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  1. #101

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    I have had low level hypothermia several times and there is no way I could like a fire. One time my hands were not working and I could barely walk. It was about 3 am and the forecast low was 50F in the Sonoran desert (October) but it dipped to 32F. I was in a 24 hour bike race. I left the race to my hotel about 7 miles away when it was clear I was in trouble. It really did not take long to get into trouble. I had the most difficult time putting the card into the lock to get into my room. I got warmer clothing on, stood under the heat lamp, cranked the heater, and poured warm sweet tea down my pipe. Once I started to shiver again, I knew it was just a matter of time.

    Another instance was crossing the Continental Divide at midnight in a bike race where there was a momma grizly and her cubs at the top of the pass. It was scary but the Sheriff would not leave me until I hit 50 mph on the descent because he said they can run 45 mph. He had his gun out riding with me. I had just climbed a big pass and was very hot but not sweating despite it being 26F. He told me not to stop until I got to Dubois. By then, I was really frozen. I should have stopped and put warm clothing on but all I could think was the grizzly coming after me and then your brain gets cold and does not work good. I stopped at the Stupid 8 motel with a vacancy light on. The night guy would not give me a room (probably because I smelled and could barely talk). I just kept drinking coffee and after warning up, I explained he can call the police that I am really, really cold. Eventually after 45 minutes, he decided to let me buy a room. There is not freakin way my hands could have made a fire.

    The lesson I learned is the first shiver if you are solo? Take Action. In backcountry, I think that action is getting shelter and into my back with dry warm clothing.

  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    I've given tremendous thought to the David Decareaux tragedy in the Ozarks where he and his two sons expired from hypothermia in January 2013 on a dayhike.

    Here's a telling quote from the article---
    As the three hikers were making their way home that afternoon and evening, heavy rain set in, and when night arrived, the temperature plummeted into the 20s.

    From
    https://www.rockmnation.com/2013/2/5...he-ozark-trail


    1) Day starts out warm in 50Fs.
    2) Rainstorm hits at around 35F.
    3) Rain usually stops and temps drop drastically to 20F or 10F or 0F
    4) Temps rise in clear weather back to 50Fs.

    I've always known about this cycle but put his name to it as a sort of homage.

    The "tremendous thought" part comes in when I envision what I would do in a similar scenario with little gear (they were dayhikers). Some considerations and options:
    1) Bail out of the wind (off a ridge etc).
    2) Find a rock overhang or big blowdown.
    3) Stuff a crawlspace with bushels of dead leaves (wet leaves---doesn't matter)
    4) Crawl into leaves and place bushels of dead leaves on top of you/group to survive the night. ETC ETC
    Tippi makes me wonder how many former thru hikers got hypathermia while in proximitty of a shelter after hiking in the rain and needed help. i would say quit a few over the years.
    My love for life is quit simple .i get uo in the moring and then i go to bed at night. What I do inbween is to occupy my time. Cary Grant

  3. #103

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    Lost hiker's decision to wait for help on trail was right -- at first
    MAY 31, 2016 / 6:47 PM / CBS/AP

    PORTLAND, Maine -- An Appalachian Trail hiker who died after getting lost in the woods of Maine did the right thing by setting up camp to wait for help, officials say. But the guidance for what to do after a week without being rescued would have evolved, they said.

    Rita Hennessy from the National Park Service, which oversees the Appalachian Trail, said people who're lost are commonly advised to stop moving.

    "When you realize you're lost, and nothing looks familiar, then stop, don't panic, and stay put," said Hennessey, program manager for the national trail system.


    That's exactly what 66-year-old Geraldine Largay of Tennessee did in July 2013 when she left the Appalachian Trail to use the bathroom and became disoriented.

    She had most of the items on hikers' "10 essential" list. She had food, water, shelter, maps, a compass, several lighters, a whistle and cellphone, meaning she was equipped to survive in the woods while awaiting rescue from hundreds of searchers. Her husband also knew her hiking route.

    Lost hikers usually are found within a couple of days under such circumstances.

    In Largay's case, she was unable to communicate with her phone, and searchers missed her campsite, which was hidden in a heavily wooded area more than 3,000 feet from the trail. Her body was recovered in October. Details of her ordeal were included in documents released last week.

    Much of her harrowing ordeal was documented in a journal she kept.

    Evidence indicates Largay tried to start a fire, which would've increased her visibility, officials said. No one heard her whistle.

    Whether to stay put for a search that stretches longer than a few days depends on the hiker, said Cpl. John MacDonald, spokesman for the Maine Warden Service.

    "Each individual is going to have their own idea on survival. Some people may choose to stay in one spot. Some people may choose to charge on," he said.

    Added Hennessy: "I just wonder what goes through your head after a week of not being found. Do you still make that judgment of staying there?" she said.

    David Field, a retired University of Maine forest resources professor and officer in the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, compared advice to hikers to stay put to that given to boaters to stay with an overturned boat rather than to swim to safety.

    But, he said, it becomes a gray area if land is nearby, hypothermia is a concern or the area is too remote to be found. In Largay's case, she might've saved herself by abandoning the stay-put rule and following a nearby stream downhill to safety, Field said.

    By all accounts, Largay was well equipped and was at least average in her abilities after putting more than 800 miles under her belt over several months.

    One thing that might have saved her was a global-positioning device that she'd left behind in a motel room, the Warden Service said. While there was no cellphone signal, the GPS still would've worked, potentially firing off a message with coordinates after she became lost.

    Largay continued making entries in her journal after the search for her was scaled back. The contents were deemed personal, and the journal was released to her husband, officials said.

    They say her campsite was difficult to find even when searchers were right next to it.

    The remains of Largay's body were found two years after she disappeared, according to CBS affiiliate WGME.

    In a recent report, The Maine Warden Service released new details about her disappearance. Wardens say it appears Largay spent time trying to build a bedding area to keep her tent dry. The report also says wardens found some silver material likely from a space blanket.

    The people who help maintain the Appalachian Trail said Largay was in a dense, steep area where it's easy to get lost.

    "The trail is very well marked around there, but if you step off the trail the brush is very thick, it can be very easy to get disoriented," Doug Dolan, Maine Appalachian Trail Club, said. "Just take a step off that trail and turn around, you can't even see the trail. It just blends in with the background."

  4. #104
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    AND, to continue on, more in the spirit of the OP . . .

    What are the most common "emergencies" we should prepare for when backpacking?

    I suggest the following:
    1) Getting lost
    2) Getting cold and risking or experiencing hypothermia
    3) Getting injured to the point that one cannot self rescue

    Sure, there are lots of other "scenarios" to consider, but I suggest that these are the big three.
    Of these, the only one that carrying a stove would potentially be a critical safety issue for is #2.

    So, on the AT, how might one prepare to avoid or ameliorate #2 if it starts.
    1) A stove could certainly provide an increased safety buffer here. But what do other's of us think about the risk/reward of carrying a stove for this purpose?
    2) Prepare to build a fire. Less effective than a stove, dry cloths, and a shelter, but better than no other alternative.
    3) Make sure one brings and packs their gear in such a way that, even if they get wet and cold, they will always have dry cloths, warm insulation and a shelter readily available. Since we're backpacking, most of us have already set this part up. If we have confidence in being able to always pitch a shelter and keep our insulation dry enough, a stove becomes less critical and, if we don't want our stove for non-emergency use, we could likely leave it out of our kit to save weight and hassle with little if added risk, depending on the weather and terrain conditions we might need to be prepared to deal with.

    In my experience, stove systems can be so small and light weight that carrying them to offer an occasional warm drink or meal during shoulder-season backpacking is well worth it in most cases as I will surely be uncomfortably chilled now and again. . . come late spring through early fall, I couldn't really care less. But hey, to each their own comfort and choice of luxuries to bring.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  5. #105

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    If it was March or mid April, there is no question I would have a stove but I was talking May in GSMNP.

    WRT to Zelph's post about Geraldine Largay tragic loss of life, I had read that account a few times and could never understand. Even if one does not have a map, pick a bearing on your compass and walk. No? As long as you have water and shelter, in 5,10 25, 50 miles you will hit a road pretty much anywhere in the Continental USA (almost). I am guessing it is more like 20 miles max. Just trying to understand or learn something. I would not stay put at all unless injured.

    I often carry a Spot Gen 3 on my bicycle if doing remote and risky riding (wet, night, tired, etc.) where I could crash. I am on the fence whether one is needed for the AT, I just don't know. I have or am upgrading some of my gear towards colder temperatures after this thread, but I am going stoveless. Quilt and warm clothing will be inside waterproof bag inside a dyneema backpack, they should stay reasonably dry.

  6. #106

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    This is the terribly misunderstood danger of hypothermia, "It's May, not winter". 50 degrees is all you need to start the first stages of hypothermia, add getting wet followed by a building wind, you can get in trouble very quickly. Having been part of S/SAR operations years ago I saw some strange behaviors associated with hypothermia, one of the most strange was finding people who had removed some or all of their clothing due to hot flashes that can accompany the Stage 2 and 3 processes causing them to feel like they were burning up and they shed their clothing.

    Hypothermia is a lot like black ice. No one fully recognizes or appreciates the danger of black ice until the road freezes under them at 60 mph and the vehicle goes into an uncontrolled state. Following that exposure, those folks tend to be always looking for signs of black ice and once encountered they behave accordingly. The same is true of hypothermia, misunderstanding how it can start and how quickly it can progress by robbing one of their mental capabilities are common, as is the death it brings. It is difficult to react to hypothermia by the time it can be recognized, the only true measure of defense is preventive and preparation for it.

  7. #107

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Old_Dog View Post
    I am not sure if this belongs in cooking. I am planning NOBO start in late April/Early May from Springer. I usually only take a stove with me on the bike if I know it will be cold, wet, and remote. The few times I needed the stove, I was very happy to have it. Otherwise, I just eat on the go with whatever I can buy locally.

    I am worried it will be cold enough in the Smokies in early or mid May that I probably should bring a stove even though I don't want to. I always go as light as makes sense but also always bring one temperature layer lower than expected low temperatures. I have a feeling I won't use the stove (MSR rocket that uses isobutane and I have a light pot). I would not want to ever make a fire, but I suppose some cotton balls with vasoline or a few freetos could be used to make a fire if I was real cold. I will have a tent, R4 air mattress, Katabatic Palisaides with 2 extra oz of down, and a lightweight down anorak puffer with lightweight merino underwears. Expected average low are 43F per y research but I don't believe it, I think 30F is more realistic with potential for one night into the 20's is very possible.

    Can somebody with hiking wisdom help me make a good choice? I am very green so to speak. Am I stupid not to carry a stove at that time of year? Please be honest with me. I am not sure if my thought process is correct. Thank you.
    Is Stoveless a safety issue

    Big Old Dog has been convinced not to take a stove along for safety. The title of the thread indicates he has a concern but he was convinced by the comments to go stoveless even though he found "The few times I needed the stove, I was very happy to have it."


    All we can do is wish him well and hope his back problems don't act up when least expected

  8. #108
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    pick a bearing on your compass and walk. No?
    Geraldine "Inchworm" Largay had a terrible sense of direction, and did not know how to use a compass. This was not a major problem as long as she either (1) stayed on the trail, (2) walked with a companion who could steer her back in the right direction, or (3) had a locations beacon. Largay had left her beacon in town, and her friend departed for a few days due to a family emergency. An unfortunate combination, but Largay (apparently) figured this would not be a problem on a walk of only a few days. And she also (most likely) figured a short walk off the trail would not be a problem. After realizing she had gotten lost, Largay decided to climb up a hill in order to get cell service. If she had instead followed the stream downhill, she would have run into a service road in about half a mile.

    Just trying to understand or learn something. I would not stay put at all unless injured.
    Her climb up the steep hill may have left her either injured or too exhausted to walk out. She had alerted her husband where she was going to be hiking and when to expect her to get back to civilization, so she (correctly) assumed there would be an intense search for her while she sat in place in her well-stocked gear. In this situation, even without injury, staying put would have been the smart choice -- it allows rescuers to search an area only once, preserves your resources, and prevents further risks of injury. Sadly, she chose to stay in a heavily wooded area, made no effort to make her location visible from air search (just place rocks in an open field, in a giant 'X' is usually enough), and was unable to start a fire (again, a skill she should have learned but didn't). By the time it should have become clear that she needed to self-rescue, she was likely too exhausted to walk out.
    I've followed this case almost from day one, and my conclusion is that she made a series of mistakes in a place that can be very unforgiving of mistakes.

  9. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    AsoloBootsSuk, I think what we may be dealing with here is two very different ideas of what constitutes the type of emergency that should be prepared for...
    I'm with you, a plane is not going to crash into your campsite, you don't need to be prepared for that. I also agree that any hypothermic person's first priority would be be dry clothes, etc. Yes a warm drink and a tent would be first. I never said differently. But how likely would it be to spill fuel or have your stove not work. I think that could happen. Even as a last resort, a fire is a good option. In one of my previous posts I said "with little practice". What I legit meant to say was "with a little practice". I think that missing "a" is what took this thread off the rails. I believe anyone who goes outdoors should practice fire making. I have a ultralight fire kit, that consists of a mini bic, 3 birthday candles, some matches and Vaseline soaked cotton balls. I keep it in a small plastic tube. It's only a few ounces and it's always on my person. With that kit and a very small (1.7oz) knife, I can always get a fire going, even in a drizzle to moderate rain. It is a fun skill to practice. Anyone who is contemplating as many nights in the woods as it would take to hike this trail would be remiss to not be a confident fire builder.

    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    AsoloBootsSuk, ... Then, this is compounded by the difference between someone who has, read a lot, thought a lot, probably watched a lot about outdoor survival trying to have a meaningful a conversation with a bunch of people, several of which have spent a lot of time outdoors dealing with typical, not-so-sexy and often not so dramatic real emergencies. . .
    I know you tube videos exist and I 've heard a lot of people like a show called Alive, but I have not seen them.

  10. #110

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsoloBootsSuk View Post
    But how likely would it be to spill fuel or have your stove not work. I think that could happen.
    .
    The no-spill Starlyte Stove with integrated stainless steel pot support has the ability to hold the fuel within the absorbing material safely. If tipped over the fuel remains in the stove. The stove weighs only 30 grams, keep it inside your first aide kit for emergency use....30 grams! Have a 2 ounce capacity plastic bottle with 2 ounces of dual purpose 190 proof alcohol in it




  11. #111

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    This is the terribly misunderstood danger of hypothermia, "It's May, not winter". 50 degrees is all you need to start the first stages of hypothermia, add getting wet followed by a building wind, you can get in trouble very quickly. Having been part of S/SAR operations years ago I saw some strange behaviors associated with hypothermia, one of the most strange was finding people who had removed some or all of their clothing due to hot flashes that can accompany the Stage 2 and 3 processes causing them to feel like they were burning up and they shed their clothing.

    Hypothermia is a lot like black ice. No one fully recognizes or appreciates the danger of black ice until the road freezes under them at 60 mph and the vehicle goes into an uncontrolled state. Following that exposure, those folks tend to be always looking for signs of black ice and once encountered they behave accordingly. The same is true of hypothermia, misunderstanding how it can start and how quickly it can progress by robbing one of their mental capabilities are common, as is the death it brings. It is difficult to react to hypothermia by the time it can be recognized, the only true measure of defense is preventive and preparation for it.
    This is key. Hypothermia onset is insidious and and can kill at far higher temperatures than many people think.

    Google 'hypothermia deaths' and you get an avalanche of results for incidents in relatively 'warm' conditions.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  12. #112

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    Quote Originally Posted by zelph View Post
    The no-spill Starlyte Stove with integrated stainless steel pot support has the ability to hold the fuel within the absorbing material safely. If tipped over the fuel remains in the stove. The stove weighs only 30 grams, keep it inside your first aide kit for emergency use....30 grams! Have a 2 ounce capacity plastic bottle with 2 ounces of dual purpose 190 proof alcohol in it



    Nice, when I carry a stove, I use pure methanol that I get free at work, but you can't drink it

  13. #113

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    Quote Originally Posted by zelph View Post
    Is Stoveless a safety issue

    Big Old Dog has been convinced not to take a stove along for safety. The title of the thread indicates he has a concern but he was convinced by the comments to go stoveless even though he found "The few times I needed the stove, I was very happy to have it."


    All we can do is wish him well and hope his back problems don't act up when least expected
    Thanks for the kind wishes. So nice of you.

    What convinced me is my calculations and various opinions that allowed me to think it thru.

    The specific heat of the human body is 3.49 kJ kg-1 C-1 and water is a little higher than that. Drinking a liter of water is going to do nothing to stave off moderate hypothermia. It might raise my body temperature 0.5 F. A warm sugary drink is different, the sugar is key. Having sufficient glycogen and glucose to shiver will produce far more heat and is much more effective if preventative measures failed. Reducing energy loss to the extent that energy production exceeds it is far more vital than a hot beverage. Each source of loss has to be addressed....convective, conductive, and evaporative.

    Even when I hike in Summer, my day pack has about 2000 calories of sugary energy bars, I have goretex, a hat, usually an umbrella, another top, and always a cell phone.

  14. #114

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    Recognize the "-umbles" when worried about hypothermia: stumbling, fumbling, mumbling, etc. A titanium woodstove is a very light option, particularly if you think a fire is important. If your stove is not working, that's a bit of an issue if you don't have something edible and high in calories.

    When it's cold and wet I put up shelter and get water if possible right away so I can get into dry clothes if needed and not worry about going back out. If I am overly cold and wet and need to switch into better clothing, I find it helps to have about a half liter of water or so to get an appetizer or quick meal started. In general this is helpful to me actually but YMMV. I'd eat tomorrow's snacks if necessary but thinking about your water supply is also important, whether your food needs to be cooked or soaked. Many of us know this but new to the AT hikers may not that water at a shelter or campsite might be upwards of a 1/4 mile away and downhill for instance. Cruising in empty might make for a crunchy dinner!
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  15. #115

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    Good point about also having enough water for dinner/breakfast and staying hydrated. This is always an important end-of-day consideration, and depending upon availability enroute it's frequently lots easier to collect during the last mile or 2 of hiking than at camp.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  16. #116

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsoloBootsSuk View Post
    Nice, when I carry a stove, I use pure methanol that I get free at work, but you can't drink it
    Methanol is better anyway... burns clean. But it has about 25% fewer BTUs per unit than ethanol. (57k vs 76k BTU/gallon)

    So it's nice to have a very efficient stove setup.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  17. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    Good point about also having enough water for dinner/breakfast and staying hydrated. This is always an important end-of-day consideration . . .
    I was about to suggest that we can avoid the majority of our evening water collection concerns by eating dinner early and near a water source, then hiking further before making camp, then getting up and hiking for a bit before stopping for breakfast, maybe near another water source.

    Then I thought about crappy weather or winter camping and realized that, especially in winter with shorter daylight hours, it's really nice to hike in the light and keep moving while your warm even after sunset. Then, making dinner and breakfast from the comfort of camp during the long nights allows me to keep moving during daylight.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  18. #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    Methanol is better anyway... burns clean. But it has about 25% fewer BTUs per unit than ethanol. (57k vs 76k BTU/gallon) . . .
    Wow. Thanks for that. I never thought to consider it outside of alcohols' lower energy density than other hydrocarbon fuels we use.

    Clean burning, hell, lighter weight and drinkable. I'm going ethanol all the way.
    That will save me enough weight I don't have to drill out my 1/2 toothbrush like I do when I carry methanol.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  19. #119

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    I was about to suggest that we can avoid the majority of our evening water collection concerns by eating dinner early and near a water source, then hiking further before making camp, then getting up and hiking for a bit before stopping for breakfast, maybe near another water source.

    Then I thought about crappy weather or winter camping and realized that, especially in winter with shorter daylight hours, it's really nice to hike in the light and keep moving while your warm even after sunset. Then, making dinner and breakfast from the comfort of camp during the long nights allows me to keep moving during daylight.
    In serious bear country that is not a bad idea anyway.

    On 2 recent winter trips (one 1-night and one 2-night) I used the strategy of carrying a single 20oz water bottle and obtaining water by melting snow. There was occasionally some running water and I did collect 1 container full on one of the days (fairly tough snowshoeing, averaging about 1 mph). I had a very efficient snow melting system and could have easily fired it up and melted a quart in a few minutes if necessary. In the evening, I left the pot full of water and buried it in the snow, so it was still liquid in the morning and ready to go pronto.

    If trail conditions are not too tough and weather isn't terribly hot, I can hike 10 miles easily consuming 20oz water. In the winter it's even easier because I am very conscious of overheating and ventilate with zippers or remove layers promptly to prevent it. Of course this is also key to reducing hypothermia from wet clothing layers.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  20. #120

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    Low blood sugar can cut metabolic energy production (shivering) by 50%. Having ready to eat, easy to digest sugars is essential.

    OTOH, a study or two that I have read indicated that drinking a 125F beverage when shivering halted the muscle contractions (shivering) for around 10-20 minutes, ostensibly due to thermoreceptors in your gut responding to the temperature of the fluid. If the fluid is cold, you shiver more but if it is warm, you stop shivering. Consuming a quart of warm water is going to raise one's body temperature by half a degree at most. This is basic thermo. A stove is not going to save a solo hiker, although it certainly will add comfort in camp to those not adapted to the cold.

    Collectively, the findings from the present study demonstrate that the previously identified visceral thermoreceptors, which modify heat‐defence thermoeffector responses (i.e. sweating), similarly alter cold‐defence thermoeffector responses (i.e. shivering). Specifically, compared to fluid ingestion at 37C, fluid ingestion at 7 and 22C independently increased shivering, whereas fluid ingestion at 52C independently decreased shivering because both M and EMG were different between trials without any measured differences in Tre, Tsk or Tb at any point, therefore supporting the concept of visceral thermoreceptors independently modifying thermoeffector responses in humans.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5489010/

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