View Full Version : Getting Lost
03-20-2007, 04:56 PM
I'd like to hear stories from people of experiences they had where they lost the trail on the PCT, a not too uncommon experience.
I have two that pop into mind (though there were more), both due to snow obscuring the trail. The first was the mountains before Idyllwild, where the trail became totally covered in snow. It was myself and three others. We stuck together, and followed the terrain using the maps and compass, and eventually found the trail again, right before the turnoff to Idyllwild.
The second was in the high sierras, again the trail became covered by snow and totally lost. Using the map and compass I figured out where the pass was, and just aimed straight for that. About 2/3 the way up the pass the trail reemerged from under the snow, right where I thought it would be.
The first example was more disconcerting to us for a couple reasons... it was the first time that happened on the PCT, and it was in the woods, so it was harder to get bearings using map and compass.
Still though, a lot of fun, and great experiences. One of the things I love about the PCT over the AT is that the trail, at times, becomes no more than a suggestion, and it's up to you to find your way. Good stuff.
03-20-2007, 09:31 PM
a couple spots stick out in my mind...
one is the pct junction with the cougar crest trail above big bear, a few miles past van dusen road. this is a very tricky spot, because if you just keep charging ahead, you'll end up on the cougar crest trail. in order to get on the pct, you have to sort of make a u-turn. anyway, i had remembered this spot from the year before, where i DID NOT make this mistake... not only that, but i had just refreshed my memory about it by reading yogi's guide the day before... and yet, i still messed up and hiked a mile or so down the cougar crest trail before realizing my mistake.
the other spot i'm remembering was at the indian heaven / indian racetrack area in southern washington, about a day or so south of mt. adams. this was another similar situation where there was a junction, and the wrong trail continued forward, with the pct branching to the right. i only went maybe 1/2 mile up this trail before realizing something was wrong. i ended up at the indian racetrack, and even heard mystical indian flutes playing! soon, a guy appeared out of the woods, playing his flute... he verified that i was in the wrong spot, and i hightailed it back to the pct.
anyway, both of these instances happened at the tail end of the day, when my mind and body were both done hiking, and i was just slogging along to my camp spot.
03-28-2007, 05:17 AM
Couple of times, though not really 'lost' more a case of signs of the trail having completely disappeared.
First was north of Idyllwild heading for Fuller Ridge. The trail had vanished under snow, so map and compass bearings came into play.
Second was descending from Glen Pass when the trail had vanished under snow plus visibility was down to about fifteen feet. That was the more worrisome, because I wasn't quite sure I was on the correct course or heading for a sudden 'drop off'! :( I followed a compass bearing off my map from the top of the pass and that seemed to work ok and get me to lower altitudes and good visibility where I could sort myself out and confirm I was on the trail again. :)
Also took a couple of short duration 'wrong turnings' at various snowless points along the trail mainly due to inattention, but luckily they usually became evident fairly quickly!
All adds to the fun I suppose - though they weren't very funny at the time! :eek:
03-28-2007, 04:57 PM
Wow, looks like Idyllwild and Glenn Pass are two popular places to get lost. ME TOO!
In Idyllwild I ended up taking an unexpected detour up to Mt. San Jacinto. Totally my bad, I attribute it to waking up far to early and trying to get a jump start on the day with out really looking at my map or guide book. No biggie though, just a 2 mile back track.
On Glenn Pass I was heading Southbound for that section and just got lost in waist deep snow and trees. I figured as long as I was going up and in the general direction of "south" I was good to go. It was kinda worrisome because I was so obviously "off trail" and I spent the entire day with out a single sign that I was going the right way, but I just had to trust in my skills (and the helpful advice of a hiker that I passed early in the morning). I eventually made it up and over the pass and regained the trail.
03-28-2007, 05:01 PM
Oh and Hey, Girl Scout!
Are you forgetting your Silver Moccasin Trail detour??
03-28-2007, 06:04 PM
ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yeah, DUH! that was actually probably my most egregious case of getting lost... watch out for that one, folks! where the pct crosses hwy 2 at three points (in the san gabriels), be sure you look for the pct signs and don't mistake them for the silver mocassin trail signs, whose emblem is the same shape as the pct emblem. it's easy to confuse them from a distance. anyway, yeah, i ended up pretty close to getting my silver moccasin merit badge after that little adventure...! ended up way off the pct and had to road walk several miles back to it, which means that i missed several miles of official pct there... gotta get back up there and knock out those miles one of these days...
03-28-2007, 07:33 PM
Here's your Medal!
03-28-2007, 07:49 PM
lol!!! i'll have to print that out and pin it to my hat!! :)
03-28-2007, 07:59 PM
oh yeah, an even worse getting lost story: on my thru-hike attempt in 2005, when i got to the spot on liebre mountain where the pct makes a hard right on a dirt road and goes barreling down the hill towards pine canyon rd (http://wikimapia.org/#y=34713713&x=-118653824&z=16&l=0&m=a&v=2), the sign had been vandalized, so i didn't know that i was supposed to make a right. instead, i stayed on the trail tread going forward, which turned out to be the OLD pct route. it took a long time for me to figure out something was wrong, because the trail looked and acted like the pct, except that it was overgrown and there were no signs. anyway, i followed it all the way down to the road, which took me much further west than i needed to be, and i had to road walk about 6 miles back to the east to find the pct again. that was a really frustrating day. here's the spot where i emerged on the road:
if you pan to the east you'll find the real pct trailhead. road walk + loose dogs = no fun!! :(
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