View Full Version : Oops I fell down... again!!!!!!!!!

2003-12-30, 22:53
There I was, March,1 2003. Attempting to complete my first thru hike of the AT after a discouraging attempt the year before. I set out on my adventure from Springer Mountain thinking all I have to do is walk, and I'll do just fine. In the back of my mind I kept thinking. "A couple of hills aren't gonna kill me". Giggle... giggle... giggle...
I was an out of shape 320lb bag of goo carrying a 50lb pack. I had been smoking a pack and a half of Marlboros a day until I got to the Springer terminus. "I'll just take it slow until I climatize myself to the terrain". I did it every day when I was in the Army. Or so I thought.
I was so proud of myself when I finally made it to Hawk Mt. I hiked up to the top and just felt beat. So I sat down for about a half an hour thinking I'll be at the shelter soon. Everyone I started with will be so proud that I made it this far. I had already drank all 4 liters of my water, when a local hiker came upon me with all my belongings strewn around like I owned the whole mountaint top. You OK son? It must have been my red fluster face that gave me away. Oh I'm just a little tired, but I'm at the top of the mountain, I'll be fine. You're at Hawk Mt son, but you aint at the top.
Darned if I didn't sit down at the top of some little hill beat to death thinking I was at the top of Hawk Mt. It looked like the top of a mountain. It took me another hour and a half to get to the top. No water, things falling out of my pack like they were on springs.
I finally made it to the shelter about a half hour past that nice hiker who stopped to talk to me. Light was fading and I came into camp near hypothermic from sweat, just a clink'en and a clank'en, clothes fallen off me like I'd been mawld by a grizzly bear. None the less, folks were wonderfull to me. I sat there in camp dead to the world while someone got me water. I gathered myself, fixed camp, made dinner chow, and went to bed.
The next morning I had to fight off hikers who hadn't slept a wink due to my consistant snoring. Seems that in my in-coherant state of mind the night before I had failed to announce that I was the loudest snoring person on the entire A.T. that season. Someone had actually woke during the night and threw a boot at me. My trailname in one fleeting instance went from being Snuffleupagus to S.O.B. and everyone in the camp gave me the ol stink-eye as they headed out one by one mumbling obsceneties at me.
At about 11:00am I decided to head out. I packed up and started walking. I made it as far as hightower gap when my water bladder opened inside my pack and started soaking my butt, along with all the belongings inside my pack. I kept going...
Dillusional now for lack of water. I put my pack down and blazed off the trail to what on the map seemed like a creek bed, when I stepped into a rotted out tree stump and twisted my ankle. Being of large nature, but somewhat athletic, I was accustomed to doing this on many occasion, so it wasn't all that painfull. I turned around to look at what the hell I had stepped into and inherantly slipped and fell 50ft down the backside of horse gap upsidedown and on my back until luckily a huge rock in the empty creek bed broke my fall, otherwise I could have really been injured or even hurt.
I again gathered myself after lying in the creekbed for what seemed like an eternity. I pulled myself up to my pack and headed on down the trail. I had walked for 10 or 15 minutes or so down the trail when I came upon a solo trail maintainer, working desperately to moving some large rocks to make a stair case coming down horse gap. I stood above the gentleman for 2 minutes at least, desperatly hoping he would say hello or something as I was in diar need of liquid replenishments. I really thought I was going to die if I didn't drink something soon. He never even acknowledged that I was there. Finally I said something. "You're doing a great job. Do you need some help"? He didn't even look up at me. I thought to myself. "How rude." I stood there for another minute. "Is there water anywhere around here"? Not even a notion that I was there. I again, thought to myself. "You stinkin S.O.B. I'm standing here blood dripping from my hands and knees after my run in with horse gap cliff. I'm about to pass out from dehydration, and you can't even acknowledge my existance". I thought. "Maybe that's just the way they are here in the wonderfull mountains of Georgia". Just as I was going to say something very rude and to the point. He looked up at me and said, and I quote. "Henno are you alwight, you nook nike you need tum help." He was deaf...Not rude...Not beligerant...Not even purposeful, but deaf. Here I was standing there, beat to living hell by the wonders of nature, ready to bodyslam this wonderful man into the mountain for being nothing but a hard working naturalist giving everything he possibly could back to the trail he loved so much. Without even hesitating this man offered me every last drop of water in his pack. I drank the water right from his two nalgene bottles. He explained that there was no water within a mile. He had told me he had parked his car not far from there and would drive me to water. I turned him down but took what water he had and continued on to cooper gap. There I ran into an older man trailnamed journeyman. He was in the same situation I was in, diar. He had run out of water as well. I set up camp and looked at my map for possible water sources. 800ft down a fire road, I found it. I fixed chow and went to bed. The wind that night got fierce and the temperature dropped into the 20's in that little gap. I was sleeping in my REI bivy sack, which by the way, because of my size was much like pulling a grapeskin over a watermelon. I slept great, but by morning all the condensation from my breath had frozen my face to the side of the fabric. I had to warm the fabric in the morning with my hands to peel the bivy from my face.
I went still further on...
I made it miraculously the next day 14 or more miles to wood's hole shelter without as much as a single event. It was just 3 or so more miles to Walasi-Yi Center at Neels Gap where I could get a shower and a pint of Ben and Jerry's chunky monkey. So I walked, and I walked, and I walked.
Finally standing in front me lie Blood Mountain. I stopped walking...and just looked up.
"This is not going to be easy". I thought to myself. My ankle was pretty bad at this point. I had enough water, or so I thought. Ben and Jerry's would be really good. So I went for it.
Up, up, up, I went keeping a good pace as not to burn myself out. Women passed me without breaking a stride. "Keep it up big guy you're almost there". Old men past me without looking back. "You're almost at the top big guy". Finally I had made it to the shelter. Unfortunately I was out of water. You see the temperature made it into the mid 60's that day and it felt like I was in zimbabwa. I mean it was just Africa hot out there. But at the time I could have been hiking buck naked and it wouldn't have made a bit of difference. I was just hot. I rested at the shelter for half an hour before heading out knowing that at the bottom there was a small spring. I was making good pace towards the bottom of the mountain when I noticed small trickles of water coming from the cracks in the rocks just of the trail. I knew it wouldn't be long before I was drinking from a spring the size of a small creek soon enough. So I kept going, and going. Finally there it was. A spring. I could see it from 100ft away. Water, wonderful water. I climbed the last few steps to see the water pooling up into a 4ft by 4ft bowl on a short side trail just to my right. As I took a small bounding leap to cross a jagged notch in the trail, my foot rolled out from underneath me, and I did a face plant right into the pool of water. I ended up on my back, with my pack underneath me, stuck like a turtle, upside down, arms and legs kicking a flailing to get up. I was stuck... Pack soaking up all that wonderfull nourishing water. I was finally able to get up to my feet. First I looked around to see if anyone was there looking at me, because in my haste I had quickened my pace so much that I had caught the large group of hikers ahead of me, and more were coming down. When I fell, I fell right across one of my brand new $120 hiking poles that my mom had bought me for Christmas because I said it would help me from twisting my ankles. I bent that all to hell. Now my knee was squirting blood, just about... I thought I would need a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. My pack was soaked and had to weigh some 80lbs. I did make it to Neels gap where they were out of Ben and Jerry's chunky monkey. They did have 1 pack of Marlboros and everyone was there that I had kept awake the few nights before with my snoring. This is a true story. I'll be heading out March 1, 2004 for another attempt at a A.T. thru hike A.K.A. snuffleupagus...

SGT Rock
2004-01-01, 02:56
I love that story. Good luck in 2004. Maybe I see you on the trail somewhere!

2004-01-13, 16:27
Now that was funny, had to close my office door......

Keep at it. <<...>>

2004-01-15, 12:33
Great story. Good to be able to laugh about these things later!

Ah, Blood Mountain. When I was in law school, my buddies and I used to leave Atlanta at around 10 PM, park at the trailhead for the spur trail about 0.5 miles north of Walasi-Yi (can't remember the spur trail name), and night hike up Blood (we figured flashlights were for sissies). Fun stuff. We got pretty good at it, and it made the day hikes more interesting because you notice things VERY differently from night to day.

2004-03-03, 17:34
I loved the story.
I hope it gets better soon.
Maybe I will see you while I section hike this year.
Your tribulation reminded me of the Bryson told Stephen Katz stories.

2004-11-24, 20:24
From ww.darwinawards.com

Dry Spell
1991 Darwin Award Nominee
Confirmed True by Darwin
(26 July 1991) Patrick lived to rue the day he planned a record-breaking 20-mile hike across the Badwater Salt Flats, the hottest place on earth. He completed 19.5 miles of his hike before collapsing on the scorching ground, never to rise again. Found with his body were a video camera and an empty three-quart water pouch.
The China Lake Rescue team located Patrick’s parched body on his forty-first birthday, nearly two weeks after he set out on his desert hike. He was found only a half mile from his red Toyota truck, where gallons of fresh water waited on the seat. Patrick, a healthy 165-pound outdoorsman, had been dehydrated to 90 pounds by the blistering heat. What brought Patrick to such a sad state of desiccation?

Badwater routinely attracts extremists enticed by the lure of running a 150-mile course from Badwater to Mount Whitney, from the lowest point in North America to the highest point in the contiguous United States. Occasional brave souls attempt the one-way hike across Badwater to meet waiting friends and refill their water bottles. Only Patrick, our Darwin Award candidate, tried to make the trek alone with only three quarts of water.

According to District Ranger Mark Maciha, Badwater is consistently five to ten degrees hotter than nearby Furnace Creek, which registered a high of 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913. The summer sunshine heats the ground to almost 200 degrees, and the parched air approaches zero percent humidity. No rational explanation can be found for why this lifelong fitness fanatic failed to take sufficient water with him on his hike into this harsh climate. An estimated twelve quarts of water would have been required to survive the exertion of plodding through muddy salt.

Murder was ruled out by the autopsy, and suicide seems unlikely, as it was his third attempt to complete the trek. The most compelling theory is that he wanted to set the record for being the first man to make an unassisted round-trip hike across Badwater. A friend confides that he purposely kept rangers ignorant of his intentions because he knew they would watch over him.

And extra water is just so heavy!

Before his doomed hike, he boasted to several friends that he had calculated the exact amount of water he would need, and to save weight, he would take not a single drop more. In a lamentable miscalculation he carried only three quarts of water, which were simply insufficient to see him through to the other side.

Dr. Milton Jones theorized after the autopsy that Patrick may have sat down to rest with his truck within sight, but had lost so much body fluid that his heart was unable to pump the unnaturally viscous blood to his brain. He lapsed into unconsciousness and died.

Patrick was a healthy outdoorsman with an extensive knowledge of the desert. His father recalled, "He spent money on only two things: electronic equipment and going to the desert."

The video camera found by his body chronicles the first half of Patrick’s hike before the batteries died. It ended with his haunting observation, "The only problem is that we have to hike back... This is the real world. One false move, and you’re dead."