking for directions or advice. If I looked like that on a downtown street, people would assume I was a homeless person.

Curiously, on the trails that image also gives me an assumed authority to tell people what to do. I yelled at a foreign tourist to pick up his discarded banana peel on top of Parkers Ridge. He pouted but he did it and carried it out. When I explained to a church group (hate those guys!) why feeding the ground squirrels on top of Sulphur Skyline wasn't a good idea, they listened. And when two honeymooning Swiss kids met a bear on the trail, it was me they came up to in the parking lot asking what to do about it. 

You might want to consider, balzaccom, that all those people stopped to talk with you instead of just blowing by. You must have looked like you knew what you were doing!

11:19 a.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Peter,

We live in a rural county on a small obscure street on the edge of the public lands.  There are maps around but some people insist on using a GPS and do not want directions. I was making the point that they often have trouble finding the place. Those with a map or directions rarely have trouble. I am having a Nevada Day Party to celebrate the 149th birthday of the state. There will some people calling in on the way that are lost.

12:04 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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ppine said:

Peter,

We live in a rural county on a small obscure street on the edge of the public lands.  There are maps around but some people insist on using a GPS and do not want directions. I was making the point that they often have trouble finding the place. Those with a map or directions rarely have trouble. I am having a Nevada Day Party to celebrate the 149th birthday of the state. There will some people calling in on the way that are lost.

 Baxter State Park has notices on their web site that if you rely on your GPS to reach the North Gate you will get lost.   They don't say maybe, they say turn it off.

1:40 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Hey..I was the biggest girl on the trail to Everest Base camp by a long shot. I got all sorts of comments and conerns...albeit some deserved! HA! I am positive some of my trekking pals were absolutely skeptical of my ability to do this trek. So, yeah....LoneStranger....you did nail this!

 


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1:42 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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ppine said:

These scenarios are played out every weekend in every state. It is a wonder that more people don't need SAR. Giving advice when it is not asked for is a slippery slope.

The only people that get lost on the way to my house are the ones that rely on GPS. We lose a few people each year in the Nevada Outback to GPS users taking short-cuts.  I wish we could give outdoor people a class in common sense.

 

 This happens with GPS in down town Vegas too.  I will call SAR next time my car's GPS sends me to the wrong coffee shop.

1:47 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Peter1955 said:

Perception works both ways. I'm pretty scrawny and I have graying hair, and after a few days in the bush I can look pretty scruffy. Add a beat-up pack and big pair of boots, and I get tourists coming up to me all the time asking for directions or advice. If I looked like that on a downtown street, people would assume I was a homeless person.

Curiously, on the trails that image also gives me an assumed authority to tell people what to do. I yelled at a foreign tourist to pick up his discarded banana peel on top of Parkers Ridge. He pouted but he did it and carried it out. When I explained to a church group (hate those guys!) why feeding the ground squirrels on top of Sulphur Skyline wasn't a good idea, they listened. And when two honeymooning Swiss kids met a bear on the trail, it was me they came up to in the parking lot asking what to do about it. 

You might want to consider, balzaccom, that all those people stopped to talk with you instead of just blowing by. You must have looked like you knew what you were doing!

 True enough--although at our age ( 60+) they may just be giving us a chance to ask  them for help!

3:36 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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giftogab said:

Hey..I was the biggest girl on the trail to Everest Base camp by a long shot. I got all sorts of comments and conerns...albeit some deserved! HA! I am positive some of my trekking pals were absolutely skeptical of my ability to do this trek. So, yeah....LoneStranger....you did nail this!

 You strike me as a "girl" who accomplishes anything she sets her mind to, GOG!

3:51 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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That's why she gets so much respect here, Goose. 

Check out her trip report for Everest Base Camp. The girl has a fair bit of credibility!

4:20 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Peter1955 said:

Check out her trip report for Everest Base Camp.

 I have!

Going back to the original thread, I took my family to Great Smoky Mountains N.P. some years ago (it was open!!!). After setting up our camper, I suggested the short hike to Hen Wallow Falls. What I didn't take into account--being a flat land, cornfield boy--was that the sun sinks behind the neighboring mountains well before the official sunset. I enjoyed the hike back, but my wife wasn't happy with just my key chain light to get us back.


Lesson learned: the "10 Essentials" are ESSENTIAL!

4:30 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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G00SE said:

Peter1955 said:

Check out her trip report for Everest Base Camp.

 I have!

 Read Peter's post wrong. I've read her Death Valley report. I don't see her Everest Base Camp report (saw some of the posts from Nepal).

5:05 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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G00SE said:

G00SE said:

Peter1955 said:

Check out her trip report for Everest Base Camp.

 I have!

 Read Peter's post wrong. I've read her Death Valley report. I don't see her Everest Base Camp report (saw some of the posts from Nepal).

 I haven't done a trip report here yet...but the blog www.whelantrek.com has all of my entries. :) Thanks for the compliments GOOSE and Peter!

7:02 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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My mistake, Goose. I read the blog and remembered it as being posted here. There are some good little stories there, though. 

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