[cdt-l] Post-hike Questionaire

Ned Tibbits ned at mountaineducation.com
Tue Oct 24 17:51:00 CDT 2006

Although this questionnaire was posted to the pct-l first, all thru hikers can learn from the experiences of those who have gone ahead.... 

So, for the health, safety, and success of future thru hikers on long trails where they might have to deal with long, high stretches of snow and ice, would all of you just coming off the CDT (and those who have completed it in the past) take the time to fill out these questions and send them back to me at Mountain Education to compile and post on our website for future reference for all.
Thus far, we have about a dozen returns in and they are confirming that each hiker is different, what works for one, or even several, may not work for you, thus HYOH.  The point, here, is going to be that every hiker planning a long trail hike must, somewhere in planning, test each aspect of himself and the thoroughness of his preparation to find what details will really work for him, especially above and beyond simple weights and measures and paper logistics.  

We are finding that too many hikers are preparing for their hikes solely based on the suggestions of others without going out and testing them for themselves. When they hit the trail at the beginning of their 5-month expedition, having little practical reality of what it's going to take and a whole lot of romanticized expectations, they either become quickly disillusioned because things aren't going for them as they did for "all the others" or they get injured and quit the chance of a lifetime.

It is the goal of Mountain Education to help aspiring hikers realize what it takes to accomplish such a life-changing experience as a thru hike through the teaching of thorough preparation coupled with on-trail practical applications of needed skills to get through the mountains safely and enjoyably.

To all of you who finished this outrageous trail experience and are trying to begin your new lives, can you take a few minutes and share your thoughts on the following questions? What you say may be used in presentations at ALDHA-West, the ADZ, REI and other public seminars. Can we quote you?  If you have any specific pictures that would help others understand your point of view on a subject below, could you include it in your response and can we use it for presentation?

In light of your snow and ice challenges:

    - What would you say was the best method of traveling over the snow and handling the icy stretches? (snowshoes, boots only, runners only, ice axe, crampons...)
        -  which was the safest, most injury-free?
        -  which allowed you the most miles?
        -  which kept you the driest?
        -  were you glad you had snowshoes?

    -  How many of you were injured in any way while on snow?  (strains, sprains, cuts, infections, submersions, hypothermia, overexposure, dehydration, blindness, cramping, weight loss...)

    -  How would you recommend hikers avoid these injuries next year?

    -  What techniques worked best for stream crossings?
        -  any troubles with clothes drying out?
        -  what worked on your feet while crossing?
        -  anyone fall mid-stream and how did you get to safety?
        -  any lost gear?

    -  How many miles a day was realistic?
        -  did you have a strategy for accomplishing your miles? (passes/streams   early, really early starts, simply long days...)

    -  Were you prepared for how hard it was?
        -  how would you help the next class understand what to expect?

    -  Did you have enough food?
        -  which worked best, Hot meals or Cold?
        -  what would you carry more of next time?
        -  did you go through more fuel or less than on summer trail?

    -  Did your poles work out?
        -  baskets hold up?
        -  poles bend or break?
        -  wish they were designed differently??

    -  Ice axe use:
        -  did they help while glissading?
        -  did any one fall and need to arrest their slide?
        -  did they help on the climbs?
        -  did anyone wish they had learned how to use them before the trip?
        -  anyone injured by the axe, itself?

    -  Crampons:
        -  how often did you need them & under what conditions and circumstances?
        -  what design worked best on runners or boots?
        -  did you feel more secure with them on?
        -  did they add to the safety of your trip through the snow?

    -  Were you warm and dry enough?
        -  what clothing combinations worked for you?
        -  any trouble with frozen items in the morning:
            -  water bottles, tent floors, pants, shoes, socks, gaiters, bags, flies?
            -  did you take time somewhere in the day to dry out?
            -  if you had trouble with wet and frozen shoes, socks & gaiters, how would you recommend others avoid what you experienced?

    -  Shelter:  Tarp or Tent?
        -  did anyone experience bad weather on snow? (wind, rain, snow...)
            -  which type of shelter worked best for you or for others?

    -  What techniques worked best on sun cups?

    -  Any troubles with navigation?
        -  how would you advise/reassure future hikers regarding following buried trail?
        -  what techniques/tools worked best?

    -  Traction and Sure Footedness:
        -  did you slip a lot walking on the snow or in mud once off the snow?
        -  what would you do differently?

    -  Climbs and Descents:
        -  did you go straight up or switchback?
        -  did the snow ever make any strange noises in the pack as you passed?
        -  did you get sick of the snow and choose rock routes up or down?
        -  did you posthole down and was it the safest way?
        -  did you sit down and slide, stand and skate or traverse down?
        -  was walking in other's footsteps helpful, awkward or dangerous?

    -  Sanitation:
        -  how did you deal with your used toilet paper?

    -  General:
        -  did everyone carry sunscreen, lip balm, and dark glasses and use them?
        -  did you drink more water or about the same as summer trail?
        -  did you have any food cravings (like you were missing something dietary)?
        -  any issues with communication out?
        -  any safety problems with group members getting spread out on snow?
        -  any advice regarding resupply in the High Sierra (KM to Echo)?

    -  Ultralight, advantages/disadvantages:
        -  does the ultralight philosophy adequately prepare you for the snow experience or does it, basically, get thrown out the window during this time?

    -  Forums, ADZ, PCT-L, publications, professional schools and training:
        -  can these methods adequately and realistically prepare thru hikers for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges of the long trail?
        -  what helped you and why?

There is so much that can be said about the benefits of time spent in Wilderness. What did this experience do for you and what do you want to do with it?

A Thousand thanks!!!



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