The hazards of solo hiking

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Wandering Daisy
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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Apr 30, 2011 4:52 pm

Twice when soloing off-trail, after many days seeing nobody, I have fallen flat on my face right in front of people when I meet them. Never hurt, except it is very embarrasing!

My more serious injuries luckily occurred when I was with groups. Got hit on back with huge rock on the Grand Teton - numbed my hands and arms and others had to help me rappel five pitches down, then spend the night at the lower saddle chugging down pain killers. We walked out, but the others had to carry my pack. I had years of nerve problems after that. Never went to a doctor - too poor and no insurance.

I have slipped on a mossy rock smack in the middle of descending Tenaya Canyon, just below the last rappel. I did the splits in the middle of the creek and tore a hamstring. I was dunked in ice cold water so the others bundled me up and got me warm. I had to have help walking at first but by the time we reached the trail near Mirror Lake I could walk very well. After the drive home, all the bruising showed up. I probably could have crawled out myself, but it was mighty nice to have help. One of the guys was an ER nurse. How's that for luck!

On a solo trip I fell over a small cliff bushwhaking in Trinity Alps- sprained my ankle as it hung up on a tree limb. I walked out 8 miles on a trail. The drive home was what did it in. I hobbled around for weeks.

Another thing is illness. Years ago my ex-husband and I were walking down Crazy Woman Creek in Wyoming and I just got really sick. I could not walk up the hill! I had to be carried. We got to town and I had a 105 fever. That experience really humbled me and made me realize that you can be totally wiped out with sickness. Had I been alone I would have probably just laid there and passed out.








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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by Cross Country » Sun May 01, 2011 8:46 pm

Without a doubt I can't remember all of my injuries while backpacking. One was a slip on a log while fishing the Kings over Bishop Pass. Di and I were on our way back from Ladder Lake. My knee swelled up really badly. Hiking out was very difficult. Another was a badly sprained ankle on my way to Hangst Lake out of Mineral King, again with Di. Going back to the car was short (5-6 miles) but really tough. The worst one was when I went on a trip to Kid Lake only 3 days out of a cast for a ruptured quadriceps. I could barely walk, fell in the snow and re ruptured it. The full story is on HST "Hiking out of Kings Canyon" by me. One time I did a complete flip at high speed and fell on a rock on my back. Fortunately I had my pack on. If I hadn't it would probably have killed me (no joke). I was with Mike. It didn't hurt me at all.

My point to all this is that when I hike solo I'm a lot more careful (like OR said) and I never got hurt during 50 - 100 days solo.

That's Mike with Glacier Pass in the background, on the day of my flip. We were going from Little Fives to Mineral King that day.
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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by dave54 » Sun May 08, 2011 11:58 am

I cannot recall any serious injury. Cuts and scrapes mostly. One time I was sick for 2 days, attributed to a suspect water source.

A friend broke an ankle once. He splinted himself up real secure, hobbled about a mile cross country to a trail, and made camp awaiting a samaritan to come by. One did, summoned help, and the story has a happy ending from there, although the ankle still bothers him after a long day of hiking.

Like others have posted, I tend to get real cautious when solo, and circuitously avoid stream crossings and rock scrambles I would not hesitate when with someone.
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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by RoguePhotonic » Sun May 08, 2011 2:17 pm

One time I did a complete flip at high speed and fell on a rock on my back
That reminds me of when I was climbing down the glacier on the East side of Mt. Ritter & Banner and I tripped and did a complete front flip into the snow. It did not hurt and I laughed more than anything.

On the way up Banner I was walking on a steep scree slope with it to my right side and slipped and rolled completely over to the left and onto my stomach before I hit the ground.
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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by Cross Country » Sun May 08, 2011 3:56 pm

But true to this thread - were you solo?

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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by RoguePhotonic » Sun May 08, 2011 4:14 pm

Yep. My dad was along on that trip but he stayed at camp while I climbed banner solo.

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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by calipidder » Mon May 09, 2011 9:18 pm

I think a lot of these injuries occur on so-called 'good' trail because we become more complacent when the terrain isn't as challenging as an off-trail route. I always seem to get what I call 'stupid feet' when I get close to a trailhead after a long hike. When I'm off trail or deep in the wilderness I tend to be more aware of where I am putting my feet, etc, since the consequences of a misstep can be so catastrophic. But I fall into this mode of laziness when I'm back on those last few miles of trail getting back to the trailhead and that's when i trip over roots, slide on wet rocks, or generally make stupid missteps. As Luke Skywalker once told the Emperor, "your overconfidence is your biggest weakness" and I think we all tend to fall into that overconfident comfort zone when we're on less challenging terrain.

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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by Lumbergh21 » Wed Jan 20, 2021 11:51 am

I came across this entertaining thread as part of a different search and thought I would resurrect it. What injuries have you had while hiking, particularly solo hiking? I've never had anything but overuse type injuries and sprained ankles (and, I really hope it stays that way). Probably the most embarrassing was when I slipped and fell climbing up from Bear Creek, going from Sandpiper Lake to VVR. I was feeling pretty good as I was making good time and thinking about hot food at VVR the next day. The trail was muddy in places, as this was 2017, and as I stepped onto a rock along the edge of the trail to avoid a muddy section, my feet slipped out from beneath me. I landed on my right side in the mud, cutting my thumb on a rock and covering myself in mud. Seeing as how I was headed north on the JMT several people got to stare at me until I got to a small side stream where I took off my clothes and shoes and rinsed them out before redressing and continuing on. As I said to a few people who asked if I was ok, nothing hurt except my pride.

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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by wildhiker » Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:33 pm

My worst hiking injury was on a solo backpacking trip in Yosemite in 1974, when I was a (over)confident college student. I was hiking cross-country from Ireland Lake over the pass southeast of Parsons Peak and then down to Bernice Lake. Had no problems on the talus of the pass and was then merrily strolling down slanted granite slabs along the lakes below it when my left foot slipped out from under me - on those little "ball bearings" of eroded granite gravel, I think - while I was lifting my right foot to take the next step. All my weight, including about 40 pound pack, came down hard on my right foot and my right ankle twisted. The pain was terrible! Probably worst of my life. I just sat there about 2 hours and then very gingerly hobbled down to Bernice Lake. Hiking poles (not yet common) would have been a big help, but I didn't have any kind of pole or staff. I abandoned the rest of my planned loop (down to Merced Lake and around) and camped two nights at Bernice Lake. Then I hobbled up the trail over Vogelsang Pass - not too painful going uphill - and camped a night at Fletcher Lake. The last day going downhill out to Tuolumne Meadows had pain shooting up my right ankle with every step. Being a poor student with no insurance I never consulted a doctor. Could have been a bad sprain, or even a hairline fracture. Surprisingly, it had healed enough a month later that I did another long backpack trip in Yosemite that year.

-Phil

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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by commonloon » Wed Jan 20, 2021 3:41 pm

@wildhiker I know what that feels like :lol:

My hiking injury nemesis is my ankles. As a kid I was a pretty hard core skateboarder, and sprained my ankle multiple times. Every so often it reminds me that I should have taken it a little easier when I was younger.

I had slipped in this case crossing a very small muddy feeder stream. I soaked it in Minaret creek, took advil and was able to hike out some 30 miles plus.

I've been lucky or good otherwise.

Near Minaret lakes:
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