(log continues from Polly Takes the Plunge)
A half a dozen of us from the Sierra Club were hiking the Whitetail Trail from Quebec Run to Lick Hollow. About mid-way through it was decided to make a detour down to White Rocks. On the climb out of the hollow, I began to realize that our senior citizen hike leader was starting to have trouble. He was very slow coming up the hill and when he stopped to take a break I asked him if he was drinking water. He said he had plenty.
I had a 3-litre Camelbak and I knew I was beginning to run low. Anyone who claimed to have plenty of water was not drinking enough. Thus, the conspiracy began. Myself and two others took the lead and as we climbed the hill we started planning on what we should do. Way back in Boy Scouts I had dealt with a similar situation of an extremely hot day and running out of water. The plan was for us to press on to Lick Hollow, stock up on water and then to return to re-supply the second group. This was when I was truly regretting not bringing the FRS radios.
We got to the next turn where the hike leader (now hike straggler) had wanted us to stop. We debated and decided to press on after leaving a note. We didn’t get far before we hear them coming up behind. The others had gotten him to take off his hat, which was causing him to overheat, and someone else was carrying his pack. He was making much better time but still didn’t look well. We decided to wait at Redstone Creek for them to catch up.
The other guy spoke with me. He told me that the hike leader did this sort of thing all the time. But from experience, just because he does this all the time doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
At the Redstone Creek crossing it was decided that three of us would go on ahead and the hike leader and others would go to the end of Pine Knob road and wait for pickup at the gate. That would cut a mile or two off the hike. I ran out of water and the two women that were with me ran out a short time after that. It was two hours to finally get to Lick Run. We stocked up on water and drove the waiting vehicle to the gate.
Except that they weren’t there. We got really worried. They should have been there by now. Another mistake: we should have exchanged cell phone number (if the second group had cell phones) in lieu of not having my FRS radios. Two of us took the water and started hiking the road but one turned back because her ankle couldn’t take it. At the road that turns off to Pine Knob itself, I left one of the water bottles to make sure that they didn’t get past me and went to be sure they hadn’t make a sightseeing detour.
When I came back there was a bear sniffing around the water bottle I had left. He heard my approach and made his way into the woods. Night fell and I continued up the road. At 9:30 it was decided to call 911. It turns out that the hike leader had gone to the other end of Pine Knob Rd. where it meets Skyline Dr., not the end that we were at much closer to Lick Hollow. That miscommunication was yet another terrible mistake in a day full of stupid and careless mistakes.
I had thought to bring my FRS radios but didn’t. I had thought of taking extra water but didn’t. I had thought of bringing my microfilter water bottle but didn’t. I thought about staying on the trail but didn’t.
Trust your instincts.