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Thread: Scariest Moment

  1. #1
    GO ILLINI! illininagel's Avatar
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    Default Scariest Moment

    For those that have thru-hiked, what was your scariest moment on the trail? Just curious...(was it related to weather, wild animals, a "bad ride," low on food, etc.)

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    My scariest moment while hiking the AT was along the BRP. I encountered wild dogs, 3, and ended up smacking one as hard as I could with a trekking pole. That was probably the worst experience I had...in about 3000 miles of hiking. I have never felt threatened by another person along the AT.

  3. #3

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    My top three, all from my hike this year:

    3. I spent an early July night on the little observation tower on Old Speck Mtn. in SW Maine. The winds were stiff at 25-30mph when I got there but I figured they'd die down overnight as a front moved further east. I was wrong and the winds only stiffened. By sunrise, they were upwards of 40mph. This tower had no support ties and it was swaying quite liberally all night. My cooking pot, stove, and fuel, which I had jammed into a corner of the tower with railing downwind blew off. I figured the tower would stay up since it has to have seen years of abusive winter storms, but I was scared the whole night I might loose some other gear. I was too cold to leave my bag though--the temps had dropped into the high 30s, so I stayed put.

    2. I was fleeing a snowstorm and trying to hitch on 19E near the Tenn-NC border. This is the notorious area where Tennessee locals aren't too fond of the Trail and hikers. A little pickup with rear-wheel-drive went flying by us uphill on the icy road apparently trying to pelt us with slush from the plow banks. The driver slammed his brakes and spun out not far from us only to rev his engine and spin out twice more. He then came back towards us and spun around again and tried once more to gun it up the hill. He couldn't make it so he retreated back downhill into Tennessee and I made sure as he passed I was near the guardrail and ready to jump it in case of a close call.

    1. The owner of a place where I was staying was driving me and another hiker to a market and he decided to drive his truck accross an earthen dam on his property. The dam had high embankments (about 40 feet on the right side) and several weeks of continuous rain had the ground there pretty soft. This guy's dog was running next to his truck and he over-steered to avoid hitting the dog. The truck tipped up on its right wheels and began to roll right. The guy pushed the emergency brake in time and the wheels dug enough into the soft ground to stop but I was the last to climb up and out the left side and I was envisioning the TV show scenes where a car is teetering on the edge of a mountain road guard rail. The truck's left wheels were both off the ground. (The scariest places aren't always on the Trail and often involve vehicles!)

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    Registered User mongo's Avatar
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    You are not wrong about vechiles. My scarist moment (and the most funniest) was when I hitched from the Outdoor Centre into Byrson City. It took me about 2 hours to get to Bryson City and it was about 95 degrees. I was the only person walking the streets of the town. Anyway I walked up the hill to the local main higway. As I walked along the road with my thumb stuck out a truck drives past with some local good ol boys in it (I mean boys as I doubt they were old enough to have pubes yet). One thows an empty coke can at me as they drive past and shouts "get back in the zoo"!
    Hmmmm anyway I arrive at the on ramp to the highway and start hitching back to the outdoor centre. After an hour and half this battered looking volvo picks me up. As I get in the guy says "Do ya wanna beer". I say thank you but it not my policy to drink before 2 in the afternoon. He then says "There is beer in that cooler, but I don't drink beer myself I drink this vodka and milk itis better for my stomach

    Then I notice that thhe car is using 2 of the three lanes to drive on! Lets just say I couldn't arrive at th outdoorcentre soon enough. We almpost crashed into 3 parked cars as we arrived.

    Once I was out of the car and stopped shaking I saw the funny side. Crazy crazy americans I said to myself!

    mongo

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    Registered User B Thrash's Avatar
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    Default Scarist Moment

    Crossing Roan in Hurricane Opal in 1996. One step forward and about three steps backwad. Apple House Shelter was just like home that night.
    Rigormortis

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    Great thread!

    manzana

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    Probably the scariest time for me was the night I spent in my first real storm. Now, I would sleep deeply through it. Then, I was terrified of the high winds, driving rain, and cold temps. Something about the tent poles being moved around so much.

    The scariest time for me when I was in actual danger was last summer, when I fell part way into a crevasse (a crack in the glacier) in northern BC. I was into my armpits, with my legs hanging in open space. I was on a rope, and then other two people were fully arrested. I got out on my own, but tore some rib cartlige in the process.

    My scariest moment on the AT? Somewhere around Big Bald, when my shin splints were hurting to the point of my considering getting off the trail.

  8. #8

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    I was feeling ill walking into Gorham with my wife and just having one of those tough hiking days. It was raining and the rocks were really slick. My wife was walking in front of me descending on flat slabs of rock. There was little to hold onto for stability and trekking poles wouldn't even stick to these flat rocks. I watched my wife slip and slide down the rock face for about 20'. Even though it all happened in less than five seconds, my mind was moving in slow motion calculating all the terrible possibilities of what may happen. She skidded to a halt just before she reached a drop that could have seriously injured her. Got away with only a badly cut knee. Considering what was flashing through my mind, it all turned out OK.

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    I just kept hiking. It took about a week for them to go away. Luckily, one shin hurt, then was starting to get better when the second one kicked in. If both had seriously flamed up at the same time, I would have been in trouble. I didn't get shin splints this summer, despite putting in a lot more miles. Better shoes, better conditionning.

  10. #10

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    In no particular order:

    1. Going down the mean(est) side of Mt. Moosilauke in the aftermath of hurricane Floyd in 1999. It had rained non-stop for the previous 24 hours, and every pore in the hillside was hemorraging water. If you know the Beaver Brook portion of the trail, you know this is not a good thing...

    2. Getting an unsolicited ride in Erwin - which I accepted against all logic and despite screaming warning bells going off in my head - from a fellow who was less than the ideal driver. First it was the slurred words...then the admission that he shouldn't be driving considering he was on "pershrimption drugs." Would you believe that I paid $2 for this ride?
    "I too am not a bit untamed, I too am untranslatable,
    I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world." - W. W.

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  11. #11
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    Default Scariest Moments

    I had 3 scary moments (well actually more than moments) on this years thru. First was a hypothermic episode hiking north out of Kinsman Notch. I had upchucked breakfast and was feeling kinda queezy but hiked anyway. I got some pretty severe abdominal cramps and sat down to rest. I was covered with sweat and within minutes I fell into hypothermia. As a former paramedic I knew what was happening but it came on so fast that I couldn't react in time. Fortunately for me there were some other hikers close who got me out of my wet clothes and into my sleeping bag. After about an hour I was able to hike on under my own power. Second was when I took a big fall on some wet rocks up in NY. One minute I was hiking along and the next I was laying flat on my ass with my arm pinned between a tree and a rock. I cut my arm up pretty bad but luckily there were no broken bones. Lesson learned ...slow down on wet rocks, no matter how good you are on your feet and what kind of shoes/boots you are wearing. Third and final most scary moment was a surprize confrontation with a huge timber rattler in PA. Most snake encounters are "surprize" ones but when you start to get close they start to shake that rattle and you have time to react. This one involved a rattler that was coiled under a bush right along side the trail. That section of the trail was pretty badly grown over. By the time I brushed against the bushes I was practically on top of the snake and if it had decided to strike I would have been an unhappy hiker.
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

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    Default A wrong step...

    This past summer, in Harriman Park, maybe 33 miles from Manhattan, I came inches away from stepping on the biggest, fattest timber rattle I've ever seen in my life.

    Neither of us, as I recall, was particularly happy about this.

    For those of you interested in such things, be advised that these creatures are not known as "crotalus horridus horridus" for nothing! Stepping on them is generally to be avoided.

    In any case, a certain degree of caution is now in order when I hike in Harriman or near Bear Mountain; up til this July, I'd thought the scariest thing in New York State was their junior Senator.

    I was evidently mistaken.

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    Last edited by rickb; 10-25-2003 at 07:42.

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    A few days before Trail Days in 1996 a convict escaped from a prison 30 miles south of Damascus. I got within 75 yards of him on the AT. A sheriffs deputy trained his assault rifle on me and charged me. I was ordered to get the F&%$ down and roll over to get a closer look at the rifle barrel that was pointed at my head. I was escorted off the the trail by a deputy, who couldn't stop laughing. He also explained how close to death I just came. I was in Damascus within two hours. You got to love a good ending.....
    Doppler

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    Default good thread

    I had two:

    One was hitching back to the trail from Hiawassee. My friend and I were picked up by this guy who was an energency worker i.e. someone who made housecalls like an informal EMT i suppose. He was swerving all over the road and almost killed us numerous times. He had a radio for his work and would curse at it a couple times a minute. He said "I ain't gone kill yew guys today, don't worrry!" which wasn't reassuring at all. When he dropped us at the trailhead he told us Deliverance had been filmed at the top of the hill and told us to have a good hike.

    The second was hiking over Mt. Moriah in a freezing downpour with 50 mph winds. The rocks are all exposed and I was getting pushed by the wind. The rocks were incredibly slick. My pack cover got sent off a cliff and I almost followed trying to save it. I was soaked to the bone and starting to shiver. I felt so alone and almost just gave myself to the mountain. I hiked down to Gorham slipping with a face plant in the mud. I stood at US2 for close to 45 minutes shivering while no one picked me up. Finally got a ride from, ironically enough an AMC worker....proof that they do help thru-hikers, maybe just in different ways.

  16. #16

    Default Stupid is as stupid does

    Okay, it's like this...

    I was out on a section from Newfound Gap to Davenport Gap in August. Rain, fog etc. Totally soaked, huge blisters etc. Day two my glasses fall apart, so I bail out down Snake Den Ridge Trail. I throw my tent down in an RV campground in Cosby, just on the edge of the park.

    "What the hell," says I, "I'm in a right civilized camprgound, with showers and everything. No need to bear bag."

    So I toss my food bag down like three feet from my tent (the stupidity of this will become obvious in a moment). I'm tired, hungry and hurting so I decide to crash.

    'long 'bout 1 AM I awake to chuffing and snorting, REAL close. I'm paralyzed. Eventually I work up the nerve to turn on my headlamp, except you can't see squat though noseeum netting with a headlamp. D**n. I lay there for a minute, and decide to get out before I become a nylon burrito. I look around, and the lamp falls on a pair of eyes maybe thirty yards away looking right at me and moving my way. Uh oh. This has got BAAAAD written allover it.

    Long story short the toy poodle or whatever in the Winnebago next door starts barking and the bear trots off into the woods. Lesson learned...
    In training for the Chappaquiddick Triathlon "Drink - Drive - Swim"

  17. #17

    Default kidnapped in paradise

    in 84 my then fiance and i were hiking thru the jungle to sacred falls on the north shore of oahu when we were stopped, robbed, tied up and beat up by three ne'er do well locals who hated hauliis (whites)

  18. #18

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    Scary Moment on my first attempt thru hike up to 523 miles

    1) black dog! I thought black bear on the trail until I saw a fast wagging tail, relieved cuz no bears have a long tail lol

    2) snakes. jumped up on the side of the trail, and my got my attention and I jumped ahead. It was black rat snake.

    3) thought I lost the head lamp and it was getting dark, but my mind pop up and next time I will have to remember where I put them.. I found the lamp in my coat pocket instead of inside the pack. Indeed, I prayed so hard for this and say why me why me.

    that all for the 523 miles... see ya guys again next year!

    Flash Hand

  19. #19
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    Default Getting a trail name

    Let me set the scene:

    There I was, there I was, there I was-in the Smokies:

    I had spent most of the afternoon at Fontana Village and set out late to do
    the 5 miles or so to the first campsite.

    The trail curved around a knoll to my left about .1-.2 miles from Birch Spring campsite for those of you in the know. It was about 7:50 or so-I had 40 minutes of daylight left.

    As I turned the curve, I see a bear down the trail, just moseying around
    looking for food. The bear does not see me. I back down the trail, wait 15
    minutes, and proceed ahead, only to see that the bear has not left and is in
    fact moving down the trail toward me.

    So I decide to go down the hill to my left, cut over to the knoll,
    ascend the knoll, and get behind the bear and get to the campsite. Well, the
    bear hears me go down the hill and decides to come and investigate.

    Following proper technique, I turn and face the bear while slowly backing
    away. The bear continues to come toward me. When the bear gets to within 10 yards of me or so, I stop backing away and start shouting. I gave out Tarzan yells, spoke gibberish, barked like a dog, and chanted ďGo Away Bear, Go Away Bear.Ē

    This worked in preventing the bear from coming any closer, but the bear did
    not back away. After a 15 minute standoff, I finally backed away, still
    facing the bear, and the bear let me go. I backed down the trail for a
    while. In the meantime it had gotten dark and after I judged I was far
    enough away from the bear, I got out my headlamp and put it on.

    But the trail to the campsite was blocked, and the previous shelter was back
    at the entrance to the Great Smokey National Park at Fontana Dam-5 miles
    away. My only choice was the fire tower, on a side trail about 1.5 miles
    back. In the dark, with a possible man eating bear behind me and/or in front
    of me. This was actually more nerve-wracking than the actual confrontation, where once I started shouting, the adrenaline took over.

    I go to the fire tower and then have to decide whether to camp under the
    tower or go up and sleep in the enclosed cabin on top of the tower. I
    decide to go up the tower-it was a crystal clear night, so I was not worried
    about lightning.

    Up in the tower I have some cheese, a bar of some sort, and momís homemade oatmeal-cranberry cookies (Mmmm Mmmm Good). I am out of water, so I canít have a hot meal. Plus I am on an adrenaline high. So I only get a few hours of fitful sleep in the tower, wondering if every sound I hear is a bear, and thinking that maybe the bear escaped from the circus, where he learned how to climb stairs.

    I wake the next morning with the dawn, pack up my stuff, and go down to the trail. At least until I get halfway down the stair and realize that there is
    a bear moseying around the trail from the tower to the main App. Trail. The
    bear does not see me, but I decide to wait for it to leave. That takes an
    hour.

    I still have to walk 1.5 miles to get some water. I put in an 11 mile day,
    but it was a tough 11 as I was exhausted after coming down from my
    adventures the previous night and not getting enough sleep.

    Thus I became Bear Magnet.

    Aside from this confrontation, though, none of the other 11 bears I saw during my trip caused me any difficulty.

    Whenever non-hikers bring up the dangers of the trail, I always say I was more concerned with slipping and falling in the rain far from a road than I was from bears, snakes, or people. Having a bear come down a hill after you is makes one nervous, but most of the time they just run away.

    Bear Magnet
    Jonathan Amato

  20. #20
    American Idiot
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    Maybe the bear was just looking for a friend. You should've gone up and pet him. It must get awful lonely out there with nobody to hang around with. Alll the passerbys just run away and yell at him whenever he approaches. These are just lonely times for the bears...
    How many more of our soldiers must die in Iraq?

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