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Thread: Hypothermia

  1. #11
    hangNyak's Avatar
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    2 years ago, I was out in my kayak fishing on a Saturday with my friends, as we usually do almost every weekend. It was summer time. It had been drizzling all morning, thus I didn't put on rain gear. I was getting wet but I didn't think that much. It started to rain a little harder, so I put on my poncho. After a short while, the temps dropped some, to about 75*. I was wet and began to shiver. After about 20 minutes, I was now shivering uncontrolably. My speech began to become slurred and my friend noticed what was going on. He began to paddle to me to try and somehow get me warm. It was about that time that the sun started to come out. I pulled off the poncho, and because I wear microfiber shirts, I began to dry and warm up. It was kind of a scary situation. If I had been alone and the sun didn't come out, I could possibly have slipped into advanced stages of Hypothermia. Bottom line is we should all be aware of the danger and recognize the symptoms. It was 75*. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a cold weather problem. It can happen any time. Be safe.
    RON

    A tree's a tree. How many more do you need to look at? ~ Ronald Reagan

  2. #12
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    the honesty and friendship on this forum is outstanding.
    in the UK looking for trees about 14foot apart

  3. #13
    Senior Member bonsaihiker's Avatar
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    Good idea for a thread, Doctari.

    My input: I started to realize my forearms were wet to my elbows after we neared and crossed the AT footbridge over Quebec Branch. Chickadee was getting tired, hungry, and dehydrated, and so was I. My main goal at that point was to get out of the rain under some shelter, and I kept thinking the Wise shelter was just ahead. Once we got there and I took off the rain gear I realized how wet I was underneath.

    Was it condensation, sweat, or leaked rain? I don't know, but I am planning to test that jacket in the very near future. I thought I'd stayed cool, and as I was hiking behind my daughter, I was going fairly slowly, for me. My jacket was an off-brand, waterproof-breathable that has served me well in the past, but I had noticed it wetting out shortly after it started to rain (we started out during a lul in the rain). My pants were Cabela's brand which have also served me well, and in fact I was dry from thighs down under those pants. I think the moisture over my hips and buttocks was seepage/wicking from my torso.

    Looking back is difficult, as I'm sure I don't remember everything as well now. However, I've been wondering over the past couple days if we would actually have been better to stay put. I didn't have any more base layers to wear (will always have extra in the future), but I did have dry insulation to put on, so I may have been OK once in some down. If I had had my pulk, I would have packed some additional clothing, CCF pads, and some Thermarest pads, and just sleeping on the floor of the shelter would have been doable. I did know I wanted no more of that rain, though.

    Hot food/drink would have been great, but we skipped that in order to bail out quicker. Maybe we should have cooked something up before moving on, but given the heaviness of the snowfall it was a good thing we got to our cars when we did, or we would not have been able to drive them back to the campground. After we returned to the campground, the snow was so wet and heavy that it just wasn't feasible to use a stove without some shelter, and the amphitheater wasn't much shelter, either, as even the stage was covered in blown snow. For me, getting my tarp up was extremely difficult and I eventually gave up. Even the next morning I was unable to heat any water. I had set up my Whisperlite and lit some firepaste, turned back to get a pot, and by the time I turned back the paste had gone out. I just stared at the stove and thought "I don't have the energy to fire that thing up, and definitely don't have the energy to make breakfast." That is what is so scary to me...that I was just totally spent. I am used to working very hard (built a retaining wall last summer) but that was a level of fatigue to which I was unaccustomed.

    I think a large part of my problem was my illness prior to the trip. I had the flu pretty bad the week prior and was still trying to recover from it. In fact, I had packed Pepto-Bismol in my pack for the hike! THAT should have been a BIG warning sign! I should have just said that being there was good enough, the campground was good enough, just set up your rig and rest and heal. I was also very dehydrated, and all night I tried to rehydrate, which I think I did, but was still very impaired the next morning.

    The real savior to me was Hickery's cup of hot coffee. That was totally the kick I needed to get my energy level up to where I could actually accomplish something. It made me feel normal again, though it was only for a few hours until it wore off. In fact, I am trying to figure out how to have a dose of "rescue caffeine" ready for the next time. Even the Starbucks Via packets, into cold water, might work. 5-hour energy? A can of Starbucks Espresso?

    I'm still wishing we had stayed, but given my level of impairment over the next two days I don't think I would have had much fun and might have been in a lot of trouble, so I'm OK with bailing. That, by the way, is not a bad survival plan, either. "Get out while you can" will save lives.
    --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

  4. #14
    mbiraman's Avatar
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    Sure glad you guys are alright. Allot of times its hard to know what would have been better,,,stay or bail. What you all have now is hindsight and a chance to look at the events and maybe change some of your gear or the way you did things,,,if needed. I know i've made a few changes to what i do over the last couple of years. I've had a couple of rough situations in my past so tend to be pretty cautious. Still i do most hiking alone and sh*t can happen. Whenever the weather looks like its rolling in i usually start for home unless its summer. Be safe out there.

    bill
    " The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it."

    “The measure of your life will not be in what you accumulate, but in what you give away.” ~Wayne Dyer

    www.birchsidecustomwoodwork.com

  5. #15
    Sailor's Avatar
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    Good conversation. Hypothermia is the killer in the water...the more water on you the faster it takes your heat. I once went capsized in NorCal water and was losing mental and dexterous abilities within a few minutes- I'm guessing three. Got to be that wet on the trail takes longer, but heads a body in the same direction...

  6. #16
    Senior Member JohnSawyer's Avatar
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    Wow. Sounds like a scary trip . . .

    I've seen these for a lightweight caffeine source. . .
    http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/6b7...Fa57QgodBEgA2g
    "Do or do not, there is no try." -- Yoda


  7. #17
    Senior Member MuseJr's Avatar
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    I'm glad you guys are ok and on the mend from your incident. It is scary to think about being in the backcountry and need something that you are struggling to pull from your pack. (It's not the don't have, it's the can't figure out how to get it out that makes this a bad situation.)
    Thanks for sharing this and giving me the reminder. I was beginning to take some of this for granted and this reminder came at a perfect time. I'm taking my son out tonight and this will be a topic we discuss around the campfire.
    Again, I'm glad you guys are safe and on the mend..
    "I'm a connoisseur of BACON." - Anyways - 6/9/13

  8. #18
    Demeter's Avatar
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    This is an excellent thread. We should all be appreciative of the learning opportunity. Maybe your rain gear just needs retreated? I found my Marmot precip leaked badly from repeated wear and washing. Retreated with Nikwax and its better...

    Hypothermia can kill at any time, not just in winter. I recently led a trip in the early fall which got hairy when one of our backpackers (experienced) got wet in 30* temps, which were 15* lower than expected.

    Once she warmed up, and her kidneys started working better, she sucked down all of her water and a large portion of mine. I used up a ton of my fuel and water and the light, snacky things I brought to keep me going. I had to get her off the mountain, but learned some lessons the hard way. Had I not gone with her, I would have been compromised, too.

    Some things I started doing as a result:

    * plan for colder temps and worse precipitation that expected
    * bring an extra change of clothes and socks
    * stop and dry off and warm up before you get too chilled
    * when you lose your appetite or haven't voided in a while it is already too late. Had I been more alert I would have noticed that she hadn't peed since we started that day. Almost as soon as we stopped moving she became lethargic and confused. Very scary.
    * I had to force myself to eat as well; my favorite pasta dish tasted horrible. Now I bring extra hot chocolate packs and I am taking pineapple upside down cake for my dinner on my winter trip next week! I find i can choke down something sweet easier than a savory. A calorie is a calorie

  9. #19
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Very scary experience there, Doctari. I'm glad that everyone made it home with nothing more serious than bad memories (or a lack thereof).

    Heat-related injuries (both cold and hot) are no joke. It's really, really, really easy to lose track of what you're doing and--more importantly--what you should be doing when your body's internal regulation is off. This isn't just a "cold weather" thing: I remember hearing somewhere that most hypothermia deaths occur above 50* F, since folks think that "it's too warm" for them to get cold.

    Things I've taken away from your description of what happened:

    1.) Eat and drink. A lot. Calories are absolutely necessary, along with the water to carry them around your system.

    2.) Have a set of dry clothing to change into as soon as you stop moving. Keep this clothing dry, even if it means changing back into cold, damp clothing when you're moving about.

    3.) No cotton. Period. Wear hydrophobic clothing.

    4.) No matter how well you think that you're doing, check your partners. If they're having serious trouble, it's likely that you are as well.

    5.) Don't hike solo in wet, cold weather. Not if at all possible.

    I don't have a lot of experience in cold, wet weather. But...it's something that I'll need to learn to deal with as I "graduate" from FL hiking to mountain terrain here on the east coast. Thanks for the insight into the possible complications associated with that.
    "Just prepare what you can and enjoy the rest."
    --Floridahanger

  10. #20
    Senior Member chickenwing's Avatar
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    I have nothing to say on this topic other than... Thank you so much for starting the thread and opening up an honest conversation on the risks associated with being outdoors and doing what we love to do.

    Thank You!
    and then

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