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Re: Story for Halloween

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Story for Halloween
October 29, 2011 11:19AM
The first pack trip that I ever took was to Paradise Valley in Kings Canyon. I was twelve years old, and went off with my older sister and her best friend, both of whom were about sixteen. We were young and adventurous, and prepared for just about anything.


Actually, we were green and a little nervous, but what could go wrong on a simple overnight trip? My pack was cleverly contrived out of a pair of my father's pants: the two legs became the shoulder straps, tied into the belt loops, and my sleeping bag and clothes went into the torso section of the pants. The two older girls also carried the food and a tent.

And in those days, we drank straight from the stream, out of our Sierra Club Cups.

We hiked about seven miles up to Paradise Valley, and managed to get there in plenty of time. We set up camp and had a pleasant evening around the campfire. Paradise Valley really seemed like paradise!

It was so peaceful...too peaceful!

Near dusk, as the sun settled behind the canyon walls and shadows reached over the forest, we began to hear a metal clanging noise--a bit like the noise of someone pounding metal tent stakes into hard ground. WE had thought we were the only people there, and yet...

We let it go on for some minutes...and the more it continued, the stranger it seemed. Ping ping ping.

We tried to find the source of the noise, but it was getting dark, and we didn't want to wander around the forest and away from our campsite. We'd seen enough horror films to know that was a bad idea. The noise stopped for a while, then started up again. Ping, ping, ping.

Now we were getting worried. We tried calling out, to make some kind of contact--but there was no answer. We called louder. Still no answer. That was weird. Ping, ping, ping.

We convinced ourselves that the person making the noise couldn't hear us, because we were close to the river, and the noise of the rushing water obliterated our voices. But we didn't really believe that.

And then the noise started getting closer. Now we knew it wasn't another camper,m pounding in tent stakes. As we discussed the matter among ourselves, we tried to imagine what was making the noise. Then we began to realize that this might be a bell attached to an animal. And what kind of animal would require a bell in a National Park?

Our best guess was a dangerous bear--one that needed to warn people of his approach.

And still the noise got closer. Ping, ping, ping.

We climbed into the tent and huddled inside, hoping that the bear would pass us by. The pinging came closer and closer to our camp. As we listened intently, the noise got closer and closer, until it was just outside the camp site. Right outside. Twenty feet away. Maybe fifteen. Right in front of the tent. Our eyes were huge as we looked at each other. What should we do?

We could take the suspense no longer. We threw open the tent and flashed our lights in the direction of the noise.

There stood beautiful stag, rather stunned by the bright lights in the night.

We watched for a minute, just to make sure that this wasn't a Dangerous Deer, and then closed up the tent and fell asleep to the sound of ping ping ping walking away in the forest.

The next morning we felt good enough to laugh about the incident.

When we returned to Road's End, we mentioned the deer to one of the rangers. He immediately asked us what color the bell had been--this was a new program to track the deer within the park. We thought the bell was either silver or blue.
He smiled indulgently, and told us that there were no silver or blue bells in the program.

hmmmph. It seemed like a stupid idea to us at the time---and I bet they don't bell stags in the parks anymore, either!

Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
Re: Story for Halloween
October 31, 2011 12:28PM
good story...
avatar Re: Story for Halloween
October 31, 2011 07:53PM

And in those days, we drank straight from the stream, out of our Sierra Club Cups.

And did you ever get sick from drinking the untreated water?

I would think that the water is cleaner now than it was back then.

Thanks for sharing your "Halloween" story.
Re: Story for Halloween
October 31, 2011 07:59PM
Nope--we never got sick from the water. Then again...I do wonder how much of the water is contaminated now. Less, perhaps, than most people think. But having had a case of Giardiasis, we don't take many chances these days...

Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
Re: Story for Halloween
October 31, 2011 08:13PM
I can remember being in Great Smoky Mt. NP and drinking from a stream and never getting sick but that was in the early 70's. Probably can't do that now.
avatar Re: Story for Halloween
October 31, 2011 08:28PM
But since the early 1970's, with the formation of the EPA, most rivers and streams in the United States have become LESS polluted than they once were. So, at least in theory – if not reality – the rivers and streams around Great Smokey National Park ought to be cleaner today than they were back in the 1960's or earlier.
Re: Story for Halloween
October 31, 2011 08:25PM
Lots of people don't treat their water. Ran into one this summer on the River trail in Ansel Adams. He claimed to never have gotten sick. AT guru (or nut-case depending on the source) Warren Doyle doesn't treat and urges his disciples not to either. He's thru-hiked more than a dozen times and had giardiasis once, I think. I've read that about 25%of the population is immune. Personally, I'm not willing to risk it. Treating water is so simple and giardiasis so unpleasant, the cost/benefit seems pretty clear to me.
avatar Re: Story for Halloween
October 31, 2011 08:53PM
Water treatment has been discussed here extensively. Those interested should pull up some of the research of Robert Derlet, MD (UCDavis). I have heard him speak of the subject of water in the Sierra and I think he would agree that the main offenders relate to human activity--- range animals, stock animals, and infection brought to the Backcountry by other hikers or incurred before backpacking (like Norovirus). Is there more contamination now than years ago? Probably depends on where you look-- some areas are better and some are worse.

Best source of water is the water near surface in a lake not in contact with the offending mammals mentioned. There is a value to the UV effect on the water and it avoids the goo from deeper sources. Shallow water is less desirable as a source and, in spite of the rural myth about the fast water being cleaner, sometimes the fast part of the stream may actually contain undesirables kicked up by the turbulence. Not treating is a personal choice. Heating to cook does a lot to sanitize water and when the water is from a good source to begin with, water used to cook is unlikely to be a problem if not treated. But I usually treat all water if feasible.

The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Story for Halloween
November 01, 2011 07:36AM
I've lived and played in the Sierras for forty years and never had to treat water.That doesn't mean I would'nt if I thought the water was bad.I carry enough water to get to what I believe is good water.More cautious now than in years past, sometimes that means carrying a gallon of water for my wife and I.Fresh snow melt in the high country with little chance of upsteam contamination seems easy to find.Drinking ice cold water out of rivulets is a great reward that I look forward to.It sure beats warm water out of a plastic bottle on a hot day after working hard.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/01/2011 08:23AM by grant1.
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