Lost Pedestrians!- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Lost Pedestrians!

    Had a nice 10 mile ride yesterday. On it I met a family of hikers (eh, more walkers than hikers I think) out enjoying some of the trails.


    Occasionally I see walkers or runners on the MTB trail, doesn't bother me at all as they are always very courteous.

    At this particular junction there is a break in the trail because you have to cross a road. I'm taking a minor breather, coasting around thinking about dropping some pressure in my tire when a man approaches me, wife, two daughters and family dog in tow.

    "Do you know how to get back to the parking lot?" He asks me.

    Naturally, there are lots of parking lots here at this trail network so i try to figure out which one he is talking about.

    All he can really tell me is:
    "Big and gravel"


    Fortunately all of the trails at this particular park are inside a giant oval formed by one road, and I had a pretty good idea of where they needed to go. We are practically at the entrance to what we will call the north side, and he seemed to think they came from the south. So I advise him to either backtrack along the MTB trail, or take a right onto the paved road and follow it until they see their parking lot. If they get really lost, a park ranger comes by every 30 minutes or so on that road and they can give them a lift.
    I bid them farewell and good luck and they go on their way, I go on mine.

    So about an hour or more later I encounter the same group of intrepid wanderers 4 miles away on a completely different mountain bike trail near what we will call the south side. Doesn't seem that odd, maybe they chose the backtrack option after all. Except the backtrack option would have put them on a different trail completely.

    The family looked to be suppressing mutinous thoughts at this point, and the degree of flabbergastedness on dad's face was priceless. Cheers to him for keeping it together so well, someone needs to buy him a beer.

    After some pleasant banter about meeting again in the woods (how crazy is that!?) I let them know that a trailhead was roughly a quarter mile in the direction I was coming from, and was indeed next to a big gravel parking lot.

    At the mention of "Gravel, and big" their eyes lit up.
    Mom thanked me profusely and it looked like an enormous weight was lifted of their shoulders.


    I still have no idea how we met the second time, or if they ever made it out alive. Just a story that made my day. Nice people, just very very lost.





    Anyone else have one?

  2. #2
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    Nice story. Like I tell my wife, I don't get lost, just misplaced.

  3. #3
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    Climbing a gravel road I came across a big mixed group. 2 kids on bikes, 2 adults hiking, 1 more adult on horseback and 1 walking alongside her horse. Also 4 dogs. We exchanged some pleasantries and they commented about how steep it was. I looked back over my shoulder and said "well, the hard part is actually a mile farther up this road, and then you get to the last pitch to the top."

    I make it to the top, ride some trails, and head back down the way I came. Didn't really think about them again until I saw them coming up the road towards me. Which would have made sense, if they weren't 1/2 mile lower on the road than when I met them the first time.

    So, I stopped. They got turned around somewhere and now they felt like they knew where they were going. I really wanted them to just head back to their vehicles, but they wouldn't... so I rode home.

    Next day I asked a friend who volunteers for a local mountain rescue unit how he strikes up conversations with people who are definitely lost but won't admit they are...

  4. #4
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    Sorry to break it to you Grimgrin, they've been dead since '86. They're ghosts. Everyone who encounters them dies within a year.

  5. #5
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    I guess that settles it then. I will just go ahead and buy that mountain bike stuff I've been wanting guilt free!

  6. #6
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    You'll encounter them on another ride in a few weeks. Dad will have a grizzly beard, mom lost weight, one kid missing, other kid sick and being dragged on a makeshift sled, still looking for that big gravel lot.
    Live like there's no tomorrow. But pay your bills just in case there is.

  7. #7
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    Lol you guys are hilarious.

    Anyway, on a related note, I remember when the trails that I frequent now were brand new to me and I was lost once. I was actually jogging and thought that I saw the fire trail that led me back up to the parking lot out in the distance. However, as I got closer the topography of the land hid the trail curving to the right away from the direction I thought I needed to go. I should add this trail system has no markers. Well it was getting closer to night and I started to mildly panic. I wasn't really FAR away from civilization as I could SEE where I needed to go, sort of, and saw campers on the other side of the lake. Anyway, I start running back and fourth on this quarter mile part of trail trying to decide which way to go knowing a mistake would be time costly until I came across another jogger and just followed that person back. Turns out I was so close it was ridiculous. Now I just laugh because that occurred about 2 years ago and now I know the trail system like the back of my hand.

    On another occasion I once saw a horse rider get bucked off his horse. We for sure thought he broke his arm at the elbow. We kind of stayed with them trying to help the best we could until the couples entourage showed up and then it came time to try and tell them the fastest way out of there. Absorbed in panic (I don't handle crisis well apparently) my mind completely went blank. My words are all stumbling and I'm contradicting myself and blah blah blah. Eventually we got them competent enough directions to get them out of there, but damn.

  8. #8
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    Earlier this summer I met a dude way up on the mountain, he wasn't lost exactly, but i'm not sure he was entirely there. He was incredibly amped, and told me he had just driven all night from New Orleans to see his Aunt and Uncle. During the ride he drank five energy drinks and consequently had not slept at all and decided to check out his rehabilitating ankle by bushwacking up the ridge. Here I am at 8 am wondering who this very polite, talkative, and intense individual is doing out there. Still the strangest trail meeting i've had yet. I'm sure he made it home alright, though, he could have done laps around that ridge with the amount of energy he had.

  9. #9
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    I generally carry a map print-out in my shorts pocket for my own peace of mind, and a spare in my pack. I've given out a few of my spares to people who had no clue where they were or how they could get back to their car.
    Hold my beer and watch this!

  10. #10
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    I'm never "lost" just getting some extra miles in.

  11. #11
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    A couple years ago at a local mtb trail a women and a child got "lost".
    The park has mtb trails crisscrossing with hiking/ski trails. They were on the hiking/ski trails. It was getting dark, maybe around 8pm when they got "lost". With a police chopper overhead and cops on the ground, they were able to find the lucky hikers.

    Normally when its dark and someone is lost, things can get kind of scary and become a life or death scenario. What stands out in this case is that the park is about 1/2 mile x 1/2 mile square. The south side has a huge fence that separates it from the local zoo. The east and west side has a busy road. The north side is a neighborhood.

    Its ridiculous the amount of man power it took to retrieve them. If they have just kept walking in one direction for 10 minutes, they would have found "civilization".

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by the-one1 View Post
    What stands out in this case is that the park is about 1/2 mile x 1/2 mile square. The south side has a huge fence that separates it from the local zoo. The east and west side has a busy road. The north side is a neighborhood.

    Its ridiculous the amount of man power it took to retrieve them. If they have just kept walking in one direction for 10 minutes, they would have found "civilization".
    That's pretty sad. Couldn't they have just put one officer at each corner and shouted?

    Walking in one direction is my plan if I ever get that seriously lost. There aren't that many places in the world I'd go biking solo that are more than an hour or two walk in a straight line to find some sign of other people.
    Live like there's no tomorrow. But pay your bills just in case there is.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by the-one1 View Post
    Its ridiculous the amount of man power it took to retrieve them. If they have just kept walking in one direction for 10 minutes, they would have found "civilization".
    This is actually very astute.

    In the military they use a "Panic Azimuth" for field exercises, and it is essentially the same thing but with a compass. Most parks have roads or some other large feature that you can use to find yourself or get found. If you never look at a map, however, you may never know.

    Another problem is drifting. Even if people know they have to go due east until they find a road, they will sometimes drift left or right and end up adding a whole lot of time to their walk, thus increasing the likelihood of becoming panicked.


    The first set of directions I gave was essentially a bail-out so they could find a map and figure out where they went. I guess they ignored my suggestion :/

  14. #14
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    In MA last year, someone called 911 because they got lost in a corn maze. They could have just walk 100 yds ( max) in any direction through the corn to get out, sad.

  15. #15
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    I was poaching some trails on a ranch once at dusk waiting for night to fall and came upon a couple of hikers who were from the great state of Illinios, clearly lost and asking for directions. The guy was bonking (granted it was above 8000 feet but... can you bonk hiking?). They were asking for directions and I told them I'd just walk them out cause I didn't trust that they'd find their way before dark. Gave the guy a Powerbar or something that I had. The lady went to great lengths to distance herself from the fellow she was out with. I got them to a point where they could see the ranch and sent them on their way telling them to let the owners know a kindly mtn biker had assured their safety. Never felt bad about riding those trails after that day.
    Gone are the days we stopped to decide,
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jugdish View Post
    I was poaching some trails on a ranch once at dusk waiting for night to fall and came upon a couple of hikers who were from the great state of Illinios, clearly lost and asking for directions. The guy was bonking (granted it was above 8000 feet but... can you bonk hiking?). They were asking for directions and I told them I'd just walk them out cause I didn't trust that they'd find their way before dark. Gave the guy a Powerbar or something that I had. The lady went to great lengths to distance herself from the fellow she was out with. I got them to a point where they could see the ranch and sent them on their way telling them to let the owners know a kindly mtn biker had assured their safety. Never felt bad about riding those trails after that day.
    Boy that lady friend sounds like a real keeper..NOT! When the going gets tough she bails.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  17. #17
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    Great stories here.

    We got a late start hiking Mount San Jacinto and were coming down the six mile trail after the summit, little light left. A couple miles later, a man and two kids are sort of floundering on the trail, really not making any way as they should be at that time and place. They had come up the aerial tram on the opposite side of the mountain and hiked the three miles to the summit, then took the wrong turn on the way down and so were 5 miles from the tram near dark.

    All I could do was ask of they had water, jackets and a light, which they allegedly did, and send them back over the pass. I wondered if they made it back to the tram by 9:45, closing time. A long night if not.

  18. #18
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    In my town in Ohio we have a small park that I've been working on building mtb trails for a while. There is a one mile loop with a 50 yard 'stem' from the parking lot, with a couple of out and back trails off of it. The whole parcel of land is about 70 acres, with a Mall on one side, a four lane commercial road on the other, and an apartment complex around the other two sides.
    I was out doing some maintenance and came across a lady hiker who was in a panic. She said she'd been lost on our "maze" of trails for over an hour. Apparently she'd walked the loop, and at the intersection of the stem kept on going and made a second loop, where she turned off onto one of the out n backs. This one has a small (1/4 mile) loop on the end so you don't have to stop and turn around. Apparently she hiked THIS loop twice as well, then found her way back to the main loop - where she walked to the next out n back and took it to the end and returned - and headed back the loop in the wrong way etc etc etc.
    She must have walked 5 miles on a trail system that is less than 3 miles in length. Granted signage is lacking (keeps getting destroyed) by there are maps on the entrance kiosk.
    After she described where she'd been I just walked her back to the parking lot. I got the feeling that she was the type of person who might get lost between the kitchen and the bathroom.

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  19. #19
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    It is actually dumbfounding to me how often I come across people (whether hiking or MTBing) that seem at least somewhat lost.

    One time I came across 2 ladies who were a few miles out and really didn't look the part of hikers. I asked how they were doing and they divulged that they were "a little off track". They had no map and had never been here before. So, I gave them the most fool-proof directions back to the parking. Note that I did not say the shortest. So, later I come down into the lot and they are there. I ride by and say something like: "Glad to see you found your way out". Believe it or not, one of the ladies starts b!tching at me because "The way you sent us was so looong!" I just raised my hands and said: "Well at least your not lost in the woods". That was a new one.

    Like someone said above, I've handed over a lot of maps (and directions). I tend to carry a map even at places I know very well. I guess, it's just the boy scout in me. But, the people I've helped have always been thankful...except the one mentioned above.

  20. #20
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    If I am truly lost, I would appreciate "fool proof" directions over a short path that was risky or hard to remember. How ungrateful!

    I think I will start carrying maps. I usually only do on bigger trail networks. Doesn't hurt to be prepared. Great stories so far guys and gals!

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