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A Complete Appalachian Trail Guidebook.
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  1. #21

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    I've not had any of the usual "10 Essentials" ever save my butt, although on a hike in PA (Chuck Keiper loop) this summer I ran into a very poorly maintained trail and decided to push on despite numerous very bad blowdowns and very thick underbrush. At one blowdown, I floundered for about 45 minutes thinking "If I can just get through" I'd pick up the trail on the other side.

    Well, that didn't happen, and instead of just turning and going back the way I came, I found my way down the steep, dangerous slope—a couple of times I could have broken a leg—to a creek and try to follow it and pick up the trail from there. That didn't work so I started looking for alternative exits to the woods, finding on the map some "multi-use" trails that I thought would have seen more use. Turns out those were virtually non-existent and just as badly maintained as the trail I had been following.

    By now I was getting really frustrated, exhausted, thirsty and hypoglycemic—a perfect combo for bad decision making—and for the first time in quite a while I had to remind myself of something I learned in USAF Survival School.... "STOP, THINK, EAT, DRINK" So after a short while I was feeling better and made the decision I should've made sooner, to simply go back the way I came. Unfortunately it was a nasty 1200 foot climb back up to a forest road, but I camped up there and walked 7 miles out the next morning. It was pouring rain, but under my poncho I was "Singing in the Rain" all the way back to the trailhead.

    So even with all the 10 essentials and a full kit, it still comes down to having a clear head and making the right decisions.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleRock View Post
    - Map/GPS are useful in wilderness areas but not needed on the AT or other heavily travelled trails where guide book is really all you need.
    .
    GPS would have saved Inchworm. Anyone can get off a well marked trail, and get turned around.

  3. #23
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    Join Date
    02-04-2013
    Location
    Washington, DC
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    4,215

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    I think that it is safe to say that the vast majority of day hikers are not carrying the ten essentials, and often not much of anything. This was reinforced for me this past weekend hiking the Old Rag loop in Shenandoah National Park which has literally hundreds of hikers on a fall weekend. For those who aren't familiar with this loop, the first part involves a lengthy rock scramble on top of gaining 2200 feet of elevation. A lot of people cannot even follow the blue blazes and get off track, sometimes dangerously so. At one point, I had gone a bit off trail to a viewpoint and a woman behind me followed me to the viewpoint thinking it was the trail and then started down in totally the wrong direction until I pointed out the blue blazes. And then at the summit, a lot of people walking on steep rocks with large drop offs with inadequate footgear.

    I don't like being that elitist know it all backpacker everyone hates (I never say anything unless someone is at imminent risk like that woman going the wrong way), but I cringe at how unprepared day hikers often seem to be, even on some tougher trails where there's a real risk of injury.

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee View Post
    I think that it is safe to say that the vast majority of day hikers are not carrying the ten essentials, and often not much of anything. This was reinforced for me this past weekend hiking the Old Rag loop in Shenandoah National Park which has literally hundreds of hikers on a fall weekend. For those who aren't familiar with this loop, the first part involves a lengthy rock scramble on top of gaining 2200 feet of elevation. A lot of people cannot even follow the blue blazes and get off track, sometimes dangerously so. At one point, I had gone a bit off trail to a viewpoint and a woman behind me followed me to the viewpoint thinking it was the trail and then started down in totally the wrong direction until I pointed out the blue blazes. And then at the summit, a lot of people walking on steep rocks with large drop offs with inadequate footgear.

    I don't like being that elitist know it all backpacker everyone hates (I never say anything unless someone is at imminent risk like that woman going the wrong way), but I cringe at how unprepared day hikers often seem to be, even on some tougher trails where there's a real risk of injury.
    +100 to this... seen it many times.

    I once watched in horror on a winter hike as 2 day hikers marched right up to the edge of a snow-covered ledge with no traction devices and not testing to see if there was a crack or solid ice under the dry powder. I didn't want to startle them and potentially cause a fall, so I waited until they stepped away a bit and very nicely and factually pointed out the extreme danger to which they had unwittingly exposed themselves.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  5. #25

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    So far in all my years... map and compass, small tarp and rain gear, extra socks n clothes, small plastic shopping bags used as wet boot liners, ace bandage, ibaprophen, have been the most important equipment Ive actually used in emergency conditions in the Whites, Catskills and ADKs.

    There may have been other stuff on rare occasion, non life threatening situations, but the most memorable was all of the above used on a several occasions.

    Perhaps there may be something I over looked because I mostly winter back pack... but reading all the posts I find it interesting to see so many varieties of climates n equipment for each.

  6. #26
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-11-2017
    Location
    Luxembourg
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    63
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    206

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    I've been lost (temporarily anyway), and been subjected to unexpected extreme weather/temperature changes, but I can't say I've ever had to use any of the 10 essentials to save my life. I hope that continues.

    Regarding building a fire when the rain has soaked everything, it can definitely be done, but you generally need more than just matches or a lighter. Back when I used to make campfires (I'm dating myself), I always carried some rolled up birch bark as a fire starter. Even when everything was wet, you can still get a fire going with some patience.

  7. #27

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    Studies of casualties show that it's not one thing that will do you in. It's cascading errors. Dead battery in your phone, then lost the paper map, confused about trail, forgot warm clothes, light batteries went dead, had to spend the night unexpectedly, got drenched in rain, cold front moved in, laid down and died.

  8. #28

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    If you remove food, water (and water filter) and proper (key word is "proper") clothing from the list because it's a "given" as the PO says then you are left with seven "essentials". For over night camping, I would consider a source of artificial light (headlamp), a lighter and some kind of navigation device (map, guthook, guide etc.) essentials.

  9. #29

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    For me: paper map & compass. I was misplaced in a state forest and years later, in a state park. No cell signal. Trails seem to have evaporated. Having a paper map & compass got me to where I wanted to be.

    Once backpacking, in the snow, years ago, I got out of the tent to relieve myself. I got so cold and could not warm myself again. I shivered all night & didn't sleep. I know consider a FUD (pee funnel and Nalgene bottle) as an Essential for camping, especially in the winter.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Emergency shelter, never.
    Emergency Shelter Always! It only weights 3 oz and saved my butt at Pierce Pond when I went hypothermic in the night. I carry one in my day pack, another in my overnight pack, and keep another in my car. Mine are SOL bivvies, but a mylar emergency blanket would do in a pinch. Never leave home without them!

    (this was one of RainMan's many lessons)
    "Maybe life isn't about avoiding the bruises. Maybe it's about collecting the scars to prove we showed up for it."

  11. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher & Snacktime View Post
    Emergency Shelter Always! It only weights 3 oz and saved my butt at Pierce Pond when I went hypothermic in the night. I carry one in my day pack, another in my overnight pack, and keep another in my car. Mine are SOL bivvies, but a mylar emergency blanket would do in a pinch. Never leave home without them!

    (this was one of RainMan's many lessons)
    Also known as a "Palmer Furnace" It's a life saver!

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JkEbrum_zqc

  12. #32
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    03-10-2013
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    Indiana
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    For the last few years I have been using an SOL emergency blanket as a "floor sheet" inside my tent (as opposed to a ground sheet/footprint, used on the outside); it helps to keep my stuff dry from the inevitable condensation that comes from the floor in damp, cold environments, and of course serves as an emergency blanket when needed. (Putting it inside the tent silver side up also helps reflect light and brighten the place up a little on long, dark nights....)
    fortis fortuna adjuvat

  13. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    Studies of casualties show that it's not one thing that will do you in. It's cascading errors. Dead battery in your phone, then lost the paper map, confused about trail, forgot warm clothes, light batteries went dead, had to spend the night unexpectedly, got drenched in rain, cold front moved in, laid down and died.
    This sums it up quite well! Typically, accidents are the result of a chain of events that occur over time. The key is understanding when the chain is being forged and what to do about it. Myself, I find the "3-Strikes" can work very well. For example: running low on food due to an unexpected loss or consumption (strike 1), planned water sources are dry that force you to keep going well beyond your carried water capacity (strike 2), encountering unexpected weather (or accumulated snow/ice that hinders walking which you do not have gear for (strike 3) which can make the retreat decision for you. Moving through these relatively small links of the chain and continuing on can easily be met with continuing misfortune as we read about in recovery records.

    When other people are with you and looking to you for guidance, this should be in frontal lobe always along with monitoring the health of everyone in your group regularly. I do hate throwing in the towel, especially pursuing summits that have thrown me back on prior attempts, but better to live and climb another day than to become part of the mountain's history.

  14. #34
    Registered User
    Join Date
    12-12-2009
    Location
    Eagle, Michigan
    Age
    71
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    160

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    A item left of the list is a whistle . Granted most packs now have an attached small one. Having been separated once in a wilderness area from my partner. The whistle was the item that reunited us.

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