[pct-l] "WILD"...You "ain't" seen nothing yet

Steve Rolfe steve.rolfe at comcast.net
Sun Oct 20 17:21:53 CDT 2013



Thanks for your message.   I believe you are correct!  


I'm even more concerned.  And all of us who treasure the mountains should be
concerned, as well.  Several high visibility SAR missions in Washington are
not good for the Thru-Hiker community.  When county SAR Officers must meet
with large groups of hikers to help them understand they should not continue
because of life threatening weather, this creates a serious negative image
of thru-hikers as nuts and marginal members of society, as opposed to
responsible citizens who just love the mountains.


There seems to be too much emphasis on this list for finding one's soul and
not enough about the keeping alive.  God does not smile more kindly on you
because you have achieved exactly 2650 miles of difficult hiking.  I'm
pretty sure hiking 2300 miles was a life altering experience full of
wonderful memories.


Maybe the following story is useful.  A noted world class climber who lives
in the Northwest told me this story during an advanced avalanche forecasting
workshop I attended many years ago.  He was guiding a group of clients up
Mt. Everest.  A period of excellent weather was forecast for the coming week
making it perfect for climbing high on the mountain.  But there had been
several feet of new snow during the previous week.  The snow had not
consolidated at that high altitude so the avalanche hazard was high.  His
clients had paid 10's of thousands of dollars to make this climb, not to
mention taking months away from work.  This likely would be a once in a
lifetime opportunity.  Each day they waited increased the desire of his
clients to want to continue the climb. Waiting until the avalanche hazard
declined was difficult.  Many of the clients argued with the guide about
whether they should continue up the mountain.  After several days a group of
Polish climbers came along and they decided they would go ahead anyway.  So
this guide told his group if the Poles were successful in climbing through
the danger zone they would go ahead the following day.  The Poles did climb
and started a huge avalanche.  Fortunately for the Poles this group was able
to rescue them or the Poles would have died.  With the avalanche hazard now
reduced the group was able to continue up the mountain.  The lesson, of
course, is not that they were able to complete the climb, but rather if they
had not waited until the avalanche hazard had declined they would have died.
The goal for any climb is not to reach the top, but to get back down alive.


The goal for the PCT should not be just to find one's soul, but to be able
to use the lessons learned for the rest of one's life.


Perhaps there should be more discussion of this on the PCT-L list.


Steve Rolfe







From: Reinhold Metzger [mailto:reinholdmetzger at cox.net] 
Sent: Sunday, October 20, 2013 10:01 AM
To: pct-l at backcountry.net; 'Steve Rolfe'; Ned Tibbits; Ron Dye
Subject: "WILD"...You "ain't" seen nothing yet


Well said Steve,...but you  "ain't"  seen nothing yet.

Used to be that "thru-hiking " the PCT was best left to experienced hikers.

For some time now statements on the list, like the ones below, have served 
to mislead inexperienced hikers about the true nature of the trail and draw 
and entice an ever increasing number of novice, inexperienced hikers to
attempt to "thru-hike" the PCT without realizing what they are getting into.
The result is an ever increasing need for SAR rescue missions.

Ooohhh....the PCT is a piece of cake.
Anybody can do it....grandma can do it.
You don't need experience, you learn as you go.
You don't need a map or compass...the trail is easy to follow.
And, if you get lost you can always call 911.
SAR will rescue you...for free.

But,  you  "ain't"  seen nothing yet Steve.

The book "WILD"  has taken that..."Ooohhh,...it's a piece of cake...grandma 
can do it" attitude nationwide...even world wide.
And now the movie version will glorify that ...."ooohhh"....attitude and
hikers from all over the world will be dying to "thru"  the PCT.

After all, if grandma can do it everybody can do it and if we get lost or
get a 
blister we can always call 911.
Those nice folks at  SAR  will rescue us and we get a free helicopter ride.

So....Steve,  Ned,  Ron,....get those SAR teams ready.
Something tells me you guys will have some busy seasons ahead of you.

Like I said......."YOU  AIN'T  SEEN  NOTHING  YET."

JMT Reinhold


[pct-l] Rescued PCT hikers

Steve Rolfe steve.rolfe at comcast.net
Thu Oct 3 22:54:10 CDT 2013 


Steve wrote:
For the past week I've been very worried about thru-hikers still 
on the trail. 
The conditions must have been/still are miserable, or worse -- 
life threatening. 
It seems my concern was valid, I suspect we will hear in the next 
few days more are in trouble.  
I hope not.  
The quote copied from a post on this list serve yesterday disturbs 
"We finally made it to Trout Lake today and another huge storm is 
rolling in," Arnold wrote. 
"Everyone says we can't make it because of the weather situation, 
and to be honest it's quite terrifying, but I can't fathom coming 
this far and giving up."  
For many years here in Washington I was involved in search and rescue. 
Bringing back bodies in bags is disturbing, especially since I 
cannot remember a case where the cause was an "accident".  
Every time the people involved ignored risks that should have 
been obvious, and were obvious to the many others who avoided 
those risks.
Long ago I learned success in a climb is not making it to the 
summit, but making it back down -- alive.  
The same applies to a thru-hike.
For some there is a mindset that virtue is how much punishment 
one can take.
Please don't misunderstand me; I don't mean to criticize the 
person who recently posted this story on the list serve.  
Stories about hiking 200 miles in sandals because of gigantic 
blisters are entertaining and educational, but the goal of a hike 
should not be how you persevered through hardship, but how you
wisely avoided hardship (and danger) in the pursuit of joy.  
I'm glad this person was capable of dealing with their blisters.  
But, shouldn't they have known enough to deal with this problem 
before it became a calamity.  
Stopping at the earliest signs of a blister and taping one's
feet is good practice -- it is not "giving in" to one's pain.
Many thru-hikers prepare carefully and are safety conscious.  
Typically those are the ones who are successful and enjoy their 
I'm concerned, however, by the attitude of a few I read about in 
this list serve that glorifies the achievement, but neglects to 
understand or acknowledge the true character of the challenges.
Stopping one's thru-hike because the weather is life threatening is 
not "giving up".  
It is an honest recognition of the risk and challenge.  
It shows maturity, judgment and character.

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