There are all kinds of wonderful quotes about adventure, epic voyages, and the need to keep pushing forward despite the conditions and the odds. We haven't found quite so many quotes that urge common sense and caution in the face of danger. And yet each year we read about people who lose their lives in the backcountry primarily because they just wouldn't admit that it was time to turn around.
(Note that despite these fatal accidents, it's still much safer to be hiking than driving in your car to the trailhead--or the local supermarket.)
And this got us thinking. We have made the decision to turn around because we didn't like the option of pushing forward on a number of occasions. Twice, that involved the potential crossing of a roaring creek; Mono Creek towards Second Recess in early July, and Frog Creek Towards Laurel Lake in late May in Yosemite. In both cases there was a log that provided at least a hope of getting across. But it was a long crossing, the log was high across the creek, and to fall into the creek below would have been disastrous---it was at full flood.
And so we turned around, and selected another route, and another destination.
We did the same thing as we worked our way cross-country above Yellowhammer Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness. The cliffs got steeper, the manzanita got denser, and we decided that there had to be another way. There was. And we found it the next morning.
And just six weeks ago we did the same thing in the face of strong winds below Bishop Pass. With the winds blowing a steady 30 mph and with gusts to 50 mph where we were, a full 1500 feet below the pass, we decided that we didn't want to make the effort. Those we met on the trail who had come over the pass looked shell-shocked, to say the least.
And so we turned around, and chose another ending to our trip. In each case, we were really happy with the decision. We love hiking, and seeing new things, And we are really that we are still here, still able to hike, and enjoying the benefits of turning around when it was the right thing to do.
So when have you turned around and given up on a route or a destination?