Thoughts About Hikers With Special Concerns
After reminiscing about some behaviors I witnessed on the mountain this weekend I thought it appropriate to once again remind folks with special fitness circumstances to make sure they think through their decision to do this hike.
I have seen folks of all different ages, sizes and shape make this hike. That said, it is a strenuous physical activity and if you go up the rock scramble it will require the use of some upper body strength. There will be a couple of spots in the rock scramble where the trail takes the easiest and or safest route but where you will have the potential for a four to eight foot vertical fall if you slip from your holds. (see the picture of the chute below) When you are in the rock scramble keep in mind that even in the best case when you have immediate communications with the SNP's emergency services that medical first response is going to take hours.
Plan ahead, take your time, be extra cautious, do not go at all or turn around if good judgement dictates it. A few examples of times you need to use extra care and or take above normal precautions:
- You know you are at risk because of high blood pressure or a cardiac condition.
- You have a very bad shoulder that easily dislocates.
- You are badly allergic to bee stings and you forgot your Epipen or noticed that it expired.
- You are very old and your bones are frail.
- You are way out of shape or way overweight.
- You badly twisted your ankle the day before but can painfully walk on it.
- You are in the middle of an intense cold or flu.
- You are carrying a very young infant on a very hot day.
- You are six months pregnant.
- You are missing a limb or a sense.
- You are tremendously hung over.
- You arrived at the hike and realized you forgot to plan for water or you left your meds at home.
- You are a super jock hiker who has decided to explore a harder more exposed way on the rocks than the trail.
- There are an infinite range of special situations each requiring extra thoughtfulness.
I can not say if you should or should not go. You are responsible for making that judgement. I am just reminding you to use good judgement and realize that you are not going to have access to quick medical response. A heart attack which could be survived in the front country with AED or quick ambulance responses has a high probability of being fatal on a remote trail. If you are alone on a weekday or out very late on a Sunday and you have both no means of communicating and you become non-ambulatory than it may be the next day before any help comes within earshot. Cell phones only have sporadic reception at rare locations on Old Rag and the nearest emergency land line is on the outside of the Old Rag Boundary station. Helicopters are sometimes used but they are often unavailable or can not respond because of weather conditions. Even with a helicopter the response times will be an hour or two from time of notification. Without the aid of the helicopter human carry outs of non-ambulatory patients from the most remote parts of the rock scramble are going to require up to twenty responders and 10 to 20 hours from time of your injury until you are loaded on an ambulance.
Two friends joined me for the hike up to the chute. They wanted to beat the heat so we started up around 8AM.
I hung out at the Chute for a very long time. Above is a picture of a large group in the Chute. There were no lines on this day.
I have taken and saved a lot of pictures of the restoration/re-vegetation areas in hopes of posting some before and after pictures in the future.