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Hiking Alone
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Al Shaver
(Al_T.Tude) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra and CA Central Coast
Sat Source on 12/21/2005 02:51:59 MST Print View

It took me awhile to track down a sat phone rental source but these folks were worth the effort - we were pleased with product and service.

Day Wireless Service / Benecia / (415) 747-2029
PHONE: Qualcomm GSP-1600 Tri Mode Portable Phone / 7.75"x1.75"x2.25" / 13.8 oz with battery / battery: rechargeable 7.2
V polymer lithium-ion / house charger / auto charger / 3.75 hour talk time / 19 hour standby / -4 to 131 degree F
SERVICE: Globalstar
FEES: $75/week / $20 shipping & return shipping with label pre-paid box / $2/minute

Another thing I do on both solo and group trips into wilderness: Each person carries a sheet of paper with every person's emergency medical and contact data and the same information on a separate sheet for each person's data along with a short pencil, zip-loc bag and 4 small safety pins inside a larger zip-loc bag. In the event of evacuation, put that person's data sheet inside the smaller zip-loc bag and pin it to their inner clothing where it is protected from abuse, weather and helicopter prop wash. When they get to medical treatment personel all their critical medical and contact person data will be pinned to their torso in a transparent bag. This proceedure can avoid critical; even fatal delays in the injured receiving prompt treatment. And it leaves the remaining party members with data sheets for contacting family members and responding to a possible second emergency.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Sat Source on 12/21/2005 17:39:19 MST Print View

Thanks Alan. I appreciate the source. My first multi day trip is this summer (Tuolumne to Cedar Grove in SEKI) and I know that a sat. phone will put my wifes fears to rest.....a little. Great idea with the medical information too, I never thought about that.

I will be checking out the sat. phone servive. Thanks.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Re: Sat Source on 12/21/2005 19:28:06 MST Print View

Another satellite vendor is Outfitter Satellite. I've rented from them before, and ended up buying from them too. Globalstar (GSP-1600, 13.2 oz) is $35/week, 15 minutes free with 1 week rental, $0.99/minute (or less) prepaid, or $1.59/minute if not. The nice thing is that if you're not planning to use the phone (or maybe just one call), then you don't need to buy any airtime.

SealLine makes a heavy-duty zip-lock electronics case that is very protective (Electronic Case 2, $23.95 MSRP, 1.8 oz untrimmed).

Otherwise, I suppose a gallon zip-lock would be a bit lighter.

Al Shaver
(Al_T.Tude) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra and CA Central Coast
Better Deal on 12/27/2005 00:58:46 MST Print View

That's less than 1/2 price of my source. Thanks for the lead.

Johnathan White
(johnatha1) - F

Locale: PNW
Solo in Mr. Griz' country on 11/02/2006 21:36:40 MST Print View

Do any of you guys hike solo in Griz country? I have been hiking solo for 3 years now in the pnw. I have no problem hiking in black bear territory and often do even with my 7 year old daughter. We have even had them in camp in the Olympics. I first began hiking in small groups but ended it quick based on the fact I never was with a group that had any goals or interests in common. Some would want to average 4mph, some wanted to stop and smell the flowers. All are good but in a single group, it created a lot of animosity. I want to keep it solo and am looking at relocating to Montana. I just wonder if solo hiking in Montana, even in between the parks, is a good idea solo?

Thanks for any replies.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Solo in Mr. Griz' country on 11/02/2006 22:10:49 MST Print View


I live in Bozeman and most of my regional hiking is in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, much of it solo.

Hiking in grizzly country is just like hiking in black bear country.

Until you actually see one. Then you wake up.

You really wake up when you have an up close encounter, and by the time you experience a charge, you pretty much realize that humility and recognition that you are not in control takes a front seat to any preconceived notion of security.

Hiking is not so bad, per se.

Hiking at night, on the other hand, is just plain scary. That doesn't mean I don't do it, but I'd be a fool to pretend that I didn't have some terrifying night hikes in the Yellowstone area as a result of spooking a bear off the trail or hearing large animals crashing through nearby brush.

Then there is the whole camping thing. Normally it's not so bad, unless you know from fresh sign that there is a grizzly in the area, then you sleep...not so sound.


It's extremely cool. Knowing that such a magnificent animal is part of the ecosystem you're enjoying, and knowing that you aren't top dog in that ecosystem, it's just a neat, humbling, deeply satisfying experience.

Whether it's a good idea or not depends on your perspective and values and what you want out of wilderness.

For my wife, it's not a good idea. She doesn't hike in griz territory. She doesn't like it, and she doesn't enjoy the stress.

For me, being solo in the proximity of a grizzly bear is incredibly rewarding. I love it.

To minimize your probability of an encounter, you can select your hiking destinations accordingly. There are lots of bears in Yellowstone National Park, and in the western half of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, and the Teton Wilderness. There are fewer bears in the eastern AB Wilderness and the Washakie Wilderness, but they are there. There are very few in the neighboring Wind Rivers, Tetons, Spanish Peaks, etc. So, bottom line: lots of places to hike where you can avoid them if you like.

ian wright
(ianwright) - F

Locale: Photo - Mt Everest - 1980
Hike Solo on 11/03/2006 01:54:56 MST Print View

I don't hike much at all but most of it is solo. I go to places I have dreamed about for years and just because no-one else has the desire is no reason not to do my little adventures. My skills are very limited but what keeps me safe is knowing my limitations and being careful. The one time I got out of my depth I retreated with my tail between my legs but alive ! ( I lost the trail and even though I stopped immediately and knew it was within 5 to 10 metres of me, it took 30 minutes to find it).

I saw 12 bears in my 11 weeks in Alaska in 1996. But not one of them while hiking. I did the 'gravel in two soda cans clanging on the belt trick' and it must have worked. I met some people doing all the wrong things and it's a wonder more people aren't eaten !

As an Australian, I still find it wierd to be where land animals can eat you ! Down here it's just snakes and spiders (ho-hum) and a few sharks or crocodiles if you go for a swim !

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Hike Solo on 11/03/2006 05:16:42 MST Print View

>As an Australian, I still find it wierd to be where land animals can eat you ! Down here it's just snakes and spiders (ho-hum) and a few sharks or crocodiles if you go for a swim !<

Haha, as a dutchman I still find it weird to be where there is a chance you'll be eaten at all. The fiersest animals i have to deal with are mosquitoes, the worst one being the highland midge. I deal with those by hiking after midge season.

I'd love to see a bear in the wild once.


Johnathan White
(johnatha1) - F

Locale: PNW
Hike Solo on 11/03/2006 08:54:01 MST Print View

Thanks for replying so fast guys! I was hoping you would reply Ryan since I knew you lived in Bozeman even before I joined Backpacking Light. I have talked with Chris (Suge) Willett a bit about his CDT. He did indeed run into a grizzly on the trail and it seemed to be the same experience as a black bear. As far as humility and not feeling in control, that leaves the minute I leave the truck weather or not I see anything. Now I have never had a charge from a black bear but came wihtin 15 feet of one in the Enchanted Valley in ONP. She was up on her hinds checking me out when I looked over and discovered how close I had gotten by getting to "relaxed". I have not been that "ralaxed" since. That was at the beginning of my solo hiking and have had just unexplainable experiences that nearly paralleled the birth of my daughter. Hence I am hooked and although my wife is the driving force of this move, she is terrified of me out in griz country solo.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Hike Solo / Grizzly Bears on 11/03/2006 08:55:39 MST Print View

>> what keeps me safe is knowing my limitations and being careful.

This is the difference between hiking in grizzly country (or hippo country, if you're a canoeist) and hiking in non-grizzly country: that being safe and knowing your limitations and having all the skills in the world takes you only so far!

Sure, there are lots of things you can do to manage grizzly bear encounters (or hippo encounters), but in the end, it's the animal that makes the final choice and you don't always get to participate in the decision-making process...

ian wright
(ianwright) - F

Locale: Photo - Mt Everest - 1980
grizzly meals on 11/04/2006 04:52:12 MST Print View

I did see a 13th bear in Alaska . . . sort of.
I was hitch-hiking to Exit Glacier and a pick-up truck stopped for me.
As I swung my pack up and into the rear tray I saw there was a full bear skin spread out ! I managed to avoid the meaty bits around the edges.
It was a black bear that had been causing problems and had to be dealt with, had been killed just hours before.
Hitch-hiking always throws up the unexpected.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Re: Hike Solo on 11/08/2006 22:17:58 MST Print View

One perspective on bears is that they are like other animals -- dogs, for instance -- that read your body language in deciding what to do with you.

You are likely to have more problems with a bear if your body langauge sceams "Fear!" than if you feel confident.

So, if you are not confident alone, or not confident seeing a grizzly while unarmed, then consider arming yourself, be it with rocks & sticks, bear spay, or perhaps heavier gear. Or stay in non-grizz country most often.

Some of us enjoy the excitement of knowing grizz are near, even if we never see them.....

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Solo, BSA, and bears... on 11/18/2006 13:57:25 MST Print View

Ryan Jordan stated "Freedom of the Hills and BSA theology ingrained the awful risks of going solo and it took me a while to deal with that mentally."

There is tremendous truth in this statement. As a scout, I always heard the "rule of threes", one to hike for help and one to stay with the victim. Of course the response was always, "what if" the one hiking out was injured got hurt, etc, etc, etc.

Ironically, it was also the BSA that initiated me to solo hiking. As a ranger at Philmont Scout Ranch, we had to hike out solo to get back to base camp and pick up more crews. Some of my most vivid memories were of backpacking a couple of days with just myself to care for as I made my way way "home" to base camp. A hike plan and arrival time were all left with Ragner HQ and the sheer number of scouts tromping the backcountry made this much safer than one would imagine, but it was a great way to begin soloing, with a very intense safety net built in.

Now I mostly only hike solo, as I teach and take my long breaks to cover long sections of trail. I can't imagine repeating my AT through-hike with a steady partner. The experience of near total freedom was just too liberating without responsibility for someone else.

As for hazards such as grizzly bears and swollen streams, I tend to be pretty cautious when I travel solo. I've dealt with both as a NOLS instructor, and there IS a difference in perception (and I believe in reality as well) when facing these dangers alone. I'm honestly more nervous about stream crossings while solo than bears. With bears there is a psychological element to both parties. A rushing early June stream just doesn't care how prepared or non-threatening you look. I will give both as much space as I can manage when I hike solo.

Edited by Bearpaw on 11/18/2006 13:58:15 MST.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Re: Solo, bears,... on 12/04/2006 23:14:43 MST Print View

Arctic Grizz: hungry, curious, and above all grumpy....arctic grizz

Edited by romandial on 12/04/2006 23:18:19 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Solo, bears,... on 12/05/2006 02:34:33 MST Print View

Nice pic. Even at the distance involved, the hump b/t the shoulder blades looks visible if i'm not mistaken.

Please tell us more about the "grumpy" part. At home with my wife, i usually inject a little levity to diffuse an otherwise tense situation. However, i doubt if the bear got a bit worked up, like i can get my wife worked up, i would be better off using levitation instead of levity! What did y'all do in this particular case?

Also, as i'm not really familiar with anything to do with the Alaskan landscape, i don't really have a frame of reference for estimating distance from the bear. So, how far were y'all.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Re: Re: Re: Solo, bears,... on 12/05/2006 11:22:00 MST Print View

The grumpy part....arctic bears seem to have a more difficult life than the coastal brownnies. Coastal brownies are well fed and happy. Artci bears seem hungry and testy. They follow you and run overa nd test ypu to see if you are prey and that is unnerving.

Coastal brown bears like on the Alaska Peninsula and Kenai, by and large (of course with exceptions -- e.g. Tim Treadwell!) do not run over and challenge every human they meet, which seems to be what Arctic bears do. Again, I think one the are hungry and two they rarely get shot at by humans so they check us out.

No doubt grizz can be playful, but this one -- maybe 50 yards away? -- came running for us from a quarter mile or more away and then pushed on us. We had no choice but to stand our ground and yell and wave our poles and our one puny can of bear spray.

Maybe this doesn't belong here as it was a "we" situation -- but even if an only "me" or solo situation, standing ground and being fearless (or pretending to be) is a language even a grumpy bear understands. And as you can see there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Once the bear left we left too, in a hurry, and keeping out of sight.

That is what I would have done if solo as well -- that, and cleaned my pants.

Edited by romandial on 12/05/2006 11:24:53 MST.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Roman Dial's shoes on 12/06/2006 18:21:35 MST Print View

Judging from his Avatar photo, Mr. Dial is hinting to his employer that he doesn't make enough to buy new laces. If that doesn't work for him, maybe we can take up a collection for some Kevlar laces?

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Re: Roman Dial's shoes on 12/06/2006 22:26:03 MST Print View

Please, all collections, donations, and pay raises accepted!

Heh, but don't those Saloman shoes look pretty good after 600 miles of off-trail walkin?

Edited by romandial on 12/06/2006 22:27:02 MST.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Re: 600 mile shoes on 12/07/2006 18:02:57 MST Print View

Well, considering they were downhill ski boots when you started, there doesn't seem to be much left. Seriously, I love my Pro trail shoes because the little flare-out around the heel prevents almost all of those dreaded ankle flip outs, at least for me. Did you like the skinny little laces, or would you prefer a more conventional lacing system?

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Re: Re: 600 mile shoes on 12/07/2006 21:40:51 MST Print View


Both shoes' laces did wear out -- but i was able to tie a little bowline to fix em. This was a small bit to pay for the convenience of the tie-less cordlock and fray-less laces.

I am sold on them, but I know others are not. Erin M's husband Hig, for example. Or Jason Geck: here are his shoes after 550 miles. I would not have traded mine for his, nor he. To each their own. Shoes, like food and river crossing techniques seem to be a pretty personal decision.Geck shoes

And the Salomans for

Edited by romandial on 12/08/2006 00:48:48 MST.