Hiking Phil-osophy: Scotch, Altimeters, etc.

1.  I recommend Glen Levit (& altimeters?  there’s a pun about getting high in there somewhere..)

2.  There were about 5 different (at least) bottles being shared at the ‘apple orchard’ hike.  Megan Sherpa introduced the hilarious “hole-to-hole” game brought back from Tibet.  A good time was had by all (of what little I remember).  Man, what a headache the next morning – never again!  I cooked my first trail biscuits (in about 20 years – I can’t believe it’s been that long, jeeezus!), but I sure didn’t feel like doing it…;  The main thing is we all laughed our asses off for a few hours.

3.  I have a compass in my pack, but haven’t used it for 20yrs.  I take that back, I had to use it on the Kondordia platz glacier system in Switzerland, when engulfed in a white out on the way from the konkordia hut to the Hollandia hut – I think my genius saved our lives (Geardog Rich & yours truly) (ha ha) or at least saved us from a very cold night sleeping on the April snow.  We were making for the hollandia hutte over the  grosser aletchfirn glacier and didn’t carry sleeping bags, only long johns and sweaters in the packs.  PS we were ski-touring, mountaineering skis with climbing skis (sounds a lot sexier than it is)

Anyway..I’m off my point… I carry a good topo map and a good altimeter.  I primarily (almost always) stay on established trails so when I need to take a position check, I first check my altimeter, then find the corresponding contour line (altitude) on the map for the trail I’m on – it’s that simple.  There are two keys – know what trail you’re on, and re-set your altimeter everytime you’re at a known bench mark, since the weather can affect the altimeter readings.

When all else fails, use your GPS, but this only works if you have a good topo map with the grid lines drawn on the map – this is how you find your location on a map with a GPS.  If your GPS doesn’t work, the next fall back is to use your compass to ‘resection’ your location from 2 visible landmarks that you can also pin point on your map.  This almost never works in a forest like we have in VA.  If you are off the trail and lost, with out GPS, even with a map, you are pretty much fucked and will have to employ some tried and true “I’m lost” techniques.

4.  The main point is, don’t let yourself get lost, carry a topo map, know how to use it, check it often to confirm your location, don’t follow strangers into a bushwacking situation blindly, I certainly wouldn’t do that.  I have several dumbass friends who’ve had to sleep out on the trail because they went on a simple day hike, a lot of trails criss-crossed, and with no map, got lost.

5.  Reminds me of story of the only time Rich and I got really lost, but I’ll save that for the next entry.

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