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  1. #21
    Registered User Christoph's Avatar
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    Great thread! I can only imagine how many times a "runner" has fallen. My thru, I fell a few times (see my post above), but someone who's trying to hurry through this thing... I mean, I'm just walking, right?
    - Trail name: Thumper

  2. #22
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    It was mid afternoon on the first day of my first AT hike when I stepped on a slick rock and my feet flew out from under me. I recall it being like a cartoon where everything was in slow motion. In the fraction of a second it took me to hit the ground a whole chain of thoughts ran through my head. I recall thinking how horrible it would be if the hike I had planned for years was going to come to an ignominious end just hours into the first day. Then I thought it would be nice if no one was around to see this. Then I thought it would be nice if someone was around to help if I got hurt. Then I wondered if there was anything I could do to avoid hitting the ground. Then I decided there wasn't. I finally landed on my elbow. Got up, checked myself and gear. My raincoat sleeve was intact where I landed so I figured I was ok andI kept hiking. A few minutes later, I stopped to take off my raincoat and noticed the inside of my sleeve was quite bloody. Interestingly I had opened a good one inch gash in my elbow while not damagong my raincoat. I cleaned it up and taped it and survived. My first hike wasn't perfect, but that isn't the objective. The goal is to learn from my mistakes (and not die). Still have a blood stain on my sleeping pad.

  3. #23

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    I use the NFL down by contact rules. So, that time I slipped forward, and caught myself on both hands, without knees, or hip touching, doesn't count. That time I stumbled off a trail and bounced off a tree, right back onto the trail, also doesn't count. Twisted ankle, where I lunge and catch my balance without going down, also doesn't count.

    Based on the above, I made it 250ish miles into my thru hike attempt before I found myself sitting on my butt in a mud puddle. Of course the NFL down by contact rule is stupid. I pulled muscles in my shoulders when I caught myself on my hands, and I tore up a ligament in my knee when I lunged to avoid a twisted ankle. Bouncing of that tree probably prevented major injury, as there was kind of an ugly fall below that tree.

    The largest culprit for my trail injuries is gazing at distance views while walking, probably something I won't change as it's no fun to keep your nose down and staring at your footing all day.

  4. #24
    13-45 Section Hiker Trash Berserker's Avatar
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    I don't know how many times I have completely fallen down, but it's probably works out to be about once a week which is probably about once per every 100 miles. Most of them haven't been a big deal, and I never broke a bone. I have sprained parts of my hand, my knee and my ankle. I also have broken 2 Gossamer Gear Light Trek poles (thankfully you can buy replacement pieces).

    The big joke that was always shared between myself and other hikers is how most people get seriously injured on the stupid stuff...i.e. the small nondescript stuff where one is not paying attention. That's not to say people don't get injured on the big hard rock scrambles and things like that, but it's human nature to be hyper focused on the really hard stuff and lollygagging around on the easy stuff where it's that lollygagging without paying attention that often leads to a bad spill.
    AT: 2007-2019 (45 sections)
    JMT: 2013

  5. #25
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    On my thru-hike, I went about 400 miles before falling on a nondescript patch of loose dirt in Tennessee, just slid straight out from under me and I was left sitting on my butt, checking around to see if anyone saw. I had a few quick little trips sending me to hands and knees a few times after that. Once in Grayson Highlands in a downpour, I slipped on a wet rock, so falling to my hands and knees on solid rock was quite painful, and actually only the brim of my baseball cap stopped me from smacking my forehead on the rock too. But that was the only time I had any fear, even briefly, that I might have been hike-jeapardizingly injured. My bruised and bloody knee ached for a few days, but then was fine. I tripped more frequently in the last month or two of the hike, probably from a combination of more challenging terrain and fatigue due to prolonged illness, but never anything serious.

    My worst hiking injury actually happened on the Camino de Santiago in 2015 when I was squatting tourist-style to attempt to take a photo of the Burgos cathedral with the whole building in the frame. I still had my pack on, and when I stood from the kneeling position, something in my knee went pop! The pain was intense but manageable with trekking poles, and I finished the hike, but the knee pain took 9 months and eventual physical therapy to actually go away. I've reinjured it twice since then while hiking, but thankfully never as dramatically.
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hike Hopeful
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  6. #26

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    Having hiked the AT over a four year period, I can attribute the number of falls to the shoes I wore each year.

    2014- My strategy was to wear Keen MaKenzies, which are water shoes with no lining. Wanted shoes to dry quickly. The sole was way too soft though. I never fell once in these from Springer to Damascus, although the trail treadway is relatively smooth.

    2015- I switched to Merrill Ventilators, but had to wear oversized due to wide feet. Oversized shoes = long toes. I fell at least six times catching my toes on a rock or root. Once I fell faced forward catching my toe, three times in twenty minutes.

    2016- Reduced shoe size from 12 to 11.5, which solved the toe catching. But the hard sole was slippery on wet rock, and fell three times when my foot skidded out.

    2017- used Altra Lone Peaks and never fell once through N. H. and Maine. Not an advertisement, just my experience.


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  7. #27
    Garlic
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    This is a good topic. As I age, and as I help care for very old parents and loved ones, falling becomes very important. Not too long ago I heard the secret to a long life is "Don't fall." (Another important theme is "Don't go to the hospital," but that's another topic.)

    Slips and falls on the trail are the cause of most rescues, yet we worry very little about them. Conversely, we worry more about wild animal attacks and lightning, yet those hardly ever happen.

    I've had and seen a few falls on hiking trips with some close calls, usually off trail. I did not see or have many on the AT. My partner and I each fell once or thrice on our AT thru hike. I remember we both fell on the same muddy day somewhere in New England.

    (I watched in horror as my partner tripped face-first down a scree field on a remote peak in Idaho on the PNT. I've never seen a human fall so gracefully, like a cat. He has a brown belt in judo, and as he stood up after the potentially fatal fall, he said all those hours on the mat finally paid off.)

    Our strategy on the AT was to stop and rest and eat before and during every descent, especially when heading into town for resupply. I learned long ago on climbing trips that nearly all accidents occur on the descent, often within sight of the trailhead. Virtually the scars on my shins are from walking into things when I'm not paying much attention, thinking about the beer in town, or the Sunday afternoon football game coming up. I've taken a straw poll of injured hikers I meet, and most report the same. My take is that, though it's counter-intuitive, the most critical time to rest is when you're cruising downhill.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  8. #28
    Registered User greentick's Avatar
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    All the time, I usually just go with it and go for a better landing, get up and drive on. I did slip and "hurdle" down a rock face. Was worried about the knee but was all good - a good "whew!" moment.
    nous défions

  9. #29

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    A few. usually attributed to fatigue, sometimes ice or mud. Never had a serious fall but I have pulled out of a hike due to bad conditions that could easily cause such.
    ./~Hi ho, hi ho, it's up the trail I go ./~

  10. #30

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    The ones that piss me off are the 3-4pm rock and root kicks as the day gets late. I know when i get that 2nd or 3rd foot stumble that its getting late in the day. I just came down Moosilauke in a storm and every strp of the way i figured would be my final demise. The next day going over the kinsmans i CRACKED my elbow real hard against one of those fun slanted granite rocks. Lots of arm blood, nothing major. Back in jersey around catfish firetower i took a crash and busted my eye brow pretty good. And again down some ice on roan mountain, another Crack On the the ol elbow.

    3 falls in over 2000 miles. Not bad

  11. #31

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    1,536 times. More bruises than I can count. No broken bones, yet.

  12. #32

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    Between Springer And Harper's Ferry I fell 11 times,only once drew blood. I figure one every hundred miles is OK. What was not OK was tripping on the curb at a highway rest stop on the way to the airport to fly to the trail. That one had a crowd,and hurt more than the rest... just not physically.

  13. #33

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    Seven times, got up eight.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  14. #34

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    I've fallen a lot over the decades without major injury beyond a bruise or muscle strain here and there. When I passed 60 (which came and went like a freight train out of a tunnel without a light) I started to become more aware of what was causing these events. Gambit points out the 4PM foot lift issue with protruding rocks and roots in the treadway, which often cause me to stumble over as well being tired at that time of day. So I now pay VERY close attention to the treadway slope and objects, sometimes at the point of obsession. Stumbles and recovery without falling is where I have had significant muscle pulls in the microseconds of responding to a potential fall.

    I have a rule of focusing on where each foot is placed in the first 5 steps following a break or putting on my pack due to center of gravity and balance changes, which for me is the second most common cause of tripping or slipping. This summer I slipped on a root and took a fall long after the first 5 steps, I laid on the ground and assessed limbs and feet, etc, and figured I was fine until I stood up and realized I had broken a rib. Though not a debilitating injury, it hurt like hell as I walked out and for a few weeks afterwards.

    The point of this post for me is I am not very leery of hiking alone anymore due to that warning accident. Solo hiking is something I have grown to really enjoy, but is now limited to trails that have high traffic in case I have another fall with a worse outcome. Anyone else have this happen?

  15. #35

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    I trip/ stumble at least once or twice a day, usually able to recover by planting the trekking poles. I actually fall about once a week... except for those couple of days in the Smokies on ice; I think I fell a half dozen times.

  16. #36
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    The point of this post for me is I am not very leery of hiking alone anymore due to that warning accident. Solo hiking is something I have grown to really enjoy, but is now limited to trails that have high traffic in case I have another fall with a worse outcome. Anyone else have this happen?
    I hike alone, too. It's nice not having to worry about keeping up with someone, which I'm hard pressed to do since I'm slow. And yes, I'm concerned about falling and hurting myself to the point of not being able to recover. There was a time in North Carolina when I was hiking to the NOC. I was actually moving pretty fast and I jumped down from an elevated spot in the trail. I hit the edge of the trail which gave way and down I went. I slid about 30 meters down the side of the mountain. I was able to get out, but other hikers would have been hard pressed to see me from the trail had I been hurt badly. And it happened again going to Mountain Harbor. It was raining and I slipped and went down the side of the mountain. Luckily, I got caught on some exposed roots and didn't go too far. That was scary because the drop off was pretty steep.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
    "One step at a time."
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