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TSWisla
07-30-2016, 18:34
When there is a bad storm, what do you do? There are so many huge trees, wind, lightning, etc. How do you stay safe? I don't like the shelters.

Slo-go'en
07-30-2016, 19:23
Trust me, you'll like shelters in a storm. You may learn to like them a lot.

Otherwise you just have to hope your tent stands up, doesn't leak, get flooded, or have a tree limb fall on it.

If your hiking at the time, you just plow through it or hunker down the best you can until it blows over.

Tipi Walter
07-30-2016, 19:34
There are many options and choices. Bail to lower ground, cower in tent and wait it out, etc. I always see these spikes in the ground from falling tree limbs---

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/19-Days-in-a-Rattlesnake/i-69T83vL/0/XL/Trip%20175%20064-XL.jpg
Hiking up the Crowder Branch trail in Citico wilderness. Oops, a widow-maker stabs the earth.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/19-Days-in-a-Rattlesnake/i-m6R5d6j/0/XL/Trip%20175%20065-XL.jpg
I pull the stub out of the ground. This could always be happening thru my tent and into my chest.

TSWisla
07-30-2016, 19:34
The mice make me mad! Scurrying all over you all night long! I wouldn't sleep a wink.

TSWisla
07-30-2016, 19:36
Tipi,

Exactly what I am worried about. How do you manage? What do you do? There are plenty of trees in lower ground as well...

Don H
07-30-2016, 20:01
Hopefully you looked up before picking your tent sight. However during the months when the leaves are still on the trees its the healthy trees with full foliage that catch the wind and fall.

I have been through several bad storms on the AT including one it 2011 in TN that killed people in a nearby town (near Trent's Grocery). I laid in my tent that night listening to loud cracks and crashes. In cases like this the best thing to do is pray.

Tipi Walter
07-30-2016, 20:01
Tipi,

Exactly what I am worried about. How do you manage? What do you do? There are plenty of trees in lower ground as well...

It's a crapshoot, just like sitting in your home and wondering if a bolt of lightning will strike and burn everything up. There are a few things you can do---

** Bring a radio and listen for warnings and alerts. Several times I bailed off a spot when I heard serious weather headed my way (mainly tornadoes).

** Look for obviously dead and rotten tree snags in camp and see if you can topple them down with a little swaying.

** In terrible weather camp next to previous blowdown trunks or rock ledges, then if a tree falls in the wind the ledge or downed trunk will take the force of the blow.

** Look up tree trunks in gaps and on ridges for vertical gouges denoting previous lightning strikes.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpacking2010/23-Days-with-Hootyhoo-Sgt-Rock/i-CvJkDZP/0/L/TRIP%20115%20188-L.jpg
Here's an example of an old rotted tree snag which I brought down with my bear bag line and swaying. It fell into several pieces AND THEN I set up my tent.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpacking2002-2004/Citico-Wilderness-2002/i-6VPcvpF/0/O/trip%202.14.jpg
In 2002 I was in a nasty storm on Fodderstack Ridge in a hemlock grove and set up next to a very old blowdown which would take the brunt of anything new falling.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpacking2007/Ken-Jones-and-the-Crosscut/i-Qrk5QzD/0/L/DSC00548-L.jpg
No matter how careful you are it's a crapshoot. This giant oak fell right into a favorite campsite on the Benton MacKaye trail in NC. Luckily I wasn't there when it fell.


https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpacking2010/15-Days-with-a-Red-Hilleberg/i-bkHSHhL/0/L/TRIP%20105%20009-L.jpg
One time I was atop a 4,000 foot mountain when my radio pinged tornadoes coming and so I packed and bailed into the Bald River wilderness where I knew there was this spot next to a fine rock ledge which I knew would protect me in case trees starting falling.

** Always look up in camp before setting up your shelter and at least never set up under obviously dead trees. I have avoided perfectly level great campsites just because a dang pesky dead tree hung overhead.

Tipi Walter
07-30-2016, 20:07
Hopefully you looked up before picking your tent sight. However during the months when the leaves are still on the trees its the healthy trees with full foliage that catch the wind and fall.

I have been through several bad storms on the AT including one it 2011 in TN that killed people in a nearby town (near Trent's Grocery). I laid in my tent that night listening to loud cracks and crashes. In cases like this the best thing to do is pray.

Right on both points. My Flats Mt bail was during the tornadoes of April 2011 when Chattanooga got hit hard and several people died. As it was hitting I hiked 12 miles off Flats Mt into the Bald River area and sought refuge by Bald River and the rock ledge.

And green trees fall all the time so you just never know.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2016-Trips-171/24-Days-in-the-Pisgah-Holyland/i-bMQG2bZ/0/XL/TRIP%20174%20565-XL.jpg
This green tree fell near camp and I had to use my folding saw to cut my way thru.

MuddyWaters
07-30-2016, 21:00
When it comes down to it, its luck.
And when yours runs out, it runs out.
All you can do is attempt to tilt odds in your favor a little.

Tipi Walter
07-30-2016, 22:11
When it comes down to it, its luck.
And when yours runs out, it runs out.
All you can do is attempt to tilt odds in your favor a little.

Miss Nature will kill all of us, either from a falling tree or a blocked artery or whatever. It's all part of her "wilderness" and it's all part of nature. But what really dies?

Hosh
07-30-2016, 23:37
When it comes down to it, its luck.
And when yours runs out, it runs out.
All you can do is attempt to tilt odds in your favor a little.

Actually a wise physician was asked what is the best thing you can do to live a long life. They anticipated a lecture on avoiding red meat, getting exercise daily or limiting your exposure to environment poisons.

Her answer, pick your parents!

Don H
07-31-2016, 06:58
Right on both points. My Flats Mt bail was during the tornadoes of April 2011 when Chattanooga got hit hard and several people died. As it was hitting I hiked 12 miles off Flats Mt into the Bald River area and sought refuge by Bald River and the rock ledge.

Was that the storm of April 27/28?

Tipi Walter
07-31-2016, 07:20
Was that the storm of April 27/28?

Yes, here's my trail journal during the time---(see this entry and the next day's entry)---

http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=347351

garlic08
07-31-2016, 07:54
An equally good question is what are dangerous places during a storm. A surprising answer, and one that has killed people, is a shallow cave or rock overhang. Many people will seek refuge from driving rain in the lee of a large rock or cliff--wrong answer! A lightning strike in the vicinity, not even a direct hit, will cause arcing ground currents that will kill a person leaning or sitting against the feature.

A local 14'er climber was killed above treeline in this manner. Many in the climbing community thought she'd done everything right, while I'd learned to never do this.

Also stay away from the tallest trees in the area, but that one should be obvious.

My tactic during lightning storms is to find a safe place to pitch my tarp or tent, sit or crouch (not lie--ground currents again) on my dry, insulated pad, and eat and rest while sitting it out (and occasionally whimper if it's really bad). If there's an AT shelter within a 15 minute hike, I'll high-tail it there and put up with the squalor for a short time, then pack up and keep hiking when the storm passes. Repeat as needed. Usually in the Rockies that's once a day, but on the AT it happened twice a couple of days.

A tornado passed near camp one night in CT on the AT. The devastation was impressive, mature oaks snapped off mid-trunk. The noise was something I hope to never hear again. That I wasn't directly in the path was just luck. And it became another good story to tell--one of the reasons I go out there.

Traveler
07-31-2016, 08:22
The mice make me mad! Scurrying all over you all night long! I wouldn't sleep a wink.

Sometimes its a choice, deal with a vicious storm in a frail tent or hammock, or stay in a shelter that likely can withstand most storm hazards with few exceptions and perhaps deal with mice. The choice is yours to make. I prefer the shelter myself in these weather events, having seen the forest floor littered with tree tops and huge branches across wide sections of forests that would have not ended well for anyone out in that area.

Tipi Walter
07-31-2016, 08:42
An equally good question is what are dangerous places during a storm. A surprising answer, and one that has killed people, is a shallow cave or rock overhang. Many people will seek refuge from driving rain in the lee of a large rock or cliff--wrong answer! A lightning strike in the vicinity, not even a direct hit, will cause arcing ground currents that will kill a person leaning or sitting against the feature.

A local 14'er climber was killed above treeline in this manner. Many in the climbing community thought she'd done everything right, while I'd learned to never do this.

My tactic during lightning storms is to find a safe place to pitch my tarp or tent, sit or crouch (not lie--ground currents again) on my dry, insulated pad, and eat and rest while sitting it out (and occasionally whimper if it's really bad).

A tornado passed near camp one night in CT on the AT. The devastation was impressive, mature oaks snapped off mid-trunk. The noise was something I hope to never hear again. That I wasn't directly in the path was just luck. And it became another good story to tell--one of the reasons I go out there.

Cowering beneath a rock ledge can be a good idea depending where the rock ledge is located. In my above example during the tornadoes of 2011, I sought shelter beneath a rock ledge next to a creek at the bottom of a creek valley. Safe enough. But you're right, many rock ledges just happen to be on the high ground and atop ridgelines and it's a natural inclination to seek shelter there until the storm passes. Oops, not good.

I've been in many lightning storms over the years and have whimpered and cowered and knew for certain that death was imminent. One time (Watauga County NC 1983) it was so bad I got spooked and unstaked my tent and dragged it 200 yards off a mountaintop into a thick grove of rhododendron.

And then there's the direct lightning strikes which cause the heart to stop. It's when the white blinding light and the thunder blast all happen at the same exact time. It's right on top of you!!! Pucker up sphincter, weep in fetal ball, pray unceasingly, invite gophers into your tent, be hand-fed by raccoons . . .

Back in 1996 I was camping near the woods in Watauga county NC and right next to Tweetsie Railroad when a tornado came thru and sent two people to the hospital and ruined a score of parking lot cars. The tornado passed close to my tent, a nice North Face Westwind, and swayed it so bad all my tent poles split lengthwise as I held on for the ride. Pretty much ruined the tent.

Here's the news blurb on a website:
High Country Tornado Data According to records at the National Climatic Data Center there have been three recorded tornadoes in the area.


1965 Avery County: A F2 tornado was documented on April 9, 1965, measuring in length .50 miles and 300 yards wide. Property damage was recorded at $25.0K


1996 Watauga County: A F1 tornado was documented on April 20, 1996 around 1pm in the Tweetsie Railroad parking lot. Measuring in length .1 mile and 20 yards wide. 1 of the 2 injuries reported was a man that suffered a broke rib after being lifted into the air by the tornado and then dropped. 16 vehicles were damaged and property damage was recorded at $50.0K
Infor from---

http://wataugaonline.com/high-country-tornado-data/