View Full Version : Close call stories

01-22-2013, 18:30
In reading the thread about the hiker who apparently passed at tri corner knob, several whiteblazers posted their stories of poor decision making that led them to find themselves unsafe situations. I found those stories to be informative, enlightening, and a good reminder that we must always be mindful of safety when we are out in the woods.

So im wondering if others are willing to share their "close call" stories to show where one can gomwrong and to remind us to keep in mind that safety must always come first.

01-22-2013, 20:12
Probably not a close call but I was coming down a very steep decline and I started to fall. Right down the trail in front of me was a tree maybe 2 inches in diameter that had broken off about 2 feet from the ground. I could have easily impaled myself on that sucker but I flung myself on the ground before I got there.

01-22-2013, 20:39
Missed my trail in the Whites :datz, walked off the trail for miles before backtracking. What was suppose to be a dayhike in early May became cowboy style camping under a rock ledge in 50* temps.

01-22-2013, 20:50
I was wrestling a bear and almost gave him my back. Whew! Close call!

Bill Strebler
01-22-2013, 20:53
I probably would have lived, but I don't imagine it would have been pleasant- I was coming down a mountain in Mexico and had to step over a barbed wire fence onto loose soil on a steep slope. I could not stop on the other side and ended up running down the slope, jumping cacti and making a sudden left to avoid falling into a ravine. Up to that point I didn't consider footwear choice to be of major importance, and I was not in the habit of keeping them properly tightened.

A similar situation on a much bigger Mexican mountain- I was almost to the top, then looked over my shoulder and saw I had forgotten about the time due to my exhaustion. The sun was setting. I went running down the mountain, jumping cacti and sticker bushes left and right, then got to a long stretch of steep, loose rock and soil and sat down and used my walking sticks kind of like oars on a rowing machine, sliding down maybe 50 yards. I got about half way down and the sun disappeared, and I couldn't see where I was heading at all. Finally the full moon came over the mountain and I was able to see fairly well, but I was well off course and had to cross a small canyon in the dark. I was covered with cactus spines, and I couldn't find a place open anywhere to buy a drink. I had spines coming out from under my fingernails up to a year later.

01-22-2013, 21:11
On the way up Clingman's from Double Springs Shelter this past summer my14 yo son had a really close call. We were cruising along up the Spine about a mile short of Clingman's when he saw what looked like a short path to the left between two 3 - 4 foot shrubs. As he typically does he took a quick turn to check out the scenic overlook and stepped thru the bushes only to find the trail came to an immediate end within three feet with an approximately 75 foot drop. His momentum had him going forward but he was able to grab the bush on his left to keep him from falling forward all the way. I was about two steps behind him and and grabbed his pack jerking him to the ground.

After 5-6 minutes of shaking and chills running up my spine, it was decided that our legs could function again and we hiked on to Icewater discussing the pros and cons of telling or not telling my wife. Lets just say she knows we had a close call but not how close and he is a good bit more cautious. Ignorance is bliss in some situations.

one-8T and Data
knocking out sections until our thru in 2016

01-22-2013, 21:19
I had just gotten to the bottom of a very steep 1.5 mile section of trail which was basically a solid ice flow. I stopped to dig out my head lamp as it was getting dark, only to discover it was missing. I still had 1.5 miles to get to the road over a trail of rocks mixed with ice. I had a sleeping bag, but no pad and it had actually rained the night before so the ground was still pretty wet. A cold front was pushing out the warm front which had brought the rain, so the temps were rapidly falling.

What saved me from spending a very uncomfortable night in the woods was a half moon poking out of the clouds which had started to break up and clear out with the cold front. That and the fact I was intimately familer with the trail, keept my crampons on dispite all the rocks and had hiking poles to probe ahead. The rain had washed the trail pretty much clear of snow, but there was enough on either side that in the faint moon light, the trail looked like a dark line which I followed. Occasionally I'd miss a turn and go down a water bar run off, but I would quickly realise it was not right and find the path again.

It was the longest 1.5 mile hike of my life and was never so gald to see some lights down at the road. Now I ALWAYS have a spare light hidden away some place in my pack.

01-22-2013, 22:03
Several close calls in 40+ years of hiking/camping. Here are some.....

Hiking in the Rockies in 1978--age 16. Stepped on or over a rattlesnake that I did not see on the trail. It struck me. The snake got my thick leather hiking boot and not me. Just one inch higher--I would have been snake bitten.

I experienced early stages of hypothermia while hiking solo during a three-day rain storm in cool/windy temperatures on Isle Royale. I arrived at camp after hiking 15 miles just as "foggy thinking" was setting in. I actually went into an enclosed privy for a while to get out of the wind/elements and to warm up before setting up camp.

Solo hike on Max Patch. Some clouds in the sky--but mostly clear. No thunder or lightening that I had seen or heard. Out of the blue, a lightening strike hit about 100 feet away from me on the top of Max Patch. I got off of there and into lower (slightly more protected) terrain real fast! More thunder and lightening several moments later.

Camped and hiked in a couple of tornadoes. Had trees fall very near tent.

My older brother (in approximately 1966) had an ember from a fire land on their tent. POOF! Tent flaps were open. They were still wide awake and just getting ready to go to bed. They got out with minor burns--but gear was damaged.

Like most of us, I have had lots of slips and stumbles on the trail that probably could have been A LOT worse.

01-23-2013, 05:44
Beginning stages of hypothermia on the side of Mt. Rogers. Went out with a buddy and wasn't good about managing my layers and got soaked thru. Cold front moved in and temp plummeted, couldn't think straight, couldn't get my stove lit, and then my cheap bivy tent got so wrecked with condensation that my bag soaked through and I froze all damn night. It snowed overnight and when my hiking partner finally woke up the next morning we high tailed it down the mountain and I ended up sick for awhile.

Another time I was hiking in Mt. Rogers on the AT and had forgotten my filter and AM, ended up drinking untreated and tainted water. Ended up in the hospital 2 days later with a viral infection that almost killed me. Spent a week in the hospital and came real close to getting a tracheotomy and a feeding tube.

01-23-2013, 08:15
Once on a section hike I ran out of sugar for my morning coffee. It was touch and go for awhile, but lucky for me it was my last day on the trail. Shook-off the near catastrophy and hiked on. :)

01-23-2013, 08:42
Once on a section hike I ran out of sugar for my morning coffee. It was touch and go for awhile, but lucky for me it was my last day on the trail. Shook-off the near catastrophy and hiked on. :)Glad you made it thru, lesser men may have fallen. :D

01-23-2013, 08:52
One time I came to a shelter and this guy had one of those small backpack guitars, I had the strengh to keep on hiking.

01-23-2013, 09:04
My close call and hands down the scariest moment of my life came during an overnighter on Mt. Greylock on July 3, 2012. My gf and I planned to do the Hopper Trail loop, staying at a lean-to along the AT for a night and then complete the loop the next day. We got a late start to the hike and didn't summit until about 5pm. After taking a few pictures we took the Thunderbolt Ski Trail to the Bellows Pipe Trail, about one mile and 1000' drop from the AT, to the Bellows Pipe Lean-to. We changed out of our boots, had a snack, and then I dragged over a dead tree to break it up for a fire.

As the both of us are standing around the fire pit break up wood my gf says "whats that noise?" There was a faint grunting noise coming from somewhere behind the lean-to and up the trail where we came from. As I put down the wood and peaked around the lean-to, a full-grown black bear come charging full speed directly at me and every time it hit the ground it would let out a loud grunt. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity when I instinctively screamed "RUN!" to my gf and just at the last second the bear veered right and continued down the hill. From my gf's vantage point she saw 2 younger bears still up on the hill. So now our adreniline was pumping and we knew we were stuck in a position between an aggressive bear and her 2 cubs, and darkness was just starting to settle in. Since it was late on July 3rd we couldn't get ahold of anyone at the state park. We ended up contacting the state police who told us that we should hike back to our car....but since it was a 5 hour hike away (and we hadn't yet had time to eat dinner) we didn't want to push ourselves and possibly get hurt in the dark and require further assistance. So a trooper agreed to meet us at the nearest street (2 miles away), and he put our bags in the trunk of his cruiser, put us in the back with the windows down and gave us a 25 minute ride back to our car while listening to classic rock. The trooper said he hikes in those woods all the time but ALWAYS with a gun.

In retrospect the bear was running towards the noise of the wood we were breaking up, and was only 'mock charging' us because of her cubs. I've read that you should never run from a bear since its basically like pulling a string in front of a cat, but it's alot easier said than done when you have a 400+ pound full grown break charging straight at you less than 20 feet away. This incident hasn't affected me one bit since I'm back in the woods every chance I get, but my gf has purchased bear mace, and swears she has post-traumatic stress.

I definitely think I learned something valuable here, something that has given me a little more comfort. During the time the bear was charging, I remember thinking "Where I am gonna run? If he wants me he'll grab me. This is it." Now I realize that incidents like this are fairly rare, and if I encounter a bear again I'll stand my ground and be big and loud. Anyways...I've done some online research and records show that the only deaths by black bear on the east coast in the last 100 years are from those who kept bears as pets. I actually sleep better in the woods now because I think I've faced my biggest fear of the woods head on (no pun intended).

Another Kevin
01-23-2013, 09:07
Once while hiking on a ridge, I found that the trail passed right by a cell tower. I whipped out my phone and made a call. Closest call I've ever had.

Oh, you meant the other kind of close call?

Once on a day trip up Moosilauke, I was caught in June by unforecast snow. Wound up spending a very uncomfortable few hours huddled under a tarp in the lee of a big cairn, because the whiteout was bad enough that I literally couldn't see the next cairn. I wound up postholing down the Gorge Brook trail by flashlight. Moving about was scary, but I'd surely have succumbed to hypothermia if I'd stayed put.

01-23-2013, 10:45
Once while hiking on a ridge, I found that the trail passed right by a cell tower. I whipped out my phone and made a call. Closest call I've ever had.

MAN! That was a close one! haha

01-23-2013, 11:00
I have spent years searching for someone who could tolerate being with me on a long hike. I finally found that person. Then I started posting on Whiteblaze. I almost lost my hiking partner over that. Perhaps I should not be so bold.

01-23-2013, 12:47
Once while hiking on a ridge, I found that the trail passed right by a cell tower. I whipped out my phone and made a call. Closest call I've ever had.

Now that's funny:)

Fur Queue
01-23-2013, 13:37
My friend went to take a dump and came back much sooner than expected and almost caught me placing a large rock in his pack....luckily he didn't discover it until we got to camp a few miles later! How we chuckled! :)

Spirit Bear
01-23-2013, 14:44
I section hiked the AT in Georgia from Woody Gap to Neel Gap last February. Only packed food, water, and a headlamp. Started out late around 2:30 and figured I would hike down blood mtn at night. Got to the summit of blood and watched the sunset, pulled out my head lamp only to find out the batteries were dead. No moon that evening either, I had nothing other than the clothes I was wearing, the temps were dropping down to low 20s that night. I was pretty wet with sweat. I started to panic so I figured out that my camera's view finder produced some light when on, so I put that down near the ground and walked down blood mountain to neel's gap only with the light of my viewfinder from the camera. The most nerve racking 2 hours of my life. I nearly got lost twice on the way down.

This was also only my 2nd hike on the AT, which could have resulted in a long cold night in 20 degree weather on the side of blood mtn. Since then I always pack extra AAA batteries for my headlight and I always take matches and a safety blanket, even if I am just going for a 2 mile hike. Oh yea and I will always pack my camera as well..

01-23-2013, 15:00
On the last day of a 3 day trip going south to Daleville, me and two buddies were about 1/2 mile from Hwy 11 when we crossed a rotten looking bunch of boards over a small stream in the middle of a cow pasture. I crossed first and was about 50 feet past when I heard my buddies almost scream in unison "YELLOW JACKETS"! I turned around to see them trying to run up the hill toward me, all the while swatting bees and dropping equipment as they went. The middle guy made it O.K. but my poor buddy in the rear took the brunt of the attack. When we made it up to where I was at you could hardly see his back there were so many bees on him! I started swatting them off as he kept running until finally after we ran probably 300 yards we thought we had gotten far enough away from them. He took some benedryl and rested for a few minutes before we continued on to the highway.

We flagged someone down and they took him up the road to a emergency/rescue station. My other buddy and I went on the last mile or two to get the truck and came back to pick him up. After he had gotten all his clothes off he counted 33 yellow jacket stings! They didn't have to give him an epi shot though and after some more benedryl and ibuprofen he was fine. Still in pain but fine! My other buddy got stung 3 times but I have no idea how but I never got a single sting!

turtle fast
01-23-2013, 15:30
I was taking a class in Advanced Backpacking with the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (easy credit) in the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We had a member fall off a 40+ foot high gorge into the bottom of a water fall, Shining Cloud Falls. Luclily one of our small group was an EMT and stabilized the guy whom we first thought was dead. And another guy and I ran 8 miles to the closest road to flag down some help. Turns out it was on a county line in a State Park so after the jursidictional wrangling I was deputized and led a rescue team back in. One of sheriffs deputies started a signal fire for the coast guard whom sent in a chopper to get the guy out of the gorge and in the fanning of the rotor wash started a forest fire...in an old growth area. So after the rescue we had to fight a forest fire. Turned out the guy luckily landed on his legs in the fall shattering the bones in one to 30 plus pieces which they say saved his life and had to go under an experimental surgery at the Mayo clinic.

turtle fast
01-23-2013, 15:36
I have another one where roughly ths same area near the porcupine mountains again on the North Country Trail I was doing some night hiking and ran into a road and while hiking down the section of road when my headlamp decided to die on me I was followed by three black bears...in some weird parade....I just kept going and they were keeping pace with me following me down the road and I did not run. but just sang songs and talked to them and kept walking until they just lagged away after a few miles. It was pitch black and I always remember to carry spare lamp batteries now!

Bill Strebler
01-23-2013, 16:07
Once on a section hike I ran out of sugar for my morning coffee. It was touch and go for awhile, but lucky for me it was my last day on the trail. Shook-off the near catastrophy and hiked on. :)

I had a similar experience where I accidentally got decaf! That's worse, because you don't realize there's a problem until it's too late!

01-23-2013, 16:09
I was descending the skillet glacier on Mt. Moran in the mid 80's. One of the best trips of my life and almost my last. We bivy'd on the summit and saw 2 f4 phantoms fly by and wave to us at sunrise. During our descent we found a snow couloir that we decided to glissade while sitting. I went first and glissaded approx 200 yards then stopped. Just a I stood up to exit the couloir a second climber descended pushing a large quantity of snow in front of him. The snow hit me and knocked me off my feet and back into the couloir descending rapidly and out of control. The snow was pushing so hard I could not self arrest. When I tried the snow would build up pressure and push faster. I began to pick up speed and could not exit. Just as things looked hopeless a small ledge appeared on the right side of the couloir. I was lucky enough to catch it with my right leg and kick flip myself out.

01-23-2013, 16:18
This one time, at band camp...

01-23-2013, 17:01
I had a similar experience where I accidentally got decaf! That's worse, because you don't realize there's a problem until it's too late! Whoa!! That's it! I declare your situation the most dire. :)

01-23-2013, 17:13
near the top of a mountain in tenn there was some seepage across a solid rock section of the trail that curved up and around toward the top of the mountain
there was moss covered rock from the seepage on the right side of the trail and a drop off several hundred feet. I stepped to the right side of the trail to get a view up and around the side of the mountain , my feet slipped on the moss and I fell on my ass luckily the weight of my pack pushed me back instead of forward and i fell back on the trail instead of over the side of the mountain . There was two skid marks in the moss which dissapeared over the side of the mountain . As i set on my ass It took me a while to realize what happethen i thought what a stupid damn mistake I knew better then to step out on wet moss I broke up the skid marks with my treking before

01-23-2013, 17:16
i left i did not want some hiker to come along see the skid marks and think someone fell over the side. I have made other mistakes but none that scared the crap out of me like this one did.

01-23-2013, 20:30
My sister was on a bear task force to gather info on whether Md should have a bear season. There are recorded times of people being killed by black bears on the east coast,and they were not pet bears they were wild. One thing you have to remember bears also get rabies. We had a b bear in our county run across a yard and chase some people into their house. It was trying to rip the air conditionar out to get at them when they shot it . It was tested and showed up with rabies. The family had to get rabies shots because they helped the dnr load the dead bear up. dnr had gloves on they didn't . duhhh

01-23-2013, 22:13
I descended the north slope of Mt. Moosilauki after a rain. Never again.

01-24-2013, 02:04
I once thought about carving my name on a shelter, but I noticed someone with a camera just in time.

01-24-2013, 13:49
Got lost in Death Valley for about 2 hours, before realizing I was going the wrong way and doubling back.

About 4 miles south of Dennis Cove, hiking during a thnderstorm had a tree fall 30 feet uphill of me and come barreling towrds me got within 6 ft of me then hit a standing tree.

Tripped on a tree root 10 miles north of Damascus, fell 10 feet down a steep hillside before hitting a tree square with my nose. Had a gushing nose bleed for about 5 minutes.

Coffee Rules!
01-24-2013, 14:42
There was two skid marks in the moss which dissapeared over the side of the mountain .

I'll bet that's not the only place there were skid marks! Holy crap!

01-24-2013, 16:08
This 1 time at band camp.................:)

Capt Nat
01-24-2013, 16:44
I'll bet that's not the only place there were skid marks! Holy crap!
I was thinking the same thing Mr. Coffee. Least I know I would have had another skid mark besides the ones he mentioned.

01-24-2013, 17:05
This 1 time at band camp.................:)I have no close calls, that would in-tell actually hiking ...I think. :o great stories here, learnin lots. I also enjoyed (found it informative) the book, "Not without Peril" about accidents on NH, White Mountain over the years....good book!

The Phoenix
01-24-2013, 18:05
My most recent close call was in Great Basin National Park this past fall... We were hiking Wheeler Peak (13,063) and what started out as a clear and beautiful morning turned into a hellish afternoon. Right when we summited the mountain thunder shock the mountain, and lightning began striking down left and right... everything metal was charged with electricity and hair was standing straight up... within seconds of the first strike of lightning, rain/hail began falling at a rate that made me feel like I was Forrest Gump in Vietnam.

We sprinted down slick rocks in a nightmare of a storm, dealing with sub 30 weather and absolute exposure for about 2.5-3 miles and a steep decent... it seemed like lightning chased us all the way...

Not very fun and could have easily made the news for all the wrong reasons.

Many close calls on the AT involving flash flooding, hiking in the snow with just my crocs, gym shorts, and football jersey... I am a relatively stupid hiker!

01-24-2013, 18:05
This one time on everest a few buddies of mine died in a freak storm close to the summit. I wrote a book about it, you should check it out.

HAH! Gotcha.

Whatever the next shelter is north of Max Patch, I was just outside of in my hammock. Had a bear come up and sniff my butt in the middle of the night. Thought my heart was going to jump out of my throat. Luckily my butt stank worse than he did and he left me alone. Thank god for velveeta, hot dogs, and pasta sides.

Almost There
01-25-2013, 15:36
Two times: Lighting struck within 60-80ft of me on Cowrock Mountain.

Descending Katahdin in a hail and lightening storm. Man I got through that boulder field fast, leaving my hiking partner behind. I had my headlamp in my daypack. He did not. It was pitch dark by the time he made it near the falls, and so he had to hunker down out of fear of falling into the ravine. I went back to look for him, but my batteries were dying, and so he showed up just after first light at the lean-to. Needless to say he didn't think I was an idiot anymore for bringing my headlamp along.