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illininagel
2003-01-10, 21:22
Have you ever had any of your gear stolen from a backcountry site? How comfortable are you leaving your pack off the trail for a while when exploring a side trail (one that might lead to a scenic view)?

Just wondering...

Lone Wolf
2003-01-10, 21:29
In 16 years on the trail I've never had anything stolen. But I ALWAYS take my wallet with me when going down side trails without my pack.

Redbeard
2003-01-10, 23:13
When far enough from town I would often leave my pack when walking down a blueblaze for water. I had no problems.

Hydromagnt
2003-01-11, 07:19
I would think it prudent, to at least try to hide your pack, if you're going off some place without it. The old saying comes to mind, about not tempting someone. :D :D :D

Hog On Ice
2003-01-11, 07:49
About the only thing I would worry about with leaving my pack in the backcountry is whether some of my friends would slip a rock into my pack while I wasn't looking :eek:

Peaks
2003-01-11, 09:36
Generally speaking, I go to be very comforable leaving my pack along the trail, at shelters, at trailheads, in front of stores, in front of restraurants, etc.

Occassionaly, I would semi-hide it behind a boulder or brush, if it was in a particularly public area.

smokymtnsteve
2003-01-11, 21:13
Not me I keep my pack in sight.....not so much that I'm worried about some one stealing something but ....critters and not just bears....some critter can make a mess out of your pack..esp if you got a couple days garbage in your bag... if I'm going to leave it for a while I hang it...or a least my food bag and garbage..don't happen often but when it does ..IT happpens 100%

Wander Yonder
2003-01-11, 22:53
smokeymtnsteve, another hiker reminded me by email that raccoons can be a big problem. I had forgotten what a fight I had with them when I camped back home in Florida.

I tend to think of just keeping bears away from my pack. It's good to be reminded that they aren't the only problems.

A ranger in the Talledega National Forest told me that sometimes dogs are a problem with food bags, too, although I haven't personally had any problems with them.

smokymtnsteve
2003-01-12, 10:12
sharonat03..a few years back I was hiking and camping on cumberland island down on the GA coast ..no bears but the racoons are everywhere and AGRESSIVE...they also got them alligators down there!

i've run into some dogs on the AT ... and not just hiking dogs like myself but wild local dogs ..the section between roan mtn/elk park (US 19E) and moreland gap I have run into dogs...
this section is unpleasant and has had trouble for some time from locals...if your gonna skip a section skip this one ..

Wander Yonder
2003-01-12, 20:03
Smokeymtnsteve, I don't intend to skip any sections, but I read a trail journal--can't remember whose--about that section. The woman was really afraid going through that section -- said that her instincts were screaming danger.

As an aside, she talked about going through cow pastures and also said there was a lot of garbage and trash around. Are we talking about the same area?

If I feel the same warnings, I may think twice about going through it. At least I might wait for other hikers to go through it with.

When I camped inland from Sarasota, Florida some years ago, large alligators were everywhere. I watched them ease into the water and up to the waterbirds and ambush them. What was really frightening was that parents would let their toddlers and small children wander near the alligators. They were very fortunate that the alligators were not hungry at the time.

The racoons were very aggressive there. I have to admit that after several nights of throwing rocks at them, missing and having them get my food, I finally gave up and just started feeding them. It was a lot less stressful.

The thought of wild dogs bothers me. I think that is truly my biggest fear about hiking alone. Feral pack dogs can be fearsome predators! In fact, if I were to decide to carry a weapon on the trail (which I am not going to do) my primary purpose would be protection against wild dogs.

I have read that the dogs never bite--only threaten. But that is not something to be counted on, I don't think.

smokymtnsteve
2003-01-12, 21:57
sounds like it ..even some of the guide books suggest hikers move right thru this area...cow pastures ..houses close by ...a lot of vandalsim happens there at the US19E crossing to cars parked overnight...not very scenic...skip it ..go to lunch with my aunt sharon who lives there in Newlawnd!

Justme
2003-01-12, 23:01
Sharon & smokymtsteve,

First of all let me say, that this section of the AT is famous as not being hiker friendly. That is somewhat true, yet, it is not nearly as bad as some would have you to believe. I have hiked thru that area 3 times in the last 4 years and never had a problem. It is true that vehicles parked has been vandelized, and at one time it was reported that hikers have been harrassed. In 99 when I did my thru hike, there was a lot of road walking and it is true the folks along the road would send dogs out at you or certainly not stop them from coming after you. However, now the trail through the area is off that road section and it is unlikely that you will even see anyone. The last 2 times (01 & 02) I never even met any local folks except when we hitched down to Elk Park, to phone Mom on Mother's day. People were friendly down in Elk Park and no problems at all. As for hiking thru the pasture with cows and ect. it is true that you will hike up the hill through a large pasture and lots of cows, but they are not a problem and it is very unlikely you will even see anyone, at least I never and neither did anyone I knew. I really don't think you will have a problem but if you did feel uncomfortable I would hike through it with someone else. Also I would not tarry long in the area, one reason being there is not a lot to actually see anyway and it is a lot of small ups and downs in out and around. I would only suggest that you may be a little more alert and careful through this section but I doubt that you will have any problems or even see anyone for that matter, except other hikers.

Just my 2 cents and hopefully relieve your minds a little. By the way, Sharon my name here (Justme) is the same person you wrote such a great email yesterday (Saturday). Yes, I am Walkerat99 and I will write you tomorrow via email. This site would not let me sign on with my old name..... so I made up this one..... Hope you have a great evening and I will write you later.... Sincerely, Ed

PushingDaisies
2003-01-13, 00:28
There were several places this year that warned about leaving your packs alone, as the bears were "stealing" packs.

This was brought home to me just outside of the Smokies when I set my pack down to "go into the woods" for a moment. I noticed a bear that was strolling up to the trail near me and my pack. Needless to say I picked up my pack and continued down the trail.

The only place I heard of hikers having problems was at Justus Creek Campsite, about 14 miles from Springer. Some guys on four wheelers came through on a near-by overgrown forrest service road and saw the food bags hanging nearby. These people ended up dumping and scattering the food and took the stoves, cookpots and other gear that was hanging.

Wander Yonder
2003-01-13, 00:55
Smokeymtnsteve, how wonderful to have a relative living near the trail! Nice name, too. :D When I read the journals, I am always envious of people who have friends and relatives to visit along the way.

Justme, glad to hear from you! I will look forward to your email!

I am very relieved to hear that part of the trail has been relocated. When I walk here, there are two houses I hate to go by as they have large aggressive dogs that race out at me and circle me while the owners just watch. Then the dogs follow me for quite a while.

When I lived in Maryland, we went to Assateague one day to see the wild ponies. Some of the locals near the island screamed out profanities and yelled for us tourists to go home. It looks like the people in the area you are talking about have the same mindset.

I am not afraid of cows, although bulls make me nervous!

In any case, I will be alert and move through that area as quickly as I can.

Pushing Daisies, thanks for the heads up about being careful with bears and my pack.

I also need a lot more practice bear bagging. I have terrible aim trying to throw a rock over a limb and have exhausted myself trying to get a food pack hung! If I don't improve my technique, I am afraid I might be too tired some evenings to mess with it. :(

dixicritter
2003-01-13, 01:23
Originally posted by sharon_at03
<snip>
I also need a lot more practice bear bagging. I have terrible aim trying to throw a rock over a limb and have exhausted myself trying to get a food pack hung! If I don't improve my technique, I am afraid I might be too tired some evenings to mess with it. :(

Sharon, I couldn't help noticing this part of your post. Thought I'd share another Sgt Rock tip link here (as I so don't have any of my own do share...lol).

SGT Rock's Rock/Stake Bag (http://hikinghq.net/gear/rock_bag.html)

He gives step by step pics on how to do this. (his photographer isn't half bad.....:D ) Hope this helps a little.

dixi

Wander Yonder
2003-01-13, 01:40
Dixicritter, I thought I had been through Sgt. Rock's entire site. Can't believe all the good stuff I missed!

The stakes bag is a wonderful idea--as is the loop on the bottom of the food sack. I had been trying to figure out how to keep water out of the food bag, but never thought of turning it upside down!

Thanks so much for the link. But my main problem is still my aim when I am tired! Guess I'll have to add working on that to my training program!!!

BTW, I was a Navy wife for 20 years. My daughter was in the Army for 6. Dad was a WWII Marine, and I always wear his Marine Corps ring. I miss the camaraderie of military life, but I do NOT miss the deployments!

How great to find a site with a sgt and hiker all rolled up into one! And it's even greater to meet his better half, but don't tell him I said so! :D

chief
2003-01-13, 09:52
sharon, i wouldn't skip a section out of fear of dogs or people. i certainly had no problem in 2000 with the section in question (or any other for that matter). it seems to me that on most sections of the AT, there have been incidents in the past, but a hiker is very unlucky to be at a certain place at the wrong time. a little caution will go a long way during your entire thru-hike, but don't get freaked out every time you see a dog (or any other animal) or local. surely stuff happens, but it's pretty rare IMHO.

follow your instincts. when in doubt, move on. remember, you're not gonna be alone all that often on the AT.

Lone Wolf
2003-01-13, 10:03
chief is right sharon. That section is no trouble at all. I've hiked it a bunch of times. Back in 89-90 was a different story when the ATC and NFS stole the land in that section.

Wander Yonder
2003-01-13, 11:46
Chief and Lone Wolf, thanks for your input.

I just got back from a 5 mile walk, and as usual ran into a lot of curious dogs. I am beginning to get comfortable with trusting my instincts in that area. There were a couple that were cause for concern, but I ignored them (my hiking staff ready to wield if necessary) and they eventually left. The others were just checking me out. Two followed me--one almost home until he got sidetracked with some other dogs down the road.

So my fear in that area seems to be diminishing.... thank God!

I guess I will just be aware and listening for any internal warnings. If I don't feel them, I will just relax and not worry about it. If I do feel them, I will probably just wait for more hikers to come along and hike that section with them. Only if the warnings are REALLY strong would I skip that section.

chief
2003-01-13, 14:59
seems like a good plan to me.

steve hiker
2003-01-16, 02:14
A woman thru-hiker was chased by a group of young rednecks in that area of Tenn/NC a few years ago. She managed to outrun them. She describes it in her book "Walking Home: A Woman's Pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail." It's a very good book by the way, one of the best on the AT I've read. Very good writer.

Wander Yonder
2003-01-16, 06:04
Steve, I was camping alone last year on John's Mountain in NW Georgia. My instincts had been warning me to leave the area for two days and it got stronger and stronger until it felt like I was in mortal danger.

Being hardheaded and ignorant, I passed it off as fear of being out there alone and kept trying to fight it off.

Three guys showed up at dusk the third day, and it is the only time in my life I have felt mortal terror. I KNEW I was going to die a very ugly death. But I had my little dog with me, and as they got closer, one of them said, "She's got a dog," and, inexplicably, they turned and left. (I believe that it was divine intervention. My dog is small, fluffy and white and no way would she frighten anyone.)

After that I went out and bought a 38 and learned how to use it. I carry it camping everywhere I go where it is legal which includes Georgia, Florida and Alabama. It's also legal in Tennessee, but I haven't camped there.

I am not taking it on the AT due to the nasty penalties if I am caught. But you can bet I will be paying attention to any warnings I get.

chief
2003-01-16, 08:15
during my attemped thru-hike in 2000, there was a hiker at NOC who claimed his pack was stolen. had us running all over the place trying to find the culprit. turns out the hiker sold his pack and contents to a kayaker. just a ruse to quit the trail and save face, i guess!

PushingDaisies
2003-01-16, 16:54
Originally posted by steve hiker
A woman thru-hiker was chased by a group of young rednecks in that area of Tenn/NC a few years ago. She managed to outrun them. She describes it in her book "Walking Home: A Woman's Pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail." It's a very good book by the way, one of the best on the AT I've read. Very good writer.

I just finished reading this book for the second time. It's by Kelly Winters. I would highly recommend it as well. And again, very good writer.

steve hiker
2003-01-16, 21:27
Sharon, you're probably right. Someone was looking out for you. Fluffy didn't run them off.

Kelly Winter's account is eerie but is a good reminder of the maxim that the most dangerous part of hiking is at the trailhead and road crossings. The AT crosses a road in that area near the TN/NC line, and as she crossed these three guys were standing there. They started following her on the trail and when she picked up speed to lose them, they picked up speed until it was a full-out chase. One of them exclaimed "She's little we can catch her!" But she was in better shape and they couldn't keep up as the trail climbed upward, even though she kept her pack on.

Uncle Wayne
2003-01-24, 07:26
Sharon,

You've got to trust those "gut feelings" don't you? I've been uneasy myself a time or two but it has always been when I was camping or staying at a shelter near a road crossing. I make an effort to avoid those areas now, especially when I'm solo.

Uncle Wayne
2003-01-24, 07:36
Two friends of my son were thru hiking in 2001 and dropped their packs beside the trail to go to a nearby "well known" waterfall. When they returned an hour later all their gear was gone. They were about an 100 yards from a road crossing and figure someone was day hiking to the same waterfall and took advantage of the situation. I have dropped my pack before to get water or to take in a scenic view but have never left it in plain sight of the trail. Common sense should kick in and believe you should always lean to the side of cautious rather than reckless behavior.

Wander Yonder
2003-01-24, 11:11
Uncle Wayne, I actually catch myself straining to listen for those warnings when I am entering an area I am unsure of. If I don't feel anything, then I know I can proceed with confidence.

As for leaving my pack, I think I would be very leery about letting it out of my sight. I consider it my life support system.

GrizzlyBear
2003-02-03, 12:18
I find it interesting to note that in the preceding posts, nobody has mentioned pepper-spray. Granted, there is data showing that black bears seem to enjoy the stuff, and from my experience - derived from listening to natives, while living for three years in northwestern Montana - it just tends to P!$$-off grizzlies, who then consider it a condiment with the subsequent meal, but I would like to share a bit of anecdotal information on it's (pepper-spray) effectiveness with gnarley rednecks, and nasty dogs. My best friend will be retiring, next month, from 30 years at one of the most personal-safety-comprimising jobs I think there can be. He has traveled the back-country of south-central Pennsylvania (alone) for the REA (Rural Electric Association. The major portion of his job has consisted of collecting unpaid bills, and/or shutting off the electricity of the offenders - at the meter on their dwellings, or at the transformer, nearby. Needless-to-say, a drunken, habitual-non-paying, redneck, who lives in a shanty, at the end of a dirt-lane, a mile from the nearest neighbor, is not exactly the most complacent and agreeable sort of citizen - not to mention the fact that, these good upstanding types, normally have a pack of unchained, starving, unruly curs, with - what seems to be, today - the mandatory - un-neutered Rotweiler-with-a-bad-attitude, as "king-of-the-pack". I have listened to many, many, of Bill's stories, over the years, regarding his need to employ his pepper-spray, to save his neck - and other more delecate portions of his anatomy. He has praised his can of pepper-spray, often, as the only thing that saved him from being mauled by big dogs, and even bigger human nut-cases. He has told me how, even the biggest, baddest Rottweiler, turns in mid-air into a quivering, whimpering, puddle of flesh. He has described - in humerous detail - how a three-hundred-pound godzilla looks sitting on the ground against his trailer door, screaming in pain, while rubbing his eyes, just making it worse.

I've been a fly-fisherman for forty years, and we seem to attract the attention of red-necked boors, who consider us to be effete-snobs. Being a 6'2", 230#, Marine - with an attitude - who carries a knobbed-end hickory wading-staff, and weilds it somewhat like an M-1 rifle-with bayonet, I've never been much plagued with more than the occasional snide remark, and a bit of macho posturing, but I wouldn't recommend that approach by the average female, or the 150# accountant, who goes to the downtown gym once a month.

Carry pepper-spray.

Sharon - lose the 38! I don't care how well you think you can handle it! You have no idea how easy it is to miss - even a huge target, close-up - with a hand gun - when you are scared and shaking like a dog pooping-peach-seeds. A sawed-off shotgun, with double-ought buck shot - maybe - but they're heavy, and do you really want to see what double-ought buck does to a man or dog? It ain't purty, and you can't take it back. You may think you won't shake in fear, but have you ever drawn-down on a man - or a group of them - whose intent it is to hurt you? I have, and I had some of the best training in the World. Trust me - you shake - all over. Get pepper-spray! Your aim doesn't need to be accurate - in fact the shaking probably helps - it'll disburse the spray over a wider area. Lose the piece! As to dogs (I know I'll get all kinds of flack for this - but I gotta be me) they make a great meal, on the trail. I'll share recipes.

Trek on.

Grizzly Bear

SGT Rock
2003-02-03, 12:38
Any dog would taste good if you at least use Tobasco.

I also agree with Griz about the gun. It is amazing how good you aren't when the pressure is on. Most likely any opertunity to use your gun will be lost. I gave a very long post on this subject for the WhiteBlaze, but I'll add it here:


A gun is not needed on the AT at all!

I'm not a anti gun freak, in fact I'm an advocate of legal gun ownership. I own two pistols, two rifles, and one shotgun. I hunt (well I have, but not in a while), target shoot, and carry firearms as a part of my job. I've done that since I was ten, and have been actually working with weapons as a profession over 17 years. As an NCO in the Army in a direct ground combat specialty I understand very well the safety needs of a weapon, the responsibilities of carrying a loaded weapon, and what it really takes to have the correct mental attitude to use deadly force.

But I think that a lot of people that are potential gun carriers have not thought about, or realize the real consequences of carrying a gun.

First thing you should consider is the legality. Carrying a concealed weapon is almost universally illegal. You could carry a pistol in a holster on your hip, but no one will be interested in being close to you, and then the potential attacker also knows you are packing and can take steps to prevent you gun use. But carrying a gun is also illegal in many parks you must cross. AND, some states like NJ will take your gun and lock you up if you transport firearms through the state without the proper documents.

Next is the legality of shooting someone - it isn't. Sure you may claim self defense, but that means you must stop everything you are doing with your hike and your life to go through the process of police reports, investigation, possibly going to court for bail and time in jail while they sort it out, maybe a trial or at least grand jury (Weasel would know the ins and outs better). AND you may not have anyone to back up your story against the local boy. Also remember they guy in Louisiana about 10 or so years ago that shot the Japanese exchange student because he thought the guy was trying to break into his house, but the student just wanted to borrow a phone after his car broke down - my point is you may kill some innocent person thinking you are in danger when you really aren't. HOW COULD YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF AFTER THAT!?! I will talk about this again.

How about the weight? Even a light gun with ammo weighs about a pound and that is useless weight. How about maintenance? Guns require cleaning and lubrication. Mud, sand, and water aren't good for them; guess what there is a lot of on the trail.

How about training? Most people can point and shoot, some can even shoot well at cans. But in a real gunfight even professionals have a hard time hitting anything. Remember that video of the two sheriffs having a gun fight about 5' from a couple of white separatists when they pulled them over? Over 30 shots fired at close range from professional police and NOT ONE SINGLE HIT! Can you look someone in the face and actually pull the trigger? What will you do after shooting them and the blood is everywhere and this human being is pleading for their life after you shot them? People don't always drop like in the movies, and it is a bloody mess. Will you let them die in front of you? If you will, you're sick. If you do the right thing, imagine how much of a problem and a responsibility it is to treat a gunshot person, especially when they are bleeding out and their backside looks like raw hamburger.

A responsible gun user must always carry their gun on them. To let it out of your possession means anyone else can get it. And for defense, it must always be ready, and always be very accessible. If you plan to put it inside your pack neither requirement is met, so there is no usefulness in the weapon. If you are always carrying it, then how? They do make holster/waist belts that look like a normal waist belt, but after carrying it 24/7 for a month will you feel safe or burdened? What will you do when showering in a hostel? Or swimming in a creek? People will catch on, then you may have problems.

I mention this before about shooting someone innocent accidentally, but I think I must cover this from experience. When you are in the defensive mode, every other person you meet, and I mean EVERY OTHER PERSON, must be considered a potential threat or otherwise you loose the defensive edge. Now imagine meeting 10-20 people a day on the trail. That is a lot of decision making about weather or not to pull pistols! Now multiply that by a 6 month hike - 1,800 to 3,600 possibilities of shooting an innocent person - and that is just on the trail! What I found was that everyone that was the lest bit suspicious caused me to go into the defensive mode and think about all the possibilities and options of a fight - not my hike. And in a three day period that was a lot of non-hike enjoyment time. I would see a guy in denim and sunglasses while I was carrying and see a potential hillside strangler, but without the gun he was a funny looking tourist. Either way I didn't need the gun, but with the gun I was focused on defending from a possible threat (which was false) while without the gun I shrugged it off and had fun.

SO consider the actual threat. In 74 years (I think that is right) of the trail, there have been less than 10 murders. Now think of the length of the AT, and some of the areas it passes through or near and their crime rates. Think of the number of people on the trail every year and imagine a city with that population. A city with the same size/population of the Appalachian Trail would most likely have a lot more than 10 murders in 74 years. So you have a safer time on the trail than you do in your own home town if you look at it that way.

Wildlife? Do you really think you can kill a bear with your snub nosed .38? And if you plan on doing that, well WHY?

So why carry a pistol? I figure it is an unnatural fear of what is in the woods, or an anachronistic thought process that thinks wilderness=danger and gun=safety. Well the formula that says that is a hundred years out of date. Small women hikers can go the entire length of the At without killing anyone, why can't big macho guys get by without one?

Wow, a longer rant than normall, and I don't think I hit all the aspects of why a gun isn't needed.

Wander Yonder
2003-02-03, 13:06
Actually, I quit carrying the 38 a while back when I almost shot a dog that scared me badly. After I got home I thought about what a legal mess would have resulted if "BillyBob" had told the judge that I shot his little Fifi in cold blood without provocation.

That led me to thinking about the legal consequences of shooting ANYTHING that I perceived as a mortal threat. Quite honestly, I think our laws favor a perp doing whatever he wants to do over a person shooting in self defense.

Since my daily walks do take me past some very nasty dogs, I ordered a can of bear spray and holster and wear it for peace of mind on my daily walks. I haven't ever had to use it and honestly doubt I ever will, but for now it's a crutch that allows me to stride wherever I want to without feeling like a potentially helpless victim.

I haven't decided whether I'll take the bear spray on the trail or not. Probably not due to the weight.

But I think anyone who reads the newspapers is foolish to blithely think that nothing could EVER happen to them.

GrizzlyBear
2003-02-03, 15:42
Jeeze, Top - your as bad as I am! Is it the military training that hardens us to the frivolities of life? I thought you just had to be old, and crusty, like me.

Feral dogs tend to be a bit stringy, but after a bit of tenderizing with a five-foot hickory-staff, they become very palatable. Pampered, city dogs don't even need to be marinated, very long. Tabasco; brown sugar; onions; a few Jalepenos; a splash of beer; salt & pepper to taste - done to a turn, over hot hardwood coals; a big pan of strong java, and you've got a meal fit-for-a-king. With enough Tabasco and Jalepenos, the leftovers can be carried for days, without spoiling.

Sharon - glad to hear you've dropped the cannon. I've seen pepper-spray at security stores (places where cops and security officers buy their gear) that are quite small (only a few inches long, and about an inch or so in diameter, and weigh only a few ounces.

Grizzly Bear

SGT Rock
2003-02-03, 16:00
It may be the military training, or maybe a hard life and/or military career. Occasionally you get those bullet proof 2LTs in a platoon you have to explain what is real and what isn't when they start making die in place missions for your platoon.

GrizzlyBear
2003-02-03, 16:27
For "butter-bar" lieutenants, use recipe for "city dogs", above. For higher ranking officers, see: "tenderizing", as for "feral dogs".

steve hiker
2003-02-05, 12:55
I used bear spray (UDAP) against a couple of wild or abandoned dogs last year in Nantahala. Sprayed the lead dog from a few feet away, and about 10 minutes they came back for more! Lead dog came into my camp, rolling around on the ground a few times to try to get the spray off his face, but came right toward me and I sprayed him again. They took off down the trail again, but this time I decided to pack up and get out, especially since it was getting dark and I was sure they'd come back a third time and I'd have to fight two dogs in the dark. Damn mutts.

Lone Wolf
2003-02-05, 13:01
Glock 10mm would've fixed his ass.

GrizzlyBear
2003-02-05, 14:13
steve hiker - You've got to pay attention. With hiking, (or dinner) as in any other sport or pass-time, it's: "follow-thru; follow-thru; follow-thru"

See: Tenderizing, above.

Think of the pepper-spray as "added seasoning".

Blazer
2003-02-23, 19:03
People, you're all talking about getting molested by feral dogs/thugs/bears/rapists, and what to do about it. So you're saying pepper spray might not be good enough, and a gun might be too good. You're overlooking the oldest and one of the most effective weapons Man (and Woman) have had around. The staff.

It's not threatening. You can hike anywhere with it legally, of course. It's almost always right there in your hand. Depending on how you use it, it can be anywhere from simply a deterrent to lethal, if necessary, to anything except a bear. To understand how effective it can be, in the "big picture" of the martial arts world, a staff is ranked below a sword or a gun but above everything else.

Assuming most of you don't want to invest the time, money and effort to learn more than you need to know, I would recommend the martial art of Escrima. If you're not into martial arts you probably never heard of it; look in the phone book, though, and you'll find a school.

Escrima (or Kali, or Arnis) is all about using sticks of *any* length to fight off attackers. (this is what you're concerned about, remember.) It comes from a different part of the world than the other common martial arts like Karate, TaeKwonDo, Kung Fu, etc. so it's different. None of the esoteric stuff. You will learn how to use a stick from the first day in class, then later learn unarmed techniques if you like (including getting out of a hold when someone's trying to grab you), which build on the skills you learned fighting with your stick, not the other way around. The advantage of that is that you get what you came for right away. You can tell the instructor specifically what you want: to learn how to use your hiking staff (whatever kind you have) to protect yourself when hiking. With your staff, *any* training you have gives you a tremendous advantage over someone who hasn't been trained, i.e the common thug, and will be effective.

And you can do it. Yes, you. It's very practical. Like,

-The thug/rapist/robber is trying to grab you from the front like so; the instructor shows you how to whack him on the knee, then whack him on the elbow. He's hurting.

-The thug/rapist/robber is trying to slash at you with a knife; you jump back, whack him on the wrist as it passes by, swing the stick around and whack him behind the knee. He dropped his knife, he's on the ground, and really hurting.

-The thug/rapist/robber sneaks up on you from behind and bear hugs you. You were holding the staff in your right hand with one end on the ground, like you usually do when walking. Bend/crouch over, ramming your be-hind into his/her pelvis, and grab the lower end of the staff with your other hand. Uncrouch a little so you can pivot to the left about 45 degrees, then crouch again while forcefully poking him/her in the bladder in a backwards ramming motion not unlike rowing a boat. If he/she/it didn't let go yet so you can run, sidekick low and to your left into their knee. They will let go or be knocked over or get their knee broken. If they then lunge again or are drawing a weapon, since you are free of their hold you can use another technique your instructor showed you.

-Thug/rapist/robber is trying to hit you with his own stick (or similar object). The instructor shows you how to parry, poke, hit, kick, etc.

Yes, it's simple as that! just practice, that's all! BTW, women can hit with a stick about as hard as a man can. It's your skill that matters, and anyone can do it.

Furthermore, think of how much more effective you would be if you could spray them with pepper spray first.

If you would give some Escrima classes to our intrepid travelers mentioned earlier and drop them back into the scenarios they came from, the outcomes would have been quite different. Even the lady chased by the three thugs at the crossroads. She could have maced one guy and really hurt the other two with her staff. They were unarmed.

Regarding wild dogs, if you meet 2 or more, you're going to need more than a staff. To give you more feedback on pepper spray, the last time I had to use it on a dog, it got a solid 1 second squirt in its fuzzy face. It ran away, but I think more because it was afraid a human was spraying something at it. It didn't look distressed when running away. Me, on the other hand, was left with an irresistable cough, watering eyes and runny nose, even with no breeze blowing it back at me (total squirt time: about 3 seconds). I think I would be in deep trouble if I had to have to spray a pack of vicious dogs running all around me. My idea of a solution? Cattle prod. Extra High Voltage. Other than that, the only thing I can think of is a gunshot to scare them away.

If you have 1 vicious dog and no staff to keep it away, you might try your pack knife, but know this: don't *ever* try to stab at anything if the knife doesn't have a blade guard. Never ever, neverever, not even if it's a pit bull mauling your arm. Why? because if you hit a bone (better than 50% chance) no matter how good you have ahold of the handle, your hand will slide onto the blade and the tendons in your finger(s) will be cut, rendering it useless, furthermore, taking away your will to fight, and you will suffer the consequences of losing the fight. If/when you survive the attack, you have lost the use of your finger(s). The doctor will ask you if you want your finger(s) to be straight for the rest of your life, or shaped like a hook for the rest of your life. It happened to me and it sucks. Think of that happening to your right index finger, the one you use the most. Don't do it. This especially applies to folding knives, because in addition to not having a blade guard, even if your grip doesn't slip, the lock (if it even has one) can slip or break and halfway chop your finger off. Slice only.

If the knife does have a blade guard, I have read that the best way to deal with an attacking dog (using a knife) is to crouch low, keep it at bay with the knife point, and if necessary, thrust upwards into the neck or under their face. For most knives in general, the best approach is to slash their nose. Dogs *really* don't like that. However, if you are getting into it with 2 or more dogs, you're really in up to your neck because you'll probably get attacked from all sides at once and you can only make 1 defensive motion at a time.

Here's some things to be aware of when dealing with dogs:

-They're much faster on their feet than you are

-Pretty much anything passing within 1 foot of their muzzle can be clomped on with lightning speed

-They can let go of one limb and grab another amazingly fast

-Yes, you can make a dog more p-d off when beating on it to make it let go, making it change its mind about how bad it wants to hurt you

-if a dog is snapping at you with leaping jumps or attacking high, it doesn't want to just scare you or hurt you, it wants to ultimately get at your throat

-If you can't stop a confrontation, there is a point far enough away where they feel like they're out of their territory, if you can move it there they're more likely to just give up and leave if they find you not so aggressive.

-If you're in a multi-dog confrontation, try to figure out which one is the alpha (biggest and strongest) because the other dogs are more likely to keep their distance if they see that one hurt. If the alpha gives up and leaves, the others will probably too. If they're all close in size and strength, you're in trouble because the alpha distinction isn't so clear to them.

-A larger dog, pound for pound, can be twice as strong as you. Don't try to grab it, you won't be successful and you'll only put your arms, neck and face closer to its mouth.

-Dogs can be incredibly tough. I have seen, firsthand, no lie, a pit bull get ran over by a 4000 lb. Oldsmobile, a labrador get stuck in the wheel well of a bus, a dobermann/shepherd mix get nailed and spun around 3x at 35 mph by a rx-7 (the kind with the pointy bumper), and they were all ok afterwards. Your fists and/or feet just might not work.

I don't think neutering is a good indication of whether a dog will be aggressive or not. I have seen agressive neutered dogs, and I have seen plenty of non-aggressive non-neutered dogs. It all depends upon how they're treated by their owners. My dog is a perfect example. Thoroughbred German Rottweiler, got him when he was 1-1/2 years old, didn't have him "fixed", now weighs 90 lbs, and he's sweet as pie. He loves kids and likes meeting peole when we go out for a walk. One thing I do notice is that most people have preconceived notions. People that are already afraid of dogs are terrified. He walks right up to them all happy and expects to get petted, and they are ready to run. Sometimes they do run. People that aren't afraid of dogs welcome him, he gets his pet, and he's happy that he got to meet someone new. So if you get anything from this, unless they're baring their teeth and coming after you, you don't have to hit/slice/shoot/kill a dog. And you can stand to get nipped.

I have never met a bear. I don't know what effect a handgun could have on a bear. BUT I do know about guns. .38's aren't all that powerful, but if you already have one, you can shoot .357 ammo through some models. If you think a .357 is powerful enough, a .40 with the right ammo (135 gr. CCI for example) is the ballistic equivalent. If you have a 9mm, 115 gr. Fiocchi imported from Europe is too. But it just doesn't sound right, a furious bear vs. a 9mm?? Nope! In general, European ammo is typically more powerful than American made ammo. A fair amount of the firearms made in the US were not designed to use overly powerful ammunition, and there are warnings that come with the gun saying just that.

If you feel the need to have a gun, Glock, an Austrian brand semiauto, can handle the more powerful ammunition (check the specs), can handle dirt, mud and water very well (no guarantees the ammo will), is superbly reliable, costs less because of their efficiency in manufacturing, functions as well or better than customized American semiauto's that cost twice as much, is nearly indestructible (and wear well) due to their proprietary polymer body and case-hardened upper action, has no safety on/off buttons or levers to fumble with under stress (it has its own reliable 3-part "safe-action" safety system), and quite frankly, gets my recommendation -without reserve- for just about anyone for just about any application. They are available in 9mm, .357 SIG, .40, .45, 10mm, and in some countries that do not allow posession of that that ammunition, .380.

If you don't have a pistol and you are considering buying one, You can go to a shooting range and rent several different calibers of guns to shoot, to evaluate what level of recoil you feel comfortable with. Then go home and decide on make and model. Remember that while .357 or .40 or .45 all have almost the same recoil, you will feel more with a lighter gun. My 20 oz. (unloaded) .40 cal Glock 27 has slightly more kick than a 36 oz. (unloaded) .45 cal Colt Commander. Which isn't that bad. I was scared at first, never having fired anything larger than a .22, but the more I got used to it, the more kick I wanted. After maybe 10 shots of each, I was doing double taps and went through 6 boxes of ammo just for the hell of it.

The 10mm is ballistically equivalent to a .41 magnum --in reality, it is a ".40 magnum". It would be my choice, after something in .50 Action Express, assuming I was forced to go somewhere I knew I would meet up with an angry bear, without a rifle. Compared to a .45, the recoil of a 10mm has been called "stout" and that of a .50 AE could be called "hellacious". And I still think it would be tactically sound to retreat while shooting.

There isn't much difference at all between a 4" barrel and a 10" barrel because pistol ammo is pistol ammo. The bullet reaches most of its velocity after about 4-5" no matter how long the barrel is. Note that a 2" snubnose will then be weaker. .22 ammo is different regarding barrel length, because while there are many handguns chambered for it, it's truly a rifle cartridge, so the gases would still expand to perhaps 18". (not that you would use it in a defensive role anyways, right?) Hollowpoint or FMJ? Dunno. either way, you have to AIM or else you're wasting ammo.

If you have to fire a warning shot from a gun to scare away attacking thugs/rapists/robbers/dogs, here's an idea: instead of shooting into the air like everyone else does, shoot into the ground where appropriate. If you shoot in the air, the bullet will come down about the same speed as it comes up. Plus, it might look more "purposeful" to an attacker than just "shooting into the air". Again, you should never do stuff like this unless you have to.

Now then. About this whole crazy situation of going places where you feel scared. Just don't. I don't hike much at all, but I do live in some rough neighborhoods, so I think the same principles apply. I have a pistol; I don't have a license to carry it. Therefore it stays home. But when considering getting a license to carry, I dutifully read some reading material on the rights and responsibilities of people who do carry concealed. Guess what? I learned something. The best peice of advice I read was, "don't go somewhere you normally wouldn't, just because you have a gun." I observed that idea while wandering about (without gun of course), and decided I really didn't need a CCW after all. No problem, just use the common sense that wasn't being used before. Hopefully sharing that can help us all avoid bears and rednecks.

So if you do find yourself scared to be where you're at, why not just turn around and tiptoe right back?

Earlier a message was posted highlighting the bad things that can happen if you do have a gun and are forced to use it. I must agree with lot of it, unfortunately. But here are some counterpoints.

- Better them than me. I would rather avoid greivous bodily harm and have to sort it out in court, than get it in the first place. I learned that the hard way. Next time, it won't be me.

-Would I want to see someone squirming and dying in a puddle of their own blood? No. I suppose I would feel sorry for them. But I also get to see firsthand what they had in store for me. Sorry, it ain't gonna be me.

- If there is a justification to use a gun, it's going to be obvious.

- Crime statistics reveal that in most crimes where the would-be victim had a gun, it was avoided with the would-be victim simply showing the gun to the perpetrator. There is no need to start blasting away at the first sign of danger. Only using your gun when you are forced to should eliminate "mistakes", and is the only time it should be used anyways.

- A gun that weighs a pound isn't useless weight. If there's a reason for bringing it, it isn't useless.

- If there's too much mud, sand, dirt, water, etc. then get a Glock.

- There may only be a gunfight if the attacker has a gun. If a thug/rapist/robber presents a gun, which scenario do you want to plan for? defend yourself, or let them do what they want with you? It's *your* choice to prepare for ahead of time, not someone else's.

- You don't have to consider everyone a mortal threat just because you're carrying a gun. Just be aware. Are there concealed carry laws in your state? If there are, do you suppose you passed by someone today that was carrying? They didn't shoot you, did they?

Peace

Blazer

Lone Wolf
2003-02-23, 19:18
Right on Blazer. "Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6".

GrizzlyBear
2003-02-23, 19:25
Well - That certainly was.

Redbeard
2003-02-23, 20:23
Er, maybe I misread this but, You can certainly shoot .38 out of most, if not all .357 magnums, but I've never heard of shooting .40 out of one. .44's and .45's are popular, you may not even find a .40 at a store. Shooting .38's out of your .357 mag is cheaper for can plinking. And hey, after you take those stick fighting classes, go find a local chapter of the S.C.A., they get to spend all day beating each other over the head with sticks! (Society for Creative Anachronism, a midevil lifestyle/combat group)

Blazer
2003-02-24, 02:54
...er, well, I rechecked some facts, and you can shoot .38 out of a .357, not the other way around. The .357 cartridge is too long for the cylinder of a .38. My bag.

You cannot shoot .40 ammo out of a .38. I was putting them all in perspective to compare with something you might already have.

.40 cal guns are as common as 9mm or .45. 10mm is what you would have problems finding, and .357 SIG is even more difficult. Another thing to think about is that 10mm and .357 SIG ammo is harder to find than the gun is.

chief
2003-02-24, 10:47
well this thread has certainly evolved. now we're fighting off feral dogs, learning martial arts and swapping ammo (if it doesn't fit, get a bigger hammer, hehe). someone reads way to many gun magazines!

GrizzlyBear
2003-02-24, 11:10
Yup - yup -yup - yup. I went right out and bought a Kalashnikov, a hundred-thousand rounds of incendiary and armor peircing, fifty-pounds of C-4, a case of grenades, and a cart to pull it all behind me. I already have the club and the attitude, but you aren't going to catch me unprepared, fly-fishing, out there in the wilderness, between Ashville and Clingman's Dome. "Wacha gonna dooo, when they come for yoooooo"?;)

sundog
2003-02-24, 11:30
Feral dogs and bears don't bother me.

I live in arkansas, I worry about meth labs and marijuana feilds, which BTW I have come across in the backcountry. I am far more concerned about two legged predators than four legged. The result is that I carry a sidearm. I do not want to be a missing person down here. to quote a local, "I can put you so deep in the hollar that the turtles won't find you."

Having said that, when I have come across such things, I do not whip out my gun and go charging on through, I cautiously back up, and take the long way around, or turn around completely and abort the trip. Usually it is on a side trail, when I am looking for a spot to camp, or making my way down to a river for water. Forest road access seems to be the biggest problem, as that is how they get in and out. Meth labs are frequently found in trailers in this state, usually in AR or eastern OK. It is a huge problem.

-sundog

chief
2003-02-24, 11:49
Originally posted by GrizzlyBear
"Wacha gonna dooo, when they come for yoooooo"?
bad boy, bad boy....!

steve hiker
2003-02-25, 01:25
I've heard of handguns that shoot .410 shells. Anyone know of a good one?

Redbeard
2003-02-25, 12:27
You "adjust" and "accesorise" a .410 shotgun, but I'm pretty sure it's illegal in most states. I have never heard of a handgun specifically made for that purpose, but I quit going to gun shows when I realized I was poor:D (okay, actually I wasted all my money on motorcycles)

Blazer
2003-02-26, 00:07
check http://www.derringer1.com/id3.htm for all kinds of mutations. they have 38/357, 45 Long Colt/410, and they weld on an extra .22 barel here and there. great fun guns. I don't know of any semiautos.

GrizzlyBear
2003-02-26, 10:20
Boy, do I feel safer, already! - just knowing that the next neurotic goof-ball I meet in the woods, might have that little "fun-gun" stuffed in his or her pants - possibly with the hammer back, from being caught on the pack belt, last time it was taken out to admire, or have a little "fun" with.

Has anyone considered a 105mm Recoiless Rifle, and a "Mule"? The Mule was a small 4-wheel drive platform-vehicle, and the "Reckless" -effective for miles - from my day in the military, but you could probably still get one from your local friendly, arms dealer. This little outfit would carry all your gear, and you could level the terrain for miles ahead. No need to worry about "carrying" concealed, either. If a park ranger gives you any crap - just level the ranger station, and take out his jeep.

Don't get me wrong, folks. I'm not some kind of anti-gun nut. My house is well stocked with everything from shotguns to 54 cal. long guns, and pistols. But, do you really want some gun-toting, "Barney Fife" type, accountant, from Arlington Heights, mistaking your unshaven face for one of the "bad guys"?

If it gets that bad out there, I'm going to hang up my pack and fly rods, and take up knitting - or maybe quoits - or sniping.

Lone Wolf
2003-02-26, 12:08
I was in Motor T in the Corps. I worked on them there Mules, Gamma goats, Jeeps, 2.5 and 5 ton trucks.

SGT Rock
2003-02-26, 15:35
I don't think you can take a mule on the AT (wheel vehicle), so maybe just a LAW or AT4 would be the biggest thing you would want to carry.

cldphoto
2003-03-06, 15:05
Unfortunately, in my neck of the woods (SE AZ), hiking can be dicey, especially if you're hiking a north-south route near the border. We frequently have "guests" from south of the border hiking through the area, especially on established routes like the San Pedro river trail (and even on Fort Huachuca trails). Sometimes the guests pack light, and sometimes they bring bales of Acapulco cheer with them (and pack heat). There are occasional gun battles across the border, and I hear tales of hikers discovering arms caches on some trails in the Coronado NF.

That said, I have never met any of our Mexican brothers or sisters to the south on my hikes, although I frequently find signs of their passing -- old clothes, blankets, food wrappers, and the inevitable 42,000 freaking Mexican water bottles get thicker the close you get to the border. Perhaps the Border Patrol should start posting "leave no trace" signs en Espanol along the 5-strand barbed wire fence that "protects" our national border . . .

SunnyWalker
2008-01-10, 04:12
Any recommends on pepper spray? Brands? For use on dogs and more importantly on a human attacker?
-SunnyWalker

pure_mahem
2008-01-10, 12:43
I believe the 410 thing your talking about is called the judge if not it's made by that manufacturer and it's a revolver. It also shoots something else I thnk maybe 45l long colt. Do some googling you'll find it.

MalTheElder
2008-01-10, 18:28
. . . I am not afraid of cows, although bulls make me nervous! . . .

Bulls are often ornery---pregnant cows and mothers with calves are truly :evil: evil.

So are camp-thieves. Coat 'em in honey and bear-bag 'em low.

Best,
Mal

MalTheElder
2008-01-10, 18:36
I'm saving up for a Gamma Goat and Vulcan cannon. I reckon the Goat'll handle the trails well enough, and a quick burst from the Vulcan will discourage any critter for miles around, furry or felonious.

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp,
Mal