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Author Topic: Going Solo (In the Wild)  (Read 4162 times)
Bill Ozanne
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« on: February 27, 2004, 06:24:39 PM »
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This is a good topic....something worth planning for, but don't go overboard.

Here are some of my techniques and views.  They may not be yours or the best or even entirely right.

A couple of years ago I stopped bogging myself down with a large first-aid kit.  I started thinking about the things that would kill me, and the items in my first-aid weren't going to be much help.  The remedies fixed by most first-aid kits are merely a nuissance, most of which can be fixed with duct tape.

Depending on where I am going I carry a cell phone.  You'd be surprised how much coverage there is in the US.  And when you hit 9-1-1-send magical things happen.  I know the cellular networks put high priority on 911 calls so it works when other calls may not.

If you are out of cell range and you are particularly worried there are now portable locator beacons.  The same technology used by mariners has been downsized to gps size and they are getting relatively cheap.  They work worldwide.  

By far the smartest thing to do if you are going into the wilderness alone (or with others) is to let somebody know.  Give them your itinerary, where you plan to camp, tent color, car (make, color, license plate), when you plan to be out.  Also let them know when they should be worried.  Filling out the trail register helps but give the info to somebody reliable as well.  Write it all down for them.
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jabberwocky
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2004, 09:55:14 AM »
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Interesting problem. Here in British Columbia we frequently have hikers getting lost or in trouble. Depending on what's used in your area, a hand-held VHF radio, CB radio, cell phone or FRS radio combined with a small battery powered GPS might be the answer. These units are small, quite light and relatively inexpensive.

Normally you wouldn't even turn these units on but in case of an emergency, the radio(s) would give your call for help a wide radius of about 5 miles or more and the GPS would allow you to tell your rescuers where you are to within about 30 feet.

These devices have saved more than one life here in the BC mountains and are standard equipment in the marine environment.

If you check places like Radio Shack or West Marine you can get an idea of what's available and what the size/weight/price is. You might never use them but one day ...

Don't forget to keep your batteries charged!
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Image Northwest
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2004, 06:04:27 PM »
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Good subject for this time of year.  And something I can relate to after a day of solo snowshoeing on the flanks of Mt. Rainier.  A three hour scheduled trip turned into a eleven hour ordeal.   I was prepared with maps, GPS and compass, along with food-plus for the day.  Two hours into the hike a storm came in and reduced visibility to a hundred feet or so.  Somewhere along my tracks I inadverently dropped my maps, and then my GPS stopped working.  Batteries were good, but the snow prevented it from acquiring satellites.  Since my journey was a loop, I wasn't planning to follow my tracks back to the car.  So I plunged on relying on my compass.  About 4 PM, I realized that I had somehow overshot my intended destination and I was lost (first time in my life).  I knew I could dig in for the might if I had to, and the worst that would happen would be experiencing a cold night (it was about 27 degrees F). However, I continued on a bit farther and another hour brought me to an area I recognized.  I knew where I was, but it was now five miles back to the car in deep snow, uphill at that.  I did make it back, the last two hours in total darkness, and I was now dehyrated, nauseous, and completely exhausted.  The next day I realized my mistake, my compass declination was off by three degrees, something I could have corrected with maps. In spite of all this I did get a few good pictures, but more importantly I acquired a bit more wisdom.  
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dabreeze
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2004, 11:30:05 AM »
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First post here. Been shooting digitally now for about five months. I live in Sedona, AZ and do a lot of solo hiking/climbing in search of beautiful images.

Recently I had an email exchange with my concerned twin sister and it got me to thinking about how prepared we all are when we venture into the backcountry by ourselves. Southern California, where I'm from, has seen a rash of winter solo hiking deaths this season and we lost an experienced hiker in Sedona around Thanksgiving.

Although not all of my solo safaris are as bold (and scary) as the one told below, I end up precariously perched fairly often. Just wondering who out there can relate and what do you do to keep yourself safe?

Good shooting,

Derek von Briesen
Sedona, Arizona
www.pbase.com/sedonamemories

----- Original Message -----
From: Connie von Briesen <mailto:connievonbriesen@thesportsclub.com>
To: 'DEREK VONBRIESEN' <mailto:dabreeze4940@msn.com>
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2004 1:03 PM
Subject: RE: Yesterday!!!
con,
got the links from yesterday. lov'd 'em. the snowflake shot with the blurred background is amazing.
can totally relate to hiking alone. can only get my work done if I'm alone aned able to meander at my own pace. very slow and tedious for anyone along for the hike. I always let teri know where I'm off to if I were to get in any trouble. I have ventured into some pretty precarious perches to get the best of angles.
scariest so far would be two shots from portfolio iv called "nestled in epic" (a reference to the amazing close juxtaposition of sedona within such epic beauty; see the city from the perch where I shot) and "far away (and a world apart)". climbed up a steep, rocky but well traveled informal or non-designated trail toward a spot I thought might result in an epic shot, and when I reached the top of the trail it stopped dead at the corner of the mountain/rock formation with two angled ledges and a thousand foot drop!
I got the pix from ledge # 1 and ventured out without camera onto # 2. it was slightly angled toward the edge, but with good traction. but to take a pic would have meant doing so less than three feet away from that thousand foot drop, on an angle toward it, no less.
as I eased myself back up off the ledge, I got a major hit of acrophobia and wasn't sure if would be able to get off the ledge. I breathed for thirty seconds, calmed myself and made the turn onto my stomach and crawled/pulled myself off the ledge. needless to say, I did not shoot any pix from ledge # 2 even though it was the best angle of all!
check the pix out with this story in mind. the two pix are not the definitive shots as I wasn't there at exactly the right time of day. it was really more of a location scout (I do a lot of those) than any actual well-timed perfect light attempt for THE pic. I will be back for sure.
dvb

----- Original Message -----
From: Connie von Briesen <mailto:connievonbriesen@thesportsclub.com>
To: 'DEREK VONBRIESEN' <mailto:dabreeze4940@msn.com>
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2004 5:24 PM
Subject: RE: Yesterday!!!
Wow - sometime the picture DOESN'T tell the whole story. I hope you carry a cell phone with you. There has been a lot of stories this season of hikers perishing in and around the local and CA mountains. At least a dozen so far. If you don't have a cell phone or one won't work, I think it's a good idea that you file a "flight plan" with your girlfriend. That way, you can never be that far from where your original destination was if you don't return for some reason.
I do the same with Ted if I'm totally alone up at the barn at night and am going to ride.
Well, I can't wait to see what you'll be sending next. Some more snow pictures would be nice. Dress warm.
cvb

Original Message-----
From: DEREK VONBRIESEN [mailto:dabreeze4940@msn.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2004 6:58 PM
To:
Subject: Re: Yesterday!!!

well, I don't carry a cell phone anymore for a couple of reasons: one, no need for one other than emergencies in this town and they cost, and two, they don't work well in the outback around here, so they''re not really great for emergencies. so, in its stead, I detail where I am going, what trails, where I'm parking the truck or motorcycle, and how long I expect to be gone and when the "alarm" should go off to notify search and rescue. teri has a detailed instruction sheet with my truck info, moto info, health and meds info, identification and those to contact. as well, I carry a walkie talkie and the instruction sheet has the channel info (channel 9, subchannel 11; 911!) for search and rescue if they get close to me. I'd turn on the radio and be able to communicate when they got within 2-4 miles. I carry a space blanket, an emergency whistle (loud), always many layers of fleece and down, appropriate water and energy bars, gloves, a ski hat, and a four hour high intensity battery powered light for early morning and late afternoon (my mountain bike light, so bright it blinds oncomers and would do the same to any wild animal thinking I might be tasty!!!!). so I am pretty prepared for solo jaunts. I read of the many casualties this winter in so cal and it got me to thinking about really good precautionary measures. so there!!!!! thanks for your concern.
glad you liked the story! I bet you were on the edge of your seat! I'm thinking of early tomorrow morning for another shot at the shot. good weather early.
best,
dvb
----- Original Message -----
From: Connie von Briesen <mailto:connievonbriesen@thesportsclub.com>
To: 'DEREK VONBRIESEN' <mailto:dabreeze4940@msn.com>
Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2004 1:03 PM
Subject: RE: Yesterday!!!
Good that you're taking those protections when out in the wilderness. Remember the Malibu guy and his girlfriend who got eaten by the bear! Devilyn went for a walk out in the wilderness when we were in Montana during the filming of The Horse Whisperer and someone said, are you crazy?! There's bears out there. She hadn't any idea they would be so close.
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BryanHansel
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« Reply #4 on: February 29, 2004, 11:20:57 AM »
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I spend a good amount of time in the woods by myself. Usually, at times when the weather isn't the best and when other hikers, canoeists, etc... don't venture out.  My most recent trip was in the Boundary Waters.  I spent 9 days solo at the end of Sept and beginning of Oct.  You can read my journals at www.roguepaddler.com.  Go to Paddle Culture.  Then Postcards from the Water.  

I never carry a becon, a cell phone, although I'm not against it.  I'm a strong believer in knowing skills over depending on gear.  And have written about this before.  I have a list of seven core skills for wilderness travel:

1. Risk Assessment and Stress Management
2. First Aid
3. Map Reading and Navigation
4. Fire Starting in All Conditions
5. Self Trust, Self Belief and Self Will
6. Critical Thinking / Flexibility of Thought
7. Shelter Construction

I'm amazed at how many people I run into while traveling in the woods that couldn't read a compass or build a fire in the rain or make a shelter if they cost all their gear.  And for solo travel all these skills become even more important.

Bryan
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2004, 03:00:06 PM »
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I am of two minds about technological tools such as cell phones, radios, etc, and tend towards Bryan's point of view.  

It is true that these devices have saved many people, including seasoned, experienced ones.  I would never go back to the "old days."  But I believe that these things can also give a false sense of security and lead some to get in over their heads.

The best tool to have in the wilderness is common sense, and to know when to turn around -- or to not go in at all.
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