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Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way
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Thomas Knighton
(Tomcat1066) - F

Locale: Southwest GA
Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way on 10/25/2007 07:01:47 MDT Print View

Some of you may have read my trip report about my Pine Mountain trip. If so, you saw that I had learned a LOT the hard way on that trip. It got me curious though, what great lessons have others learned the hard way, preferably stuff that you didn't read about and just ignored, but things that you just didn't know about before hand?

Anything?

Tom

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way on 10/25/2007 07:48:13 MDT Print View

On one of my early backpacking trips I took a 45 degree WM Linelite into upper 20's weather. I was one cold dude.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way on 10/25/2007 08:41:58 MDT Print View

Years ago when I first started getting into backpacking,
I did the usual research on different gear and stuff....
Except sleeping pads, I just assumed their only function was for comfort and I just didnt get how all those yuppies could stand carrying those bulkie/heavy pads around! I mean really, just find a soft spot to sleep on!
Until I spent a spring night in Pico shelter in Vt.
I just couldnt figure out why I was so cold...?

Jeroen Wesselman
(jeroenman) - F

Locale: Europe
Re: Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way on 10/25/2007 08:59:07 MDT Print View

Saving weight by leaving the sleeping bag at home so we would be 'lean and mean' on our alpine assaults in the European Alps.

Ofcourse sitting the night out in a down jacket and a not so breathable bivi sack made us so tired and weary that we failed on all our climbs.

I learned that it is better to invest in a good night sleep. So i will take a lightweight down bag everywere I go.

Also trying to save weight on food and taking really light stuff without calories is a sure way to be cold and miserable.

So many mistakes and failures...how about ignoring the weather forecast.

I now made a list of 'never leave without' items which i always should take with me.....

Excellent post by the way.

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way on 10/25/2007 09:20:46 MDT Print View

Hike to the car not away from the car.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
I have learned... on 10/25/2007 09:40:35 MDT Print View

Years ago I took a Z-lite on a winter trip and thought I was going to die from the cold - the next year, I took 2 z-lites and still froze...lesson learned.

oh yeah, 2 liters of water isn't enough for an 8 hour climb - I have pictures of me with the summit just out of reach...I ran out of water a few hours in and started to panic when the ascent was taking longer then anticipated.

Bring toilet paper for your girlfriend...she's not into the "leaf" thing

man,. I could go on and on.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way on 10/25/2007 10:00:11 MDT Print View

Always try your food beforehand.
I don't know how many times I've hiked all day, only to sit down at the end and find I can't choke my food down. Ive found a number of freezer bag meals that I really like but it always seems like right before a trip I think, "Man, this new recipe sounds ok and I have the stuff to make it here already." So I throw some ingredients into a bag and head out the door. Later on I find that I didn't season it right. I also find that no matter how I try to doctor up Ramen noodles I just can't eat them, on the trail or otherwise. I don't know why I keep trying... maybe I'm just hoping one day I'll find that perfect combination.
Another thing I learned, always check to make sure you bring your spork. Nothing makes Ramen taste worse than eating it with chopsticks you had to whittle from a dead tree branch.

Adam

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Re: Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way on 10/25/2007 10:18:06 MDT Print View

I learned to diversify my food more on overnight trips. My last 2 day trip I carried less bulk but more choices of food. I never had trouble eating b/c I never got tired of the food I brought. When I got back to the car my food bag was almost completely empty so it worked like a charm.

Driving 3+ hours to start a hike in the wee hours (i.e. just after midnight) of the morning never seems to work for me. I need sleep after a long work week or I won't make it the first mile.

Making winter objectives more realistic. In the Whites 15+ miles is just not possible 99% of the time with the weather they get up there.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Buy the Right Gear the First Time on 10/25/2007 10:51:56 MDT Print View

Easier said than done, of course, but...

I had traveled for a few years before I started hiking. Much of the knowledge (travel light, the layering method, synthetics, etc.) crosses over seamlessly. But I found out that what's "light enough" for walking a mile between train station and hotel is completely different when hiking up steep inclines for hours! My "Big Four" (tent, bag, pad and pack) were all pretty light -- and at first I felt good about saving a couple of hundreds of dollars by not going ultra light.

After two hikes, I swapped out almost everything. Thanks to REI's no-hassle returns and Ebay -- I was able to get most of my money back.

The mantra now is "buy the lightest that will do the job". No fun being a mountain mule.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
re: Lessons Learned the Hard Way on 10/25/2007 16:09:32 MDT Print View

1. For every downhill, there's an uphill - but on average, the trail is level.

2. Trails don't know how to do averages.

3. Despite what "They" tell you, you don't need to carry two quarts of water when the next creek is only 2 miles away.

4. Never climb up something before you've figured out how to climb down it.

5. When your son tells you, "It's under control," it isn't.

6. Raccoons can unzip pack pockets.

7. When you're sure you know it all, you find out you don't.

8. Don't let someone else talk your wife into taking her first backpacking trip with you. It will still be your fault.

Edited by garkjr on 10/25/2007 16:12:10 MDT.

Matt Brodhead
(mattbrodhead) - F

Locale: Michigan
Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way on 10/25/2007 19:37:47 MDT Print View

- Don't drink a 5th of brandy and expect to wake up at 5 am the next day and do a 20 mile hike.

- If you have a tough hike, bring candy/sweets to eat every hour or so. It's a good way to reinforce all of the hard work you are doing. Sometimes the natural intrinsic reinforcement of hiking is not as strong as the aversive elements of nature.

- Before you smoke up, make sure the rangers aren't around. Not that this has happened or anything...

- Don't let your ego get in the way of your physical well-being.

That's about it. I'm only 23. I still have a lot of time to make stupid mistakes, and hopefully learn from them :-)

Andrew Lush
(lushy) - MLife

Locale: Lake Mungo, Mutawintji NPs
Lessons learned the hard way: Food from Asian grocery stores on 10/25/2007 21:31:26 MDT Print View

With the exception of 2-minute noodles (ramen etc):

Don't include foods from Asian grocery stores in your meal plans, no matter how light they are, unless you try them at home beforehand.

And, if you can't read Chinese/Japanese/Korean, then don't think you can rely on the pictures to work out how to prepare these foods.

Beware of Asian foods that come in colourful packaging (especially pink). Beware of those that appear to have some connection with seafood - especially if they fail to resemble any known sea creature.

Edited by lushy on 10/25/2007 21:42:05 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Lessons learned the hard way: Food from Western grocery stores on 10/25/2007 23:30:35 MDT Print View

With the exception of 2-minute noodles (marcaroni and cheese etc):

Don't include foods from American, European, and Australian grocery stores in your meal plans, no matter how light they are, unless you try them at home beforehand.

And, if you can't read English (or even if you can), then don't think you can rely on the pictures to work out how to prepare these foods.

Beware of American, European, or Australian foods that come in colorful packaging (especially yellow). Beware of those that appear to have some connection with meat - especially if they fail to resemble any known land animal.

;-P

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way on 10/25/2007 23:58:08 MDT Print View

1) Don't trust 6.5" titanium peg stakes to hold your shelter down if the soil is soft and the wind is blowing strongly. Keep hiking until you find a more shelters place, or if that isn't possible find ways to keep the windward down using local materials.

2) You can burn the under side of your nose when you are snowshoeing. Make sure you really protection your face from the sun.

3) Carrying a backpack doesn't need to be painful after a few miles. [Took me 25 years to learn that one].

4) If you don't change into your hiking clothing until you get to the trailhead don't leave them on the kitchen counter. Instead, put them in your backpack when you are doing the rest of your packing.

5) If you use a hydration system, make sure to clip the hose up, or switch from the hosed to a normal cap when putting the pack down so you don't leak water everywhere when the bite value gets crushed open.

6) As soon as there is even a hint of friction... use duct tape, second skin, moleskin, or something to prevent the blister. The irritation is not going to get better or go away.

Edited by verber on 10/26/2007 09:01:00 MDT.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way on 10/26/2007 01:59:27 MDT Print View

Don't think of an ounce as weighing only an ounce, think of an ounce as a possible "tipping ounce" -- do you want something that could take you past the "tipping" point to where the total combined weight is just too much? When I started looking at my gear that way, I was able to whittle down my total gear weight much more.

Put on mole skin before you start your hike, bring a large roll of mole skin to support frequent changes. Do not let your feet get blistered, I have followed this advice and never gotten blistered in my decade plus of hiking.

Use two hiking poles. From the beginning I used one pole until this year when I went to two and what a world of difference it made. It gives you "four legs" when crossing water streams, and enables you to get use your arms to reduce the stress on your legs as you go up and down hills.

Edited by marti124 on 10/26/2007 02:32:01 MDT.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way on 10/26/2007 08:52:16 MDT Print View

When making a 16 hour car-to-canoe-to-summit-to-canoe-to-car push remember that there is only so much daylight in the day and ALWAYS BRING A HEADLAMP!

When you think you're getting good at what you do and you start joking around about how all the other people on the trail always seem so unprepared, assume that the next time you and your egotistical backpacking partners go on a hike, one of you is going to forget the water filter or the stove or the bear hanging rope or the... well you get the idea. ALWAYS USE A PACKING LIST!!!

A wool blanket and no sleeping pad is not enough warmth for sleeping at 6,500 feet - even if it is August. ALWAYS BRING THE TEN ESSENTIALS!!!

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way on 10/26/2007 12:57:59 MDT Print View

And please remind me of the ten essentials. Thanks (is it a BPL document or something -- link?)

Theodore Hall
(Bohican) - F
RE: The Ten Essenti on 10/26/2007 13:18:33 MDT Print View


The Ten Essentials

Edited by Bohican on 10/26/2007 13:20:52 MDT.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Important Lesson's You've Learned the Hard Way on 10/26/2007 14:19:14 MDT Print View

Simply put (but thanks, Ted for the link):

1. Map
2. Compass (optionally supplemented with a GPS receiver)
3. Sunglasses and sunscreen
4. Extra food and water
5. Extra clothes
6. Headlamp/flashlight
7. First aid kit
8. Fire starter
9. Matches
10. Knife

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Lessons learned the hard way on 10/26/2007 17:40:22 MDT Print View

1. Don't let a 10-year old plan your food. He brought cans of Franco-American spaghetti in cheese sauce and then complained it tasted like worms in sauce. No one could eat it after that. The only other food was braunschweiger on white bread with no mustard or mayonnaise...inedible.

2. Don't let your hippi-dippi friend plan the food. He brought organic wheat-tex (soy-based meat substitute) stew that tasted like cardboard.

3. Don't forget salt. Three sweaty days with no salt made dinners barely edible.

4. Don't pour the water from a can of baby shrimp into the teriyaki rice along with the shrimp. The water tastes awful and I could barely eat any of it (clam juice is ok, though, which is what fooled me).

5. Follow the rules about how far to hang food from tree trunks. Bears can reach quite far, as we observed with great consternation.

6. Apply moleskin or duct tape or whatever at the VERY FIRST inkling of a hint of a sign of a possible blister forming, or else!

Edited by ewolin on 10/26/2007 18:25:37 MDT.