Is there any hike or trek you went on which you would rather forget. Any bad experiences?
I don't have a story, but this reminds me of a guy I read about who borrowed a dry suit meant for scuba divers so he could wade up a river in the middle of winter to get one shot...
On a freezing upstate New York winter's day, I fell through the ice while exploring the old Erie Canal between Rome and Oriskany. The marsh was only about three feet deep, but it still scared the crap out of me. I was just about frozen solid by the time I made it back to my car.
Quite a few. One of the more 'memorable' ones was a disastrous camp at Styhead tarn between Xmas and New year in the mid 80s. The rain came down.......and down. At midnight, I was woken by my mate Steve with the words 'we've got 5 minutes to get out of here!'. The stream feeding the tarn had burst its banks and was flooding our campsite. The bottom of the tent was like a waterbed and the current had forced my boots, rucksack, stove etc up against the outer wall of the tent. We got out OK after unceremoniously shoving everything in our sacks in record time. That meant spending the rest of the night on the fellside in total (and I mean total) darkness in the howling, freezing wind and rain. Anyway, to cut a really long and drawn out epic to a close, we survived the night, shivering our balls off crouched behind a rock. Great times..great times.
I have been lucky over the years as I've never suffered any injuries or got lost while hiking but I once had a scary moment at high altitude.
While traveling in Bolivia with a friend of mine in 2004, we were staying in La Paz (almost 12,000 ft) and decided to hire a taxi to take us out of the city and up to an area called Chacaltaya (around 17,500 ft) so we could hike around for an hour or two. The taxi was very cheap and the driver didn't mind waiting as long as we wanted.
The landscape was lovely so we set off from where the driver parked, which was at the worlds highest ski resort if memory serves me correctly, although it had only one drag lift. We started by walking up beside the lift and after a short while the track leveled out. When we started to climb another hill, I began to feel a bit tired. My friend was fine and carried on ahead. Soon I found that I could only take a few steps before having to stop each time for air, I was simply drained of energy. By now my friend was well ahead so I just turned back and made my way back to the car, which was slow going.
I got back to the car and sat there in a bit of a daze. I couldn't contact my friend but was happy to sit and wait till he returned as I was starting to feel better.
Even though I knew that altitude sickness can affect you regardless of your fitness level, I found it a bit frustrating as I was very fit at the time but my friend would not have been as active as me and was also a smoker, yet he experienced no problems. We had been between 10,000 and 12,000 for a week before this and felt fine.
Whether it was some sort of altitude sickness I experienced or not I don't know, but it did scare me a little as I've never experiences anything like it before.
I think the only bad experience I've ever had while hiking was a backpacking course I took as an elective while in college. We spent a weekend in the Pisgah Nat'l Forest. I was the only photographer on the trip, and everybody kept asking me why I was wasting my film on the trees, rocks, etc... On the last day, we got seriously rained on, so I was hiking out with my Nikon shoved between my rain jacket and my clothes. I could take photos without doing more than unzipping the jacket a few inches. However, five miles in a torrential downpour wasn't a lot of fun!
Pretty much all my jaunts in high places have been enjoyable except for my latest walk. Me and my son took a walk up Pike o' Blisco a couple of Fridays ago. A couple of days prior to this, I'd been seen in the orthopedic dept on account of my right knee which has a tendency to lock in certain positions (fnarr fnarr!!). Anyway, this nice lady prescribed me a pair of silicon heel cups to be used in my boots and shoes (where else!). Scroll forward to our walk. Going up was fine, if a little unusual, with these heel-cup thingies in my boots. Coming down however, was a total nightmare. It's not an overly big walk to the top of Pike o' Blisco and neither is the descent but, by the time I was halfway down my knees were starting to buckle and I was really struggling. You avid mountaineers/fellwalkers will know what I mean when I say my legs were quivering with fatigue! The final 400 yard walk along the road to the car was a nightmare, and I walked along looking as if I'd shat myself. I'm a-thinkin' that those heel-cups were responsible in some way. Please, please don't let it be a sign of things to come!
The only time I really get into trouble while hiking is when I'm alone. It was late October and a couple weeks earlier I had found a rather fun trail but didn't have the time to go as far as I liked. So I waited and watched the weather for the area and one weekend the forecast was great so I headed out, alone, right after work. I made sure to pack light, only took one camera, no tripod, left the sleeping bag and took a liner instead, small camping stove and some freeze-dried gook. Well, it was wonderful weather when I got to the trailhead and I plunged right into the hike, the plan was to push on to a clear area to camp and then take the whole next day to reach my destination and take pictures and come back the morning after. Long after dark I reached my site, set up the little solo tent, and made some truely horrible backing food - if it hadn't been as cold or the food so hot I don't think I could have eaten it. As I lay in my tent, inside the fleece liner, I began to become aware that it was quite colder than forecast. Soon out came the emergency "space blanket", that abonimable tin-foil rag. To my chagrin it didn't help at all. After hours of denying the onset of hypothermia, I finally managed to get up and pack my things. Down the trail was fast and I warmed up considerably. When I reached my car I found it encased in ice, I actually had to chip it off to open the door, ...so much for the weatherman. And that was it, drove home and had a nice hot shower and not a single picture to show for it.
The most "memorable hike." Probably one about 5 years ago in August when we hiked about Mount Saint Helens in Southern Washington. We did fully complete the trek, but it was done in the rain. All five days of it. At one point, we did hike up to Loowit Falls, and we could hear the falls very clearly. The trail did not go all the way to the falls. At one point, for just a few seconds, the clouds did thin just a bit to the point where a shadowy outline of the falls seemed to be there.
The one really good thing that came out of this was the tent. That spring I had purchased one of the REI Half Dome tents. When we got home after those 5 days and 4 nights, I had to dry the footprint and the fly of the tent. The body of the tent, and its contents, had stayed dry.
Photographs? Not really. When everything was just shades of gray and very low contrast in the fog and clouds, it did not seem to be worthwhile. The brightest things out there were our rain jackets and pack covers.
Ralph, Latte Land, Washington