strangers on the trail?

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Re: strangers on the trail?

Post by Strider » Tue Mar 31, 2009 10:03 am

Hetchy wrote: A Tree Branch (Think: Gandolf's staff!) for a Hiking stick leaning on the log next to him. How he made it there in so short a time is still a mystery.
:unibrow: He was probably carried by Ents.


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Re: strangers on the trail?

Post by giantbrookie » Tue Mar 31, 2009 1:09 pm

Great idea for a thread. I don't think I can equal any of these. In July 1996, my wife and I were descending the Shepherd Pass trail just below Anvil Camp when we overtook this fellow carrying a .22. He was a jovial enough fellow and we got to talking. It turned out that this guy positively hated marmots. He did like eating them, however. He apparently liked to pack into the Anvil Camp area, then go shoot marmots, which he would use as in the main ingredient in what he claimed to be delicious marmot stew. Seemed to be a rather tough hike to do just to shoot and eat a few marmots.

Another totally different set of characters were two guys dressed in fatigues and sporting handguns at the outlet Big Bear Lake in the Trinity Alps Wilderness in May 1984. My girlfriend at the time and I didn't much like the look of these two, whom we initially took for some weird survivalist guys. Still, the question they posed to us when we saw them (on our arrival at Big Bear) did not sound like a survivalist type of question "have you seen any bears"? In any case my girlfriend and I, perhaps with a bit of Deliverance creeping into our heads, headed off trail to the inlet side of Big Bear to get as far away as possible, a hike that involved some serious bushwhacking and a high risk crossing of a very steep snowslope (slip and die). In the evening, as if to add to our discomfort, we heard a few gunshots. In the meantime, we found that the concentration of bear scat in the vicinity of our camp at the inlet end was as high as cow flaps in a cow pasture. Yet, we never actually saw a bear. Two days later, it was time for us to leave. We were so spooked out by the two guys at the inlet, we did an absolutely hellacious bushwhack around the other side of the lake, a trek designed to get us hooked up to the trail downstream of the inlet and to bypass the camp of the two guys. The route was a big pain, but we succeeded in bypassing their camp. What we didn't know is that they were headed out, too, and to our dismay we soon overtook them on the trail. The first thing they asked was "did you see any bears"? At that point it began to sink in. With a bit longer conversation we found out that these guys were from New York and this was their first California backpack trip. The name "Big Bear" had apparently scared the daylights out of them, hence they had brought there sidearms to "protect" themselves against the bears (of course, more accurately this meant give them a bit more peace of mind). The unanswered question is why, out of the hundreds or thousands of possible backcountry destinations, did these two fellows decide to hike to a place that had a name that scared them stiff?

Other odd character encounters involve trail hikers who seemed to have a competitive streak that got in the way of good judgment or manners. The first came when my wife and I were descending the Pine Creek trail. We overtook these two guys just below the lower lake. The second guy, who was huffing and puffing, quickly pulled to the side of the trail to let us pass. The guy in the lead accelerated but was still vastly slower than us and continued to impede us, switchback after switchback after he left his buddy far in his wake. The trail in that section was too narrow for my wife and I to do the turbo pass and go around the fellow who was annoying us in the manner of a big Winnebago who passes turnout after turnout without pulling out. My wife and didn't want to outright say "excuse me" or "move your fat arse", so we simply carried on a loud conversation and coughed a few times, since it seemed as if the fellow didn't realize we were stuck behind him. After a bunch of switchbacks it became abundantly apparent that the fellow knew we were there, but his competitive nature wouldn't let him yield the trail. He had probably put a mile between him and his buddy when my wife and I exploited a place where we could sprint sidehill above the trail and pass him. After passing him, we noticed that he immediately stopped to wait for his buddy. Somehow that hike out was fated to be "stuck in traffic". Not long after we found ourselves stuck behind a packtrain in the brushtunnel toward the end of the trail. My wife who was really gunning it started "tailgating" the last mule. I called out to her "I wouldn't trail that closely if I were you". No sooner did I say that then the mule, as if on cue, dropped a load. Judy backed well off after that.

I had another memorable encounter (2003) with a really large party that consisted of students from Univ. North Carolina on a multiweek backpack. My two death march buddies were on day 7 of an 8 day trip which had taken us over Pants Pass into all the nooks and crannies beyond (Pickett Creek, Kaweah Basin, Red Spur, etc.) and returned via Kaweah Pass, and we had been rained on 7 of 7 days. This annoyed us veteran Sierra hikers to no end (the 24-7 thunderstorms had thwarted at least 3 peak bagging attempts, among other things) and we had groused about it constantly. Then we met this cheery group of students. They had been in the backcountry for something like 3 weeks (long distance on the JMT followed by westward cutover on HST) and had been rained on for 3 weeks straight, yet they thought it was the greatest thing. The Death March Trio felt like a bunch of California wimps in comparison. The group had some strange leadership, though. The non student leaders, seemed as if they felt it was their obligation to set the pace and just make sure they were fast. In their wake was at least one student that we felt they should have been paying more attention to. We nicknamed her "hypothermia Mary" because her garments were not even close to water resistant. She was drenched and very slow, yet cheery as all of the rest of them. We passed the group in the vicinity of the tunnel above Upper Hamilton and we didn't run into one of the leaders until we were near Bearpaw (and this after a pretty long stop to fish and eat at Lower Hamilton). Only then did we encounter a leader who asked about whether we saw someone whose description was clearly Hypothermia Mary. The question on our mind was, why, when your group has multiple leaders, doesn't one of the leaders bring up the rear?
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: strangers on the trail?

Post by STRETCHMAN » Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:15 pm

Last 4th of July,my wife and I just started hiking down the mountain from Bennettville to Tiogo Pass when noticed an older man(70-75) hiking up the trail.The odd thing was he was hiking the trail in ski boots,a ski helmet,and holding a pair of long downhill skies.There were only small patches of snow around and by the time the shock wore off, he had already passed us without us finding out where he was going. :eek:

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Re: strangers on the trail?

Post by balzaccom » Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:43 pm

Ha! I was once riding on a bus in SCotland, sitting behind the driver as we worked our way through the rain in the highlands. Suddenly we passed a fellow in a kilt riding a bicycle with a banjo strapped to his back.

The driver looked over his shoulder at me and said: "It's amazing what you see when you haven't got your gun!"
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Re: strangers on the trail?

Post by Snow Nymph » Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:28 pm

STRETCHMAN wrote:The odd thing was he was hiking the trail in ski boots,a ski helmet,and holding a pair of long downhill skies.There were only small patches of snow around . :eek:
There's a group of people called "Team Tie-Dye" that have a twenty-something year streak going for skiing every month of the year. They will find a patch of snow and squeeze 10 turns in and call it a day. My friend Tie-Dye Bill was at 15 years when I last saw him a few years ago, and another couple were at 20 years back then. I met up with them one time off season, and the patch of snow was solid ice. They were all skiers and they were really good. It wasn't fun for me on a board.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Re: strangers on the trail?

Post by Bad Man From Bodie » Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:07 am

This is a great thread…….
Everyone has a couple of strange sierra stories, here is just one of the oddballs. I was on a water sampling/inventory/mission of the West Walker River watershead for the USFS. I was camping overnight on Sonora Peak in a serious rain/lightning storm. I had been bushwacking solo for about a week and had not seen anyone, when in the middle of the night, rain pouring down, lightning a-crashing, a guy with an M-16 , guilly suit and night vision over his head opened my small tent and scared the piss out of me. He apologized for his intrusion and just wanted to let me know that there would be war games in the area tonight and there was.
:snipe:

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Re: strangers on the trail?

Post by balzaccom » Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:27 pm

That's right---the Marines train just the other side of Sonora Pass...and there are a few signs letting you know about it. It does take some of the bloom off the back country rose to run into those guys though, huh?
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Re: strangers on the trail?

Post by Bad Man From Bodie » Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:38 am

Yha, although I am a big supporter of the MWTC it does take a bit away from the experience when you run across them or some of their doings in the back country. I didn’t mind this time because I hadn’t seen anyone in a while but, I was a bit back there and didn’t expect that kind of greeting. It was a little freaky to say the least!

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Re: strangers on the trail?

Post by JMat » Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:49 pm

There are many I've run into over the years but there's one person that I ran into that I think about on a fairly regular basis.

My buddies and I had been backpacking between Lake Alpine and Sonora Pass along alot of the old pack trails and had pretty much stayed off of the PCT. We had just found a spot to camp near the headwater of the Clark Fork... It had been hot all day and now came the thunder and lightening so we found a spot to camp near the creek and prepared for the rain as we expeceted it to downpour.
We thought we were going crazy when we started hearing a voice and thought somebody must be camping near us. Turns out that wasn't the case... It was a 65-70 year old woman alone. She was hiking back down the trail looking for the campground at the road but didn't know the name. The only campground we knew down there was Clark Fork Campground but she was a good 8.5 miles away and it was about 7pm and this was mid-late August.
She didn't know where she was because that's not where she wanted to be and wasn't sure of where she had planned to be and had a fanny pack with 2 qts of water and that was it.
We figured she must have come from the Clark Fork Campground because our next day was 5 miles of x-country over a steep ridge to Hwy 108.
She had asked us for directions to "a" campground and as we asked her more questions trying to figure out this mystery she became agitated and wanted to leave. She didn't have a flashlight or raingears and didn't remember this being the trail she hiked up. We offered to put her up in a tent with a sleeping bag for the night but she didn't like that idea even though it would be dark in less than an hour and she had over 8 miles to go. After she started getting more agitated we gave her a flashlight and a trashbag with armholes cut into it for raingear and some snacks to last her a day because she was out of food. As she was leaving we told her to stay left at the only junction she would come to and that would take her to civilization. I even offered to hike back down their with her but she wasn't having it.
Needless to say we didn't sleep well that night but we did what we could. So the next day, after we hiked out ove the ridge we stopped a ranger station to report what we saw. The didn't have any missing persons reports so I gave them my contact info in case one came in and I followed the local papers and websites for the next month to see if anything ever came up. Didn't ever hear anything so I believe she must have finished the last 8.5 miles of her 17 mile trip that day. I still think about this. She did say she had people waiting for her but my question is... How?

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Re: strangers on the trail?

Post by gdurkee » Thu Apr 09, 2009 2:50 pm

What year was that? This year? About two years ago, there was a major search for a woman after her car was found abandoned about 10 miles west of the pass. She was never found. Always a hard choice in deciding how much help to offer someone; even harder when they refuse though are obviously outside their box.

Other than the woman mentioned, I know of no other missing people in the Sonora area (where I live in the winter).

Good work.

George

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