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What would you have done?
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Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Re: What would you have done? on 10/15/2013 18:18:00 MDT Print View

Only once have I walked someone back to the right trail, and I did it more for my own sake than his. This was on top of Whitney at the end of a JMT thru-hike. My buddy and I were spending the night, so we sat around enjoying the view as the afternoon wore on and the day-hiking crowd thinned out and pretty much disappeared. Then a guy comes up that we had seen leave like an hour or two earlier. He's looking pretty worried - not exactly panic yet but that's not far off - and asks about the way down. Turns out he's been wandering around the summit plateau and failing to find the trail down. He's afraid he can't make it back down and is asking us if we have extra gear so he can spend the night in the hut on top. I'm thinking,"if this guy stays here he's going to become our responsibility" we'd end up keeping him warm and fed somehow instead of just enjoying the evening. So I took him down like a half mile to where the trail was unmistakeable (this was a big snow year and there was a substantial snowpatch just before the summit which was where the trail became a little vague) and set him on his way. I was still a little worried about him because from there he had one chance to go the wrong way, at the junction of the Muir Trail and the Whitney trail. So I was lucky he had on a bright yellow jacket and we eventually saw him on the switchbacks going down, and I could relax, knowing that he couldn't go wrong from there. I've sometimes wondered what I would have done if I hadn't seen that yellow jacket on the switchbacks - if he'd gone right instead of left at the junction he would have been on his way down to guitar lake in the dark with no food, no camping gear. glad I didn't have to make that call.

I have showed many people my map when they didn't have one and asked for help, pointing out the way they should go, and sometimes helped people read the map they had and somehow couldn't understand.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: What would you have done? on 10/15/2013 20:52:47 MDT Print View

>"we'd end up keeping him warm and fed somehow instead of just enjoying the evening. "

The father of a friend was doing JMT in winter(!), west of Mammoth 30-odd years ago, when, one afternoon, they come upon a downhill skier. The skier had gone west instead of east at the top of the mountain in a whiteout and by an amazing struck of luck intersected these well-equipped, back-country skiers. The skier didn't know he was in the San Joaquin River drainage and was still thinking if he kept heading downhill he'd hit the ski-area parking lot or at least Highway 395. They made camp early that night, fed the guy dinner, had him sleep between their sleeping bags, fed him breakfast the next morning, and STRONGLY encouraged him to abandon his skis, and start following the fall line back to the ridge so that he might make it to the top of the lift while it was still going.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Meeting dumb people on 10/15/2013 22:08:44 MDT Print View

All these stories have me thinking I'll throw a couple disposable ponchos, a mini bik and an extra mini light in my pack next time. Not much weight gain and they might help someone else out.

A trick I've used has been to show people my map. That is non-threatening and "neutral" people may conclude they are in over their heads but it is their decision not be telling them. If they need a map I tell them to take a picture with their phone. Once I even put my finger on our current locations so they wouldn't forget it.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Re: Re: What would you have done? on 10/15/2013 23:00:45 MDT Print View

"I would have minded my own business.

If someone asks for help, then I would help."

Uh...he did ask for help.

Edited by balzaccom on 10/15/2013 23:01:17 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: What would you have done? on 10/15/2013 23:13:03 MDT Print View

I recall he asked questions, but did not ask for "help." Semantics, I guess.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
help? on 10/16/2013 09:39:16 MDT Print View

"Can you tell me where the trail to Virginia Pass is?" he asked, a little desperately."

Hard to mind your own business when a man with small kids asks this question...

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: help? on 10/16/2013 11:45:09 MDT Print View

Answer, "Sorry, I don't know where the trail is."

Reply, "We are lost and need help!" Would then indicate they need help.

Or, "Are lost and unable to navigate? Do you need me to help you ?"

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: What would you have done on 10/16/2013 13:19:29 MDT Print View

One unusually warm winter evening in the Blue Ridge mountains we were camping at a lean-to. After dark from across a small valley we saw a light and heard a voice. My wife went to investigate and came across an older woman on a day hike who had stumbled and lost her glasses...without them she was unable to follow the trail (lesson: bring spare glasses!). For some reason she carried a sleeping bag so we just set her up amongst us and our kids in the lean-to, fed her and walked her down the trail the next morning to where she couldn't miss the trail any more. She had to be convinced not to continue in the dark...she thought once we put her back on the trail she'd be ok, but we would have nothing of that.

Her husband was supposed to pick her up at the end of the trail, I wonder what he was thinking when she didn't show that evening? I was fully expecting to see a search-and-rescue team come through that night...

Edited by ewolin on 10/16/2013 16:52:25 MDT.