Timberline Trail - nighttime loop 8/2/19 - cougar stalking

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drm
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Re: Timberline Trail - nighttime loop 8/2/19 - cougar stalking

Post by drm » August 9th, 2019, 12:28 pm

Schrauf wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 8:05 am
I was just trying to get at the predominance of people I've seen on Mt Hood that appear to be struggling with heavy packs and longer than planned hiking days, and appear to be able to benefit from more awareness regarding lighter gear options, unnecessary gear choices, or at least less daily mileage if all that gear is preferred.
A few years ago I did the Grand Tetons loop - that's one of the best known national parks, and I clearly saw backpackers with all manner of heavy luxuries, swinging from the packs and slamming into their legs and whatnot. These people seemed to clearly have no idea what they were doing and a few I talked to readily acknowledged that while commenting that they were on their first backpack. The thing is that I really don't see that in our local national forests. For the most part they seem to attract a somewhat more experienced crowd. But I only backpack on Hood rarely and so maybe you see the same thing there that I saw in the Tetons. But I also know through hikers who suffer what I call the tyranny of mileage maximization: nothing matters more than getting the most mileage that they can. So maybe I'm going a bit too far in that direction.

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adamschneider
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Re: Timberline Trail - nighttime loop 8/2/19 - cougar stalking

Post by adamschneider » August 9th, 2019, 1:06 pm

keithcomess wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 10:00 am
Your WordPress blog posts suggests you're considering bringing "a slingshot" to deal with animals: that's a manifestation of nearly incredible arrogance and disrespect for nature. If you actually managed to hit a cougar with a slingshot, you'd likely provoke a justly deserved defensive attack.
Everything I've ever read about cougar encounters says that if they act aggressively, you should make yourself big, throw rocks, etc.... basically let the cougar know that you're potentially dangerous and not easy prey. Do you know some secret about cougar behavior that we don't?

Schrauf
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Re: Timberline Trail - nighttime loop 8/2/19 - cougar stalking

Post by Schrauf » August 9th, 2019, 1:22 pm

adamschneider wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 1:06 pm
keithcomess wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 10:00 am
Your WordPress blog posts suggests you're considering bringing "a slingshot" to deal with animals: that's a manifestation of nearly incredible arrogance and disrespect for nature. If you actually managed to hit a cougar with a slingshot, you'd likely provoke a justly deserved defensive attack.
Everything I've ever read about cougar encounters says that if they act aggressively, you should make yourself big, throw rocks, etc.... basically let the cougar know that you're potentially dangerous and not easy prey. Do you know some secret about cougar behavior that we don't?
I agree. Definitely don't throw rocks if the cougar is not aggressive, but once they become so, be as threatening as possible. Slingshot comment was probably tongue-in-cheek anyway - unless she's pretty damn good with a slingshot!

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Re: Timberline Trail - nighttime loop 8/2/19 - cougar stalking

Post by Schrauf » August 9th, 2019, 1:24 pm

drm wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 12:28 pm
Schrauf wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 8:05 am
I was just trying to get at the predominance of people I've seen on Mt Hood that appear to be struggling with heavy packs and longer than planned hiking days, and appear to be able to benefit from more awareness regarding lighter gear options, unnecessary gear choices, or at least less daily mileage if all that gear is preferred.
A few years ago I did the Grand Tetons loop - that's one of the best known national parks, and I clearly saw backpackers with all manner of heavy luxuries, swinging from the packs and slamming into their legs and whatnot. These people seemed to clearly have no idea what they were doing and a few I talked to readily acknowledged that while commenting that they were on their first backpack. The thing is that I really don't see that in our local national forests. For the most part they seem to attract a somewhat more experienced crowd. But I only backpack on Hood rarely and so maybe you see the same thing there that I saw in the Tetons. But I also know through hikers who suffer what I call the tyranny of mileage maximization: nothing matters more than getting the most mileage that they can. So maybe I'm going a bit too far in that direction.
I'm probably being a little harsh. Mt Hood area likely gets more experienced backpackers on average than many areas, especially National Parks.

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Re: Timberline Trail - nighttime loop 8/2/19 - cougar stalking

Post by Ellaraff » August 12th, 2019, 8:12 am

BigBear wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 8:36 am
Congratulations on your accomplishment. Circumnavigating Mt. Hood is a proud accomplishment.

I would disagree with your statement "don't judge me" in response to others' assessment of your task.

First, you were making judgements about people who were making judgements of how prudent your planned actions were (sounds a bit hypocritical to me, but, then again, I'm 100% judging on the Brinks-Meyers test).

Second, you frequently mentioned the number one reason people thought your night-time run was not very wise: if you can't see (even with a headlamp), you are much more likely to get lost. Their judgement of this risk was quite accurate.

Third, your cougar encounter showed how humans are not the alpha primate in the forest. Runners are most at risk in a cougar attack because running makes you look like prey. The chance cougar sighting would not have been as high on my list as the next concern.

Fourth (which is actually #1 on why I wait until the sun comes up): tripping over obstacles, falling and injuring myself. Congratulations to you for making it 40 miles with 10,000 feet of gain or loss without getting hopelessly lost, injuring yourself, and requiring rescue.

You are a braver, more energetic and more coordinated person than I. However, "judging" or assessing risks of an activity is a critical element of every activity. Running around Mt. Hood as you experienced, is a high-risk activity and other outdoor enthusiasts will correctly assess it that way. You were very fortunate and again should be congratulated for the accomplishment. Hope you are as fortunate on your next nighttime run through the wilderness.
I completely agree that it's important to check in on other runners/backpackers/travelers, particularly in night conditions. Asking about experience, checking that someone has the correct gear etc. There are increased risks at night, but these just need to be managed appropriately. I don't think it is good luck that gets people through this kind of adventure, it's good preparation and smart risk assessment. For example, taking 30 mins at each river crossing to properly assess the right spot, instead of just blindly crossing as you are able to do in the day. I carried considerably more emergency gear so that if I did injure myself, I would be able to adequately make it through the night. People were very critical even of the concept of traveling at night or moving quickly, rather than asking clear questions. Assessment is key (and a few groups asked questions about why I was doing this, checking I had the right gear which was all completely great), but I disagree that a speedy night loop is a fundamentally bad idea.

Also...the slingshot was a joke! I actually don't think it's the worst idea but it's not for me.

Webfoot
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Re: Timberline Trail - nighttime loop 8/2/19 - cougar stalking

Post by Webfoot » August 12th, 2019, 1:03 pm

That was an entertaining read. If I were you I would just take the expressions of disbelief as proof that you are exceptional. 8-)

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Re: Timberline Trail - nighttime loop 8/2/19 - cougar stalking

Post by anne37 » August 12th, 2019, 8:40 pm

This was a great read. You are so brave! I would've lost my damn mind when I saw those eyes in the dark.

Good for you ignoring the haters. I've had people mind my business on easy hikes where it is virtually impossible to get lost, most recently Misery Ridge at Smith Rock. :lol:

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Guy
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Re: Timberline Trail - nighttime loop 8/2/19 - cougar stalking

Post by Guy » August 12th, 2019, 8:57 pm

drm wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 6:11 am
Schrauf wrote:
August 5th, 2019, 7:54 am
Half the people backpacking on Hood have nearly 50-pound packs and as a result struggle with 10-mile days and don’t even realize there are other options.
I think they realize there are other options, maybe they just don't prefer them. Not everybody has maximization of mileage as a top goal. While this nighttime loop is quite a feat, it's not one I aspire too because I like the daytime views!
Agreed my day pack and backpacking pack would never even come close to qualifying as Ultra light but it's how I usually prefer to travel. A few years ago I also did the Hood loop in a day (5:30am to 9:00pm) just to see if I could but I've no desire to do it that way again :)
hiking log & photos.
Ad monte summa aut mors

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A. Hugh Jass
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Re: Timberline Trail - nighttime loop 8/2/19 - cougar stalking

Post by A. Hugh Jass » September 3rd, 2019, 8:29 am

I enjoyed reading your full post on your site. Good for you. I will be doing Timberline as a single-day-night effort starting tomorrow. I'll be moving at the speed of hike for most of it, but I do run the downhills.

I got a kick out of the people at Newton getting freaked out about your river crossing. It is understandable. I saw a woman trail running the Kaleetan Peak climber's trail in WA in mid-July. She had a small pack, no poles, the trail was very steep, muddy, and very slippery. I was concerned at first glance, but as she moved in front of me, I quickly realized she had done the Kaleetan trail and peak scramble many times before.

She moved so unbelievably fast and so perfectly on the difficult conditions on the trail. It turned out she was Kaytlyn Gerbin and she said, as she passed, she was going for an FKT. She nailed it, BTW ... beating the fastest man too. (see her in my video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10pdDt4RE9Q).

I'm looking forward to doing the Timberline Trail again tomorrow, and like you, doing some night time river / creek crossings. Again, thank you for sharing - it was a great report and a super-solid effort!

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Bosterson
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Re: Timberline Trail - nighttime loop 8/2/19 - cougar stalking

Post by Bosterson » September 3rd, 2019, 4:47 pm

Great post, Ella. Encountering predatory animals closer than at a comfortable distance is always a bit "interesting," so kudos to you for keeping it together when the cougars started to follow you! :shock: Also, great insight into your experience dealing with fatigue and lack of sleep - it's fascinating to discover how one's brain can go haywire under abnormal conditions, and a good learning experience about how easy it is to make mistakes when you're not thinking clearly.
Ellaraff wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 8:12 am
Also...the slingshot was a joke!
:lol:

I think this was obvious to almost everyone. Sorry for all the douche bagels you appear to have encountered out there ("I'm not sure you understand what the Timberline Trail is," wtf?). It's also a bit disappointing to see some of that "scolding" manifest here, guys...
Will hike off trail for fun.

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