Odd gear choices and surprising items on the trail?

8:42 a.m. on August 1, 2015 (EDT)
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A comment from Patrick on another thread about "strange behavior and choices" of rookies on the AT sparked some memories. As a teen in GA in the early 80s, I would end up on the AT every month or so and try to swing through one of the first few shelters to see what folks were getting rid of or had left (it always amazed me how much stuff people left in shelters for others to clean up). While there were a lot of useless items, I picked up a stove, jacket, socks, cooking equipment, and even a solo tent (single walled Walrus unfortunately) from frustrated hikers who had way too much gear. Note, we never begged and told them there were opportunities along the trail to shed or sell gear, but they would often give away items after friendly discussions and advice about gear choices and the upcoming trail miles rather than carry items any further.

Weirdest items that I can remember seeing folks with were a wheeled golf bag carrier instead of a pack, and (maybe not weird but crazy...) a 12 inch cast iron skillet for cooking (we are talking backpacking not canoeing where I find that perfectly reasonable).

I would love to hear what gear you have seen on the trail that made you stop and wonder "what were they thinking?" or left you in awe of the world's greatest salesman at REI...

12:55 p.m. on August 1, 2015 (EDT)
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After starting backpacking in 1961, the solar panelsexpresso makers, GPS, music devices, movie players, and email checkers all seem out of place to me in the backcountry.

Mule and horse packers used to bring in some unusual stuff. I sat in a hot springs once 20 miles from the road in a perfect claw foot bath tub.

 

11:07 p.m. on September 26, 2015 (EDT)
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Back in the mid 90's, I remember taking my first trip up Katahdin.  I saw someone on their way back down with a full-sized lobster pot and "the remaining" lobster tied to their packs.  For some reason, this group had not only hauled lobsters up the mountain, but had then decided to carry one back down again instead of cooking it all just to get rid of it.

11:00 a.m. on September 27, 2015 (EDT)
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I was hiking on the Na Pali coast of Kauai many years ago, and ran into two local guys that were out goat hunting. They wore 99 cent flip flops and had external frame backs and were bow hunting. I asked them how they did. Hunting was slow they said. Then I heard bleating. They had a kid goat in one of the packs, and he stuck his head out from under the flap to look around. They were going to take him home and raise him and then eat him. 

4:29 p.m. on September 29, 2015 (EDT)
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I find coffee making devices such as french press attachments bizarre and needless for the outdoors. You can get perfectly good instant these days that is more than palatable if you absolutely must have coffee.


Unless you are car camping, or setting up a basecamp, a few packets, or a small nalgene containers worth of instant does just fine.

6:08 p.m. on September 29, 2015 (EDT)
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I have taken a  full sized cooler twice on a backpacking trip. The first time it was in a wheel barrow. The second time it was in a little red wagon. We put a rope on the back so we could hoist it over a few rocks. It was an easy trail and we had girls along that were not into backpacking that much. The food and beer were a big hit and we had tons of fun.

1:18 a.m. on September 30, 2015 (EDT)
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Done my share of weird gear and stuff.

A stove top heated stainless steel espresso maker.  That didn't last long.

Back in the day I was trying to design a compact backpackers white gas lantern. Two or three prototypes made it into the field for testing; one got so-so performance.  They make for much better conversation pieces than sources of light. 

In fact I DIY a fair number of things.  Rigged a beach chair sun parasol to my pack, on my trips in Grand Canyon, back in the early 1980s.  My friends scoffed on the rim, but grew to envy it as the trip progressed, as did most passing hikers.  Inspired, I tried to make a ultra light sun awning for my pack.  My buddies got a good laugh from that effort.  Picture a space blanket cut to shape and stretched across a frame made of those bent plastic rod clothing hangers you get at Walmart or Target.  It so happens the ultra light sun/rain umbrellas marketed nowadays by various equipment manufactures (mine is a Go Pro) fit my pack perfectly.

I have been known to hike last night's pizza left overs up to camp, carried in its box on one hand, similar to a waiter.

While not weird to serious photographers: 4X5 large format rail camera, tripod, several lenses, etc.

While not weird to those who dry camp: a five gallon bulk water container.

Weird by any measure - um, a keg of beer...

Several gallons of wine.

Small coolers, but also not so small coolers on a couple of occasions.

Not weird at but frequently unexpected: Chickens, turkeys, steaks, rib roasts, lamb racks, ten pounds of potatoes.

Ed

10:09 a.m. on September 30, 2015 (EDT)
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It is always a surprise to me when someone pulls 4 glass bottles of wine and a bottle of brandy out of their pack on an overnight trip.

We went on a private  horse pack trip once with two couples. A fifth guy never showed up at the trailhead. After we arranged our outfit, we had everything all set, except we had an extra pack horse. So we went to town and bought a sack of potatoes, corn still on the cob, and two cases of beer. We had some canned goods and loaves of bread. We were a lot lighter coming out, a week and 100 miles later.

With all of those canvas pack tarps, we made a sweat lodge out of some lodgepoles at 6,000 feet in the Absaroka Range 50 miles from the nearest road, where few people ever go. The sweat lodge next to the creek with naked girls was one of the great days of my life, rolling in the flowers and watching the waterfalls.

 

7:34 p.m. on September 30, 2015 (EDT)
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While hitchhiking 10,000 miles around the USA in June-Sept 1977 I saw guy with one of the then new wheeled suitcase's. It kept falling over as he tried pulling it along the pavement, he would continuely stop, right it and go again.

11:35 a.m. on October 1, 2015 (EDT)
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I once took a GF who had not hiked that much on a  trip to the North Cascades. It was just a day hike, so I surprised her at Maple Pass with a small chilled bottle of Champagne and fresh picked huckleberries and chilled cream.

On a day paddle in the middle of summer, I was teaching a moving water class. At lunch the other instructor and I pulled out a cooler filled with dry ice and ice cream bars.

12:39 a.m. on October 2, 2015 (EDT)
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I used to go on some horseback dates. My uncle taught me the power of white wine and plastic stemware in the saddle bags. It is unexpected, like Erich's anecdotes above.

5:03 a.m. on October 2, 2015 (EDT)
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I've hiked in a case of beer with ice to hikers and hiked in a cooler with soda and fruit to give away to hikers..When I do the cooler it's maybe 1/2 mile from a trailhead...

12:53 a.m. on October 8, 2015 (EDT)
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It just occurred to me that Snow Peak offers a titanium sake bottle and titanium sake glasses.  Is it bad that I REALLY want to buy them (maybe not $200 want, though...) so I can surprise everyone by kicking back with hot sake at the end of a long day of hiking?

12:46 p.m. on October 8, 2015 (EDT)
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Brent, this brings up an issue I have with some aspects of the outdoor gear industry and why I often stick to tried and true designs and materials. While taking a sake set into the bush is not a bad idea(a friend once made fresh California Roll on a trip) a titanium sake set is a bad idea. Of course, titanium is the wonder metal out there. It is light and strong for its weight. However, it dissipates heat very quickly, making it unsuitable for a sake set. That some designer decided that a sake set made out of titanium would be really light and "cool", that designer looked at the marketing, rather than the practicality. I would want my sake to stay hot, or at least warm. With a titanium set, your sake would cool very quickly, so you would have to drink it quickly or settle for cold sake. Now a copper sake set would be the thing.

1:15 a.m. on October 9, 2015 (EDT)
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I would tend to agree with Erich, i value proven designs and materials.

Snow Peak makes some very nice and well designed gear, they also make some very high priced trendy gear.

I find their stoves, lanterns, and basic cook wear to be top notch, no useless plastic parts or inserts ( my opinion ) in their pot and pans, etc.

But if you want to spend hundreds of dollars on "cool stuff" they will be glad to help you.

Their double walled titanium stuff is nice, just pricey.

3:58 a.m. on October 10, 2015 (EDT)
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I was a hutkeeper at Mintaro hut on the Milford Track in NZ in the late 70s. One day a guy showed up in early afternoon, maybe in his 40s, said we was just stopping for lunch and wanted to push on to the next hut -- the toughest day of the hike. He was from Florida, allowed as how he didn't have any experience but heard about the track and decided he had to do it, but didn't have enough time in his travel itinerary to take the usual four days. He had purchased some basic gear and supplies in Te Anau, somehow wrangled a permit, and just went for it. As I tried to dissuade him from pushing on, he started pulling stuff out of his pack to get his lunch food out. I don't remember all the odd items, but two stick out in my memory: and enormous jar of peanut butter, and an almost equally large jar of Vaseline. I didn't ask him what it was for but, well, the mind reels...

I later found out that he ran out of light a couple miles above the next hut, didn't have a flashlight, and ended up sleeping under one of the footbridges. Lucky for him it wasn't a rainy night. It's actually impressive that he got as far as he did, and I guess he got a good story to take home. But what about that Vaseline?

11:48 a.m. on October 10, 2015 (EDT)
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Until recently I have been a soloist enjoying the backcountry on my own. And where I hike is not accessible by road. So, the oddest thing I have seen on the trail is another human being. 

5:51 p.m. on October 11, 2015 (EDT)
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I went over Chilkoot Pass and met up with some Germans that decided during their day hike to keep going. What was surprising was what they didn't have. No tent in the wet of Alaska, little food, no stove, no cooking utensils. They had some granola looking stuff with water on it and little else. Everyone chipped in and gave them something. They never complained and were great companions. Everyone like them.

6:49 a.m. on October 12, 2015 (EDT)
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Interesting stories across the board...thanks for sharing.

Growing up very close to the start of the AT at Springer Man GA, I can recall at least two different occasions when we passed someone 20 or more miles into the trail who had no equipment and were wondering if they could find a "ranger station" in the next few miles or thought ther might be a shuttle bus back to the park where they started. Actually, there was a pretty dependable shuttle back then...can't remember the guy's name but he lived off donations from driving people between towns and trailhead s in his 1960s wagon. Folks sure were dissappointed when we told them they should probably hike back...

11:39 a.m. on October 12, 2015 (EDT)
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ppine said:

I went over Chilkoot Pass and met up with some Germans that decided during their day hike to keep going. 

 

On more than one occasion, pretty far from anywhere, I have come across German tourists in speedos and flip-flops.  It has become a joke - when will we next come around a corner (after seeing no one for some time) and find them? 

11:30 a.m. on October 13, 2015 (EDT)
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In the Yukon, there are many Germans, Austrians and Swiss, as well as Japanese. They out number Canadians on the more popular rivers, and certainly out number Americans. On the Big Salmon in 2013, we met one solo Japanese, two Swiss, and an Austrian and his wife, with an Englishman and his Danish GF. The Brit, it turned out, was the great grand nephew of GM Dawson. He had been enticed to come by his Austrian friend, who had paddled the Big Salmon before. Unfortunately, he had no experience, and his friend wasn't a good teacher. They had dumped in some woody debris near the top of the river and were on their way out. It was fortunate, because further along near the top of the river, is a serious log jam, requiring good boat handling skills.

10:08 p.m. on October 13, 2015 (EDT)
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Three of us climbed the rock slides on Mt Marcy back in the 1980s and then proceeded to bushwack to the summit. Near the summit but in the cripplebush I found a twelve foot long iron bar. One of the men I was with 'Jim Goodwin', decided it was most likely an original surveying bar from Verplanck Colvin's crew. I left it up there.

Another time in the big woods between Whiteface Mtn and Lake Placid I set my pack down and heard a metallic noise. I picked my pack up and under the leaves and debris discovered 5 old rusty scythe blades. How they got there or why they were there I never figured out. No farm was ever there nor trail at least not on any map going back into the 1800s.

On Mt Esther pretty high on the ridge there use to be a nice vein of garnet. I once found a piece oh bigger than a golf ball but a couple geologist I talked to said I was nuts and that garnet didn't exist that high up in the Adirondacks.  Maybe it doesn't usually but the vein sure does or did.

10:20 p.m. on October 13, 2015 (EDT)
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I should of put this above but just remembered it.

Up above Franklin Falls Pond and west of the Saranac there is an old CCC spruce forest. I use to hike in there and hunt it too. I was back in about a half mile and saw this white cone like thing laying on the ground. When I walked up to it I could see it had been made of Styrofoam and had an antenna sticking out of one end and a wire out the other and it was taped shut. Truly looked like a bomb and it took me awhile to pick it up figuring it couldn't be a bomb because if it was it wouldn't have a reason to be where it was.

I picked it up and slit the tape and the thing popped open and inside was a radio transmitter and a 9volt battery from China. This was when China was Red China before everything came from there, so then my interest was truly peaked and it was just a few weeks before the Winter Olympics so I took the thing to the State Police where they and the CIA and Secret Service, National Weather Service and who knows who else all examined it over a couple weeks and decided, or so they told me, it was from a weather balloon probably from a college out Vancouver way.

They did give it back to me and it did make the local news paper.

11:05 a.m. on October 14, 2015 (EDT)
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Not a good story like the above (awesome Old Guide), but I once met a guy in the smokies that had his pack side pockets stuffed full of store bought kindling. His explanation was that he really wanted to be able to make fires and was worried about not being able to. What was so funny was that he had no fire starter or accelerant of any kind. Not sure how that worked out for him.......

10:06 p.m. on October 14, 2015 (EDT)
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Thanks Patrick. Your story reminds of when I night climbed Mt Marcy and descended into Panther Gorge to spend the night in the old lean-to which has since been replaced.

Its was as dark as it gets and alone it seemed darker. I threw my stuff into the lean-to and someone had left a fire to be lit so I lit that and began to get to cooking when out of nowhere this guy says Hi! How Are You? I jumped cause he didn't have a light or anything. I asked where he had came from and he said he had a tent pitched up on the hill and his flashlight was dead and he was having nightmares of being attacked by wolves and bears and couldn't sleep. I assured him there were no wolves and the possibility of being attacked by a bear was very slim. He then asked 'Mind if I sleep with you?' Which really got me going but he meant in the lean-to not in my bag. I couldn't say no so he went and got his gear but he had me spooked.

As I ate he told me it was his first hike ever and he had come in from Elk Lake, which I think it is about 13 miles through swamp and hills. He then said he was going to climb Marcy the next day and then bushwack to Gray and climb Skylight. I warned him not to bushwack to Gray as I had done it and it isn't easy or very safe alone...but he was determined.

Marcy is the highest peak in the Adirondacks and Gray and Skylight aren't far behind.

Eventually we crawled in our bags, him in one end of the lean-to and me in the other and sometime after I fell asleep but at the very first hint of light there he was standing over me like a ghost, all suited up, he then said goodbye and I never saw or heard of him again.

There were no S&R's then so I guess he made it out ok. Strange.

12:08 p.m. on October 15, 2015 (EDT)
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Since this thread is including people, rather than things, I'll relate an experience I had in about 1984 in the Sierra. There are a number of climbing routes on the old Donner Summit Highway. Nice rock, solid with some good cracks and overhangs. My partner and I were spending a warm summer day there, our first time at this location. We got to the top of the first one, mostly a steep crack with an easy three foot overhang near the end to negotiate and then the top. As we summited, there was a small pond and walking toward us out of the pond was a young woman completely naked, carrying a naked baby in her arms. Not the sort of vision I usually expect to see at the end of a route, but a pleasant one, none the less.

2:33 p.m. on October 15, 2015 (EDT)
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yeah Erich, that wouldn't be so bad perhaps. :)

I've never come across someone that was "good naked". I have unfortunately had several "bad naked' encounters. Seems like the most common for me is walking up on someone who is actually just off the trail, obviously thinking they are well hidden, using a cat-hole. Usually this happens on a long switchback and the person probably doesn't realize the trail parallels itself.

 

11:06 a.m. on October 16, 2015 (EDT)
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I was on a trail one time and there swinging on a branch over the trail was a really fine 35mm camera. I knew no one had passed me going in the other direction so surmised the owner was in front of me and it had snagged off his pack so I took the camera and proceeded on.

About a1/2hr later there comes this guy hustling along, no pack  I guess to make time, and I stopped him and asked why the hurry. He answered he had lost his camera and I said no you didn't here it is :)

Talk about big smiles and thank youse.

That was one of two 35mm's I found and returned. I never was able to do that with single items like water bottles, glasses, crampon, yak trax like device, mittens and gloves and hats, ski, emergency ski tip, ski poles, canteens, etc, and going up Marcy one time I followed a trail of packaged food which I picked up. I think a bear had raided a campsite at Slant Rock the night before and the food was falling out of the pack as it ascended the trail to its hiding spot.

I ate it, it was good, though a bit more then I had planned on carrying for a couple nights out.

11:19 a.m. on October 16, 2015 (EDT)
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And this one you have to like! As a guide I often had wealthy clients where I did simple things like cook big meals or walk and look at colored leaves etc, with folks who didn't hunt or climb, fish or campout.

I had one couple who I took the man out many times so he could complete his Adk 46 but the wife was not into that and they one day asked if I would row her around the Lower Ausable Lake in a guideboat. Now then two Ausable Lakes are part of a fabulous private preserve which these folks were members. I  agreed of course not just for the $ but also the view on the Lower is tremendous and the lady a truly enjoyable person to be with.

At the dock I met her and her butler and there was one of the guideboats, a fabulous restored original, the club owned. We unloaded the woody wagon which my clients owned and I occasionally got to drive, and off the two of us went for a row and lunch later on the beach BUT in the boat we rowed with 6, seriously, 6 cases of good champagne with ice and a canvas covering it.

I eventually asked, why are we bringing along 6 cases of champagne, after all their is only two of us, why not just one?  The simple answer was; What if we were on the beach and the Newman's or Mertz's  [names changed]or someone else showed up and we didn't have enough? Its about face!

4:42 p.m. on October 16, 2015 (EDT)
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I used to have a friend, now deceased that had a degree in forestry from the U of Michigan in 1934. He did a long canoe trip to northern Minn about 1951 before the BWCA existed. His outfitter for equipment was none other than Sigurd Olsen.

During 3 week trip they traveled a lot of country and stopped one afternoon for lunch on a small island. They found an old trapper's cache in a metal tin like cookies used to come in. Inside the box was some tobacco, trade beads, fish hooks, red cloth, metal snares, and a crooked knife, with some other stuff he could not remember. My friend and his companions were intrigued by the contents. examined them, and put the box back where it was found. It is probably still there.

9:50 p.m. on October 16, 2015 (EDT)
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ppine that is a cool story. I'm not much of a canoer but own a book by Sigurd and have read it about three times. [Runes Of The North]

Finding that kind of stuff with him would be icing on a cake.

I found a trapper's cache that was up in some red pines. Ladder was off in the brush. I didn't climb up in it, had no reason too. I always thought it odd no one I knew who hunted around there had ever seen it before. Its probably fallen in by now.

Found a few old cellars and foundations here and there in the deep woods, some which are on very old topos and some aren't. Found a couple graves like that too.

If you do find an old cellar or foundation be very careful walking around, there may be an old well with just rotten wood and forest debris on it, nothing that would hold any real weight. Falling in likely would hurt you and in some places may contain snakes.

A good clue for foundations and the like is bushes that don't belong there like lilacs.

I also once found an 11pt deer antler-unfortunately I never found the deer or the other antler.

10:23 a.m. on October 17, 2015 (EDT)
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When I was a kid, my Dad used to take us out of school to go deer hunting, beginning in the third grade. We hunted in Virginia mostly around the Blue Ridge. My Dad liked old apple orchards and always kept an eye out for them. Often there would be the remains of old homesteads around. One was well preserved, although abandoned. I have a broadaxe that we found there in about 1960, and my Dad still has a kerosene lamp.

1:20 p.m. on October 17, 2015 (EDT)
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Old Guide's comments about wells reminded me of a time when I lived in Reno in the early 80's. A friend and I drove out toward Pyramid Lake to look for the the townsite of Pyramid City. PPINE might know the place. There was an old stone explosives shed and a horizontal shaft that we explored for 30-40 feet. As I was walking up through scrub juniper near the top of a hill, I almost stepped off into a vertical shaft. Ten feet square, all surface evidence that it was there had long been carted off and what remained was just a hole in the ground with some shoring and an old ladder leading down into the abyss. I was there a couple of years ago and it had all been bulldozed over.

9:38 p.m. on October 17, 2015 (EDT)
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Erich you got real lucky. Any idea how deep that shaft was?

Finding old tools, even if they are now worthless is always cool, well at least to me it is. Makes me wonder what the story is behind it though I'll never know. I can only think of two things I found in the woods, except that iron bar in the story above, that I found out how it got there. On Catamount Mtn, the popular one near Whiteface in the Adirondacks, when I was young I found bits of barb wire and pieces of cedar posts on the summit and the last part of a 38/55 shell down in the woods. Years later I met Wilford Lahart, now deceased, whose grandparents settled that valley in the 1800s and he told me that when he was a young man him and his granddad put the fence up and over the mountain and he was shocked any of it was still there 60 maybe 70 years later. And the remains of the 38/55 may have been his grandpas 'cause that's what he shot.

It takes a long time for a brass shell to dissolve even in acid soil.

I like old apple orchard's because of the apples, I don't mind a couple scabs, etc, many of those old apples aren't commercialized any more and none of them have pesticides on them. My neighbor and I share 4 old apple trees, well us and the deer, and each one is different, I can only identify two of them but each ripens at different times as the season progress's and I thoroughly enjoy three of them while the fourth sure could use some sugar :), maybe at one time there was a small orchard here for a small farm possibly where my neighbor's house now sits.

I hope I haven't hijacked this thread to badly...I apologize if I did.

11:59 a.m. on October 18, 2015 (EDT)
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We are all happy to hear stories from the Old Guide.

I live next to one million acres of BLM land and my neighbor's yard is only fenced on two sides. This time of year the wild horses sneak into his yard to eat the apples off the ground.

I have spent plenty of time at Pyramid Lake. It is a world class fishery, with the native Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. The lake record is 41 pounds. The Truckee River that they spawn in was originally called the Salmon-Trout River.

Old mines are really dangerous. I have worked around them a lot. The BLM has attempted to close some of them, and at least put up some wire fences around open shafts. They are known for rotten timbers, lethal gas and rattlesnakes.

I met a guy that used to take a pack string  into remote mining camps in Colorado during the summer to put himself through grad school. He told the story of the Never Summer Range up near the Wyoming line. He tore up the floor boards of the old saloons and banks and sifted through the ground for gold dust. With a metal detector he located an original cache of old Winchesters packed in cosmaline and canvas and perfectly preserved.

4:29 p.m. on October 18, 2015 (EDT)
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Thanks ppine. I wish I was living near a million acres of land where I could use at least some of it. I do have access to a few hundred now here in sny though I'd much prefer to be back up north.

I can't imagine how thrilled I'd be to find the broadaxe you found or the cache of Winchester's that man did. On today's market the Winchester's would bring many thousands and it would be awesome just to have one hanging around on the wall or in the gun rack.

I was thinking about odd stuff I took on the trail; I've taken steaks, burgers and dogs on ice, at different times, and surprised the heck out of my hiking companion when we stopped for lunch. I also packed candles [the type that don't blow out] and cupcakes up a snowy mountain when one of my fellow snowshoers had their birthday. That was neat. They had no idea I knew it was their birthday. Their youngest son was with them and I guess it left an impression as I ended up mentoring him and his older brother for their Eagle Scout awards and the young one is now in a 4yr paid scholarship outdoor leadership program...so I must've done something right.

Also I took someone up a snowy mountain for a friend and on top the guy whipped out a 6 pack of St Pauli's Girl and offered me one. I refused and he proceeded to drink all 6 against my best suggestions. On the way down he missed a turn on the trail and walked off a ten foot or so high cliff. He, crumpled up at the bottom, I ran back and like a squished rubber Pokey or Gumby coming back to shape and form, he slowly rose up and said 'I'm ok' and walked out. He was real sore the next day.

I ran lots of heavy equipment in surface mines but never below ground. I tried though in the old Retsof Salt Mines but didn't get hired :(

10:31 a.m. on October 19, 2015 (EDT)
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We met up with geology friends one time in Big Bend to do some backpacking for New Year's. I knew we could have some dry camps in that part of the Sonoran Desert. It made no sense to bring dehydrated food and then carry the water to hydrate it. The first two nights, I pulled out an avocado, half a head of lettuce and cherry tomatoes from my pack and some other things. It was a wonderful experience in that dry, desiccated country to be able to eat some real food. Everyone's eyes lit up at the sight of the avocado.

10:30 a.m. on October 20, 2015 (EDT)
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We used to hike naked a lot in the 70s and 80s on backcountry trails. In warm weather it was freeing and fun to hike with a sweetheart. Just  a hat, a pack and boots. No one seemed to notice. Clothes are still not that common around remote hot springs.

The young people today seem to make a big deal out of not wearing clothes. It is a total change from the old hippy days.

1:49 p.m. on October 20, 2015 (EDT)
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About those nude women in the wilds - I once stumbled upon half a dozen panties on a high ridge line in the Last Chance Range of Death Valley, miles from any trail or road.  The find defied all logic.  The terrain was pretty severe, not the place you would expect tourists out on a day hike.  It was not along any rational trek between points that may have water; anyone considering camping (thus justifying a multi day supply of clean underwear) would be limited to one or two day stay at a dry camp.  A prank or luggage dropped from a plane were our running theories on this find. 

I once wandered upon a bunch of tennis balls - almost two dozen - near the summit of Seven Gables, above Bear Creek in the Sierra. That's a long two day hike from the nearest trailhead, serviced by a severe three mile 4wd  "road" that accesses Bear Dam.  Seven Gables has no summit trail, with the best approach being ascending 2000' up a brush choked 4.5 incline.  I think a tennis enthusiast dreamed of swatting some off the 800' cliffs along the east side of the peak, but was stymied, by steeply inclined snow fields that linger along the ridge line.  The dispersion pattern of the balls covered several acres of the summit mesa and defied any explanation of how they ended up in their final positions.  There were probably many more up there that we failed to discover.

On a hike to Hilton Lake above Tom's Place in the Sierra we stumbled upon a ruined hiker's camp site.  There were several packs and tent, all thrashed and looking like a bear had fun, and equipment and litter scattered all about the vicinity.  We removed what we could, but there was more trash than we could haul out.  Shame on these campers for leaving their camp unattended in a condition that encouraged bears to forage for human food, and shame on them for abandoning their stuff in the aftermath.

I have come upon an aircraft wreckage on Mammoth Ridge in the Sierra, and four wreckages in the San Gabriel Mountains.  Each were well off the beaten track; however, all were already accounted for.

I have stumbled upon rather large, heavy pieces of old mining equipment from the gold rush era in the Sierra wilderness in several locations of the Sierra between Tioga Pass and Bridgeport.

The strangest thing I have seen in the backcountry was some steel tubes and angle bars welded to form four crude, Picasso-like, stick figure sculptures of creatures, each about five or six feet tall, accompanied by ash remnants of flares arranged in arcs centered on each sculpture.  It looked like a pagan ritual site.  The fact we could discern the ash of the flares indicated the site was recently used, and the rusted welds and tubing hinted the sculptures were many years old. This find was located on the east side of the El Paseo Mountains, west of Randsburg, Ca, several miles up a steep, rugged canyon with no trail access.

And then there were the several cannabis gardens I stumbled upon in the San Gabriel Mountains.  One was located in an area closed to the public known as the Experimental Forest.  How ironic is that!  It was obvious these "farms" were unattended; nevertheless we made haste in putting distance between us and these garden plots.

Ed

5:46 p.m. on October 20, 2015 (EDT)
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I used to work in Nevada in the field all the time. Jet aircraft was sometimes the only company F-16s, F-18s, A-10s, Apache helicopters and Stealth bombers. They were always a surprise because they are so fast. If they come from behind you cannot hear them coming. The pilots would often wave. On a canoe trip on the Colorado R in Feb a Navy Blue Angel flew over our campfire and we waved. He rocked his wings.

We found twisted aluminum plenty of times stretched over many acres, ordinance sometimes live, Smokey Sams, chaff and flare debris. And the evidence of small fires. There are many military training routes in Nevada. Sometimes they drop live ordinance from the sky but only on specific locations that are well known and posted. Once we had a military environmental job on the Nellis Test Site. They gave us one hour and a military escort. We drove 100 mph on dirt roads and got the Hell out of there. Twisted metal, blown up tanks, wrecked airplanes of every description. It is also full of wildlife, wild horses and lots of undiscovered archaeology.

6:16 p.m. on October 20, 2015 (EDT)
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Deep in Okeefenokee Swamp in southern GA, we found a hammock (not what you are probably thinking...this is the local term for a small island in the swamp) without a designated campsite that looked interesting for a lunch spot. Wandered around until we came across the rusted remains of what we estimated as a 1940s era Ford truck. Spent the rest of our lunch break trying to figure out how and why...

10:35 a.m. on October 21, 2015 (EDT)
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I spent a great deal of time roaming the woods in rural south central VA growing up, explored a number of old far houses with stuff that dated back to the 1800's. But the coolest find was a cannon ball in the woods.

11:20 a.m. on October 22, 2015 (EDT)
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Just in time for this thread, "Hiker finds 1,200-yr-old Viking sword in Norway"

A hiker travelling the ancient route between western and eastern Norway found a 1,200-year-old Viking sword after sitting down to rest after a short fishing trip.

http://www.thelocal.no/page/view/hiker-finds-1300-yr-old-viking-sword

12:14 p.m. on October 22, 2015 (EDT)
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To take this thread even further off the OP, let me link you up to "The Hunt for the Death Valley Germans". This is the long form version written first-person by a guy who became obsessed with the mystery and a had a direct role in solving it. There are much shorter newspaper accounts out there as well.

11:14 p.m. on October 22, 2015 (EDT)
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Interesting story, Red. Although I didn't read in detail, he didn't seem to mention wildlife, except for burros. Bones often get scattered widely as coyotes and other animals feed on the bodies. On my Yukon trips, I often encounter Germans, Japanese and a few French. The Japanese come mostly for the fishing, the Germans, seem to have a great wanderlust for the adventure. Mostly, they make their way down the rivers with few emergencies. However, I have encountered some who were ill prepared. The two Swiss I encountered once had nice Fiskars hatchets and knives on their belts. An Austrian and his wife carried a shotgun and a bandolier. And on the Finlay, we pulled into Fort Ware and heard about the French guy who had tried to solo another tributary and wandered into the Fort Ware a month earlier, boatless and hungry.

6:39 p.m. on October 23, 2015 (EDT)
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How big was that cannonball and how far did you have to carry it? Great old find like so many others have also posted.

10:44 a.m. on October 24, 2015 (EDT)
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One time we found a nice flat camp spot after a long day muleback. After we unloaded the pack stock, my friend says "come over here." Near camp was the complete skeleton of a horse with one small bullet hols between the eyes.  The horse had obviously broken his leg and could not continue.  I later met the guy that owned the horse. He was still sad about it.

Now the Forest Service requires people to remove carcasses which is very challenging.

 

5:30 p.m. on December 6, 2015 (EST)
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Moderator, please delete.

November 20, 2019
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