[at-l] quick question

RockDancer rockdancer97 at comcast.net
Fri Dec 11 20:37:25 CST 2009

I watched the videos and thought "there's going to be a lot more snow for David" and also that the Smokies are a lot prettier/awesome in real life. This past summer was my 3rd time through and I'd love to do it again sometime.

On open slopes the trail treadway is generally marked by sticks/poles stuck in along the trail. If some are rotted away or fallen & under the snow there might still be enough for you to pick your way along. As Felix said there is a slight depression on the treadway, from all those thousands of hikers packing the soil.

If there is sunlight the treadway will show itself at a distance. Bad conditions that will make this more difficult: fog, snow or darkness. Funny as it seems, gray days in winter make travel more difficult for me. The lack of sharp light makes everything appear flat & I have trouble perceiving how to place my feet. Poles help a lot in winter hiking, acting as feelers in the snow and helping to balance when the snow squishes underfoot.

If you have a slope with no markings, no treadway or other clues here's what I'd do: head to the top of the slope and approach the next area that has trees. Move along the tree edge, back and forth if necessary, and explore all possible entries for the trail. 

Another general approach is to walk a long arc of a circle from the last known position. Position yourself at the last blaze & look out over the terrain to cover. Imagine a set distance you want as your radius and imagine the angle you wish to sweep. Walk out along your radius the desired distance, look back and remember your starting point. Now walk an arc using your home position as the center of the circle. As you walk look left & right for signs of the trail. Your footprints in the snow will prevent you from losing your last position unless the wind is scouring the snow. If it's windy the radius will be shorter.

This technique worked for me when i lost the trail on Saddleback in Oct. 1997, above treeline. The rocky ground & fresh snow made the 1-2 miles a very complicated problem but sweeping out arcs got me across the area no problem even in high winds & blowing snow. My arcs were no more than 45 degrees because I knew the general heading of the trail was forward along the ridge. So it helps to stay oriented & know from maps what the trail is supposed to do along the way. Having a compass would be a good insurance policy for this kind of travel.

In a way I hope you have the opportunity to problem solve out there. I'm doubtful though, I can't think of any spot that would cause problems except for trail junctions. But who knows, maybe you'll try some little adventures like night hiking or bushwhacking! Have a ball.

Arthur Gaudet (RockDancer)
Rockdancer97 at comcast.net
"The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon."

----- "David Addleton" <dfaddleton at gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm taking this route and almost the same itinerary:
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qizBYCIjgPg
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukIbBEcfn8U&NR=1
> I don't expect sneaux to cover the blazes on trees . . . it's those
> bits of trail between the blazes when without sneaux the trail is
> clear and they don't blaze at all: I guess on steep hillsides, keep
> close the up-side of the mountain would be one technique . . .

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