Too Windy and 127 Hours?!?!

Caution: Do not read this blog entry if you want to stay under the assumption that all hiking experiences are pleasant and comfortable!

Sometimes, just sometimes, hiking trips do not go as planned. Hikers if they hike long and often enough WILL most likely: arrive at a wrong destination, be hot, sweaty, and smell, have shaky legs, a pounding chest, and burning calves, feel thirst (real thirst), experience disorientation and dehydration, feel intense cold, numb fingers and toes, encounter winds that threaten to steal all ultra-light equipment, lose toenails, meet with a piercing granite boulder that will result in an emergency room visit, and my personal favorite be threatened with a gun while hiking on private land.

Last week we decided to head off on incoming storm, and climb Boulder Peak in the Owens Peak Wilderness. As a result of our available time frame, the impending storm, and unclear directions to the trail head, we decided to take a route that looked like a shortcut. Not good. We ended up at a ridge that made a 2 1/2 mile trip into at least 4 1/2 miles. On top of that, upon reaching the ridge the winds picked up and we had to turn around. In the following video from that ridge, standing is difficult, my poles flew away, and I am shouting while standing on my backpack to secure it from blowing away. Way too much fun.

To celebrate our complete failure, we headed to the theater to watch 127 Hours. You may be familiar with this true story of Aron Ralston’s amazing escape from a boulder that had pinned him, by cutting off his own arm (with a very small off-brand multi-tool knife I might add).

After this heroic escape with death in 2003 Aaron wrote Between a Rock and a Hard Place that I read several times. I really enjoyed his writing and background information. I even loaned the book to several of my students. Check out the trailer. Warning: the movie is rated R for some pretty gruesome scenes.

I won’t spoil the movie or book with a review, but I can tell you that now on every trip of ANY LENGTH, day or over-night I now will:
1. Always, always text or phone someone where I am going and when I expect to be back.
2. Always carry a small sharp knife, ultra-light rope, and an extra battery for my headlamp.
3. Carry extra water (you will know why after watching the movie)

So I just have to ask, do you have some experience while out hiking you would like to share? Please do share in the comments.


  1. Great article. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m quite impressed! Extremely useful information specially the last part. I care for such information much. I was seeking this certain information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  2. SO true…been on one too many day hikes where a simple exploration beyond camp and along unmarked trails take waaaay longer than you think, especially when you decide to turn around and head back. It’s so easy to get sidetracked by the beauty and mystery of new places that you just want to keep going beyond that next corner bend…I do admit that I def need to be more conscious about having emergency supplies with me, even on a ‘simple’ day hike.

    • Amen. I just watched 20/20 that featured the sad story of the Kims. Think I am going to add supplies to the car now: water, energy bars, sleeping bag, plastic poncho, emergency blanket, first-aid kit, and headlamp. Again the main problem is no one really knew where or when the Kims were going on their Thanksgiving trip.

  3. First off, your new pic on the top banner is great! Second, your video has pretty much convinced me to pack that extra guyline recommended for the Tarptent Contrail in case it’s “windy.”

    • Hey thanks! That might be a great idea for the southern CA section. Last year I read many a trail journal that said hikers were not even able to set up their tents because the wind was too high. They just set up sleeping bags right in the middle of the trail. Sounds like true improv. don’t you think?

  4. Spot on Rockin, you do have to be prepared for nature to throw anything at you. The is one of the BUZZES of getting out and enjoying a trip, you never know what is going to happen,

    A couple of years ago we were stranded between two flooded rivers for a day. It could have been much longer and it was a bit “worrying” for a while. We survived, of course.
    We posted about it here if anyone wants to read more details.


    • Thank you Frank for adding the link to your story of the dreaded rising creeks after a storm. Hope several readers will click and read. 🙂 There are always lessons and knowledge to be learned when getting outdoors.

  5. Interesting video but I can’t understand anything you are saying as the wind it blowing toooooo hard. I am surprised you were able to stand up. I assume Dan was there with you.

    • Yep, the weather is not always perfect and the views sometimes are not so stunning believe it or not. And yes I had my partner in crime with me.

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