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The Dangers of bushwacking


delanos
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I started caching in 2002. One of my fist finds was an Ammo can north of San Antonio where I was living at the time. It was at a City park I believe. It was an ammo can and you had to hike over a mile with a tail change I believe to get to where you could turn in to the woods to get to it. It was not far from the trail you just had to figure which trail. I got it with a few backtracks and trail changes.

 

A few months later someone tried bushwhacking to get to it apparently and walked off a cliff. The news report implied they were by themselves.

After that I made sure I didn't do the bushwhacking thing.

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I started caching in 2002. One of my fist finds was an Ammo can north of San Antonio where I was living at the time. It was at a City park I believe. It was an ammo can and you had to hike over a mile with a tail change I believe to get to where you could turn in to the woods to get to it. It was not far from the trail you just had to figure which trail. I got it with a few backtracks and trail changes.

 

A few months later someone tried bushwhacking to get to it apparently and walked off a cliff. The news report implied they were by themselves.

After that I made sure I didn't do the bushwhacking thing.

 

Given that at some point, everywhere was once not on a trail, the bigger problem is WHY do you feel the need to bushwhack, and HOW MUCH thought have you given the enterprise. In places where trails exist, but the destination is not sitting right along side one of those trails, one has to do a bit of planning ahead. Where NO trails exist, you really need to think about the situation.

 

Direct line routes can be steeper, looser, through 'sensitive' areas, areas with hidden dangers, or simply unpleasant areas. The fact that trails developed in certain places at all, says something about the whole thing. Even animals tend to follow the best line of attack. They don't wander straight up or downhill usually, they usually lead to somewhere desirable (food, water, shelter).

I don't know if animals just like to walk around for the fun of it, but I suspect they don't factor fun into the equation. A hiking club might want to have 10 km of trail to go to a certain place and back, and would adjust a 'manufactured' trail to achieve that, but not the critters, they just seek to get there and then somewhere else they can get what they need. In the case of NO trails being present, you are in an unknown situation, and should proceed accordingly. Going alone is something you have to think about.

Do you have communications there, does someone know that you are going to attempt that and how you prepared to do so? I did a FTF attempt last summer that in someways I regret (after). I knew it was a tough spot, and I went up accepting that I was taking a bit of a risk doing so solo. I read the placement log, I read the first attempt. Noted the difficulties mentioned, and tried to cover my butt as much as possible. I tried to get company (even non cachers)but nothing was available. I left a trip plan, and made item one be that I was basically doing a recon trip unless things were in good state. I had my Ham 2mtr handheld, but was aware that in that area, the only available repeater might or might not work. I had the GE air photo printed out, and my hiking pack was the one I use for my SAR 24hr pack... and it was stocked up. Drove as close as the parking area, and headed up, first part was a ski hill and then onto the trail that goes up the peak. I did take my time there and had a good look around and marked my route with waypoints at critical (to me) locations. I had also roughed in some spots using GE coordinates. I had never been up that mountain before, but can see it from home. The description suggested that the CO had gone straight up, I'm getting older and took his advice to work around to the west a bit more before heading up. That I did (due west) and then off the trail and onto new ground. Sidehill gouging at first, I was able to cross several gullies without losing any height. Not a good idea to focus on the compass or GPS during that phase. Just pay attention to what you are doing. It soon became evident that the route was going to have to go further uphill or get to hard core climbing (in this case up a cliff) I chose to work uphill the easier way since I was not prepared for solo climbing on loose crud. Blown down trees and brush got in the way, but eventually the distance shrunk and I ended up with one more ridge to get up onto. I remember thinking about my exit strategy, and did a goto on some of the trail waypoints I did earlier, and found one was almost straight downhill from that spot. Anyway a bit more up and to the left and I was on the ridge and got the cache easily. Decided to rest and eat, take pics etc. Discovered I had a massive blister from the sidehill stuff.

Treated that with the FA supplies I had and notice that the weather was closing in faster than I had seen in the forecast. Quickly got back down to the place where I had marked the straight down track and decided that rain and dirt/grass would be not pleasant even without lightning and opted to drop the fall line on relatively easy ground. Popped onto the main trail several hundred metres down the hill, headed back to the bottom of the hill and the vehicle. Shortly after I got to the trail, the rain started and by the time I was a the truck the electrical part had started.

 

Now why all of this? My first choice might have been to have a trail all the way, but now when someone else goes to find it I can give them the 'better' route to follow, minus the un-needed extra travel. I still intend to go back and better define that route. I don't think that I care to have city types up there unprepared. I had lots of troubles pop up... but was ready to deal with most of them... a few items I simply got lucky. I'm getting older, and my body isn't what it once was. I did play the safer side most of the time, but got bit once. How isn't important, since experience compensated in time to retreat. Point is, people like this sort of thing occasionally. Someone has to go first and second, and those should think about the why and how more than others. Some places are easier than others, but there is usually a preferred route. I don't like to make a trail, but instead to define a preferred zone of approach that mentions the reason for avoiding (or at least being aware of why for others). I don't think this will ever be a high volume cache, so distribution of the exact walking route can be determined by the hunter and not develop a trail system that isn't needed. As for problems, it is better to have a small group 'explore' in any event, but there are ways to try and reduce risk for solo efforts. Being prepared to 'bail' is one, taking the easy way is another, as well as having what you need in gear / training and experience. Most important is to have situation awareness, keep your mind on what you are doing. You need to stop and navigate or to do other things, walking and focusing on technology of any sort is bad idea.

 

I did get the FTF and prize... I also got back in one piece (but slightly damaged) so I won this time.

Always amazed that some people manage that, of course the fact that some don't is why we have SAR groups.

Be sure to support your local group.

 

Doug 7rxc

Edited by 7rxc
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I started caching in 2002. One of my fist finds was an Ammo can north of San Antonio where I was living at the time. It was at a City park I believe. It was an ammo can and you had to hike over a mile with a tail change I believe to get to where you could turn in to the woods to get to it. It was not far from the trail you just had to figure which trail. I got it with a few backtracks and trail changes.

 

A few months later someone tried bushwhacking to get to it apparently and walked off a cliff. The news report implied they were by themselves.

After that I made sure I didn't do the bushwhacking thing.

I've been bushwhacking some caches since about 2002 and the worst I have to show for it is a few scars on my fight arm because I wear short sleeves and that's the arm I use to push things out of the way. The only way I could see someone walking off a cliff would be they are blind, it's a black black night and they have no flashlight, or they're just plain stupid. But not knowing all of the details, in the case you mentioned there might have been another reason that escapes me.

Edited by DonB
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crossing the street, even on green light or a designated pedestrian crossing, it is dangerous

Probably MORE dangerous than a prepared state Solo trip.

 

Two years or so back, there was a chap in Cranbrook BC who was simply walking along a sidewalk in a residential area.

A helicopter fell out of the sky and landed on him then exploded in flames. Sometimes you simply are not going to survive!

 

Still, being aware of what is going on is a big part of doing so. But you can and will get bit by the X factor from time to time.

A lot to be said for O'Tooles theorem... "Murphy was a @*!!$& OPTIMIST!"

 

Doug 7rxc

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I went to three caches recently, that were all rated a 4 terrain because of bushwacking, and the fact they were placed near or on the side of a cliff.

 

I figure we ended up bushwacking around a half mile that day, just getting to and from each one of them. The few trails that were nearby were little more than glorified animal trails. They were no where near the caches.

 

We found them all and survived.

 

But as far as other dangers of bushwacking, try this one:

 

another danger of bushwacking

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The only way I could see someone walking off a cliff would be they are blind, it's a black black night and they have no flashlight, or they're just plain stupid.

 

Not so. Its a matter of perspective, and something i had drilled into me many moons ago as a scout. From above, if the terrain below the cliff is similar to that above, the cliff itself can be invisible. On something like a scree slope, it may not be possible to see the cliff edge until perilously close to it.

 

There is a key idea here - Dont rely on GPS! GPS is a tool to ascertain your position, that is what it was developed to do. high resolution/ scale cartography is the item designed to show you what is there! If going off trail, use your GPS only to verify your own map reading. Plan a route based on the map detail, take a bearing along the route to a visible feature and walk point to point between features, keeping your eyes on the terrain. Dont blindly follow a GPS unit, nor even a magnetic compass.

 

The only person who can actually tell you what the dangers are, is yourself! You are the person crossing the terrain, so you must observe it and make sure its safe.

 

As mentioned before - animals follow the best route to something they need. Animal trails are often the safest route, although they wont necessarily be going where you want to!

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Bushwhacking happens .... And like any geocache hunt, you've gotta use caution and act safely. Even so, accidents can happen.

 

I love hiking. The only thing about bushwhacking that I hate, is ticks, poison Ivy, and thorny bushes.

 

Yeah, I avoid bushwhacking whenever possible but I will never totally avoid it - or else why bother hiking in the first place? You might as well stay home and put a protective bubble around you!

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A few months ago I added a SPOT to the safety gear I carry while bushwhacking. With the SPOT, I have the option of sending an "I'm OK" a "I need help" to a couple of my friends or a real "I need to be rescued" to the SAR folks. All of the messages are sent with your precise location by satellite communication.

When I put in a cache that requires bushwacking, I point out dangers that someone might not be aware of. There seems to be a few searchers that pay little attention to the cache page and the attributes.

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A few months ago I added a SPOT to the safety gear I carry while bushwhacking. With the SPOT, I have the option of sending an "I'm OK" a "I need help" to a couple of my friends or a real "I need to be rescued" to the SAR folks. All of the messages are sent with your precise location by satellite communication.

When I put in a cache that requires bushwacking, I point out dangers that someone might not be aware of. There seems to be a few searchers that pay little attention to the cache page and the attributes.

The SPOT devices have been quite handy for SAR responses up here. They (like everything I guess) have a few problems of course, but I haven't heard of anything wrong with the system itself. One thing to remember is that they are subject to the same things that cause GPS inaccuracy and problems... starting with batteries, they just don't work well with dead ones. There was one chap that it would not have helped either... he was found (survived fine) by someone who noted he was overdue. He was pinned under a snowmobile and a SPOT would have been under there as well, add over a bank in the bottom of a valley in deep snow... Nothing would have transmitted from there, nor been able to provide coordinates I'm afraid, not much cell coverage then either. On the other hand SPOT did work to get the word out on the Sparwood 8 situation, it just was too late in that situation to be effective, but it did work well. The newer ones with several texts might have helped even more, but it's hard to say.

 

I still believe that the best thing someone can do is file a trip plan with a reliable person. I've not found a US version online, but I suspect they are commonly available (try your local SAR team). I keep giving out this Canadian site which has all the questions that we use... based on the ICS MP profile we fill in for information. The information is sort of universal anywhere that uses ICS structures. Trip Plan. The bigger the trip, the more information should be offered, same for specific problems. One has to also TERMINATE the plan when you get back safe to prevent needless callouts... sometimes that gets skipped and wastes time and money on a callout.

 

I suspect that you know about this stuff, so pardon me for mentioning it for others benefit. Some day I intend to make a TP for Geocachers... just trying to see what the copyright situation is on forms... Lots of organizations customize them for local use, so there must be some fair use policy involving attribution etc.

 

Doug 7rxc

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Well today we (Wife [Kraezy] our three kids [ages 7,6,3] our Lab/Husky Simba and I went on a geocaching hike a little over 2km. With a possible four geocaches to find. We found three of them, sadly I believe our one dnf is buried under a goodly amount of snow. The geocaches led us along a little reservoir and creek until we hit private property. Rather than follow the creek back out we thought we would take the high ground with more room for our geoDog to run. Well we were walking back and just got within sight of our CachingStar (windstar van the kids nicknamed) when we noticed that Simba was in the field on the other side of a barb wire fence. Our oldest son called to her and she came running as a faithful dog will do. Unfortunately her faithfulness out weighed her intelligence and she tried to jump the whole fence. She didn't make it and is now spending the night at the vet clinic. She had some stitches and some staples to put her face back together. Luckily she didn't injure anything but skin and fur and seemed to be in no discomfort. She was still playful and allowed me to inspect and check the wounds. The vet said she will be all healed up and ready to run and play in just a few days.

 

A funny side note. I had to call in the on call vet due to it being Sunday. When I told her the story she said "So this will be a Lab then?" I hadn't told her the breed yet. I said "Yes, a cross with a husky but how did you know?" and she responded "Oh, Labs are running into stuff all the time, most common dog I do stitches on due to accidents like this." Who knew?

 

Edit: That is Simba in my profile pic! Right after the Best of the Bad mega event this last fall!

Edited by MikeAndHike
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I once saw a woman in a shopping mall walk into a fountain while talking on her phone. That is the exact attitude that I think causes someone to walk off a cliff.

Bushwhacking is simply hiking where there is no trail. There really is no added danger to it, providing one is generally familiar with the dangers and problems of the area they're in.

 

By that, I mean that, for example, I grew up in New England. I can hike and bushwhack in many areas there with no extra danger, and am aware of where and when most potential dangers will be beyond my ability. Should I go on vacation, say to Hawaii, then I'd be best off sticking to trails or educating myself on whats different out there.

 

The real danger to bushwhacking, in my opinion, comes when someone fails to adjust their mental perspective. If someone goes off trail with the same attitude as they would have walking around in their own backyard, they're setting themselves up for problems.

 

Simply living in the moment, watching where you're going, and being aware of yourself and your surroundings makes bushwhacking very nearly as safe as walking anywhere can be. Aside from added potential for encounters with insects or wildlife, it is only as dangerous as the hiker makes it.

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Just recently I tore up my leg pretty good hitting some barbed wire on the ground in the back woods. It happens time to time. Just have to be aware of the area you are in and what it once was. Also, keeping the tetanus(spelling?) shot up to date is a good idea.

Edited by nthacker66
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I was born and raised in the Wichita Mountains. I was bushwacking from the time I could walk. Here if you don't keep an eye on the trail you will go home full of cactus spines, if not snake bit. That is if you don't go off a cliff. I learned quickly to stop when you look up, down, or around. If your eyes aren’t on the path ahead you don't move.

That was reinforced in my years in as an Army Ranger. Not traveling heads up can get you dead quick. It's just second nature to me now.

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I bushwhack some, I stick to the trail some. Depends on where I am and mainly the thickness of the brush. I hate bushwhacking when I know there is a nice trail straight to the cache because it usually a lot more effort. My recent mantra is trust the trail. Most hiders take the easy trail in and find a little offshoot. If you can follow that mindset you'll usually find the same easy way in. (Of course not all caches have an easy way)

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Do we need an bushwhack attribute?

There is already plenty of them.

 

All of the ones that deal with plants, cliffs, thorns....... ;)

 

I was thinking along this line. If I see an attribute that said, no bushwhacking, it means there is a trail to it. If I see an attribute that said bushwhack, I will know there is no nearby trails.

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Do we need an bushwhack attribute?

There is already plenty of them.

 

All of the ones that deal with plants, cliffs, thorns....... ;)

 

I was thinking along this line. If I see an attribute that said, no bushwhacking, it means there is a trail to it. If I see an attribute that said bushwhack, I will know there is no nearby trails.

I know. I was just being......... well just being.

 

Personally it doesn't matter to me, but I see how it could help alot of cachers. Might be something to think of. Of course then would the CO's even use it. <_<

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Do we need an bushwhack attribute?

We usually bushwack to the geocache, then take the easy trail back (now that we know it's there).

 

You are not the only one that does this, speaking from experience. :)

You're both not alone. Bushwacked through 500 feet of devil's club and pines to find a cache 10 feet of the trail that loop back around.

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I just love this thread :-)

 

We often team up at night, me and a few very experianced geo buddies,

geocaching is just so much more fun in the dark.. it is like it is getting too easy in the sun..

any way sometimes a few less experianced newly started come along too,

just fine all are welcome on our trips..

 

we try to follow tracks or open areas as much as possible, but if we can shorten the trip abit or alot -

by entering some mean-bush or walk along way arround, we kind of ask out lound:

ok are we all up for this or not ?

and only if all agree, ok we go ahead as nice and slow and safe as we all feel is needed.

we dont bring swords or bulldozer to make way..

if we cant handle it with arms, then we go arround some how,

zig-zag to get there,

it is funny, it is always so much easier to get back home.. why ?!?!

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Do we need an bushwhack attribute?

We usually bushwack to the geocache, then take the easy trail back (now that we know it's there).

I got a very embarrassing story as a newbie. I was up in the hills and this was before I have a map on my GSP. Anyway, there was a steep ravine and I thought the cache was down there, well, before I knew it, I was climbing up the other side and once got up to the top, there was the ROAD!

 

http://coord.info/GC10HFY Look at the map and see what I am talking about. :blink::o:blink::yikes:

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I started caching in 2002. One of my fist finds was an Ammo can north of San Antonio where I was living at the time. It was at a City park I believe. It was an ammo can and you had to hike over a mile with a tail change I believe to get to where you could turn in to the woods to get to it. It was not far from the trail you just had to figure which trail. I got it with a few backtracks and trail changes.

 

A few months later someone tried bushwhacking to get to it apparently and walked off a cliff. The news report implied they were by themselves.

After that I made sure I didn't do the bushwhacking thing.

 

Given that at some point, everywhere was once not on a trail, the bigger problem is WHY do you feel the need to bushwhack, and HOW MUCH thought have you given the enterprise. In places where trails exist, but the destination is not sitting right along side one of those trails, one has to do a bit of planning ahead. Where NO trails exist, you really need to think about the situation.

 

 

Doug 7rxc

 

Why? Because people like going where others haven't. I usually follow the trails but sometimes it is fun to explore an area on the way there. Plus peeing away from the trail is nearly a 100% guarantee not to have someone walk up on you.

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Well today we (Wife [Kraezy] our three kids [ages 7,6,3] our Lab/Husky Simba and I went on a geocaching hike a little over 2km. With a possible four geocaches to find. We found three of them, sadly I believe our one dnf is buried under a goodly amount of snow. The geocaches led us along a little reservoir and creek until we hit private property. Rather than follow the creek back out we thought we would take the high ground with more room for our geoDog to run. Well we were walking back and just got within sight of our CachingStar (windstar van the kids nicknamed) when we noticed that Simba was in the field on the other side of a barb wire fence. Our oldest son called to her and she came running as a faithful dog will do. Unfortunately her faithfulness out weighed her intelligence and she tried to jump the whole fence. She didn't make it and is now spending the night at the vet clinic. She had some stitches and some staples to put her face back together. Luckily she didn't injure anything but skin and fur and seemed to be in no discomfort. She was still playful and allowed me to inspect and check the wounds. The vet said she will be all healed up and ready to run and play in just a few days.

 

A funny side note. I had to call in the on call vet due to it being Sunday. When I told her the story she said "So this will be a Lab then?" I hadn't told her the breed yet. I said "Yes, a cross with a husky but how did you know?" and she responded "Oh, Labs are running into stuff all the time, most common dog I do stitches on due to accidents like this." Who knew?

 

Edit: That is Simba in my profile pic! Right after the Best of the Bad mega event this last fall!

 

I hope Simba makes a quick recovery - she's gorgeous, BTW.

Somehow, we always seem to find the tricky way into a cache site.....then groan as we see the easy way out. We often add a star or two to terrain - and not because I want to!

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Given that at some point, everywhere was once not on a trail, the bigger problem is WHY do you feel the need to bushwhack, and HOW MUCH thought have you given the enterprise. In places where trails exist, but the destination is not sitting right along side one of those trails, one has to do a bit of planning ahead. Where NO trails exist, you really need to think about the situation.

 

Doug 7rxc

 

Why? Because people like going where others haven't. I usually follow the trails but sometimes it is fun to explore an area on the way there. Plus peeing away from the trail is nearly a 100% guarantee not to have someone walk up on you.

 

Maybe it didn't read clearly to you... I like to bushwhack myself... What I was saying is that you should have a clear reason for doing so (exploration is fine with me), and be properly prepared for what it might require of you. That is all. Cutting corners on switchbacks causing erosion problems for example doesn't fall into what I consider 'exploration' or 'adventure' modes, just being destructive... Honestly choosing to head straight for a cache or other point is setting a route and following it. Sometimes a fine line exists, or it's simply against local regs... That's life. Just be prepared, many people simply are NOT!

 

Doug 7rxc

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I just ran across this thread and was stunned to see someone wrote that bushwacking is not dangerous. Maybe I read it wrong.

 

There's a local park (big) that has over 50 geocaches in it. The park is built over an old coal mine. A book was written on the history of the area more than 50 years ago, and at that time there were over 100 places on this mountain that had caved in.

 

It is really dangerous to bushwack in that park because of the dangers of stepping somewhere ready to cave into the mine shafts below, that can go hundreds of feet deep.

 

There are also poisonous gases coming out of the holes from out of the mines.

Many years ago two small boys died playing next to one of the mine shafts from the gases.

 

Needless to say, this park has strict rules about the geocaches being reachable from the trail.

 

There are, however, stories of people trying to find some of them off trail. Luckily, no one that I have heard of, has fallen into a hole yet.

Edited by Sol seaker
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Given that at some point, everywhere was once not on a trail, the bigger problem is WHY do you feel the need to bushwhack, and HOW MUCH thought have you given the enterprise. In places where trails exist, but the destination is not sitting right along side one of those trails, one has to do a bit of planning ahead. Where NO trails exist, you really need to think about the situation.

 

Doug 7rxc

 

Why? Because people like going where others haven't. I usually follow the trails but sometimes it is fun to explore an area on the way there. Plus peeing away from the trail is nearly a 100% guarantee not to have someone walk up on you.

 

Maybe it didn't read clearly to you... I like to bushwhack myself... What I was saying is that you should have a clear reason for doing so (exploration is fine with me), and be properly prepared for what it might require of you. That is all. Cutting corners on switchbacks causing erosion problems for example doesn't fall into what I consider 'exploration' or 'adventure' modes, just being destructive... Honestly choosing to head straight for a cache or other point is setting a route and following it. Sometimes a fine line exists, or it's simply against local regs... That's life. Just be prepared, many people simply are NOT!

 

Doug 7rxc

 

My issue is not on either side, but more so with CO's who refuse to be more descriptive on just how to reach GZ. If it is 100 feet of a trail, let people know that, rather than un-needed bushwhacking 500 feet - mainly for the reason not to disturb the flora.

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Given that at some point, everywhere was once not on a trail, the bigger problem is WHY do you feel the need to bushwhack, and HOW MUCH thought have you given the enterprise. In places where trails exist, but the destination is not sitting right along side one of those trails, one has to do a bit of planning ahead. Where NO trails exist, you really need to think about the situation.

 

Doug 7rxc

 

Why? Because people like going where others haven't. I usually follow the trails but sometimes it is fun to explore an area on the way there. Plus peeing away from the trail is nearly a 100% guarantee not to have someone walk up on you.

 

Maybe it didn't read clearly to you... I like to bushwhack myself... What I was saying is that you should have a clear reason for doing so (exploration is fine with me), and be properly prepared for what it might require of you. That is all. Cutting corners on switchbacks causing erosion problems for example doesn't fall into what I consider 'exploration' or 'adventure' modes, just being destructive... Honestly choosing to head straight for a cache or other point is setting a route and following it. Sometimes a fine line exists, or it's simply against local regs... That's life. Just be prepared, many people simply are NOT!

 

Doug 7rxc

 

My issue is not on either side, but more so with CO's who refuse to be more descriptive on just how to reach GZ. If it is 100 feet of a trail, let people know that, rather than un-needed bushwhacking 500 feet - mainly for the reason not to disturb the flora.

Let me reiterate since I know the semantics police will be out in force. I am not saying a CO should tell people hwo to get to the cache (because there are many caches that the "getting there" is part of the challenge - if that is the case, say so). But again if they place a cache 100feet or so off trail or bushwhacking is or is not required, simply say so.

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I started caching in 2002. One of my fist finds was an Ammo can north of San Antonio where I was living at the time. It was at a City park I believe. It was an ammo can and you had to hike over a mile with a tail change I believe to get to where you could turn in to the woods to get to it. It was not far from the trail you just had to figure which trail. I got it with a few backtracks and trail changes.

 

A few months later someone tried bushwhacking to get to it apparently and walked off a cliff. The news report implied they were by themselves.

After that I made sure I didn't do the bushwhacking thing.

Watch where you're going.

because electronic gizmo tells you its 150 feet into the atlantic doesn't make it so.

use common sense.

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The only way I could see someone walking off a cliff would be they are blind, it's a black black night and they have no flashlight, or they're just plain stupid.

 

Not so. Its a matter of perspective, and something i had drilled into me many moons ago as a scout. From above, if the terrain below the cliff is similar to that above, the cliff itself can be invisible. On something like a scree slope, it may not be possible to see the cliff edge until perilously close to it.

 

There is a key idea here - Dont rely on GPS! GPS is a tool to ascertain your position, that is what it was developed to do. high resolution/ scale cartography is the item designed to show you what is there! If going off trail, use your GPS only to verify your own map reading. Plan a route based on the map detail, take a bearing along the route to a visible feature and walk point to point between features, keeping your eyes on the terrain. Dont blindly follow a GPS unit, nor even a magnetic compass.

 

The only person who can actually tell you what the dangers are, is yourself! You are the person crossing the terrain, so you must observe it and make sure its safe.

 

As mentioned before - animals follow the best route to something they need. Animal trails are often the safest route, although they wont necessarily be going where you want to!

If you're going to quote me do the complete quote. I did say......."But not knowing all of the details, in the case you mentioned there might have been another reason that escapes me."

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I just ran across this thread and was stunned to see someone wrote that bushwacking is not dangerous. Maybe I read it wrong.

 

I doubt you read it wrong. Bushwhacking can be dangerous, but as a general rule I don't think it is inherently more dangerous than walking on a trail in most areas.

 

The real issue with bushwhacking arises when people behave off the trail in the same manner as if they were still on the trail. When you leave the trail, the rules of the game do change, and if you continue playing by the old rules, you open yourself up for problems.

 

Of course, there are situations where bushwhacking can be a bad decision. I wouldn't bushwhack in the park Sol seaker mentioned with the coal mine. I also wouldn't bushwhack through a minefield, or across a steep, ice covered slope. But those are case by case, not a general rule. As I said in an earlier post, it is a good idea to be generally familiar with the problems and dangers of the area you're in.

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The real issue with bushwhacking arises when people behave off the trail in the same manner as if they were still on the trail. When you leave the trail, the rules of the game do change, and if you continue playing by the old rules, you open yourself up for problems.

Although very true, I find that this statement struck me as both funny and revealing.

 

I was raised 'off the trails'. I spent more time in the woods where there was never a trail, except maybe a game trail, than I did on a trail. Trails were what we walked on when we went on vaction to the National Parks. That made me learn the rules backwards if you will. I've never thought of using two sets of rules while exploring. I conduct myself as if every step on or off trail were the same. You just made me realize something about others I had never considered.

 

Edit: Of course I've been often told I was born in the wrong century.

Edited by Totem Clan
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The real issue with bushwhacking arises when people behave off the trail in the same manner as if they were still on the trail. When you leave the trail, the rules of the game do change, and if you continue playing by the old rules, you open yourself up for problems.

 

I've never thought of using two sets of rules while exploring. I conduct myself as if every step on or off trail were the same. You just made me realize something about others I had never considered.

 

I think most of the time it is an instinctive and ingrained thing that gets done without being noticed, providing you "know the rules".

 

It's the same process that allows someone to walk out of an office building onto a busy city street and not get killed. Most people don't need to think about it, but if someone walks out of that building and fails to account for the change in environment, they might have a problem.

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I am an avid wilderness hiker/climber, and a "has been" special operations soldier, so granted, I am maybe better equipped, experience-wise... But for me, there is something that some of you will immediately understand, and some won't... you either feel it in your bones, or you don't and if you don't, there's no explaining it. And that is... That there is something invigorating, almost spiritual that happens to me when I am out in the brush, on my own, with as few external dependencies as possible. Yesterday I was out in a swampy area, just me, a light daypack, my favorite hiking boots, and my GPS. I encountered trees I had to climb, creeks I had to cross, forks in the paths I had to choose. I stepped on a sharp object that penetrated the bottom of my boot, but luckily, not my foot. I had my trusty leatherman with me and as able to extract the object because I couldn't get it out by hand. Most would be annoyed by such things... for me, they are part of the fun, and knowing that I have all the physical and mental tools with me IS the fun.

 

And it was a little slice of heaven on earth for me.

 

There is something about being on your own, a one-to-one relationship between man and nature, out doing my thing and solving problems and overcoming obstacles. It is the culmination of experience, instinct, preparation, awareness, and tool selection, that all comes together. Everything I carry in my pack is there because 30 years of outdoor experience has told me that it is just the right tool, the right compromise between weight, function, probability of need, and flexibility of purpose. What geocaching brings to me is a goal, an incentive, a reason to press on and have to make decisions and craft tools and solve problems along the way.

 

It is not about "adventure" per se, it is not about the thrill of the risk of falling off a cliff. It is something else, it's about self-reliance, self accomplishment.

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I am an avid wilderness hiker/climber, and a "has been" special operations soldier, so granted, I am maybe better equipped, experience-wise... But for me, there is something that some of you will immediately understand, and some won't... you either feel it in your bones, or you don't and if you don't, there's no explaining it. And that is... That there is something invigorating, almost spiritual that happens to me when I am out in the brush, on my own, with as few external dependencies as possible. Yesterday I was out in a swampy area, just me, a light daypack, my favorite hiking boots, and my GPS. I encountered trees I had to climb, creeks I had to cross, forks in the paths I had to choose. I stepped on a sharp object that penetrated the bottom of my boot, but luckily, not my foot. I had my trusty leatherman with me and as able to extract the object because I couldn't get it out by hand. Most would be annoyed by such things... for me, they are part of the fun, and knowing that I have all the physical and mental tools with me IS the fun.

 

And it was a little slice of heaven on earth for me.

 

There is something about being on your own, a one-to-one relationship between man and nature, out doing my thing and solving problems and overcoming obstacles. It is the culmination of experience, instinct, preparation, awareness, and tool selection, that all comes together. Everything I carry in my pack is there because 30 years of outdoor experience has told me that it is just the right tool, the right compromise between weight, function, probability of need, and flexibility of purpose. What geocaching brings to me is a goal, an incentive, a reason to press on and have to make decisions and craft tools and solve problems along the way.

 

It is not about "adventure" per se, it is not about the thrill of the risk of falling off a cliff. It is something else, it's about self-reliance, self accomplishment.

Exacly.

 

I often fell more ill-at-ease walking down the street or in mall than out in the wild.

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(snip)

But for me, there is something that some of you will immediately understand, and some won't... you either feel it in your bones, or you don't and if you don't, there's no explaining it.

 

And it was a little slice of heaven on earth for me.

 

Dude. You just said it all.

 

Everything changes the moment I can no longer see people, or roads, or houses. Even though I haven't gone far, I suddenly feel like I'm the only person on earth. Nothing else can compare.

 

I will continue to bushwhack, even when totally unnecessary. It's good for the soul.

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I just ran across this thread and was stunned to see someone wrote that bushwacking is not dangerous. Maybe I read it wrong.

 

There's a local park (big) that has over 50 geocaches in it. The park is built over an old coal mine. A book was written on the history of the area more than 50 years ago, and at that time there were over 100 places on this mountain that had caved in.

 

It is really dangerous to bushwack in that park because of the dangers of stepping somewhere ready to cave into the mine shafts below, that can go hundreds of feet deep.

 

There are also poisonous gases coming out of the holes from out of the mines.

Many years ago two small boys died playing next to one of the mine shafts from the gases.

 

Needless to say, this park has strict rules about the geocaches being reachable from the trail.

 

There are, however, stories of people trying to find some of them off trail. Luckily, no one that I have heard of, has fallen into a hole yet.

Don't get too freaked out about mine cave-ins around Cougar Mtn Park - all of the neighborhoods nearby (within many miles) are on top of those same mines. There have been very, very few cave-ins in recent times (that reach the surface). The Park is just (overly?) cautious - growing up in the area, I have lots of friends who have the same 'danger' in their backyards. You have the same risk of cave-in walking the trails in that park. One of my caches starts at a foundation of a mine air shaft that runs under I-405 and ends in a wooded area above the mine - mountain bike trails are added there all the time. There are no signs anywhere else in the region warning of cave-in dangers.

 

My point? Don't bushwhack where there are rules against it. But don't take the rules of one park (even if it is the largest in the county) as gospel for everywhere. When you do bushwhack, keep you eyes open - coming off a mountain years ago, I spread some slide alder to step thru and saw the ground about 40-50' below. It was at the top of a small cliff, the edge was a couple of feet behind me.

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I am an avid wilderness hiker/climber, and a "has been" special operations soldier, so granted, I am maybe better equipped, experience-wise... But for me, there is something that some of you will immediately understand, and some won't... you either feel it in your bones, or you don't and if you don't, there's no explaining it. And that is... That there is something invigorating, almost spiritual that happens to me when I am out in the brush, on my own, with as few external dependencies as possible. Yesterday I was out in a swampy area, just me, a light daypack, my favorite hiking boots, and my GPS. I encountered trees I had to climb, creeks I had to cross, forks in the paths I had to choose. I stepped on a sharp object that penetrated the bottom of my boot, but luckily, not my foot. I had my trusty leatherman with me and as able to extract the object because I couldn't get it out by hand. Most would be annoyed by such things... for me, they are part of the fun, and knowing that I have all the physical and mental tools with me IS the fun.

 

And it was a little slice of heaven on earth for me.

 

There is something about being on your own, a one-to-one relationship between man and nature, out doing my thing and solving problems and overcoming obstacles. It is the culmination of experience, instinct, preparation, awareness, and tool selection, that all comes together. Everything I carry in my pack is there because 30 years of outdoor experience has told me that it is just the right tool, the right compromise between weight, function, probability of need, and flexibility of purpose. What geocaching brings to me is a goal, an incentive, a reason to press on and have to make decisions and craft tools and solve problems along the way.

 

It is not about "adventure" per se, it is not about the thrill of the risk of falling off a cliff. It is something else, it's about self-reliance, self accomplishment.

Nicely put. There is indeed something about being on your own in nature.

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I am an avid mushroom hunter and while you can hunt from tails, the majority of my time is spent totally bushwacking through the woods, so no, I have zero issues with doing it for my caches I find.

I too am a avid mushroom hunter that knows the value of a good pair of snake boots when bushwacking. I found a six pack of baby bellas tonight for $1.49, but had to search past the first three packs to get the best ones. :laughing:

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