Does lightning strikes stimulate hair growth?

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forestkeeper
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Does lightning strikes stimulate hair growth?

Post by forestkeeper » April 23rd, 2012, 8:26 am

Well, it's getting to be lightning season again. I was wondering if lightning strikes are common with hikers, and what should we do if we're out in the open? I was thinking about heading to Mitchel Point and the Deschutes Tr, which are in the open, and with the weird weather we have been having, it did cross my mind.

Thanks,

Will

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BigBear
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Re: Does lightning strikes stimulate hair growth?

Post by BigBear » April 23rd, 2012, 12:05 pm

I wouldn't encourage going out in lightening to stimulate hair growth. Less trips into the barber would be a safer way to long hair.

As far as what to do to avoid a direct hit when you're in the open... sit on your thermarest pad or squat down. The air pad saved two kids in Molalla when lightening hit a tree next to their tent and the charge went into the root, killing the one who was laying on the ground but not the two on the pad. The air cushion created enough insulation.

Abandon your metal gear. You can come back for it after the storm passes.

Do not seek shelter in a cave or hollowed out stump because the air around this secured area will cool and make the air pocket you are heating be the warmest target.

Get out of water (including puddles).

Surprisingly, I've heard that snow is a sufficiant insulator. It didn't cause me any problems in the Tetons when bolts came down on us one afternoon at Holly Lake (elev 9400). Another group went into a brushy area on a small hill and they did okay too. The cliffs around us seemed to take most of the strikes that afternoon.

Also, don't climb an exposed ridge route if the forecast is for thunderstorms, or when clouds start magically appearing at 10-11 am on an otherwise sunny, warm, summer day (a sign that thunderstorms are on their way).

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retired jerry
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Re: Does lightning strikes stimulate hair growth?

Post by retired jerry » April 23rd, 2012, 12:30 pm

http://climate.virginia.edu/lightning/l ... afety.html

Avoid high places like ridges

Avoid tall trees

Avoid metal

In a valley under small trees

If you feel static electricity, they say get on your knees with hands on knees

I've heard other places to crouch on the balls of your feet

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Grannyhiker
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Re: Does lightning strikes stimulate hair growth?

Post by Grannyhiker » April 23rd, 2012, 12:50 pm

Avoiding lightning is one big reason for getting up at the crack of dawn to start hiking and getting down off high places by noon! It's particularly an issue in the Rockies where daily afternoon thunderstorms are a fact of life. Of course, on hot days this practice is also important to avoid hyperthermia (heat stroke/exhaustion), especially for those of us who take our dogs hiking with us (dogs can't sweat so are far more prone to heat illness than are humans). Now all I have to do is to make myself get going that early! :lol:

Also, lightning has been known to strike up to half an hour after the rain part of the storm has passed over.

Out here in the PNW, either we tend to be blase about lightning, because we don't get much of it, or we exclaim at length about the "big electrical storm" that involved all of 2 or 3 claps of thunder. Those of us who have lived in the Midwest or the Rockies know what real thunderstorms are like! Of course it takes only one lightning strike hitting you to do the job!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey

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Chase
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Re: Does lightning strikes stimulate hair growth?

Post by Chase » April 23rd, 2012, 7:28 pm

What you really want to do is tie a key to a kite like this:


http://www.codecheck.com/cc/BenAndTheKite.html

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romann
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Re: Does lightning strikes stimulate hair growth?

Post by romann » April 23rd, 2012, 8:08 pm

Does lightning strikes stimulate hair growth?
Oh yeah - you get a static electricity charge before the lightning hits, and hairs point up ;)

Since this topic came up, can someone comment how safe/not safe the tent locations are on the attached picture? (sorry 10 minutes in Photoshop). Here I am thinking about Wallowa's E fork Lostine Valley. We set our tent in location B. I was surprised to see several groups setting tents right in the middle of an open meadow - is this lightning-wise? What is the best location?
Tent locations.jpg
A - between two groups of large trees, in the meadow on hillside
B - in the group of trees but away from the largest tree in the group, on hillside
C - right in the middle of open meadow, only slightly higher than the river
D - on the edge of large meadow, adjacent to the trees
E - in the tree thicket, way uphill
F - in the tree thicket, on the bottom of the valley

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Grannyhiker
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Re: Does lightning strikes stimulate hair growth?

Post by Grannyhiker » April 23rd, 2012, 10:28 pm

Considering the height of the canyon walls (not really shown in your diagram, but I've been there), most any of these are relatively safe, IMHO. To be really sure, though, avoid A if close to the tall trees and C out in the middle of the meadow. With B, make sure you're farther from the tallest tree than your sketch implies. Far out in the open or close to taller trees is not advisable, although this situation can't always be avoided. (I'm thinking especially of the Rockies, where many trees are dead from bark beetle and you don't dare camp close to them.) You have to weigh the different hazards. From an LNT standpoint, you shouldn't camp in the meadow at all unless on bare ground, and you should be least 100 feet or more from water sources. Unless my memory of that meadow is at fault, this knocks out location C for another reason! Others may disagree about the lightning vulnerability, let's hear your opinions, please!

I've seen (in Colorado) an entire Engelmann Spruce tree reduced to enormous sharp-pointed splinters roughly 10-40 feet long, many blasted deeply into the ground. It was on top of a level plateau through which runs the Continental Divide, about 100 yards west of what is now the CDT on a side trail. The geography (relatively flat plateau with many lakes) is roughly comparable to our Indian Heaven. The really scary part was that if one of our horses hadn't needed a pack adjustment (which we were doing when we saw the lightning and heard the thunderclap), we would have been right there when it happened! Of course I have no idea how tall the original tree was in comparison to the others around, but it was in a fairly dense (for Colorado) and relatively even-aged forest (which is supposed to be relatively safe, ha ha). A sight like that gives you a lot of respect for the power of lightning! I don't think it stimulated any hair growth, but my parents (I was a teenager at the time) claimed to have increased their gray hair percentage as a result!

From what I've read about lightning since, it may have been a ground-to-air strike which literally exploded the tree. Englemann spruce has a diagonal grain, so the explosion produced enormous corkscrew-like splinters with sharp points. If we'd been there, we'd have been impaled (never mind the electricity)!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey

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Re: Does lightning strikes stimulate hair growth?

Post by Pnw.hiker » April 24th, 2012, 12:36 pm

ForestKeeper wrote: ... I was thinking about heading to Mitchel Point and the Deschutes Tr, which are in the open, and with the weird weather we have been having ...
Go for it. I love watching storms too.

Large hail can accompany thunderstorms and is dangerous. I was inside a car once when it got totaled by hail. Think ball-peen hammer.

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forestkeeper
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Re: Does lightning strikes stimulate hair growth?

Post by forestkeeper » April 24th, 2012, 9:29 pm

;) Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions. The question concerning lightning strikes and hair regrowth was a joke, I wouldn't have thought I would have received a serious answer. I'm not really able to get up at the crack of dawn to avoid lightning strikes because I work from 4:30pm to about 2:30am, so I'm usually sleeping then. I just wanted to post this topic for an info for all and was sort of curious myself. In the US Army, when in the boonies during electrical storms, we just stopped and sat on our helmets, which acted as a ground, and we drew our ponchos close to our body. But how many hikers and backpackers carry battle gear and helmets? And when in heavy forested areas, when hiking, how likely are you to avoid trees and puddles of water, especially when there is a tree every five feet in all directions? Interesting info on the different types of air located in caves. I was thinking of the caves near Memaloose Creek. :)

ForestKeeper

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Eric Peterson
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Re: Does lightning strikes stimulate hair growth?

Post by Eric Peterson » April 26th, 2012, 9:43 pm

What if it hits a tic-tac?

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