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A fall through the ice on the way Iroquois revisisted: 1/20/14

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  • A fall through the ice on the way Iroquois revisisted: 1/20/14

    For New Years, our good friends and hiking buddies Sathi and Emily (littlemissbrave) came over to watch the webcast of the Phish New Years Show at MSG. While we were chatting and enjoying the music, this hike came up. I had kept meaning to getting around to telling my wife about what really happened, but as time went by, it got weirder and weirder to bring up. Well we talked about it and I think its time I talked to all of you about it. I think there are some great lessons to take away here on both the things I did right and more so from the things I did wrong.

    I want to encourage anyone who wants to, to armchair quarterback this one. I think it could be a pretty useful teaching tool.

    I finally feel ready to revisit a hike that didn't go well. One where I made several good decisions, a few bad decisions, and one very bad d...
    Crepuscular Rays: Dissolve into evergreens

    There's always gonna be another mountain
    I'm always gonna wanna make it move
    Always gonna be an uphill battle
    Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
    Ain't about how fast I get there
    Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side...
    It's the climb
    -Miley Cyrus

  • #2
    Moral of the story:

    Get better plastic bags.

    You were prepared, you mitigated the damage, you continued with your hike, you turned around when the risks felt like they exceeded the rewards, you exited safely (chastened, but unscathed).

    I wasn't there but it's entirely possible your state of mind was a result of the many stressors in play (cold immersion, wet boots, exhausting ascent, difficult conditions, solo, anxiety, etc) as opposed to mild hypothermia.

    Even people who are not the least bit hypothermic are susceptible to pressing on to a summit (where conditions are likely to be worse, not better) because of "Sunk Costs" (the money, time, and effort they invested to get there). In other words, you don't need a touch of hypothermia to make a regrettable decision.

    Looking for Views!


    • Trail Boss
      Trail Boss commented
      Editing a comment

      An *uninsulated* winter boot? Without insulation it becomes ... a regular boot. I recall Pathgrinder wore Salomon Quest 4D boots in winter (and summer).

      Wear Tingleys or NEOS overshoes to make footwear more water-resistant.

    • Crepuscular
      Crepuscular commented
      Editing a comment
      Trail Boss: as far as your dip< I did state in my initial trip report the ice should not be trusted even if I didn't tell the whole story hahaha. So your wet boots aren't on my conscience! I could've sworn you broke through before me though? I'm sure your dates are faithfully recorded though.

    • FlyFishingandBeer
      FlyFishingandBeer commented
      Editing a comment
      TB, if you want to really split hairs, a mountaineering boot *could* be considered an "uninsulated winter boot," since many if not most aren't actually insulted. That being said, a mountaineering boot isn't a hiking boot and shouldn't be considered an uninsulated winter boot (agreeing with you). My winter hiking boots are mountaineering boots and are pretty awful to walk around in by themselves, but are fantastic when coupled with a traction device of some kind. For whatever reason my feet stay warm despite not being insulted. For the record they've never leaked once, but if I were to pour water into them (or fall through ice), they would certainly retain it for quite a while.

  • #3
    We've all had our scary moments, or will at some point. For many of us it takes experiences of this severity to actually learn something.

    "Several times, unconsciously
    I've stumbled upon the path
    And seen a mountain in the mist"
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.


    • Crepuscular
      Crepuscular commented
      Editing a comment
      That's exactly the conversation i just had with someone on the topic. For my personality I really needed a bit of a shock to slow my roll and be more cautious.

  • #4
    Thanks for sharing. I think trip reports of the failures are usually more interesting than the successes. We should all strive to post more of these!

    Mistakes were made here sure, but you kept your stuff together and completed the hike (summit or no summit), without significant injury or pushing the big red button to call in the cavalry. Most importantly, you took away from the experience something that will change the way you behave next time. To me that defines a success.


    • Crepuscular
      Crepuscular commented
      Editing a comment
      More than any other hike during either rounds or elective, I truly learned from this mistake. My caution levels went way up. I still hiked alone in winter at times but was way more likely to hike with company on serious days and always obsessed over conditions and over packed.

  • #5
    I always pictured Koda as the "go get help" dog who would race down to the Interior Outpost and summon the Ranger.

    Anyway, glad you shared. I'm surprised you continued after dunking both legs that deep in that much cold. I don't carry a change of pants, so likely would have had to call it quits and head home. Quickly.
    ADK 46/46W + MacNaughton, Grid 238/552
    Photos & Stuff


    • Crepuscular
      Crepuscular commented
      Editing a comment
      I always felt the same way about Koda!!!! He certainly looks like a hero dog. Nope. Just sort of looked at my quizzically. I want to blame youth on continuing on but I was 32 at the time hahaha. I think maybe it had more to do with never having faced anything truly adverse in the woods. When Hua Davis passed on MacNaughton a few years back I obsessed for a while over her abilities and past which I tend to do when a hiker dies. My takeaway from her tragic death was that she had been on a ton of group hikes and packed down trails. Flew through a winter round. Pretty much her first time trying something big and solo she got in super serious trouble. Just my read, certainly other interpretations can be made. I just happened to have a less serious incident.

  • #6
    I loved your story and definitely learned from it. I agree with Trail Boss. I personally don't believe you did much wrong in based on your circumstances. You had extra items, and although you pushed yourself up and out of your comfort zone, you still had your finger on your pulse to when it was the right time to turn back. I'm glad you were able to get down safely and share your story with us.