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  1. #251
    slowhike's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
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    Wow, that sounds like a serious story. I'm glad you made rational decisions & you're home & on the mend.
    I have been thinking about y'all.
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

  2. #252
    bonsaihiker's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
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    Northern Kentucky (Greater Cincinnati)
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    Thanks, Tim. It did get pretty serious, but we made a good survival plan and stuck to it. A series of good decisions made it turn out well.

    We started hiking after the rain stopped, thinking it was about to turn into snow. Instead, it started raining again and the rain got much heavier by the time we were at the top of Wilburn ridge and had turned to freezing rain. By the time we got to the Wise shelter 3 of us were soaked and the fourth (Chickadee) was tired and hungry. After grabbing some food and water and briefly changing to dry clothing, we decided the best thing was to hike right back out along Wilson creek to the campground. That's when the rain changed to snow and we had several inches on the ground 15 minutes later. The larger of the creek crossings was a raging torrent, which we had to cross, swamping our boots. We made it back to the campground and Golfhiker drove us back to our cars in the middle of a white-out. We made it back to the campground and changed to dry clothes. The others were able to set up camp, but the snow was so heavy and so wet that everything you touched got soaked. It took me at least 2 hours [EDIT: actually, now that I think about the timing of events, I think it was more like 3 to 4 hours] just to get my tarp and hammocks strung up but I just ran completely out of energy (and I'm used to pushing hard). Everything under the tarp just got covered in snow no matter how well sealed it was. I couldn't get the insulation hung and I eventually just gave up and got back into the van, which was still running with the heater on, thank God. Chickadee and I covered up in down and went to sleep. I ran the engine and heater periodically through the night to stay warm, and because I had gassed up at Damascus I had plenty of fuel. I just made sure to keep snow away from the exhaust and engine, which wasn't easy. We had at least a foot on the ground by morning, drifting twice as high in some areas.

    Even though I had dry clothing and a warm vehicle, I was still recovering from flu and because of lack of sleep, exhaustion, and dehydration I just couldn't keep myself warm and I didn't have the energy to make hot meals or drinks. Thankfully we had ready-to-eat food and lots of extra water which was still warm from home. Doctari's Scotch eggs helped a lot, and Hickery's coffee gave me a jolt back to normalcy. He really knows how to make a serious pot of coffee!

    I had planned to wait in the car until the plow arrived, and then to follow it out, which I did. I almost hugged the operator and the ranger who followed him in. I told him our situation and plan, and he made sure to clear my car and waited until I was on the pavement before leaving. I didn't even catch his name, but I'm very thankful for his help. I'm also very fortunate and thankful for everyone that looked out for us there and who helped in any way. I was not completely coherent during much of the time, so I hope I don't forget someone, but BFGMofo and others checked me constantly, Doctari, who was also in trouble, made sure I was still functioning and, along with Hetairoi dismantled my camp, golfhiker shuttled us to our cars, HomeRun shuttled equipment, Hetairoi, Angrysparrow, and others who I couldn't see helped push my car out of the snow, and of course Hickery brought me some awesome coffee.

    A slow and careful drive back down the mountain got us back to Damascus without incident, where we were able to get something to eat and drink. I felt good until Gate City, when the caffeine high wore off and I was back to my previous state. I got another cup when I refueled and was fine until dinner time at home, when the caffeine died off again. However, I was home, and a hot shower and good night's sleep in a warm bed helped a lot. When I got up, I weighed myself and I lost SIX POUNDS since the morning before we left! Chickadee and I are still exhausted and are lying around the living room in front of a roaring fire. We will rest today and eat and be fine, I'm sure.

    We learned several powerful lessons, including the importance of avoiding hiking in rain in that type of weather, simplifying all equipment, carrying extra gear including extra rain shells, keeping simple, ready-to-eat high calorie foods handy, the power of caffeine, having safe, reliable backup plans, and having good friends around you to help.

    I realize that, even though this is the oldest winter Hammockforums hang, we can no longer claim the title of having the coldest hang. However, I submit to the forums that this trip could easily claim the title of the hang with the absolute worst weather! I would rather deal with deep, intense cold than being soaked in those temps. BTW, my wife told me about a man and his two sons, 8 and 10, who died while hiking on an Ozark trail that same night, in the same type of conditions. When I think that could have been me, it gives me great pause and I'm so grateful to God for pulling us through. I'm glad He doesn't get tired of hearing us talk to Him, because I certainly kept up a lively conversation.

    So, in the end, this story turns out well. I'm deeply sorry that I missed seeing many of you, and really wish I could have spent more time with the others, and part of me wonders how it would have turned out if we had just gone to a Damascus laundromat to dry our things, bought Chickadee a new pair of boots, and returned. However, as worn out as I still am today I know we made the right decision. The weather was beautiful when we left, and I hope everyone there has an awesome, safe time.
    Last edited by bonsaihiker; 01-19-2013 at 19:38.
    --Scott <><

    "I fish because I love to; because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful... because, in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion; because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience...." --Robert Traver

  3. #253
    Senior Member Doctari's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
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    To add to Scott's story:
    The raging torrent we crossed went to my knees, I just measured that at 16" with my boots on, & I would guess about 14' wide where we crossed. Even water proof boots, lets say 10" high, get WET inside if you step into 16" of water.
    I slept 10.5 hours last night, am still tired.
    The Wilson Creek trail, an abandoned gravel road, was for the most part a flowing stream with ice & snow on the edges. Yea, burr!

    My set up time, even in adverse conditions is 30 minutes tops. Took about 2.5 hours Thursday. And, I didn't really have it perfect.
    Friday AM I'm sure it took 2 hours to take down, & I did not pack up my hammock in the Black bishop bag, I could not manage it, just took it down & threw it in the van, is in Jeep like that even now.

    Bad Hypothermia episode #3 for me. Thankfully this time I had & was able to give help. Tween the 4 of us we saved each other, so a GREAT hike in retrospect! Not one I want to repeat though thank you!

    I'll be back next year, no hiking in the rain though!

    FYI: Chickadee is my Hero. She was a real trooper during a rather difficult time. AND, she wants to go next year!!!!!
    When you have a backpack on, no matter where you are, you’re home.
    PAIN is INEVITABLE. MISERY is OPTIONAL.

  4. #254
    slowhike's Avatar
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    Wow, what a trip. I sure have been thinking about y'all with all the rain, snow & below freezing temps.
    I'm glad you guys were able to work together to pull through the rough times. Chickadee must be a real trouper. I'm sure you have told her that not all trips are that challenging
    Today (Sat) is clear & bright here at home. I'm hoping the rest of the crew are having a couple more nicer days.
    I'm glad you guys are home safe.
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

  5. #255
    Senior Member Roadrunnr72's Avatar
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    Sep 2010
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    Milford, Va.
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowhike View Post
    Thanks for the update Marci. I hope everyone will stay safe & enjoy the snow.

    Unfortunately, I'm going to have to stay home. Last night I discovered that my gas hot water heater is leaking water from the bottom.

    Y'all have fun & take a few pictures
    Just went through that a few months ago! Have fun...RR
    I'm a member of PETA!!!!

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  6. #256
    Senior Member Doctari's Avatar
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    I just remembered (sorry, had a bit on my mind) WV's car is having issues: he got to the park entrance & the "Check Engine" light came on & he lost a lot of power. If anyone local is or knows a decent mechanic,,,,,,

    Thanks!
    When you have a backpack on, no matter where you are, you’re home.
    PAIN is INEVITABLE. MISERY is OPTIONAL.

  7. #257
    Senior Member
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    Doctari,

    I've followed this thread from when it first appeared, and it looks like your counsel about weather hazards - the first post - was spot on. Glad all turned out OK.

  8. #258
    Senior Member Doctari's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doodad View Post
    Doctari,

    I've followed this thread from when it first appeared, and it looks like your counsel about weather hazards - the first post - was spot on. Glad all turned out OK.
    Thanks. We started out with decent wet weather gear, but that was eventually overwhelmed. At the Wise shelter I found a silver dollar sized dry spot on me,,, that was it. I had insulation for 14 degrees if dry weather, but I was anything but (insulation was dry) & had minimal dry sleeping clothing. Thankfully, we had enough experience to know we were in trouble & that being warmer & better fed around people who were not in danger was a good idea. So basically we followed the tenants of this hangout: Gear (& self) testing in harsh winter conditions with a safety net within a reasonable area.
    We are very grateful to those who saw our condition & stepped in to get us warm & safe. And for those same ones who stood behind & supported our decision to bail on Friday! Thanks guys!!
    When you have a backpack on, no matter where you are, you’re home.
    PAIN is INEVITABLE. MISERY is OPTIONAL.

  9. #259
    Tinmar's Avatar
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    BFGMofo is my Son. Glad he pitched in a helping hand. Sounds like quit an adventure.

  10. #260
    Senior Member Doctari's Avatar
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    Lets talk

    I opened a "Let's talk" on "Trip reports" @ http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/s...433#post917433

    So if you could, go there for saying "I made it home!" & etc.


    Thanks!

    Gary
    When you have a backpack on, no matter where you are, you’re home.
    PAIN is INEVITABLE. MISERY is OPTIONAL.

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