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A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit

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Offline presidio

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2018, 11:16:42 AM »
You're comparing explorers to some dummy hiking around BB in the middle of the summer.

No, you are assuming he's a dummy, and there is no objective evidence that was the case.

If you read his report I'd say he acquits himself fairly well. While all self-reports tend to emphasize correct decisions and minimize bad ones, he seems to be reasonably objective in his comments about decisions made.

Assuming his recollections of interaction with the funny hatters is accurate, he got the expected routine response upon first contact (where the NPS makes outrageous statements ... 'SAR will not come'), and speaking with a perhaps more rational employee who suggests itinerary modifications, all parties seemed to end up informed. Again, anywhere but in the NPS, this kind of interaction would not occur; he'd just go do what he wanted without needing the type of concurrence the NPS thinks it needs.

While the NPS conceivably could (and sometimes probably unfairly does) deny backcountry permits, I doubt they would have had any authority or even reason to do so in this instance (whether they agreed with his plans or not) given that the regulatory reasons for permit denial (occupancy limits reached, wildlife closures, fire closures, etc.) all were inapplicable in this instance. Being the only person out there makes it easy to do what you want.

As I earlier said, he certainly is in the company of other explorers (but better informed and equipped). The NPS does court dummies; some of whom have expired while surrounded by support, due entirely to profound ignorance or stupidity (there is a difference).

Just because someone does something of which you apparently disapprove, it does not follow that the participant is either a dummy or cannot succeed.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2018, 11:46:20 AM by presidio »
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Slimkitty

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2018, 12:38:42 PM »
Wow.  This guy successfully completed the OML in extremely tough conditions.  Were he a member of this site, congratulations would be in store for his “epic” accomplishment.  Instead I’m seeing a bunch of salty responses. This is a site where we celebrate our love for Big Bend and the adventures of those who choose to explore it.  I only wish this guy was a member of our group so we could pick his brain a little more.


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Offline wrangler88

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2018, 01:13:48 PM »
Wow.  This guy successfully completed the OML in extremely tough conditions.  Were he a member of this site, congratulations would be in store for his “epic” accomplishment.  Instead I’m seeing a bunch of salty responses. This is a site where we celebrate our love for Big Bend and the adventures of those who choose to explore it.  I only wish this guy was a member of our group so we could pick his brain a little more.


Exactly.

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Offline Keepa

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2018, 03:28:14 PM »
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In order to grow in skills, knowledge or competence, you have to push boundaries. Those that cannot function without trail guides, facilities and (false) assurances of safety/success will never know their limits and never will discover anything on their own.

I agree. Clarke's second law says: "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible."

But, there is a difference between going into the unknown (as in explorers) and knowingly taking risks.

I do not diminish his achievement. I just think it was dumb-luck. He says so himself, his training was not adequate for the terrain at Big Bend. Had he died, I am sure everyone here would have criticized him for putting himself in danger.

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Offline presidio

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #19 on: July 29, 2018, 04:33:42 PM »
But, there is a difference between going into the unknown (as in explorers) and knowingly taking risks.

Had he died, I am sure everyone here would have criticized him for putting himself in danger.

You're probably right,  though it would depend upon the accuracy of the reporting and the facts surrounding the demise.

Even with accomplished outdoors persons, sometimes the luck runs out and the odds get them. Many outdoor activities essentially are high risk. Look at the fatalities in mountaineering (the folks who are acknowledged experts, not the trendy day trippers in way over their heads due to action-adventure tours). There's always an element of unknown as conditions change on the rock, but the risks are well-known and accepted. And, all explorers (the real deal ones) are both in the unknown and they certainly are taking risks just by being in such conditions.

Bad judgment can crop up anywhere, not just in the desert in the summer. Going left instead of right on a climb and learning it was the wrong move. Activities relying heavily upon technical equipment can be deadly through no one's fault (rockfall severing a rope; lightning strike from unforecast weather; even catastrophic failure of equipment known to have a  more than adequate safety margin).

Admittedly, there always will be those who go off on adventures without a clue, or skills or equipment (tends to happen far more often in NPS areas than elsewhere due to the uniquely inept clientele they attract. Witness the dolts (and they ARE dolts) traipsing down into the Grand Canyon in shorts, tank tops, sandals, no hat, no pack, sometimes no water or clearly not enough). There are signs everywhere warning of the dangers and still they go unprepared; many/most are lucky (and may learn from it), some don't make it.

But, our correspondent very much did have a clue about what he was getting into. The fact that he deemed his training inadequate for the effort does not change that he clearly knew the conditions he would be operating in. Humping an enormous load of water says he well-understood the demands and the risk of not having enough.

Was he wise? Depends. Did he exceed his limits? Obviously not.

Elsewhere on this forum I have opined in the past that you really do not experience the desert unless you are in conditions such as he described. Everyone should get a taste. Not by undertaking a long waterless slog, but by doing at least several short hikes, on circular routes so you are never more than halfway from your vehicle (and an opportunity to be able, and know when it's time, to bail out).

I've hiked Big Bend in the summer. Yes, it's brutal. But it's also exhilarating. The wise hiker emulates the wildlife by not moving too much about in the middle of the day, and never wasting a piece of shade (tree, arroyo wall, etc.) to take a break and a drink. You cannot learn this if you don't try it.
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2018, 05:19:29 PM »
Quote from: presidio
Even with accomplished outdoors persons, sometimes the luck runs out and the odds get them. Many outdoor activities essentially are high risk.

As my wife and I remind each other, "It's not the first mistake that kills you. It's the third one, compounding the second one."

A lot of my hiking history, including off-trail hiking, has been solo, and some of those hikes have been the most beautiful, meaningful and emotional. Hiking solo is inherently more risky than hiking on well-developed, well-traveled trails with a group of people, at least one of whom is more experienced and better prepared.

Of course, driving in traffic every day is inherently riskier.

This guy seemed prepared and seemed to understand the risks and issues of hiking the OML in July. I wouldn't have done it then, and I wouldn't advise it, but that's my personal preference. I've hiked the South Rim in July a couple of times, and those were some great trips even though it was hot ... and dry ... and I had to carry a LOT of water. I've been in other hot places hiking in July (like Canyonlands).

If hiking solo in these places in July is a mistake, just don't make a second one. If you don't, then the third one can't kill you.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2018, 06:13:50 PM »
I gotta agree with Slimkitty and Presidio, I think the guy deserves some admiration. 

Reading his account he seemed like he knew what he was getting into, although he said something about not having been to BiBE in 20 years.  He said he had a plan B and C (although not sure what that was).  The people that lived in the area a hundred years ago, did they only go outside October through May?  I agree that it's too damn hot to be outside this time of year.  I wouldn't want to do what he did but he made it and it didn't seem like it was a near death ordeal to him.  I think the average person shouldn't.  I think it's dangerous.  I wouldn't. 

He wasn't the guy that comes on here and has to ask "how do you hike the OML?".  I'm more suspicious of those guys.  Remember a year or so ago the military guy who asked a bunch of questions and everyone warned him of how hard it was and he constantly countered with his number of combat tours and the excessive heat he was used to.  If I remember, he bailed a day into the OML.


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Offline presidio

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #22 on: July 29, 2018, 08:42:34 PM »
The people that lived in the area a hundred years ago, did they only go outside October through May?

Oh, man. You shouldn't ask tough questions like that.

Of course they didn't go outside back then. They hunkered down sipping their lattes and watched the world go by from the comfort of their climate-controlled hideaways.  :s_laugh:

Folks today mostly are wimps, and when courage and resourcefulness are needed they don't have any.

The great majority (at least in the US) survive today by dint of technology; they give little thought about disaster. Facebook not working or delayed flights are what constitute crisis. But just let a real disaster occur: earthquake, hurricane, wildfire, etc., and you see, on the nightly news, how coping mechanisms immediately fail and they wait for someone to come save them.


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Remember a year or so ago the military guy who asked a bunch of questions and everyone warned him of how hard it was and he constantly countered with his number of combat tours and the excessive heat he was used to.  If I remember, he bailed a day into the OML.

Reality check.
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<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline mule ears

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2018, 08:30:18 AM »
Wow.  This guy successfully completed the OML in extremely tough conditions.  Were he a member of this site, congratulations would be in store for his “epic” accomplishment.  Instead I’m seeing a bunch of salty responses. This is a site where we celebrate our love for Big Bend and the adventures of those who choose to explore it.  I only wish this guy was a member of our group so we could pick his brain a little more.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat

I'm not seeing "salty" responses.  Essentially everyone has said it was an amazing feat that he actually completed it but at the same time experienced heads shaking at what could have been.

He rightfully talked about the miscues he made and because he appears to be young and in good shape he was able to push through them, not necessarily because he really had the depth of experience to overcome them.  Walking with a day pack around the hills near San Antonio does not equate to the elevation and conditions on the OML.  I think if he was a member here we would have similar questions of him.  I counted at least a half a dozen things he said he did or didn't do that made me wonder about his level of experience. 

Like jeffblaylock said, congratulations on doing it, not what I would do or recommend but there it is.  The other obligation we have is to point out to others who may run across this July OML report, is that it is not always possible or a good idea.  The problem with the internet is people read things and say "hey I can do that" which the NPS rangers see all too often and have to deal with.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline badknees

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2018, 11:24:22 AM »
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Clarke's second law says: "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible

Badknees' Law.......keep repeating Clark's Second Law and an untimely end is a certainty. You may get away with it once, or twice, but the 3rd time might just get you.
Not all those who wander are lost.
– J.R.R. Tolkien

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2018, 12:29:43 PM »
Wow.  This guy successfully completed the OML in extremely tough conditions.  Were he a member of this site, congratulations would be in store for his “epic” accomplishment.  Instead I’m seeing a bunch of salty responses. This is a site where we celebrate our love for Big Bend and the adventures of those who choose to explore it.  I only wish this guy was a member of our group so we could pick his brain a little more.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat

I'm not seeing "salty" responses.  Essentially everyone has said it was an amazing feat that he actually completed it but at the same time experienced heads shaking at what could have been.

He rightfully talked about the miscues he made and because he appears to be young and in good shape he was able to push through them, not necessarily because he really had the depth of experience to overcome them.  Walking with a day pack around the hills near San Antonio does not equate to the elevation and conditions on the OML.  I think if he was a member here we would have similar questions of him.  I counted at least a half a dozen things he said he did or didn't do that made me wonder about his level of experience. 

Like jeffblaylock said, congratulations on doing it, not what I would do or recommend but there it is.  The other obligation we have is to point out to others who may run across this July OML report, is that it is not always possible or a good idea.  The problem with the internet is people read things and say "hey I can do that" which the NPS rangers see all too often and have to deal with.

How many times have I thought "Mule Ears said exactly what I was thinking?" (Emphasis mine.)

I respect the Reddit poster's accomplishment, but sort of in the same way I respect Keith Richards every time I see another interview with him. Amazing, but kids: don't do that!

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Offline get lost

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2018, 05:48:58 PM »
Wow!!! First for surviving Texas extreme heat& a mountain lion. Jealous, been going for 20 plus years& only stories of seeing them. Kudos man


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Offline marufo

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #27 on: July 30, 2018, 08:44:07 PM »
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I respect the Reddit poster's accomplishment, but sort of in the same way I respect Keith Richards every time I see another interview with him. Amazing, but kids: don't do that!
:great:

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Offline dprather

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #28 on: July 30, 2018, 11:12:32 PM »
Keith Richards, or Ann Richards?  Or are they actually the same - have you ever seen both of them in the same picture?
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline Jonathan Sadow

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #29 on: July 31, 2018, 03:03:24 AM »
While the NPS conceivably could (and sometimes probably unfairly does) deny backcountry permits, I doubt they would have had any authority or even reason to do so in this instance (whether they agreed with his plans or not) given that the regulatory reasons for permit denial (occupancy limits reached, wildlife closures, fire closures, etc.) all were inapplicable in this instance. Being the only person out there makes it easy to do what you want.

The NPS won't deny anyone a permit to go backcountry camping for something other than the regulatory reasons you mention.  The visitor may be advised that the proposed itinerary may be unwise and the permit notated as such, but you won't be denied a permit just because the ranger thinks you've got more guts than brains.

He rightfully talked about the miscues he made and because he appears to be young and in good shape he was able to push through them, not necessarily because he really had the depth of experience to overcome them.  Walking with a day pack around the hills near San Antonio does not equate to the elevation and conditions on the OML.  I think if he was a member here we would have similar questions of him.  I counted at least a half a dozen things he said he did or didn't do that made me wonder about his level of experience.

I did chuckle when the poster said hiking Hill Country State Natural Area prepared him for the OML.  I used to hike in HCSNA some, and while it's about as rugged as one can get around the San Antonio area, it's only a pale imitation of what one faces in BIBE.  I'm sure you'll agree that your training hikes in the Appalachian foothills are a meager substitute for the real thing.

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Like jeffblaylock said, congratulations on doing it, not what I would do or recommend but there it is.  The other obligation we have is to point out to others who may run across this July OML report, is that it is not always possible or a good idea.  The problem with the internet is people read things and say "hey I can do that" which the NPS rangers see all too often and have to deal with.

The main job of the rangers in these cases is to inform the visitor so as to cut down on the number of potential SARs.  In the specific case of the Reddit poster, the rangers did just what they were supposed to do, although it probably could've been done in 15 minutes rather than two hours(!)

 


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