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(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
Re: Re: Times are changing (pot farmers in the National Forest) on 07/20/2012 16:17:06 MDT Print View

There were big drug pot farm busts in a many of the Calif national forest during the weekend before the 4th of July. the holiday timing was intentional, when most people were not reading the news, so as not to attract controversial political debates.

but not all busts are big operations. Here's a new one from today. Apparently 1,800 marijuana plants are considered a small operation.

So for the BP people here that like to cut bush, go off the assigned trail and stealth camp. keep this stuff in mind, and what you need to pack to mitigate any encounter risks.

Edited by RogerDodger on 07/20/2012 16:17:55 MDT.

(livingontheroad) - M
violence on 07/20/2012 17:23:37 MDT Print View

They have been busting pot farms on forest land for decades. Usually easy to spot from the air.

You have to remember 2 things:

1) if its not ready at hand, it probably wont do you any good
2) if it is, it could be taken and be used against you.

The percentage of foul play affecting hikers in remote areas is not large. Yes, its possible. So is being hit in the head by a meteorite, but you arent afraid to go outside are you?

In all likelihood, you are safer in the outdoors, than you are in your own house.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: violence on 07/20/2012 19:23:31 MDT Print View

"In all likelihood, you are safer in the outdoors, than you are in your own house."

or in a movie theater apparently.

Brian Johns
(bcutlerj) - M

Locale: NorCal
I must have missed the reports. on 07/20/2012 19:54:17 MDT Print View

Grew up shooting, and still own rifles and pistols, but I would not advise a friend to take one backpacking. If you go into the woods looking for trouble, that's likely what you'll find. For the most part, I have NEVER felt I needed a gun, even in the seediest parts of North Georgia it's pretty easy to get beyond the most awkward encounters. I just don't ever remember seeing anything too troubling in the backcountry. Downtown Atlanta, now, that's a different story. To me, guns aren't for backpacking unless you intend to shoot your food. How many milllions of people hike each year and only make new friends? how many of these "reports" do we hear about? I refuse to live in fear. I had a friend that always worried something would go wrong, and it always did. YMMV

Edited by bcutlerj on 07/20/2012 19:57:11 MDT.

a b
Mutual Arisings on 07/20/2012 20:46:43 MDT Print View

One of the greatest lessons i have learned recently is how much my attitude affects the world I percieve around me.

I am not a trained scientist.
As an amateur i know these things are not supported by science.. yet there is something to this idea of mutual arisings the Buddists speak of.

There is always the unknown or random factor of becomming a victim of violence.
Then there is "looking for trouble".. and finding it!

If you look for fault in your world you will most assuredly find it.

Yea, i get accused of being a "honey dripper" or an Ostrich burying it's head in the sand at times...

Like i said.. only recently (2009 PCT) have i discovered a connection to my attitude and the reality i find in the world around me.

Hiking long distances brings this effect into Bas relief.

Hostility begets hostility.

Kindness begets Kindness.

What exactly do the atoms know of these things and how could any connection possible exist between these "higher" concepts of conciousness and the subatomic world?
Uh.. I dunno.
I just know there is something there.. something more than mere chance can explain.

As ye sow, so shall ye reap.
Not exactly a bible thumping man, but I must admit a fundamental truth even when i don't understand the mechanism behind it.
.Wizard Island Crater Lake, Oregon

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Solo Wilderness Security: animals + bright colors on 07/20/2012 20:53:35 MDT Print View

Setting aside safety against strange people encountered in the backcountry or trailhead parking lot (whether scruffy or packing heat on a hip), I have a question/thought about encounters with bears and mountain lions.

A cursory search ("can bears see color?") yields this: bears do see in color, particularly well in blues + greens and have excellent, close range vision, but maybe not so much at longer distances. Here's three of the first sites that popped up:

So, here's my question for the kind of encounters we mostly talk about, with an animal close to enough but not immediately attacking us: Wouldn't a good first step, when you see a bear or mountain lion on the trail, be to pull out a brightly-colored jacket (like those red and yellow and lime wind shirts we all have in an outside pocket anyway) and maybe hold it up and fill the space above your head? This would make you look larger and, well, something to avoid. Nature already has a way of indicating danger with bright colors. Next step would be to back away without running and finally, bear spray.

This makes sense to me. What do you think?

As for the "friend" above who is worried about a mountain lion attacking them in a tent at night, if that happened, I think no one would be able to find any gun quick enough, especially as the cat will go for the jugular fairly quickly. At least that's my understanding.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Re: I must have missed the reports. on 07/20/2012 20:54:48 MDT Print View

"I refuse to live in fear. I had a friend that always worried something would go wrong, and it always did. YMMV"

I understand your viewpoint Brian.

Since this thread has gone on for 7 pages, I figure I might as well throw my own 2 cents in like everyone else. ;-)

For me, carrying a gun is not about living in fear. I agree with those who think the odds of needing a firearm while hiking are slim to none. Yet I always carry one. Carrying firearms has become second nature to me after more than a decade of being in a line of work where I need one. In fact, grabbing the pistol before I head out the door takes no more thought than grabbing my car keys, wallet, and cell phone (actually, I sometimes forget the cell phone but never the handgun hahaha).

Because of an oath that I swore, I have a duty to act 24/7, 365 days per year. That means that if I ever come across someone who is being victimized, I don't get to leave, run away, or watch and call 911, etc. I have to act. With that responsibility, the thought of me ever needing a firearm to defend someone else's life and not having one is a scary thought. It would suck to know that I failed to save someone that I could have,simply because "I probably won't need it", or "that extra 1.5 lbs is too heavy".

Just my .02

Now as to the original question of safety while hiking, if it is something you are concerned about, OC spray (pepper spray) is often very effective on animals. I've used it countless times on vicious dogs (with varying degrees of success).

Edited by Jedi5150 on 07/20/2012 22:14:33 MDT.

Charles Potter

Locale: Northern Cal
Re: Solo Wilderness Security on 07/21/2012 00:57:43 MDT Print View

I have no axe against guns. I question though the premises in your introductory paragraph that set the background of your question. Unless you are in an inherently dangerous environment, you do not need to pack a gun. Bear spray apparently will stop a bear so it will probably stop a human. If the other human has planned things correctly though, as someone else mentioned, you are probably going to die anyway. I think what you are really getting at here is peace of mind in the backcountry. Google what actually kills people in the wilderness and you will find assaults by animals or humans to be very very low, almost a statiscal non-event. I'm not saying you are not entitled to peace of mind, but if the real risks we face in the wilderness do not call for a handgun, then carrying equipment that you are statiscally not going to use is, well, uh useless. Carry what you are really going to use. I suspect you know what can stop a human, what lightweight handgun can stop a charging bear? Bear spray is designed to do that. In the end, we have an endless supply of humans and a very limited supply of bears. I don't mind a few sprayed bears, but please at least in protected areas save your bullets for the occasional deranged human you probably won't encounter. Again, I'm not against packing, just save it for hunting season. Of course I say all of this as a very fit and strong man. If I were a petite woman, the peace of mind element can be a game changer.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
To carry or not on 07/21/2012 12:06:50 MDT Print View

I considered carrying a handgun when my wife went with me to Yosemite. I was responsible for protecting her after all. I decided that if I felt I should carry a gun to protect her then I shouldn't take her. Since it is perfectly safe in Yosemite I didn't take it. :)

R... ...
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
[..] on 07/21/2012 12:22:17 MDT Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 05/08/2014 01:00:22 MDT.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Re: Re: violence (reply to M B) on 07/21/2012 12:34:47 MDT Print View

"Since your area is safe, great, nothing to worry about. But Calif pot farming is Not by hippies, its serious mexican drug cartel enterprise."

Very true. Our neighboring allied agency got in a gunfight with Mexican national pot farmers just last week (fortunately the good guys won).

State and National Park rangers get in more officer involved shootings per officer than just about any other type of law enforcement agency. Wanted felons and fugitives like to camp in parks because they are less traceable than hotels or motels since they don't require ID for check in. I've personally responded to at least two (off the top of my head) shootings in progress at State Parks that friends of mine were involved in.

I'm not saying that backpacking is as dangerous as walking around town, but I agree with Roger's point that there are bad people in the world (I meet them daily) and trying to pretend they don't exist will not ensure your safety. Now let me clarify, among criminals, most are normally decent people who have poor judgement and descision making skills. Some on the other hand, are genuinly bad people.

In the county where I work, we have two sexual predators who have been stalking women on hiking trails in the state parks (currently). Neither have been apprehended yet. The bottom line is whether you choose to carry OC spray, a gun, or none of the above...please don't have the "it could never happen to me" attitude.

Edited by Jedi5150 on 07/21/2012 12:47:12 MDT.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Re: violence (reply to M B) on 07/21/2012 12:46:25 MDT Print View

The above is just one more (big) reason to legalize it.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Solo Wilderness Security on 07/21/2012 12:59:26 MDT Print View

"As ye sow, so shall ye reap.
Not exactly a bible thumping man, but I must admit a fundamental truth even when i don't understand the mechanism behind it."


Never a truer statement when we're trying to judge people.

...but it quickly borders on the completely absurd when taken with the fact that really bad things still happen to perfectly good people or children.


Guns are here to stay, like it or not. We've got guns coming out our f@ckin ears in this country. Having an AR15 and 6000 rounds stockpiled = Freedom. Yay.
And before we start wagging a big Red White and Blue finger at Mexico, don't forget which country makes or sells the guns and ammo their cartels use and has an insatiable appetite for the drugs they produce.

Edited by xnomanx on 07/21/2012 13:11:08 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: violence (reply to M B) @ Doug on 07/21/2012 14:00:26 MDT Print View

"Very true. Our neighboring allied agency got in a gunfight with Mexican national pot farmers just last week (fortunately the good guys won)."

Would you happen to know if they've cleaned out the Mexican operation in the SW quadrant of Sequoia NP yet? Just SW of Mineral King?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: To carry or not on 07/21/2012 14:18:08 MDT Print View

I think the right mindset is to avoid hiking areas where you think you might need to carry a firearm, and carry anyways in areas where you think you don't think you need to carry.

(livingontheroad) - M
security on 07/21/2012 15:05:17 MDT Print View

I grew up in an area in the southeast US, in the middle of millions of acres of paper company timberland and National forest lands. I remember as far back as the 70s the police busting pot farms in the woods, staking them out until the operators came to visit and were apprehended. Many of the sites were booby-trapped even back then.

At one time they were simply farmed like any other crop, in openings and clearings. Then they started to scatter them amongst the trees so they would be harder to spot. If you have never flown low and slow over the woods, you would be amazed what you can see, that is how biologists count deer density in some areas. It is still a very effective way to spot illicit crops. In the SE there is no need for irrigation operations.

I have no problem with anyone carrying anything they want. Your most valueable weapon is the one between your ears, not the one in your hand.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Pot farms on 07/21/2012 19:32:54 MDT Print View

"I dont see a pot farm until Im near it."

So how many have you seen? Where were they? Might be useful information to pass on.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Pot farms on 07/21/2012 20:08:49 MDT Print View

The possibility that someone might "pass it on" is one thing that contributes to the risks created by mj grows in wild places.

From an NPR report in 2009:

And LNT isn't part of the growing progam. From a CBS article in 2010:

Edited by JRScruggs on 07/21/2012 20:14:23 MDT.

Thomas Dean
( - MLife

Locale: Four Corners
Solo Wilderness Security on 07/21/2012 20:41:07 MDT Print View

I said I'd never carry a handgun in the wilderness, until I ran into an unusual man with a large revolver strapped to his hip, in some deserted badlands where no one goes. He was weird in a scary way, talking disconnectedly. We spent a few uncomfortable minutes together until a violent squall gave me an opportunity to leave him behind, a lucky break I was grateful for.

The next couple of trips out, I didn't sleep too well thinking about that guy. The memory doesn't bother me when I'm hiking on trails with reasonable foot traffic - when people will be along every couple of hours. I feel okay taking my chances. But I decided to carry my own weapon when I'm really going to the middle of nowhere.

There's not much point dragging an automatic pistol through mud, so it pretty much has to be a revolver. And my aim is much truer with a double-action revolver. So, after sifting through the options, I gave up on ultralight and got a 3-pound revolver (heavier than my SMD Skyscape Trekker plus Exped UL Synmat 7). I now carry a classic .357 SA/DA with a four-inch barrel. It sits comfortably on my leg and out of the way of my pack straps.

All that said, it changes my hikes negatively. I think about danger and violence much more than I want to, which is the opposite of the point to getting out. I expect that when my scary experience fades a bit, I will go back to carrying nothing more dangerous than a lighter.

R... ...
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
Re: Pot farms (reply to Randy Nelson ) on 07/22/2012 00:02:40 MDT Print View

> Randy Nelson
> So how many have you seen? Where were they? Might be useful information to pass on.

In the San Jacinto mountains (CA) a friend and I were going off the official trail, the location was published in a later drug bust. it was north + north+west of the peak, following an old map that had potential for a shortcut trail, that is currently not published on new maps. We figured it could be overgrown with bushes, but on the upside we would have zero crowds, new vista points, and well, an adventure.

We go to a spot that had a few mj plants. not perfect rows of corn. then some rusty cans. We figured that the forest service had zoned off the trail to allow the vegetation to regrow. So we're not botanical scientists, we debated if they were leaves-of-three leave-it-be, a fig or maple leaves, we were trying to explain to ourself why they weren't pot plants. yup, we were naives at the time. Didn't see a farmer at the spot, but it is funny that on another week, a random Wednesday that I faked a sick day, I saw 4 guys stereotypical of the California gardener look, with some shovels and pick axes on the main trail. Again, naive me, thought they were probably the prisoners-doing-community-service trail maintenance guys, didn't want to strike up conversation. An after thought was the lack of the forest service green uniform, and if they were prisoners on the job, they had no prison guard.

anyways, a year or so later, read that the forest service located the farm, not because of the choppers and aerial views, but the water company below the mountain had a spike in e.coli in the water supply, traced it back to pot farmers having a camp at that location up the mountain. They were "dropping off the kids at the pool" and the fecal output was polluting the drinking water for Palm Springs.

I doubt that the PF would return to the same unlucky location in the future, now that it is monitored by multiple agencies.

In retrospect, the encounter could have been different if we had surpised the guys at the farm site doing actual farming, surrounded by mj plants. I suppose they would object to us snapping photos of the vistas and their nature backdrop.

Edited by RogerDodger on 07/22/2012 00:15:16 MDT.