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  1. #21
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knocky View Post
    Self protection starts with mindset. Men, as well as women seem to be woefully unprepared for a sudden crisis. Adequate means of protection are available, and there is no legitimate reason these days, for anyone to suddenly realize that they are on the menus, with no ability to defend themselves.
    Well said, you have to have the mindset to do something you'd thought you'd never have to do. But a life threatening situation deserves a life threatening defense. And yes men are just as vulnerable. No matter what your line of defense practice, practice, practice.

  2. #22
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    And I have to say and I swear I'll go away. To all the female hikers like Blackcloud mentioned learn some form of self defense. Great workouts, self confidence etc... there's good videos on YouTube and books learn some stuff to, lets say equal the odds against a bigger stronger opponent. Than you can practice on your husbands and or kids...

  3. #23

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    Only 1 out of 4 rapes are reported to authorities. When I hiked the Shenandoah National Park section in 2016, my 19 year son went ahead of me and my other son. He got lost and his cell battery was dead. He hiked west, all the way out of the park using survival skills I taught him, 14 miles off trail through the wilderness before he found someone with a phone. He was beat up and bruised but OK. I was worried sick and still have nightmares about this. After we collected him, we stayed in a hotel in Waynesboro that night off trail. I am a very early riser, so I washed all of our clothes at 5 AM the next morning as my boys slept. While waiting for the laundry I told the front desk lady about my harrowing experience and how I was so afraid for 12 hours. She then told me her hotel had taken care of girls who had no money, who had come off the trial from hiking solo, after being beaten, robbed and raped, begging for them to put them in a room. She told me one such lady had come in that way the month before. She said the girl waited for her parents to arrive, pay the bill and take her home. The victim did not report it. She just wanted to go home and forget all about the AT. The night clerk also told me of another girl who had been tied up to four trees and gang raped and left to die, but survived after being found by other hikers. That girl also did not report the crime. She told me this happened every summer, not uncommon. I have studied crime incidents on the AT for years, as I almost always hike alone, which makes me a target. Virginia appears to be the most dangerous section of the entire trail, and Shenandoah National Park definitely stands out as the section where bad things are more likely to happen (close to such to large population centers). But..... crime is very low on the trail considering over 2 million people per year hike some section of it. Relative to any big city, the AT is a far safer place to be. However in terms of relative risk, the AT is head and shoulders a much more dangerous trail than any of the other national trails. This is not an opinion - the numbers are there for anyone who wants to dig into the data. But the data also shows some very useful tips. The statistics show that groups of three or more are never attacked. So hike with two buddies. Also, dogs are not a deterrent to an attacker. However, there is no information on crimes occurring in the presence of "dangerous, protective breeds of dogs", so I wouldn't rule out a big Doberman or German Shepard or Rottweiler as unable to provide some level of deterrence or protection (but that IS an opinion). Also, nearly all crimes occur at shelters that are within a mile or so of a road. Some shelters with easy access to roads are used as weekend party zones for the local BillyBob and Bubba set, as they can't carry a beer cooler that far. So NEVER camp at or near a shelter within a mile of any road - ever. I never stay at ANY shelters because shelters are full of field mice, and the typical field mice has on average, 140 ticks clinging to its skin, per the Wall Street Journal. More ticks means a greater probability of Lyme disease (and venomous snakes to eat the mice). I sleep in a hammock, off trail, with no fire, away from other people, in stealth mode. A properly set up hammock will keep you high and dry even in a howling thunder storm. Shelters leak, some really bad. I was an infantryman, 6 man long range patrols, in the Army, so I have no small amount of knowledge of how to disappear in the woods. I also am an expert with weapons and carry one, but I do not advocate this for anyone unless they are a combat veteran - someone who has been shot at and shot back better, not a pistol range warrior. In spite of all the male bravado and testosterone poisoning and fantasy heroics, nearly everyone with a gun will hesitate when the time comes to not hesitate, ending badly for the gun owner. Speed wins over accuracy. Even in the Army, green troops often freeze when encountering their first firefight. Bear spray is a better option than a pistol for most. Wasp spray is even better - the can squirts further, delivers a truckload of liquid, and the spray will immediately temporarily blind an assailant and permanently blind them if they don't get to an ER. There are no restrictions on wasp spray. I also set up an alarm system to wake me if a bear or person becomes too curious while I sleep. In short, I am careful. For all those folks who think they can rely on their "instincts" to protect them? That's pure rubbish. The FBI profile team says if they can't pick out serial killers from ordinary people, with all of their PhDs in criminal psychology and decades of experience, it's beyond ludicrous for you or anyone else to walk around thinking their instincts will protect them. Hogwash. All of Ted Bundy's victims went willingly with him. Criminals who are highly successful at their craft are really good at putting their victims at ease. They're good talkers and charming and pleasant. So, to summarize, here are my rules for any hiker, male or female: 1. hike with 3 or more people 2. avoid shelters close to roads, 3. don't let strangers get within 20 feet of you, 4. and if you are solo or two people, don't light a fire - disappear into the night. A fire can be seen for miles and miles at night, and for much further if you are up on a ridge. If someone saw you during the day, and wants to do you harm while you are asleep in camp, they will know exactly where you are by the light of your fire. Also, the national forests have lots of meth cooks hiding out and pot farms, so a fire might make them nervous enough to investigate the source. "Common sense is not that common" - get some and stay safe.
    Last edited by Ancient Diver; 11-29-2020 at 00:44.

  4. #24
    Registered User English Stu's Avatar
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    Default Safety on the Trail

    I recall advice about having some self defence skills. If a female solo - give your hiking pole, or jacket, a trail name so there is always two of you. Neutral trail names for females, especially two together.
    I rarely slept in a shelter. If alone in one don`t unpack till late; know a tent pitch nearby and be able to pitch in the dark; then if someone turns up who you are not happy with you can say `I am off to camp` without causing offence. I did that when a guy came in and first thing he did was to open the biggest ziplock bag of multi-coloured pills I had ever seen. He might have been on medication but how was I to know. If stealth camping have a headlamp curfew; they can be seen for miles.

  5. #25

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    here's my advice to women. follow your gut. if someone or some thing/situation seems "hinky" trust your instinct. get out of the situation/place or away from the person if you can. also trust your gut with who you CAN trust. really. (FYI, I'm a woman)

    I read the book Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker years ago. I gave a copy to my niece when she was about 14/15 years old. It talks about how women are "programmed" by our society from birth to be "nice" and ignore their gut instinct especially about men. But our instinct is there to protect us. Better to "hurt someone's feelings" because you misread their intentions than for you to be physically or mentally damaged by a person who intends you harm.
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  6. #26
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    The thing is some of these sick individuals are very convincing/"trustworthy " . Of course separate yourself if something is "off" . And yes unfortunately most of the time it's men . FWIW, I'm man!

    But for some reason say you drop your guard for a moment for some reason, this person escaped your danger radar, raining stayed in the shelter, I'll be ok, sorry can't think of anymore for instances you get my point.


    Again my best advice for man or woman self defense is your best defense, learn what works and what doesn't.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    Every one of the 7 thru hikers (yes, thru hikers) murdered on the AT in the middle of their thru hikes were either women, or men hiking with women.

    While the AT can feel and be safe for all thru hikers, the author’s comment (copied from elsewhere?) that risk of getting murdered at home is 1000 times greater than on the trail does not hold water — at least for folks on a thru hike.
    Totally true. Those that say that the AT is far safer than a big city are generally not good at comparing things. I would concede that if you spend 10 minutes day-hiking on the AT, you are less likely in that 10 minutes of being murdered than if you live for 1 whole year in Chicago. However, that's a horrible way to compare relative safety. I'd also contend that if you spend 10 minutes in downtown Chicago, then you're less likely in that 10 minutes to be murdered than during a complete thru-hike of the AT. I only bring this up because I am someone who who is a stickler for accuracy, not someone who is fearful on the trail nor encouraging others to be fearful.

  8. #28

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    The article in the link is well written and does a great job of shedding light on how easy us men can make a lady feel uncomfortable. However, the article has one horrible piece of advice, that when followed, has often led to a tragic end for a woman, and that is in the misguided conclusion of "trust your instincts". While this saying is as "common as dirt", with everyone repeating it like it's some unalienable truth, it is 100% horse bunky. Rather it is a formula for becoming a crime victim. A retired FBI profiler wrote a book on what people, and women in particular, need to do to keep themselves safe from predators and serial killers. Her name is Mary Ellen O'Toole, PhD, and her book is Dangerous Instincts: Use an FBI Profiler's Tactics to Avoid Unsafe Situations. In her book she states "trust your instincts" is the worst possible advice a person can follow. She points out that if she - a person with decades of experience interviewing and dealing with the nation's "worst of the worst serial killers", with all the resources of one of the world's top crime fighting organizations, assisted by having a PhD in criminal psychology from a top university, that if SHE can not identify who is a monster and who is not, based on casual conversations and day-to-day interactions, with all of her training and experience backing her up, then it is absurd - stunningly ludicrous - for a lay person to think that they can rely on their instincts - because they can not. She points out all the women who were murdered by these sickos, all the ladies who got into a car with Ted Bundy, and oh so many others, how ALL of them were trusting their instincts - instincts that told them they were safe, until it was too late and found out their instincts were wrong - dead wrong. O'Toole explains to the reader all the things they can do to take preventative measures, avoiding getting into situations that make the person highly vulnerable to these sickos. Her advice is not only for women - many men have been killed by such predators also. Hiking solo is setting yourself up for a predator, as O'Toole describes in her book. My recommendation is anyone - woman or man - thinking about hiking any part of the A.T., solo, should read her book. I am a 70 year old white male with dual titanium hips, meaning I hike too slow for nearly everyone, which in turn means I have no choice but to hike solo or stay home. I wish I had a hiking partner but I don't, so I work around it. I take precautions - a lot of them. I never sleep in a shelter - nearly all crime on the A.T. has been at shelters (and as we all know, shelters are full of field mice, but few of us seem to know that the average field mouse has 140 ticks embedded in its skin, so shelters and Lyme disease go hand in hand). I camp off trail, hidden, out of sight from someone walking by. I use a camoflauge rain fly and hammock. I never build a fire - they can be seen for miles. Before I set up camp I stop and wait, hidden, resting a bit before I set up my hammock, to see if someone or something is stalking me, a trick that saved my skin more than once in Viet Nam. I am a former combat veteran, expert with firearms, expert at picking out night defensive positions, and I have a weapon ready at all times, awake or asleep. I also set up an early warning system of trip wires tied to noise makers. Few people possess real expertise with firearms - shooting paper targets, no matter how good you are, is a far, far, far cry from combat shooting, and nearly all "pistol range heros" will hesitate when confronted with the decision of using deadly force. Such hesitation is often fatal for the person doing the hesitating. Pepper spray or a can of wasp spray (which will temporarily blind a person when sprayed in the eyes) is a far better defensive weapon than a firearm for nearly everyone. A firearm has the burdensome requirements of getting a concealed carry permit, and New York and New Jersey don't allow hand guns at all, so it is a poor choice for through hikers. There is no license required for a can of wasp spray and it will shoot 30 feet - easy-peasy. The best advice I can give to anyone is to hike with 3 or more people. There has been only one attack on a group on the A.T. - all the rest have been on solo hikers or couples. If you must hike solo, then learn how to disappear into the woods - be sneaky like a sniper.
    Last edited by Ancient Diver; 12-23-2020 at 13:40.

  9. #29
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    All great advice. And thank you for your service sir!

    That last sentence isn't a correct statement. The stabbing last year happened with 4 people there.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    All great advice. And thank you for your service sir!

    That last sentence isn't a correct statement. The stabbing last year happened with 4 people there.
    I remember having read that there was a mentally unstable individual making threats on the trail before the murder happened.It came as no huge surprise when it actually happened.The Boy Scouts have the right idea btw....

    It's my understanding the 4 people split into two groups of two and the perp attacked each separately,killing one and severely injuring the lady who escaped after playing dead.

  11. #31

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    Situational awareness. Most civilians , and ESPECIALLY women have ZERO !
    Watch them,,,, redlight ? pull your car right up to the bumper of car in front of you,
    Exiting a store ? face planted in phone blasting out door without a care in the world.
    Rounding a corner ? lets hug the wall, vs swing wide so you can see around.
    Short cut through a dark alley ? sure no problem.
    Go with your gut ? PULEASE,,, folks dont have a gut.
    Most would be way better off focusing first on training in situational awareness. Vs buying a gun, buying pepper spray, yadda yadda, training with that,, but still no situational awareness.
    All the firepower in the world wont help you if your face is planted in your Iphone.
    Case in point,,, guy walks up to you,,, "Hey you got the time" ?
    You pull out your swipe swipe or watch the guy and make sure he maintains 3 feet or you step away to maintain 3 feet ?
    Bet 99% of civilians will pull out there swipe swipe gadget.

  12. #32
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Wow, I came to respond to five Tango and seen this last response. So out of bounds on so many levels I'm not going to break down. I will say I've known some pretty skilled women that any man would have a hard time dealing with.

    Now we've been through all the would've, should've, could've.
    What i want to do is praise that young lady for surviving. After being stabbed, cut she was smart enough to play dead and survive. And then walked 6 miles barefoot in the dark no light at all ,bleeding and finds help...

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five Tango View Post
    I remember having read that there was a mentally unstable individual making threats on the trail before the murder happened.It came as no huge surprise when it actually happened.
    If you were to have believed that your risk of murder on the AT is less than 1 in a 3 million (in Bayesian terms had a “prior probability” of near zero), then it would have been somewhat reasonable for hikers discount what they were hearing and seeing first hand.

    The ATC and others do a disservice in perpetuating such nonsense.

  14. #34
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    If you were to have believed that your risk of murder on the AT is less than 1 in a 3 million (in Bayesian terms had a “prior probability” of near zero), then it would have been somewhat reasonable for hikers discount what they were hearing and seeing first hand.

    The ATC and others do a disservice in perpetuating such nonsense.
    Yes, statically speaking...
    But first hand knowledge of this individual with the weapons, violence, shovel incidence chasing people out of shelters with, trying to start fights, etc.

    Really should have and I I think it did put everyone on a higher alert!! Not enough I reckon !!

  15. #35

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    Bear Spray!

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    redacted the post
    Last edited by Five Tango; 12-24-2020 at 09:18.

  17. #37

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    I would agree the average person's situational awareness needs improvement.Also,we need to be cognizant of society's ingraining of people to "be polite and cooperate".People need to remember they are under no obligation to give anyone the time of day,change for a twenty,light for a cigarette etc, and if you encounter someone with those questions you had better not take your eyes off of them.

    However,in this situation the event started when the victims were awakened by the perp when he was outside their tent threatening to set it on fire.It was a mistake to split up but at the time everyone may have figured a good run would beat a poor stand as they had nothing with which to defend themselves.

  18. #38
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    I don't know how you women get to be old ladies with zero self awareness. And especially the way y'all drive its a wonder you make it past 40.

    And none of stand a chance with one of those swipey things!!

  19. #39
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    This --

    Quote Originally Posted by Ancient Diver View Post
    A retired FBI profiler wrote a book on what people, and women in particular, need to do to keep themselves safe from predators and serial killers. Her name is Mary Ellen O'Toole, PhD, and her book is Dangerous Instincts: Use an FBI Profiler's Tactics to Avoid Unsafe Situations. In her book she states "trust your instincts" is the worst possible advice a person can follow. She points out that if she - a person with decades of experience interviewing and dealing with the nation's "worst of the worst serial killers", with all the resources of one of the world's top crime fighting organizations, assisted by having a PhD in criminal psychology from a top university, that if SHE can not identify who is a monster and who is not, based on casual conversations and day-to-day interactions, with all of her training and experience backing her up, then it is absurd - stunningly ludicrous - for a lay person to think that they can rely on their instincts - because they can not.
    Armed with all sorts of fancy psych education and training, I spent a career in criminal justice and corrections, and I have never ceased to be surprised -- some of the "nicest" people I've ever met have done truly monsterous things.

    Even so, I guard against spending my life being suspicious of everyone and afraid of what they might do -- because it has also been my experience that "angels are everywhere."

    The world is full of danger as well as beauty; I don't want to miss out on the latter because I'm too afraid of the former.

    So it's a challenge. Just relying on "trusting your gut" is naive, and akin to "getting by on the cheap" -- you really do have to put some work into protecting yourself. Some people will want to carry a weapon, and some people will rely on physical self-defense skills, but everyone can learn good situational awareness skills. Are there courses or workshops for this? Probably. You can probably find useful tips and exercises on the internet -- but just like long-distance hiking, the basic concept may be simple, but that doesn't mean it's easy. It's a skill that takes practice and constant mindfulness.

    Sorry this turned into a ramble.
    fortis fortuna adjuvat

  20. #40
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Have you ever seen a highly skilled female crossfit or highly skilled female ufc fighter in the fight for their life? It'll give you a new appreciation for the "weaker sex" .

    Around these parts child abduction is a big problem, I guess easy access to 3 different airports, I-81 interstate i don't know but.
    I know alot of women who carry firearm they practice in the backyard and will protect themselves or family.

    A buddy of mines wife takes their granddaughters 3 of them to the Walmart and and she has been followed a couple of times, just recently someone followed her and the kids all the way out to the car ,so she lifted her shirt up so he could see she was carrying. He walked away....

    For those interested there is a few YouTube videos that I like.
    One is "Active self protection " they use video camera footage to breakdown self protection moments. They cover all bases very professionally done.


    Another is more hands on type stuff, but knowing what works it doesn't take alot of strength. It's Master Wong don't laugh this guy's legit and covers all kinds of situations. His videos receive millions of views for a reason.

    And the last one is the history Channel did a series titled the human weapon. Each week they took a different style martial arts and examined there strengths.

    But of course nothing beats going down to local self defense center and learning some stuff.

    After all every shopping center has one nowadays, usually next to the Chinese restaurant and dunken D's.

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