Close Calls

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Reef&Ruins

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Feb 3, 2017
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Worst two I can think of were a) when I was a teenager watching my dad go into pre-hypothermia at Helen Lake in Glacier National Park. I don't remember how we warmed him up but it was pretty freaky for me as a teenager; b) watching my 5 yr old daughter (a few years ago now) trip and forehead plant into slick rock on the trail to Sipapu Bridge at Natural Bridges. She still has a slightly noticeable bump on her head but at the time I thought she was going to die from the impact, which I recall reverberating through the canyon. Said a lot of words I'm not proud of as well. My wife was not impressed when she walked up to a crying child.
 

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Dreamer

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Did you suffer any long-term effects?
I did ‘suffer’ a big increase in my self confidence. :twothumbs:
My bivy suffered complete rejection. :mad:
Being a thin guy, I’ve always been on the cold side, prone to cold hands and feet. Sometimes it seems as though my hands get colder easier and slower to warm than they used to. Not real badly and that could also be influenced by the advancing years or 27 winters in the tropics.
 

Reef&Ruins

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Feb 3, 2017
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321
I forgot to note that while it wasn't a close call, a few years prior to our daughter forehead planting at Natural Bridges, my son had also fallen (he was like 3 years old) and cut his face while we were rushing down the trail from the campground meeting circle to the visitor center to beat an incoming storm. When you cut your head/face even a little you bleed like crazy so we walked into the visitor center with blood streaming down his face and him crying. For whatever reason our son didn't like bandaids at that time, so when the ranger offered him one for his face, the crying intensified. The ranger was super sweet and offered him a dark sky sticker, which he took (but not to cover the wound). During that same stay the tent almost collapsed on my wife and our son while they were trying to nap. Needless to say (almost) my wife isn't super keen on visiting Natural Bridges. I couldn't possibly guess why. <GRIN>
 

IntrepidXJ

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The biggest close call I have ever had still makes me shiver when I think about it. It's at the end of this trip report: http://adventr.co/2016/03/dome-plateau/

I was quickly hiking over to the edge of the plateau to photograph the sunset and almost fell into a 'Desert Crevasse'

While I was exploring this area I had a scary experience that could have easily turned deadly. I was hiking towards the edge of the cliff and there was what looked like a shallow wash or depression to cross to the to the other side. I started hiking across and all of a sudden my right leg fell through the ground to my knee and was dangling in the air. I could tell that something wasn’t right as the ground below me was very soft and squishy. As I got my right leg out of the hole my left foot started sinking in. Luckily, I was able to get out and climb back up onto the nearby rock.

I walked along the edge and found that there was a huge deep crack in the ground that wasn’t really noticeable where I had tried to cross. The sand and dirt had covered the crack and formed a thin layer over the opening. It was a desert crevasse! Instead of ice and snow like a typical crevasse found in a glacier, this one was composed of sandstone and sand and dirt. I couldn’t see the bottom, but it was at least 100-150 feet deep. I’m really lucky that the entire section didn’t just fall through when I stepped on it!



This is a photo of the holes left by my feet.


Falling Through
by Randy Langstraat, on Flickr

This is where I was first able to see what I almost fell into.


Desert Crevasse
by Randy Langstraat, on Flickr
 

Rockskipper

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Randy, I remember reading your report and cringing. It was definitely a scary one.
 

Outdoor_Fool

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Mine occurred when I was backpacking along the ridge south of Tepee Mtn. in the Never Summers of Rocky Mtn NP. At this point, it's a near knife edge. I had camped on top of Mt. Richthofen the night before and was walking among the boulders on the ridge. It was still early morning and the night's dew still glistened on the rocks and lichen. Anyway, I stepped on a slick patch of lichen which led to a near back flip into boulders off the west side. Luckily I landed on my pack and the only injury was a scraped knuckle. After calming myself, I stood up and looked down off the east side of the ridge, which was a 100+ foot drop.
 

fossana

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As far as outdoor activity close calls go:

In 2010 I slipped and fell while soloing Matthes Crest in slightly wet conditions, but fortunately landed on a ledge. It messed with my soloing head for the rest of the alpine season.
matthes_28aug10 039.jpg


More recently, I was attempting to reach an old school route on the Palisade Glacier side of Thunderbolt Peak in the Sierra, and a ~1.5 ton boulder tipped over onto my finger, then skated over my leg as I went to step off the moraine. I lucked out, since my leg wasn't broken, and I was able to hike the 8 miles out and drive myself to the ER.

boulder.jpg


My crushed leg. For those less sensitive to gore, a photo of my finger is here.
leg.jpg
 
Last edited:

gnwatts

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Dedicated coward - I like that. If I ever become a thru-hiker, that will be my trail name. :)
dedicatedcowards.com. Kinda catchy.

This falls into the "I don't know if it was a close call now but it was at the time" category. On my 1st hike through Grand Gulch in late May, from Collins Spring to Kane Gulch, it was a drought year. We (a friend and my husky) did not have a water filter, as they were not available in the late 70's, or at least not common. A horse pack group was about a day ahead of us, and they led their horses through every spring, when we found one. Bastards. There was water, but it was not very good, the water was nasty, horse shit floating in it. We thought about turning back, but decided against it. We knew we would need to boil after our gallon containers apiece were gone, and we were prepared for that. My dog (Denali) was not affected as he would drink anything, and he had lost his winter coat so he was not really bothered too much by the heat. We were shocked that an pack outfit would do this. This was the only time that I have ever seen something like this, most outfits are respectful of water sources. We were about 4 miles from Polly's Island, it was hot, I was not feeling very good, and we were out of water. We were pretty sure there would be water at Polly's, but "pretty sure" does not cut it sometimes. So we stopped under a large cottonwood right next to the dry sandy wash. We knew it would be a very hard 4 miles to Polly's, so we decided to wait until dark to continue. After sitting about 15 minutes Denali started digging in the sand. He dug for about 20 minutes, and sure enough the sand was wet. We took over and eventually got a very small amount of water in a pretty deep hole that we were able to barely dip our sierra cups in, it was sandy obviously but clear. We got enough to barely quench our thirst, as did Denali. It took about an hour to accomplish. We took off for Polly's (Pour off traverse was dry) and found the spring, the most water we had found so far, but still pretty nasty. We ended up not having any real water issues the rest of the way, a mystery to me. We did not check with the BLM before hand, as the trailer they used was locked (it was very early, and we did not want to wake them up. Stupid on our part), and the a phone call to the BLM in Monticello (before we left) said the water was down but should not be a problem. Denali amazed us, he obviously could smell the water.
 

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Rockskipper

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dedicatedcowards.com. Kinda catchy.

This falls into the "I don't know if it was a close call now but it was at the time" category. On my 1st hike through Grand Gulch in late May, from Collins Spring to Kane Gulch, it was a drought year. We (a friend and my husky) did not have a water filter, as they were not available in the late 70's, or at least not common. A horse pack group was about a day ahead of us, and they led their horses through every spring, when we found one. Bastards. There was water, but it was not very good, the water was nasty, horse shit floating in it. We thought about turning back, but decided against it. We knew we would need to boil after our gallon containers apiece were gone, and we were prepared for that. My dog (Denali) was not affected as he would drink anything, and he had lost his winter coat so he was not really bothered too much by the heat. We were shocked that an pack outfit would do this. This was the only time that I have ever seen something like this, most outfits are respectful of water sources. We were about 4 miles from Polly's Island, it was hot, I was not feeling very good, and we were out of water. We were pretty sure there would be water at Polly's, but "pretty sure" does not cut it sometimes. So we stopped under a large cottonwood right next to the dry sandy wash. We knew it would be a very hard 4 miles to Polly's, so we decided to wait until dark to continue. After sitting about 15 minutes Denali started digging in the sand. He dug for about 20 minutes, and sure enough the sand was wet. We took over and eventually got a very small amount of water in a pretty deep hole that we were able to barely dip our sierra cups in, it was sandy obviously but clear. We got enough to barely quench our thirst, as did Denali. It took about an hour to accomplish. We took off for Polly's (Pour off traverse was dry) and found the spring, the most water we had found so far, but still pretty nasty. We ended up not having any real water issues the rest of the way, a mystery to me. We did not check with the BLM before hand, as the trailer they used was locked (it was very early, and we did not want to wake them up. Stupid on our part), and the a phone call to the BLM in Monticello (before we left) said the water was down but should not be a problem. Denali amazed us, he obviously could smell the water.
I thought that happened only in the movies. Smart dog!
 

Rockskipper

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Definitely <7 if you throw in non-outdoor activity close calls.
And you're smiling? Wow, great attitude. I'd be looking at the sky and shaking my fist and asking, "Why? Why?" But you're SO lucky you weren't pinned. Didn't we have a thread on here that linked to some poor guy getting pinned in a scree field in the Winds and dying?
 

fossana

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And you're smiling? Wow, great attitude. I'd be looking at the sky and shaking my fist and asking, "Why? Why?" But you're SO lucky you weren't pinned. Didn't we have a thread on here that linked to some poor guy getting pinned in a scree field in the Winds and dying?
I likely wouldn't have been smiling if I had been pinned and/or had to call SAR. I lucked out on all fronts, also didn't lose my nail bed or have major nerve damage to my finger.
 

MikeM

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Worst two I can think of were a) when I was a teenager watching my dad go into pre-hypothermia at Helen Lake in Glacier National Park. I don't remember how we warmed him up but it was pretty freaky for me as a teenager; b) watching my 5 yr old daughter (a few years ago now) trip and forehead plant into slick rock on the trail to Sipapu Bridge at Natural Bridges. She still has a slightly noticeable bump on her head but at the time I thought she was going to die from the impact, which I recall reverberating through the canyon. Said a lot of words I'm not proud of as well. My wife was not impressed when she walked up to a crying child.
I had the same thing happen with my daughter! She would have been 6 at the time, and her and I were hiking to a lake with our dog. When we got close enough to see the lake she got excited and took off running. Of course, the dog ran with her and ended up tripping her and she landed face first on a rock and split open her forehead. I had to carry her all the way back to the trailhead, covered in blood. She was a trooper, though, wanted to stay and fish at the trailhead before heading back to town. I told her no, we need to get you to the ER for stitches. That phone call home to tell mom what happened was not pleasant.
 

DrNed

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We had a similar thread several years back.

I tried to find it but was unable to.

My closest call came in a home made, skin on frame kayak.

We built these kayaks and took them to Lake Powell. We launched from the
Hite boat launch in good weather. Got to a small island not too far down
river. Played around for a bit and weather went bad fast. A little rain,
lots of wind. We head back to the boat launch and a big gust of wind
flips me over.

Unfortunately, I didn't take my life vest seriously so it's on but not sized
correctly. Once I'm in the water the vest goes over my head. The waves
created by the wind are crashing over me. I swallow a lot of water.

I try getting back in the kayak but in those attempts it completely fills with water
and is now six inches under water.

It's been a warm day but the water is cold. I look at my watch so I know
how long I've been in the water.

Water continues to crash over me. I'm truly scared at this point.
Fortunately, the guy with me notices my dilemma and has come back.

He throws me a rope which I catch. Just with that rope I start to feel
more in control and I think ,"do I leave the kayak or try and salvage it?"

I try and salvage it. I roll it over and get the tip up on his kayak and drain
a good amount of the water. Still submerged but now I can drag it.
So the other guy starts paddling to pull me and this partially submerged
kayak. I'm kicking and giving it every thing I've got. We do this for some
time when I recognize we're not moving. I'm getting worried again and
I decide we're never gonna make it if I'm trying to salvage this kayak.

Just when I decide to scrap the kayak, the only other people at the
boat launch are returning in their motor boat and see me and come to my
rescue.

I ended up being in the water about 45-50 minutes. My rescuers had to
literally drag me into their boat as I had no strength in my legs to climb
up the ladder.

The "I might die here" part only lasted about 20 minutes.

Lesson learned, I now take my life vest seriously anytime I'm on the water.
 

joeygeo1

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Apr 20, 2019
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As far as outdoor activity close calls go:

In 2010 I slipped and fell while soloing Matthes Crest in slightly wet conditions, but fortunately landed on a ledge. It messed with my soloing head for the rest of the alpine season.
View attachment 77440

More recently, I was attempting to reach an old school route on the Palisade Glacier side of Thunderbolt Peak in the Sierra, and a ~1.5 ton boulder tipped over onto my finger, then skated over my leg as I went to step off the moraine. I lucked out, since my leg wasn't broken, and I was able to hike the 8 miles out and drive myself to the ER.

View attachment 77437

My crushed leg. For those less sensitive to gore, a photo of my finger is here.
View attachment 77438
You are one tough woman... That looks painful!
 

Yvonne

I lava it!!!
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Jan 19, 2012
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I only had a few occasions that would count as close calls.

One happened last year when I hiked up Sepulcher Mountain in Yellowstone. I picked a particular day as it had a 0% chance of storms.
That doesn't mean anything at all and I learned it pretty fast. When I was on top I saw some dark clouds that had built to the north and decided not to stay for too long. While hiking back a nasty storm cell sneaked in from behind Electric Peak and came super fast. I was still on the high part of the trail and completely exposed. So I ran down the steep trail on the south side of the mountain. The ones who have done that trail know how steep it is. And trail running down a mountain with a big day pack is not a lot of fun.
The storm caught up on me on the last part before hitting the tree line and wind gusts were extremely strong. I finally reached the tree line and thought I was sort of safe. But while walking through the lodgepole pine forest I heard these crashing sounds all the time. It was super loud and I wondered what it was. Then trees were falling down everywhere and I immediately knew what had caused the weird noise. I decided not to stay and ran again like crazy.
There was lightning, a massive storm and hail, and rain but eventually, I made it back safely just in time for the storm to pass.
So I guess never trust weather forecasts at all.


Another sort of close call happened when I was on a personal exploration trip to the lava in Hawai'i. A massive breakout on top of the steep pali had happened and I wanted to check it out. The pali is a very steep cliff completely made of pahoehoe lava and loose sharp A'a lava. You have to climb up on all your fours in many spots. It was dark and I picked a shortcut I had done a few times before. I had almost climbed the 1500 feet up when I hit a tree mold in the ground. A tree mold is a hole that is left when a tree trunk burned down by lava. Sometimes they are hard to see.
I hit this one and lost my balance and fell on the steep side of the cliff, sliding down on the sharp A'a before landing on my back with my backpack on.
It must have looked hilarious. I couldn't get up because of the terrain and had to unstrap my backpack which probably saved me from getting really hurt.
I guess I looked like a bug on its back trying to get back on its feet and moving.
Luckily I wore fleece-lined shell pants that took most of the beating.
I ended up with some deep holes and lots of lava in my knee plus some deep cuts on my forearms, but nothing too bad.
It took a few months to heal but I did my regular lava tour the day after with a ballon knee.
I still have some of the lava pieces in my knee from that trip as I never went to a doctor to get the deeper cuts stitched and the pieces removed.

This is what it looked after a week:






the black stuff is lava fragments

 

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