Im so lost! Why is it such a big deal Going off trail?

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AZ_Hiker
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Im so lost! Why is it such a big deal Going off trail?

Post by AZ_Hiker » Oct 07 2003 11:04 am

Im sure it would be easy to trun this in to an angry fight, but I still think its worth talking about.


I have not been in Arizona long. I am still learning about hiking here as apposed to the south or the northwest. so that being said..

I dont understand why people here seem to get bent when someone says "I was off trail".. how did a "trail" get started in the first place, I mean someone had to do it first.. right?

there have been a few adventures I have had that I know some could learn form but I wont post them here because of how some act here. Weather its getting a little lost or not wearing the right gear or whatever the adversity I have come across... I have learned so far that here is not the place to talk about it because some would rather flame then add..

is this a place to take and learn from others?

The deset is an indiscriminate executioner. there is a lot I have learned and some really cool people I have meet here. But there is always something more to learn. Do some of you tho, think you have it all figured out? and therefore have some kind of a "right" to carve up someone for making a mistake?

Like I said some people here are really encouraging and helpful so this not directed at everyone.. but some could be a little more helpful and constructive instead of being so quick to point out mistakes..

of course this is just my opinion.. but the goal here I thought was not to have everyone doing exactly the same thing. everyone enjoys the outdoors in a different way. But the goal here should be that we all get back safely with the good the bad and the ugly so that all my learn form that experance. again JMO..

AZhiker.
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mttgilbert
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Post by mttgilbert » Oct 07 2003 1:54 pm

I feel that off-trail travel is legitamate. I think people get angry about it because they are misunderstanding the fundamental idea of off-trail travel. When I say off-trail (OT), I mean it. I usually start from a point at which there is no trail at all. Though occasionally I admit to following a trail and then departing at a suitable point. I think what people get upset about (including myself) is people who cut switchbacks, re-route trails, and are generally destructive to the lanscape. I firmly beleive that if you are following a trail STAY ON IT! don't walk next to it, or try to develop "shortcuts". Those trails run the way they do for a reason. However there are limitless places that deserve to be visited yet have no trails. I don't think I should be forced to avoid those places as a result. I do make sure I walk on solid rock as often as possible, I don't crush vegetation or otherwise harm the wildlife, and if I find a game trail or trail of use, I use it. The biggest problem is that there are people without the experience to walk OT. I think most of the people upset by talk of going OT have those inexperienced hikers in mind. They don't want a bunch of novices thinking its OK to just go barreling through the desert creating new trails wherever they want (and lets face it, the desert is more fragile than most ecosystems and it doesn't take a lot of damage to permamently scar the landscape) With that in mind, I would say if you have the appropriate experience, knowledge and eco-courtesy, coupled with the desire to escape the roving hoards of trail walkers (honestly, I think that's one of the most important reasons I go out. To get away from the crowds) then its perfectly acceptable to walk OT. I do, however, encourage everyone to STAY ON TRAILS when they are available.

Was there a particular instance you had in mind here Ron? That whole post seems pretty pointed...

Also, I would like to encourage you to share those experiences anyway. Its easy to burn someone for making a mistake, but there are people who would benefit from your learning experience. Besides, I'll bet the rest of us realize that that sort of criticism just exposes the ignorance of the criticiser. Some people do have legitimate arguments for staying exclusively on trails, those arguments deserve attention, but its no reason to attack you personally.

BTW, here is a link to a former discussion of the same topic:
http://www.hikearizona.com/dex2/viewtop ... sc&start=0
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-Matt Gilbert

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Hoffmaster
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Off-trail hiking

Post by Hoffmaster » Oct 07 2003 2:18 pm

I agree with Matt. There is nothing wrong with off-trail hiking as long as the hiker is responsible about it. I think, AZHiker, that people get "bent" out of shape when someone mentions off-trail hiking because the desert really is a fragile environment. I try to think of these people as hikers who care about the places they hike in; even though, admittedly, some of them are over the top in their ranting and raving. Just be responsible: don't trample plants, or hike in places where your footprints will cause erosion. Other than that I say hike on! I go off trail a lot, and I know some off-trail hikes that would kick most peoples' butt. :twisted: Then again, maybe that's why some people whine; they can't hack it out there without a pristine path to follow. But that's opening a whole other can of worms...

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AZ_Hiker
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Post by AZ_Hiker » Oct 07 2003 2:22 pm

no .. I really didnt mean it to sound pointed. I see it offen here when someone says off trail.. someone else says "you should not be off trail"..

I agree that the desert is a fragle eco system.. but.. me walking off and exploring it is not the wrost crime either. heck I even make an extream effort to step over or under spider webs and they are not always easy to see.. I just dont expect everyone to do the same.

I am all for conservation.. but Im for what i like to call sensible conservation. not many things make me as angry as when I get to someplace I have spent half a day hiking to and when I get there I see litter or someone was nice enough to carve his name so I would know he was there in 1977.. corse I dont like that. But I doubt anyone here does...

I to stay on the trail when its plain to see.. but there are lots of places I want to see and there is no trail.. there is explorer in all of us or we would all settle for walking on a tread mill..

hey matt hows it going?
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Post by HikerInGilbert » Oct 07 2003 5:43 pm

I was going to reply along the same lines as Matt. Is there another forum here I don't know about? The last "off-trail" thread I remember seeing is the one Matt supplied the link to. Hmmm.

I agree with what everyone said in that thread to a point. Everyone seemed to have a well thought out explanation of their ideas. One way, or another.

Sorry if someone was getting on your case personally about OTH Ron. That isn't right. Constructive discussion is always the best way.
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Re: Im so lost! Why is it such a big deal Going off trail?

Post by pfredricks » Oct 07 2003 6:07 pm

AZ_Hiker wrote: I dont understand why people here seem to get bent when someone says "I was off trail".. how did a "trail" get started in the first place, I mean someone had to do it first.. right?
AZhiker.
read that a few times--------
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Post by ajcanable » Oct 07 2003 6:23 pm

I enjoy off trail hikes all the time. I don't get as far as I would on trail, But I see more!

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Re: Im so lost! Why is it such a big deal Going off trail?

Post by HikerInGilbert » Oct 07 2003 6:31 pm

pfredricks wrote:
AZ_Hiker wrote: I dont understand why people here seem to get bent when someone says "I was off trail".. how did a "trail" get started in the first place, I mean someone had to do it first.. right?
AZhiker.
read that a few times--------
Guess I must have read into that first post a little deeper than necessary...
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Greg Jackson
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Post by Greg Jackson » Oct 07 2003 8:49 pm

There is a difference between going off trail and bushwhacking.

Bushwhacking, or randomly upsetting the balance of nature by being reckless, is what offends people (in my opinion).

Exploring off trail is fine as long as you don't trash the environment!
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Post by Daryl » Oct 08 2003 7:17 am

Going off trail is fun and fine if you know what you are doing. If you don't know what you are doing it is damaging and dangerous and you have no business doing it.

Furthermore, back east when you hike off trail your path will be over grown by brush, ground cover, trees, snow, falling leaves... in a matter of days. Here a path you may make can stay visable for years.

Besides possibly damaging the area, getting off trail is the quickest way to get lost if you are not knowledgable in map/compass/gps. You may think that by getting lost you are only risking your own safety, but think about the 20-50 people that are going to come rescue you.

Part of what makes this site great is that people are free to share their opinions and knowledge. What fun would this site be if everyone just agreed with everything? I've learned a lot from the people here and have gained understanding of opposing positions on topics. Post what you want. If you disagree with something someone else posts in reply, disregard it or post a reply with an intellegent, non-offending counter reply.

If you say you were off trail hiking and got lost, I'm going to post that you probably shouldn't have been off trail in the first place. If you post that you went off trail, had a great time and found something cool, I'm going to ask where it was so I can go there.
“Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid”
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Post by Lizard » Oct 08 2003 8:01 am

I posted this awhile ago in reply to one of the articles, but it seems appropriate to this thread also. These are the guidelines that the Leave No Trace organization has put out for off-trail hiking:

-Select routes that follow durable surfaces. For example, rock, sand, gravel and snow are all good choices.
-When you cannot walk on a durable surface, spread the group out so that no one is walking in another's footsteps.
-Limit group size to 10 people or less. (I would make this number even lower personally)
-Stay off game trails unless walking cross-country would do more damage to plants or soil.
-Leave your route unmarked. Please do not leave blazes, cairns, or flagging.
-When camping, spread your tents over a wide area. Do not congregate in one spot.
"Of course we weren't lost. We were merely where we shouldn't have been, without knowing exactly where that was."

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Post by Nighthiker » Oct 08 2003 8:53 am

Well said Lizard.

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Post by Snick33 » Oct 08 2003 1:17 pm

"Weather its getting a little lost or not wearing the right gear or whatever the adversity" Say, is this a reference to me wearing Spandex?

I'm so confused, there must be a parallel, yet invisible thread on this website; OK guys where the secret button?
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Post by ROGER » Oct 08 2003 4:17 pm

In response to Snick33's reply:


Ok were's that spill check butin???

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AZ_Hiker
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Post by AZ_Hiker » Oct 08 2003 5:34 pm

who here has never been lost? even if it was only for a half and hour?..
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Post by mttgilbert » Oct 08 2003 5:42 pm

If it was only for a half an hour, you weren't really lost; only misplaced. If you were really lost then Daryl was out looking for you. Everyone gets turned around now and then, its just whether they figure things out again. Orienteering is just one of those skills you ought to have even if you stay exclusively on trails.
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Post by Daryl » Oct 08 2003 9:43 pm

Yep, lost for half an hour isn't really lost. Spending the night un-planned, running out of water and ending up 30 miles off course is lost. If you do that I'll tell you that you shouldn't have went off trail. Getting home safely a few hours late is simply an adventure.

Secretly I'd rather more people went out and got lost, especally during the week. It's nice to have an excuse to leave work so I can get out hiking a few hours looking for them.
“Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid”
John Wayne as Sergeant John M. Stryker, USMC in “The Sands of Iwo Jima”

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AZ_Hiker
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Post by AZ_Hiker » Oct 08 2003 11:52 pm

"Spending the night un-planned, running out of water and ending up 30 miles off course is lost."??

I know this happens but people like this will get lost on the trail,off trail, in town, at the mall.... Alot of them end up dead too. My point is tho.. I dont think any of these people went out thinking "Im going out to get lost and I think just to make it harder... Im not taking enough water either"

I have been in a spot where I was out of water, and my body was cramping up, my kindeys were shutting down.. then, because I was so out of it, made a wrong trun and added 2 miles to my 20 mile hike.. does this mean I had no bissness being out there? there were alot of things that went wrong on that trip that I had no control over. it was at least 10 degrees hotter then forcasted, 10% chance of rain turned in to the worst monsoon in 20 or so years. When the monsoon hit, where I was on the trail, I had no choice but to keep going, but becasue of the heavy rain, I sliped fell and jammed up one of my legs and that was half way through my trip.I still had to walk back out! all my research said 8 miles in but it was closer to 11(still not sure tho). tthere was about 3 times I sat down on my way out and thought Im just going to wait for search and rescue.. I didnt tho I walked out. .. Now, the only reason I walked out is because im such a stuburn person by nature. I payed the price for it when I got back.

Now I when I got back, I thought I will post all of what happened on here(the list above is not all that happened). I thought better of it after I wrote is all down and re-read it.. Did i plan on getting in this much trouble? no! but it happened.. I think a lot of people in this situation would have waited for search & rescue and I wouldnt blame them one bit. I think looking back that maybe I should have.

I said it before guys.. ahh and gals:)

The deset is an indiscriminate executioner! im an experanced hiker.. I have good gear, I use my head, dont take alot of chances, and im in good shape. but I have almost got gotten by the executioner a few times..

My question is, Do we share these things or not? experances good and bad, mistakes made, mishaps, bad planing, acts of nature?

AZ_hiker
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Post by mttgilbert » Oct 09 2003 12:36 am

Do share your experience (good and bad), but be willing to accept that maybe you weren't as prepared as you should have been. I understand that things get out of control sometimes, and that can't be helped. But you said yourself that you're an inexperienced hiker, maybe that trail on that day was out of your range. Everyones been on a hike where they were under-prepared, its no shame to admit it, only to do it again. None the less, congratulations on making it out and kudos for your ability to keep going.
Cogito ergo ambulo cum sacculo
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Post by AK » Oct 09 2003 1:30 am

Hope for the best, plan for the worst. This is a forum we all come to share our knowledge and experiences and learn from. Most everyone who has hiked has been in some sort of pinch do to unforeseeable circumstances. Remember, anyone who criticizes the decisions you made at a time when you were in distress and were not in your shoes, only opinions are lent.
Aaron

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