Paying attention and when to approach possibly endangered strangers in the woods.

Discussion in 'Wilderness and Tactical Healthcare Management' started by C99c, Oct 4, 2018.

  1. C99c

    C99c Member

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    As a spin off from the thread about the hiker whose body was found in the GSMNP, I pose the following questions:

    1. How much attention do you pay to those you notice off trail or even on trail who may be disoriented, lost but not admitting it, etc?

    2. When do you approach and how far do you push the interaction given that many folks get out to get away from people and some of us enjoy not knowing where we're going. Someone heading off trail may be disoriented or they may be going to take a piss or just heading away from the trail for some other purpose.

    I try to at least smile and speak to anyone I meet on or off trail. If they seem obviously "out of place", especially if they have kids with them or are older, I tend to linger and make conversation. Sometimes this allows people to ask for information they need without having their pride hurt.

    If nothing is obvious, but something still doesn't seem right we'll often take a break nearby, able to passably observe without being the "weirdos in the woods"?

    So, thoughts? Ideas? Observations?

    I'd like to keep this thread from heading the direction the other one is; focusing too much on what others may be carrying.

    My wife and I frequently do long off trail hikes with minimal gear. Usually you wouldn't know we had more than a water bottle or two by just looking at us. We have to remember that not everyone is out there to camp, test gear, bushcraft, LARP or play Rambo.
     
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  2. Delkancott

    Delkancott Member

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    I generally try to engage most people I encounter on trail. For off trail, it would depend on how far out they are. If they looked like they were wandering I would probably say something/ask if they need anything, but it’s hard to say without a specific incidence.
     
  3. Bushman5

    Bushman5 Member

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    I have had many interactions with people in the woods of BC. Mostly the plethora of fitness and outdoorsy types that live here in Natures Playground. As well as my own community of mountaineers, climbers, hardcore survival/gear-heads/gear tester types. Have also encountered those of ill repute.........


    Having a background working with street people, criminals, mentally ill persons, drug addicts or dual diagnoses (addict/mentally ill), Its given me the skills to rapidly assess/size up people at a glance.

    case in point - the two people at Porteau a few weekends ago who were out of place....not dressed for the weather, or terrain, and they started following me , into the woods thru rough terrain - took me seconds to size them up and the Danger Bear meter went into red. I did NOT verbally engage them - i vanished and doubled back on them to observe and harass them. Found evidence of their drug cooking a week later.

    95% of my interactions with people in the woods have been positive - some have been ill equipped for the weather/terrain, most are very well equipped , a lot are intrigued by my gear choices.......(no i'm not playing Rambo...i just hate modern hiking clothes, colors and civilian hiking gear. I like blending into the environment, being a part of it, NOT a intruder. You see so much more.)

    I get a few questions about my gear, but people warm up when i explain why i have this or that.

    I try to engage people - my hike on Cypress Mountain I was in full camo except for my fleece hoodie and i hiked with a group for a bit and we compared map notes and directions and compass readings. They were super friendly and we all had a great time.

    I pay attention very closely to people i see in our extremely rugged region, who appear to be ill equipped or inexperienced.

    I engage them with a friendly hello and how you doing? where you hiking too? etc . I have run into SO many people who are bordering on hypothermia, severe dehydration, or who are simply LOST. I have cut woods play/hikes short to make sure people get on the right trail, get hydrated (often by using my own supply), get fed, or get treated .

    sadly i find myself (and others) spending a LOT of time helping people who are ill equipped in our region.

    great thread! i think we should all assess & say hi to everyone we encounter for a few minutes at least. (and document in the paper notebook any anomalies)
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
  4. DYSPHORIC JOY

    DYSPHORIC JOY Moderator Staff Member

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    I seldom see anyone on the trail mostly due to choosing areas that are not tourist friendly.

    People tend to be hypervigilant when they see me because I often look like a medicine show with all the junk I take into the woods. I often engage those types by saying things like: "You have any salve? This bracelet on my ankle is killing me."

    I have given folks food, allowed them to follow me out, and provided solicited advice. Even with my area's history of high profile trail crimes, the main perpetrators are those waiting to ransack your vehicle when you get on trail.

    The majority of my SAR experience has been to rescue ill equipped leaf lookers or recover bodies.
     
  5. Jeff Randall

    Jeff Randall ESEE Knives / Randall's Adventure & Training Staff Member

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    The busy season is approaching fast. Was talking to an NC SAR friend of mine the other day and their searches are already ramping up.
     
  6. DYSPHORIC JOY

    DYSPHORIC JOY Moderator Staff Member

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    Terrain in western NC and upper east TN is no joke.

    Linville Gorge has to hold the record for legs turned the wrong direction.
     
  7. Caleb O

    Caleb O Member

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    If I'm on a trail I'll be on the lookout for those who don't seem like they're doing well. Heat exhaustion and dehydration are always on my mind here in the desert when things are heating up. Can't tell you the amount of times folks are just wearing the wrong stuff with the sun beating down on them, and then realize they severely underestimated what to bring for water. When it's hot out, I'd say I generally take a lot longer look at those I'm passing on trail.

    That said when off trail in the heat, I never see anyone. lol

    There was one time during an odd spring rain that I did notice some trail runners who were not only cold and wet, but looked pretty disoriented and done in. Made sure they got to the parking lot, as they almost took a side trail that would have taken them 50 miles the other direction.

    So generally I keep an eye out (when walking an established trail) but mostly for the really obvious. In the bush, it's pretty rare that I see others; mostly folks looking for ruins/petroglyphs or hunters and they have always seemed to have a pretty good handle on where their at and what their doing.
     
  8. Willow

    Willow Member

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    I'm usually no where near the trails unless I'm doing an out and back. I'm either deep in the bush or on private land where joe public should not be.
     
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  9. Safetyman

    Safetyman Member

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    I’m the same way with people I meet on a city street or in the woods. I don’t let them in my space. I made that mistake in Atlanta a few years ago, letting someone get to close to me, he showed me his gun, and I gave him my money and neck warmer, he did say thanks. My pistol was inside of my truck, second mistake. That experience made me rethink some things. I keep my distance, even when camping or hiking and I have a plan, which includes my CCW!
     
  10. jeeter

    jeeter Member

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    I generally tend to greet people I see on the trail, but I'll caveat that with what Bushman5 and C99c said: I'm also cautious and size up everyone I meet. If anything looks out of the ordinary, I back away and out of the situation. I'm especially cautious as I normally have a kid or 3 in tow. My plan for anything suspicious is to report it to 911/park service, and alert anyone I see on the way out, should I feel the situation warrants it.
     
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