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  1. #1

    Default Hiking in the Rain

    I have a real problem hiking in the rocks when they are wet from the rain. You see... I have a nasty habit of sliding on some of those things and the impact on my old body isn't faring too well. Is there a right way or a wrong way to hike on rocks when they're wet? What about, if I remove the rubber tip from my hiking stick to reveal the pointed metal point that is permanently in place? Would this help the situation or would I probably end up stabbing myself in the foot? LOL

    Mother Natures Son

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    get rid of the sticks. seriously.

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    Registered User Mr. Clean's Avatar
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    I know Wolf does better without poles, but they seem to help me, especially in a slipping situation. But, I'd look into shoes with stickier/softer rubber. Even so, a wet slab of granite in the rain is always a bit scary.
    Greg P.

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    First of all. I love hiking in the rain.

    Secondly, never trust a wet rock. Avoid rocks when they are wet. If that is not possible then just assume you will slip. Either have your hands ready, or go down on all fours and get it over with.

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    I wonder if there is a case to be made for a single long staff. It might have the advantage of having a larger radius of gyration, and being able to be used two-handed. Also has a rich tradition, and might be a good way to make lifelong friends in places like Sherwood Forest.

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    The poles have saved me enough times that I am a fan. I use the carbide tip always, and they do seem to grip rocks to a certain degree. I also slow way down as an added measure.

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    I would not abandon the poles rain or no rain. On rocks, I shorten my stride and make sure I don't overextend myself by striding too much. I also ensure that my weight is transferring on a foot that is firmly planted versus the heal of my foot or the side of my foot.

    Essentially you want to have downward force on your feet when you are climbing on rocks or side stepping on rocks. You'll have some good traction on wet rocks, but it really comes down to weight distribution and force vectors (physics).

    Hope this makes sense.
    Peace Be With You

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    I would guess that if I used poles I would learn how to fall with them, just as I have with cross country ski poles. I would thing the primary effect on slippery rocks would be that they would give you something to swing for maintaining balance, which is a big part of it, in response to little microslips and so forth. Also better feel of the ground to begin with so you might better judge distances and anticipate microslips and major slips and stumbles. Finally some initial resistance in the case of a major slip or stumble, but only so much before your reflexes resort to plan B, in which case I would like to be able to drop them quickly if I could to land with empty open palms, or perhaps empty open gloved palms. Where I hike is mostly in trees though, so I don't use hiking sticks or a hiking staff. There are times I wish I wore gloves though, like when I stab my palm with the stub of a spruce branch.

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    I think the rubber feet on my poles seem to grip the best on rock. They have saved me from busting my ass so many times.

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    I could see them being really handy on gentle down slopes when there might be ice covered with some fresh snow, especially after your legs have already taken the sort of beating it gets on down grades, and slippery conditions. Very tiring and painful to remain on guard all the time, and very painful and potentially dangerous if you don't. I've grabbed a stick before, if only a poking and proding stick, but its not always possible to find the right stick. I can see the advantage of getting used to a particular stick, or sticks. I am still somewhat biased towards cross country ski poles because I'm used to them, but mostly when hiking I rely on trees if anything. Trees don't help so much on the gentle downgrades though as they seem less likely to be there when you need them, and you seem to fall more suddenly, and farther to fall, assuming you fall backwards. I think I would like to try a long staff also, to see what its like. Might take getting used to, but might come in handy, and it might be something that grows on you.

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    Get rid of the sticks. I use hiking poles, but when I'm on rocks, I put them up and find I have much better balance and are more surefooted without using them. They'll mess me up on the rocks every time. I start depending on the sticks, and I lose my natural sense of balance. I hiked in Central Virginia this summer, just south of Catawba there are some very long rock fields. I ended up going without poles for hours at a time.

    I thought of you, Lone Wolf, while I was out there and contemplated getting rid of them, but I really like the way it puts me in a good stride. Reminds me of skiing in Michigan.
    "It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America." - Daniel Boone

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    I've never done long rock fields, except along the sea shore. Crazy enough when dry, and impossible when wet even on hands and knees. Probably more slimy than up in the mountains, being on the sea and all. Still I would guess even up in the mountains there is life on rocks, and life is slippery when wet.

    I did do a little rocky section up on Mount Carleton in New Brunswick. It was dry, and its really a sad excuse for being a tallest mountain, but it was tricky enough for me and the girls I go out with. I doubt that poles would have helped much, though everything is better with practice, and caution.

  13. #13

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    Slow down, it works

  14. #14

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    Walking on wet rocks with a heavy pack is like playing the piano, you gotta have good aim and know which keys to hit. It's all about angle and foot placement with each step a possible controlled skid. Not all wet rocks though are slick, it all depends on surface conditions. The secret for me is to find that small square inch under my boot with the rock that is angled to support my full weight without sliding. It's a matter of concentration.

    One time I was coming down the trail and saw what I thought was an ice covered rock but it was an ice covered piece of wood and I fell like a sac of feed. Tore up my palm and wrist. Wood is slick!

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    I slow down. Shorten stride. Walk more flat footed.

    If the rocks are not smooth, look for nubbles, cracks and ridges, for gription.

    Unless its slate.

    Some footwear is slippery, and will burn in a brushpile.

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    I agree with all that's been said! LOL

    In other words, you have to figure out what works for you and to "hike your own hike."

    Having said that, I'm reminded of the "no rain, no pain, no Maine" adage. One might add "no falls." You WILL fall. Ever read Bill Irwin's book? The blind hiker who fell thousands of times. Falling is an unavoidable part of hiking.

    I use hiking poles; they really help my side-to-side balance on rocks. I tried the rubber tips, but for me they were awful (way too slippery on all surfaces).

    Try to fall by sitting down. Have been THERE many, many times. LOL

    Finally, if you keep slipping excessively on wet rocks... try a different kind of sole, be all means.

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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by JAK View Post
    I wonder if there is a case to be made for a single long staff. It might have the advantage of having a larger radius of gyration, and being able to be used two-handed. Also has a rich tradition, and might be a good way to make lifelong friends in places like Sherwood Forest.
    Great advicew here. on slippery surfaces, you always want to shorten your stride to keep your weight over your feet. The further your feet get from your center of gravity, the steeper the angle of force to the surface and the greater the chance of deflection from that surface rather than grounding to it. So shorten your steps up and you'll be more secure.

    I'm a big fan of poles or a hiking staff under those conditions...more feet are better. BUT you need to be aware of where you are putting them as well. Stick that tip down into a hole and it'll get stuck when you try to pull it out and it'll spin you around break or bend.

    Also, more slippery than any rock when wet are wooden logs, roots and water bars. They get a thin slime of moss, algae, mold or whatever on them that just makes them a pure hazard. Wooden puncheons crossing bogs and swamps and brooks can also be very slippery.
    Andrew "Iceman" Priestley
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  18. #18

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    Stay off if possible, sticky soles are always nice.

    I'd ditch the sticks, but thats because I know they'd throw me off in that situation. A long staff on the other hand, I could see how that might help (longer, better leverage, broader tip)

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    poles/sticks/staffs are great when fording the Kennebec. big slippery rocks there

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    Default Hiking in the Rain

    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Jay View Post
    Slow down, it works
    What he said.
    I was just hiking on the northern part of the Long Trail in Vermont where the roots and rocks are killers when they are wet. Forget about mileage....hike safe.

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