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Passion Hiker 73
09-06-2009, 14:27
What was the worse weather you have encountered when on the trail? Let here your story?

Lyle
09-06-2009, 15:08
Maybe not THE worst, but two of the most memorable.

First day of Spring, 1981. Climbed Whitetop Mountain north of Damascus. Day started out pretty nice, stopped in for some Trail Magic at a forest service cabin part way up. Weather was deteriorating, but continued up Whitetop. Soon we were in blizzard conditions, being blown sideways off the trail, very limited visibility. Our group stopped for a brief break in some conifers, just below the summit. Upon exploring the summit, found an old cabin, front door padlocked with a sign "US Government Property - NO TRESPASSING - Violators Will Be Prosecuted To The Full Extent Of The Law". Around back, the door was only half hanging on it's hinges, standing ajar. A group of about five people was already in the cabin, we joined, making the total thus far at nine, with several tents set up inside. Before nightfall, another four people joined us. We stayed the night (got down to 12 below), the next day, and the following night, waiting for the blizzard to pass. We melted snow on our stoves for water. The next day's hike out was beautiful.

Years later, a friend and I also sat out a blizzard in November in the Gravel Springs Hut in Shenendoah. Very unseasonable for November. Sunshine (no shirt weather) followed consecutively by Rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow. Trees breaking all around us due to ice and wind. Next day hiking out found the trail under 1 1/2 feet of snow, with branches bending down to within about 2 feet of the trail. Went to the Skyline Drive to hike to Tom Floyd Wayside, found it closed down with frequent 12 foot drifts. After the night at Tom Floyd, the sun came out and the woods was transformed into a fantastic ice sculpture - most beautiful hike I've ever had!!!

Skyline drive didn't re-open for two days after we were out. Had to stay with a friend until we could get back to our car which was parked near Bearfence.

Close third would have been the flooding in PA in 2006.

tammons
09-06-2009, 15:17
Not AT, but Estes park in Colo.

In about 1980 with a friend. We got caught above the treeline in a freak summer thunderstorm with heavy lightning. Probably about 10-11,000+ feet. We were both flat on the ground and I remember peeping out and seeing lighting bolts hit all around us. Lasted only about 45 minutes but scared the crap out of us.

Temp dropped to about 35dF and we both got soaked and hypothermia, but not too severe. It took me 3 hours in a down sleeping bag and eating everything I could find to warm up.

That is what a poncho will do for you in extreme weather.

Spokes
09-06-2009, 15:23
How about the entire 2009 AT hiking season?

Red Hat
09-06-2009, 16:04
How about the entire 2009 AT hiking season? May's rain was pretty much a bummer, but the worst I've ever seen was the blizzard in the Smokies April 2 of 2005.

Jeff
09-06-2009, 16:15
How about the entire 2009 AT hiking season?

Earlier it was awful, but we have had sunshine for more than a week in New England and another week of great weather in the forecast. It usually all evens out.

Jonnycat
09-06-2009, 16:37
That is what a poncho will do for you in extreme weather.

Ponchos work, but they aren't as foolproof as just putting on a set of raingear. Specifically, one has to take into consideration the issue of undergarments (thermals), and also keeping the legs warm and dry.

Like other lightweight equipment, they require a greater attention to detail, and should only be recommended with a requisite amount of training and experience.

modiyooch
09-06-2009, 17:06
what: snow, gale force winds, lightning 2007 & 2008
where: Webster Cliffs, Mt Washington, Wildcat MT all in the Whites. I don't believe I will be going back to the AT in the Whites any time soon.

volleypc
09-06-2009, 17:19
Passing Roan Mountain and Hump Mountain on the trail this year. I used to live in Boone so I was used to the bad weather on Roan, but the wind this time was ridiculous. Everyone that was wearing a pack cover lost theirs. The wind litterally blew them off the pack (luckily they went into the blackberry bushes at the edge of the clearing). You could not walk, you had to "scrunch" down and between gust take steps. I have to admit, I also had to walk on the side of the trail because the wind was blowing you back and forth so much that if you tried to stay in the trench created by the trail you would not be able to stand. All in all, it was a good time, but I was glad to be back undercover.

tammons
09-06-2009, 17:45
Ponchos work, but they aren't as foolproof as just putting on a set of raingear. Specifically, one has to take into consideration the issue of undergarments (thermals), and also keeping the legs warm and dry.

Like other lightweight equipment, they require a greater attention to detail, and should only be recommended with a requisite amount of training and experience.

At that point, I had used a poncho for about 10 years. Never had any problems, but no amount of training will keep you dry in gale force winds and heavy rain in a poncho if you are trying to stay as flat as possible.
If the training included a weather radio, which we did not have, bingo.

Skyline
09-06-2009, 18:45
How about the entire 2009 AT hiking season?


Well, it's not over yet but so far it doesn't even begin to compare to 2003 if you're measuring continuous days of precip.

Razor
09-06-2009, 19:00
Last year in maine it rained 24 of 29 days in maine .I can say toward the end all I could do was quack when I put my hiking cloths on in the mourning.The continuous water was torture after a week.You can't dry out and you have to march on.

Namaste
09-06-2009, 19:16
Last year in maine it rained 24 of 29 days in maine .I can say toward the end all I could do was quack when I put my hiking cloths on in the mourning.The continuous water was torture after a week.You can't dry out and you have to march on.

That's my story as well. The "Appalachian River" was ever flowing.....ugh!!!

I also remember hail storms near Avery Peak heading over to the Bigelows in the summer of 2007 or 8. I thought the winds would blow us clear off the mountain.

Blissful
09-06-2009, 20:00
Stuck at Overmountain shelter for two days with bad wind and rain, unable to cross the humps and ran out of food.

Miserable time.

Tinker
09-06-2009, 20:13
The worst I've ever experienced is -20 degrees with a 40 mph. wind at Kinsman Pond with the wind whipping spindrift into the shelter (this was in the 1980s before I learned that tents are better in extreme weather). We woke to a dusting of snow on the sleeping bags (my bag was rated to -70 so I was fine, my friend's bag was rated to -40 and he was ok, too. Cooking breakfast was interesting as my fingers stuck to the legs on my Whisperlite stove and I had to blow on them to get them unstuck (lesson learned - use glove liners).
Scouts were camped below us at Lonesome Lake under the closed-for-the-season hut. They were out of the wind and safe, but they looked miserable the next morning. All survived to tell the story of being "out there" and not adequately equipped (mentioned in another post lately). Lucky for them and an experience for me and my hiking buddy.

Jim Adams
09-07-2009, 00:00
Hurricane Hugo sucked.

geek

chiefduffy
09-07-2009, 04:21
May 8th this year above Carver's Gap, near Roan Mtn. From my journal:
http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=272512

Feral Bill
09-07-2009, 13:17
Presidential range north of Mt. Washington. Around Christmas in the mid seventies we were stuck in a screaming whiteout for two days. Couldn't even go outside at all. The days before and after were beautiful, though.

Wolf - 23000
09-07-2009, 13:40
While winter hiking the Long Trail, I got hit with the storm of the Century. End up being snowed in 3 days complete white-out tempters ranging from -50, -40, -20 and 5 feet of fresh snow. I saw a break in the weather, I went for it. It was only 4 miles to the road but that was one of the toughest 4 miles I ever did.

Wolf

BlackCloud
09-07-2009, 17:42
Back in July, 2003, I underwent the awfullest rain & loudest thunder I ever did experience. Ran into a guy the next day covered in bandaids & small scrapes all over his body. He told me that lightning hit a tree near him & he got showered with splinters from the exploding tree! :eek:

Jester2000
09-07-2009, 18:20
In 2000, going from Madison Hut over Madison and down to the notch. Leaving Madison Hut we were in the lee of the mountain and didn't realize how bad the weather was. On out way up we passed Excellent Good Half Moon heading back to the hut. He told us he had never been more afraid for his life than he was up on Madison and was heading back because he was freaked out. But he said that we would probably be fine, as things seemed to have calmed down (not realizing that we were being protected from the worst of it by the mountain).

When we got up towards the top, the wind was beating on us so hard that afterwards our faces were reddened and bruised in a circle from being hit with rain and sleet/hail. We had to the open parts of our hoods together and yell to talk to one another.

I don't know what kind of wind it takes to do the following, but I know it happened: I was actually lifted off my feet twice and was airborne for about 4-5 feet (I was wearing an external frame pack, which did present a larger area for the wind to hit). It was incredibly difficult to breath.

On our way down towards the notch, the trail was crossing what was essentially the watershed for the area, and what were normally rock hops across creeks became incredibly difficult and potentially dangerous fords.

Freezing, soaking wet, and covered in mud, we got to the visitor's center and drank some hot chocolate. I couldn't get warm, and went into Gorham for an unscheduled town stop so I could take a hot shower for about 45 minutes, which set me right.

It was my first and only shower in New Hampshire -- I was trying to hike the whole state showerless, and ended up taking one to warm up rather than get clean.

Afterwards, Atlas, Firewood, and I decided that only incredibly stupid people were out hiking that day.

warraghiyagey
09-07-2009, 18:40
I was on Madison when the tornado hit, as I braved the 200 mile per hour winds a bolt of lightning struck me square in the face and then it started snowing at zero visibility and a 45 below windchill factor. . . I've only had a couple worse weather days than that on the trail. . .

saimyoji
09-07-2009, 18:45
I was on Madison when the tornado hit, as I braved the 200 mile per hour winds a bolt of lightning struck me square in the face and then it started snowing at zero visibility and a 45 below windchill factor. . . I've only had a couple worse weather days than that on the trail. . .


uhhh i don't think you really grasp the concept of windchill factor. you make no mention about your seals being blown, or if you blew any seals at all, which everyone knows is the best indication of windchill. :rolleyes:

warraghiyagey
09-07-2009, 18:47
My seals were not blown but other seals may have blown other seals. . . .

Desert Reprobate
09-07-2009, 18:47
Fall of 71. Full blown typhoon with green water coming over the bow of the aircraft carrier. Thank God I wasn't hiking in it.

Egads
09-07-2009, 19:03
My seals were not blown but other seals may have blown other seals. . . .


uhhh i don't think you really grasp the concept of windchill factor. you make no mention about your seals being blown, or if you blew any seals at all, which everyone knows is the best indication of windchill. :rolleyes:

Too much blowing going on around here

fiddlehead
09-07-2009, 19:56
Two hurricanes on the AT ('91 and '95) both times i was in Maine.
But, the worst was the 70 mph winds I encountered in the Himalayas in '89
Second was the huge hailstorm on the CDT in '98

The hurricanes would have been worse if it weren't for the shelters.
But the wind forced you to crawl and you couldn't communicate because of the roar.

johnnybgood
09-07-2009, 21:33
My seals were not blown but other seals may have blown other seals. . . .
Ummm..... huh ?

warraghiyagey
09-08-2009, 07:57
Ummm..... huh ?

It's a wind chill factor thing. . . ask JAK. . . :p

Gray Blazer
09-08-2009, 07:59
I hate it when your seal gets blown.

Spokes
09-08-2009, 08:02
Well, it's not over yet but so far it doesn't even begin to compare to 2003 if you're measuring continuous days of precip.

Is there an "official" annual AT weather summary posted anywhere or are we left to hearsay and innuendo?

-Spokes

modiyooch
09-08-2009, 08:34
Is there an "official" annual AT weather summary posted anywhere or are we left to hearsay and innuendo?

-Spokessounds like the voice of experience

sixhusbands
09-08-2009, 08:53
My daughter and I had just reached the the Franconia Ridge just south of Mt. Lafayette and it was late in the afternon. We were trying to get to Garfield ridge campsite and there was a thunder storm approaching from the west. We figured that we needed a few hours to make it and that we could easily beat the storm. WRONG! The storm moved in very fast and slammed into us just off the open summitt of LaFayette. We had no place to go, so we took our packs off and hunkered down between some large rocks and waited it out.

Heavy rains, sleet, hail and lots of bright green lightning pounded us for the next hour. The lightning sounded like zippers as it raced by and raised the hair on our arms and head! The storm was below the summitt and as it tried to move over , it kept getting wilder. When the storm passed we looked around and we were amazed that we were alive.
My daughter asked me why we did not hear any thunder throughout the storm. I guess that we must have been in the very center and the noise just reverberated outward.

FlyPaper
09-08-2009, 09:28
Hiking across White Top Mountain near Damascus, late October 2006. It was raining and windy the whole day. Crossing the bald, the cross winds were probably around 70 MPH. It was difficult to walk in a straight line. We had to lean far into the wind to keep from falling down. Good thing it wasn't a head wind.

Cannibal
09-08-2009, 10:58
This past July, my good friend Coffee (aka Hammock Engineer) and I were hiking section 2 of the Colorado Trail. It's a burn-out section with a high ridge that still has some trees. Beautiful day with just the slightest trace of a drizzle. Coffee is about 10' in front of me when everything flashed white. Bone white, never seen anything like it before. There was no thunder clap, just blinding white everything; no colors. Both of us froze in place and Coffee slowly turned his head to look my direction. After what seemed like a full minute, but was probably less than a second, I yelled: "Run!" We took an immediate left and hauled butt down the side of the mountain away from the ridge. Found a depression in the ground near two small trees, strung up a tarp, and finally started to breathe again.

Never, ever been that close to lightning. Hope to never be again. It still causes my heartbeat to go up a notch when I think about it. Good news; since it was a burn section there was no water, but the storm allowed us to collect some water off the tarp. Gotta find silver linings when the clouds are throwing stuff at you. :sun

Jester2000
09-08-2009, 11:37
. . .or are we left to hearsay and innuendo?

I've got to say that those would be excellent trail names for a couple.

mandolin22
09-08-2009, 13:01
My first AT hiking experience was with a college group in 2003 on ME's 100 mile wilderness. The third night out we decided to switch it up and sleep on our large tarp with the small tarp hung over top of us...the sky was clear and the stars were out. Sometime during the night I woke up and lifted up my sleeping pad to discover a river running underneath. We all huddled together under our little tarp while we tried to sleep in a big pool of water...and I swear I would have developed hypothermia if not for my long underwear.
The next day it rained too, so we didn't dry out for another day or so...
I still haven't figured out why that introduction to hiking the AT made me want to come back again and again :)

sbhikes
09-08-2009, 22:04
I don't like backpacking in the rain. There was mist and rain for the first 7 days I hiked in Washington this year. If rain wasn't falling from the sky it was falling from the trees or from the wet brush that encroached on the trail. Or it just permeated the air. I was soaking wet much of the time and my feet were wet all the time.

At one point after pushing my way through wet leaves taller than I am, with wet leaves slapping me in the face and dumping buckets of water into my shoes, and me without a rain jacket only a useless umbrella and rain chaps and temperatures in the 40s, I finally stopped in the middle of it all and yelled at the top of my lungs, "****** YOU! I HATE WASHINGTON!"

unclehud
09-09-2009, 01:43
Three buddies and I went hiking on Oahu in 1981 while we were stationed at Pearl Harbor. The idea was to hike up a ridge (Waimano Home Road) to the spine of the Koolau Range, turn left and hike along the spine, and turn left again to come down a ridge to our house on Ahakapu Street. An easy dayhike, so we carried no map, no compass, little food, and almost no gear. We did leave a hike plan with buddies who stayed behind.

Well, we turned down the wrong ridge, which became more and more apparent as the afternoon disappeared and the jungle thickened.

We stopped hiking about an hour after dark. The rain wasn't so bad; it was heavy, started right after we stopped hiking, and lasted for about an hour. What was bad was that we had on shorts and cotton T-shirts (it was Hawaii, folks), our dinner was a peanut butter sandwich split four ways, and the mud offered no warmth as we huddled together embarrassingly tightly.

Our sub captain was so happy to see us the next day that he didn't even threaten charges of UA/AWOL.

Ox97GaMe
09-09-2009, 20:04
I have done a lot of hiking in all seasons all across the US. There have been a lot of 'interesting' hiking situations that I have been in and hope I dont encounter again.

On the AT....
Mt Washington - Labor Day weekend 97. 23 degrees and 60+ mph winds. There were horizontal icicles protruding from the towers the diameter of my arm. Cool to see, just freaky to think about how they were formed.

Carter Range NH - Labor Day weekend 99. Remnants of Hurricane Dennis came through and dumped 11 inches of rain in a single day. We crossed the Rattle River when it was chest deep. Scariest experience of my life.

Hogback Ridge TN Dec 2004. Had a snowstorm blow in that dumped almost 3 ft of snow on the ground. Drifts were up to 5 ft deep and the windchill temps were near or below 0.

S of Mt Elbert North Carolina April 1995. Ice storm caught us unexpectedly. Ended up spending the night huddled under a small rock outcropping on the ledges of Big Butt.


Other Trails........

Beartooth Range Montana April 2002. Snowed for 6 straight days while we were in the backcountry. Snow was over 6 ft deep when we got back to the vehicle. Luckily, we had snowshoes on that trip.

Canyonland NP Utah Feb 2001. Camped at the bottom of one of the canyons. Morning temperature was registering -40.

twodifferentsocks
09-23-2009, 11:04
Ponchos work, but they aren't as foolproof as just putting on a set of raingear. Specifically, one has to take into consideration the issue of undergarments (thermals), and also keeping the legs warm and dry.

Like other lightweight equipment, they require a greater attention to detail, and should only be recommended with a requisite amount of training and experience.

Is this guy trying to tell us that only experts should use ponchos?

I have had enough. UL is like some weird religion.

The Old Fhart
09-23-2009, 12:51
Seeing I worked right on the A.T. (summit Mt. Washington) for 4 winters, I got to see some "interesting" weather. The highest wind we went out to play in were 145MPH and the lowest temps were -34F. Winds of over 100MPH were quite common.

Anyone who'd try to go out in those winds in a poncho, no matter how expert they thought they were, we would call 'naked'. :D

Gray Blazer
09-23-2009, 12:54
Seeing I worked right on the A.T. (summit Mt. Washington) for 4 winters, I got to see some "interesting" weather. The highest wind we went out to play in were 145MPH and the lowest temps were -34F. Winds of over 100MPH were quite common.

Anyone who'd try to go out in those winds in a poncho, no matter how expert they thought they were, we would call 'naked'. :D

I would say you win since Mt Washington has the worst weather in the world.

Snowleopard
09-23-2009, 15:39
Seeing I worked right on the A.T. (summit Mt. Washington) for 4 winters, I got to see some "interesting" weather. The highest wind we went out to play in were 145MPH and the lowest temps were -34F. Winds of over 100MPH were quite common.

Anyone who'd try to go out in those winds in a poncho, no matter how expert they thought they were, we would call 'naked'. :D
I spent several days in San Diego next to the ocean, blue skies everyday with temps between 70F and 78F, low humidity, no wind. It sure made it hard to go home.

Seriously, not many of us have worked on top of Mt. Wash. in the winter. I defer to Old Fhart.

clicker
09-23-2009, 15:43
August thunderstorm on the NCT in Manistee National Forest. My college room mate and I went for a weekend trip and the wind and thunder didn't let us sleep all night. At some time after midnight, we heard an almighty crackle of lightning, the whole tent light up, and a second later we heard cracking wood, then felt a thump that made our vision blur for a moment. When the storm subsided, we got out of the tent and saw a massive oak tree that had been hit by lightning, the fork of the tree had broken so about a 3 foot diameter section of tree trunk fell about 30 yards south of our tent, with charred sections and everything. We vowed to check the weather forcast for any future trips after that one.

twodifferentsocks
09-24-2009, 13:26
My buddy and I took off on the Art Loeb trail in Pisgah National Forest in July.

twodifferentsocks
09-24-2009, 14:14
My buddy and I took off on the Art Loeb trail in Pisgah National Forest in July. He had never hiked, backapacked (except for Amsterdam). I was a big shot, newly minted 'backcountry expert' loudly mentioning my training and experience provided by Brevard College where I attended the last 2 years.

We left my truck on the Blue Ridge Parkway and hitched down 276 to the lower elevation trailhead. Weather beautiful, we were on a tight, tight schedule as we both had to get back to work in Greensboro by Monday afternoon. We were terribly behind schedule.

Hiked a few miles, packs felt good, speed was good. We came to a forest road, adjusted our packs, but could not find the trail off the road. Walked south a few hundred yards, could not find the trail. Bushwacked north a couple hundred yards...could not find the trail. Walked north a couple hundred more yards...could not find the trail.

Brad loudly commented that I did not know what the f#$k I was doing, which he was right. As I closely consulted the USGS map the weather turned sour. A cloud bank dark as smoke quickly enveloped us. Thunder in the distance quickly coming closer and closer. We quickly moved North on the ridge road where I knew we could get to lower ground, but it was too late.

Then we were in it.

When I say in it, I mean IN IT. We were physically inside the body of a cumulonimbus cloud. The lightning bolts did not strike the ground, more traveled through the air within the cloud. Bolt after bolt, strike after strike, 20 minutes of shear terror. Our packs were thrown, we crouched low loudly praying to a God we did not honor, screaming with each concussion, the hair on our legs and arms tingling, electricity moving through the wet, saturated ground into our bodies making the muscles in our arms contract violently. Two 22 year old men crying real tears like babies.

And then it was over. The cloud dispersed quickly. Air raid sirens from the nearby town of Brevard echoing through the forest. My friend looked at me with a mixture of disbelief and hatred. Collecting our gear, we loudly surrendered and continued down the forest road to 276.

Our weekend was not ruined, but our hike was over.

My friend has never forgiven me and has had an estranged relationship to weather ever since.

Cookerhiker
09-24-2009, 17:16
Memorial Day weekend, 1979, 4 consecutive days of steady rain in Vermont. It was the Long Trail north of Brandon Gap, not the AT. For the AT, I've experienced 1-day bursts but for a sustained period, probably my SOBO hike from Allen Gap to Wallace Gap in October '04 (http://www.trailjournals.com/cookerhiker). Hiking out of Hot Springs, I had steady drizzle for 3 days and got lost in the fog atop Max Patch. In the Smokies, I had one nice full day and 2 nice half-days between the drizzle & fog.

Pickleodeon
09-24-2009, 19:43
This year, I think almost every town we went to, especially down south, we were doing big miles, practically running, to get out of the rain and into town. Then, every time we left town it was raining.

We got snowed in with a foot and a half of snow at Mollie's Ridge in the Smokies, zeroed there with about 20 other people. Then we hiked in mud and running snowmelt. The day we summited Clingman's Dome, we had thunder, lightning, rain, sleet, high winds, and on the way down we walked through 6 inches of running snow melt water.

At Thomas Knob shelter I thought the metal roof was going to blow off. Nobody there slept that night, the wind was so loud and the whole shelter was swaying in the wind.

We had days where I could barely walk upright the wind was so crazy. And it rained and rained and rained. We had knee deep rain right when we crossed into Vermont, July 31st, my birthday. The entire trail was a flood and then a muddy mess for days.

What a year. I should've taken it as an omen when it rained the entire drive from my house in PA to the trailhead in Georgia.

Graywolf
09-24-2009, 20:17
I think the worst day of weather I have ever hiked in were those days I couldnt be hikin!!!!:-?

dreamsoftrails
09-24-2009, 20:32
How about the entire 2009 AT hiking season?
i was out there march and april, didn't find much to complain about.

dreamsoftrails
09-24-2009, 20:34
Is this guy trying to tell us that only experts should use ponchos?

I have had enough. UL is like some weird religion.
i think he is just saying that there are special considerations to using a poncho. i don't really see where the UL comment comes in.

I was 'UL' on the trail this year, least the folks i walked with called me that, and i had a rain top and an umbrella.

i saw a dude who was not UL by any means using a poncho.

Wags
09-25-2009, 23:03
temps near 100 and humid. you can always put more clothes on

Wise Old Owl
09-26-2009, 04:16
4 consecutive days in 79 in Pennsylvania, everyone else bagged that weekend except me, sleeped in the tent & stayed dry.

Simmilar experience in Verginia spring ground flood, woke up in 5 inches of water.

earlyriser26
09-26-2009, 06:59
March of 1977 in the smokies. My university had a spring break outings and three were for hikers. There was an easy one for beginers, intermediat, and the "expert" hike of the smokies. I had been hiking on the AT since 1969, but did not consider myself an expert, but I wanted to do the smokies anyway. Of our group of 8 people only I and the 2 leaders had ever been hiking before. We started at Davenport and found ourselves in 6 feet of snow at the crest. We did not finish the first days hike until 9pm with flash lights. Let's just say most people in our group were not dressed for snow, let alone hiking. Most had on jeans. We managed to make it one more day before half the group took a side trail down to Cosby. Three of us hiked on to Newfound gap, sinking up to outr knees every step of the way. We were to meet the group that left for cosby when we finished, but they called their parents and got picked up. They later brought a law suit against the university at which I testified. I told the jury that none of them had any experience and the trip was clearly for "experts". They lost. I was over my head too, but it was a fun trip, errr, adventure.