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Thread: Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

  1. #1
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    Woods Walker's Avatar
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    Default Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

    Ok I was only temporarily turned around in a laurel hell but more on that later. On a side note they don't call a large stand of mountain laurels a hell for no reason. I wanted to do some bushwhacking off trail in an area I speculated would not have footprints even on the trail. This is my 2nd buskhavking adventure this week. I like to break trail in areas a bit outside of where most others hike. It's good conditioning and a few miles of just my prints are kinda nice. This time I wanted to mix things up with a bushwalking night hike. Walk the trail till the footprints from other people vanish then start to bushwhack from there. For this type of activity I pack a bit more kit than a normal conditioning outing.





    1. Exped Multi Mat closed cell pad/blanket.
    2. USGI Poncho liner.
    3. Well worn Golite poncho.
    4. Water resistant and insulated gloves.
    5. Cordage and webbing.
    6. High fat (nuts) snack.
    7. Backwoods Brawler PSK.
    8. Surefire 6P and battery holder.
    9. ArmyTek Tiara A1 headlamp.


    The sharps.





    1. LMF knife.
    2. H&B forge lady/mouse hawk


    I also have an extra pair of thick wool socks and insulated canteen. I expect temps in the teens. When night hiking, more so off trail I take flashlights very seriously. I don't want something that will break due to a minor drop etc. This isn't to say lesser kit won't do the job but it's winter and I really, really don't want to stumble around in the dark off trail.


    6p with bright orange paracord lanyard. I tied the connector loop from reflective cordage.








    Powered via 2XCR123 for cold weather performance and M61WL. Potted electronics made in the USA. Single mode 125 lumens running regulated for 5 hours then tapped direct drive output. These aren't the brightest but I absolutely trust Malkoff single mode P60 type drop-ins. A boast I make for very few electronics.





    SF 6xCR123 battery holder with extra SF P60L. If by some amazing chance entropy somehow kills the M61WL I could change out the drop-in. Granted the original SF P60L was a downgrade in terms of performance compared to even the older gen M60 but it's dependable and brighter than dark. Same combo of cordage as the 6p. I just tied those a few weeks ago so they still have that new cordage glow.





    Hemlock soft magnesium/ferro rod combo. The handle can also be scraped for tinder. This one sees little use as it's tossed into my ER stuff beyond initial testing. I have others of the same type which get more active use. Cool kit IMHO.





    Breathable/vented North face overalls with synthetic long johns and crazy red shirt. Socks are wool/synthetic blend of some sort. Have a Columbia jacket and old ripped up USGI jacket liner which I took off and put inside my pack.





    Spikes and gaiters.





    Night hike....Go! Well not exactly as it was still dusk. The sun was setting to my back as I was moving away from my truck. This observation would help later on.





    Blue trail.





    And the foot prints dry up. Often in the winter people don't like to hike up hills or over rocks etc. So basically it's just me.










    My favorite tinder. I am here for physical training so not looking to start a fire but took a bit just incase.





    Pushing on.





    Time to go off trail.





    I take back what I said about there being no one out here. Plenty of deer tracks.





    As of right now the snow isn't what it's been in past years.








    Off trail obstacle course.











    Starting to drift towards the laurels. I wanted to avoid them but the topography kept pushing me nearer.








    Oh snap I am surrounded! My speed dropped to a little over zero mpr.





    Went towards a what I believed was a clearing as dark moved in. Unfortunatly it was an island in the luarals. One of their most devious tricks. You think the opening is a way out but no. It's just an island. A view from all sides. Yup, it's an Island.











    I think they were getting ready to move in the kill.





    Ok so what to do. I noticed what looked like a ridge under the light of my flashlight but discounted that idea. Why keep going forward when not 100% sure as to your exact location. I fully expected to link back up with the trail and finish a 5-mile night hike. Now I could go in any direction within a few miles hit a road or power lines but that could mean hours if the direction was wrong. I am not in the congo after all so am just a bit turned around, not lost. The smart move would be to follow my foot prints out however thought this might be a good low risk opportunity to practice navigation with a compass. I am no master of this topic and probably doing it all wrong but then again results are all that matters........


    Unplanned compass navigation skills practice.....GO!


    I believe the Backwoods Brawler has one of those cheap compass whistle combos.





    Bingo! I remember the location of the sun and thought maybe the truck was West, North West. I say two because not 100% certain but confident enough to start out in the footprint less night snow.





    Some time later. Hands getting cold so put on the gloves. Still pushing forward on the same direction.





    OK. Nothing in nature is a straight line. I could have scrapped over this but why risk a fall in the dark when having such a good time. Went around but kept in the same general direction as best as possible.





    Sometime later. Took off my hat and gloves...again.... still going in the same direction.





    And it's a trail maker!





    Still no footprints. This must be a part of the trail after breaking off to go bushwhacking.





    A bit later found my footprints in a wider road section of the trail. Put the hat and gloves back on then jogged the last distance to shake off the chill. I remove and replace layers often when hiking with a pack through the snow. Less so when it's just dirt all other factors being equal. No sure why, maybe more effort?





    Looks good! Final reading right by the truck.








    Again I am not expert at this and probably did it wrong however knowing the approximate direction of my destination and remaining as near as possible on that course worked. Odds are I only traveled 2.5 miles total because of returning when turned around so went for a 2.5 mile run on the road without the spikes to even things out for the day as wanted to get at least 5-miles in.


    Thanks for looking.
    The TK20. Yes it still rocks.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

    Hahaha. That's ballsy trekking off in the woods in the dark. I've walked into scrub like that too; it's quickly like aww crap, I'm working so hard to get through this junk I don't know what way I'm facing anymore! Can be a bit unnerving actually. Good on you for just keeping chill and trusting the compass. That can be hard to do!

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    Flashaholic* KeepingItLight's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

    Back when I was hiking a lot, bushwhacking was one of the most fun things to do. In places like Yosemite, it is one of the best ways to find solitude amid the crowds.

    I lost the trail a few times, but I never was lost. If you are a beginner, however, I recommend going with an experienced friend the first couple of times.

    I am not expert on compass use, but I think you were wise to take a heading that would get you close to your truck. Taking a course that was intended to be the shortest route back to the trail could have backfired. It would have been easy to cross the trail without even knowing it!
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    *Flashaholic* Str8stroke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

    Even thought you weren't really "lost" per se, you may be the only person who has actually ever used the compass on those survival whistles! lol

    Awesome story. I always enjoy your posts. Some how you can mix flashlights with adventure and hell!

    I was thinking, another thing you were practicing was not panicking. Some folks get way freaked out when they get turned around, this usually leads them to being fully lost or worse if unprepared. I am always amazed by those stories of people who set off hiking with no basic gear, or plan. Then it turns deadly. Especially with a injury or medical condition. A simple back pack of gear and plan could really increase survival odds in the event you become truly lost or injured.
    It reminded me of when I was a kid hiking in the woods with a friend. There were trails all through the woods. He would get panicked when we would get turned around on the trails! The whole trial system couldn't have been more than 3 miles long and we had water on 3 sides! Not to hard to find your way eventually. But I digress a little.
    Good read. thanks.
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    Default Re: Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

    Enjoyable read, the photos really added nicely to it.


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    Default Re: Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

    It's really hard to get lost when you are hiking in snow--the bailout option is to just follow your track back to the start.

    Still, while you had two sets of lights, it would also be wise to pack two compasses, and not just a couple of cheap ones. ;-)
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    Default Re: Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotonFanatic View Post
    It's really hard to get lost when you are hiking in snow--the bailout option is to just follow your track back to the start.

    Still, while you had two sets of lights, it would also be wise to pack two compasses, and not just a couple of cheap ones. ;-)

    Yup. I mentioned that following my footprints would have been the smart play but made a straight shot for my truck using the compass. The brawler only has one compass but have others, just not with me. I do agree 2 is 1 and 1 is none. Thanks for looking.
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    Default Re: Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

    Quote Originally Posted by Str8stroke View Post
    Even thought you weren't really "lost" per se, you may be the only person who has actually ever used the compass on those survival whistles! lol

    Awesome story. I always enjoy your posts. Some how you can mix flashlights with adventure and hell!

    I was thinking, another thing you were practicing was not panicking. Some folks get way freaked out when they get turned around, this usually leads them to being fully lost or worse if unprepared. I am always amazed by those stories of people who set off hiking with no basic gear, or plan. Then it turns deadly. Especially with a injury or medical condition. A simple back pack of gear and plan could really increase survival odds in the event you become truly lost or injured.
    It reminded me of when I was a kid hiking in the woods with a friend. There were trails all through the woods. He would get panicked when we would get turned around on the trails! The whole trial system couldn't have been more than 3 miles long and we had water on 3 sides! Not to hard to find your way eventually. But I digress a little.
    Good read. thanks.
    LOL! I had that silly thing in the PSK so just had to use it. Actually worked though again I was only temporarily turned around and could have backtracked from the get go. An opportunity to practice skills couldn't be passed up. People have died within a mile from their car or shelter from exposure. I remember reading about a guy in PA who made it 200 yards or so to his truck and died. I think it involved being lost, then wet and he accidentally badly cut his hand. One thing after another. Cold weather can be a hard mistress.
    The TK20. Yes it still rocks.

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    Default Re: Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

    Quote Originally Posted by nbp View Post
    Hahaha. That's ballsy trekking off in the woods in the dark.
    It's the reason why I am here. Well not the ballsy part anyways as that's not me. LOL! Like night hikes even off trail so it was only a matter of time before I ran into CPF for great advice on lights. Thinking about doing a sub zero bushwhacking night hike as it looks like negative 10 might be here tomorrow. Hope life doesn't get in the way. Thanks for looking!
    The TK20. Yes it still rocks.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

    Another great read and look. Got lost on a coon hunt back in the day. One of the funnest nights I had in the woods.

    Thanks for the post. Keep it up.
    I just pre-showered. Preserve my night vision , wait I have night vision ?

  11. #11

    Default Re: Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

    You set a great example for us all.........we need to get back outside! Beautiful post, photos and info.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

    Great story. I would get lost and attempting to follow my own tracks out end up going home with a deer or a bear!

  13. #13
    Flashaholic Subterrestrial's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lost in a laurel hell.... Sorta....

    I enjoy reading these threads WW. I have that Coghlan's whistle-compass! LOL It's a good back-up to my Suunto.

    Incidentally, if you're finding yourself wanting to travel in a straight line and unable to do so because of the brush you can always use an old Scandinavian trick! Find yourself a long, reasonably straight branch and thread it through the brush in the intended direction of travel then walk around to the other side, pick up and continue on! Repeat as needed.

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