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SteveHazard

What was your most difficult or challenging explore?

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Just wondering what lengths some of us have gone to check out or try to find that long forgotten place? Maybe it was to rope down a vertical shaft of a mine? Ever go someplace and have a run in with not so friendly people? A vehicle or equipment failure that made getting out a challenge? Or maybe it was just really really out there and took a lot of effort to reach and or find. 

Recently I got back from a trip with my daughter and we found a place that was just way out there. Several hours out on the highway. An hour up a mountain road. Over an another hour on a mandatory 4x4 trail. Then a pack into the back country about 8 miles several of which had no visible trail to a place I wasn't even 100% sure was there. And the hike out back out we took the longer way which was around 10 miles and hit elevations over 10K. My little one is 9 years old and she did that 10 mile stretch back to the truck in one day. Including the drive up and down we spent 5 days on our adventure. 

I did find what I was looking for... after starting to get a bit worried I might not near the end. I'll share the trip after I try to do some follow up on something personal I found. 

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Plenty of those in my past.

1968, wintertime. Late afternoon. Riding my motorcycle, a 1965 Yamaha YDS-3 250cc road bike on the truck trail to Big Bear Lake from my home on the desert slope. A couple feet of snow. Spun the rear tire on thick ice. Spun the chain off the front sprocket, which whipped around and snapped off a cast lug on the primary case, leaving a nasty tennis ball size hole and rearranging the transmission cogs and seized up the innards. Spent the night huddled against a pine tree in the snow. No gloves, a windbreaker, tennis shoes. Early next morning heard a vehicle approaching. It was my neighbor, he knew I was up there and didn’t come home the night before. Spent the rest of the day alternating between hot showers and parking in front of my Franklin stove thawing frostbite on my fingers and toes. I’ve been frostbit numerous times since. Getting frostbite doesn’t hurt, but thawing frostbite is misery ... :crybaby:

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That sounds pretty rough, hope to never experience getting frostbite. 

Speaking of getting stuck exploring places,  my father just a day ago... I guess he was trying to scout for wildlife or just exploring the area but he got high centered in sand someplace by the Las Vegas river/wash right before sundown. Something that really would not of been a big deal at all if it happened to me as I would not of got stuck in my truck, dug myself out if I did, or just walked as he wasn't that far from anything. But for the old guy with a weak heart and the limited ability to even describe where he was correctly it was a bit of a concern. I guess he had to call a dealer and ping his vehicle on GPS to let the help know where to go. He told me there where rattlesnakes all over shortly after it got dark... which yeah, makes perfect sense for an area down by water that had a day time temp of 110. He really should not of been out there like that trying to do what he was in his condition but you can only advice your stubborn parents so much from the next state over, he does what he wants. 

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Maybe get his a personal locator beacon, or something that can provide a safety net... Spot tracker so you can keep an eye on him ;-)

I can't recall any particularly difficult explorations, I got my 2wd nissan pickup stuck out by pyramid lake..  just needed to air down, jack up a couple of wheels and back fill...  it was a hassle for sure..  I think perhaps my risk aversion is higher than a lot of folks... I usually keep a large cushion of 'capability'..  .. I'd better duck now though.. murphy and all ;-)

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December 1989. A buddy and I decided to explore along the Bodie & Benton Railroad grade east of Mono Lake. We were in his Nissan 4x4 pickup. At the site of Warm Springs, my buddy decided he wanted to jump the grade, with me photographing the stunt. Big mistake. He had nowhere the speed needed to cross the grade let alone get the truck airborn. Instead the front wheels left the ground and momentum took him only far enough to solidly mount the frame smack dab in the center of the grade and all four wheels well off the ground.

It was after 5 PM. Sundown was fast approaching. OK, where are the jack and a shovel or two? Back at his house in Mammoth Lakes, more than an hour away driving. Lee Vining, the closest town, was more than 20 miles directly across the lake. Being December, sundown meant colder than it already was (there were patches left from the last snow), both of us were already hungry. And we didn’t even have a flashlight. What to do?

Winter chill hadn’t yet created frozen ground. We each had two hands (but no gloves). We started digging the railroad grade out from under the truck like a couple of badgers. Within minutes the truck started settling ever closer to the ground. Several times each of us got our hands squished between the truck’s frame and dirt. As the truck settled closer to the ground, it was getting increasinly difficult to fit under the truck, requiring the digging out of extra railroad grade well away from the truck. Numerous times we tried getting the truck out under its own power.

It was nearly 11 PM by the time we freed the truck. We were bleeding, hurting, filthy, frozen and starving (we didn’t have water, but took care of thirst with what snow we could find). We drove north out along the railroad grade until we hit the highway out to Hawthorne, then turned west to US395., then south to Lee Vining and arriving at midnight. Bodie Mike’s saloon there was still open. The few patrons saw what a mess we were and were eager to hear our story, so our drinks were on them.

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If it's interesting enough to me, and if I have the time, I'll do pretty much anything.  I'll drive as far as I can drive, grab my pack, and start walking.  I will be cold and tired and I won't care.  My daughter is not the trooper that yours is, Steve.  At least, she seems to be allergic to hiking, unless there is something at the other end that she REALLY wants to see/get.  In May we took a trip up to the obsidian beds in Modoc County.  She was desperate to see the "Pink Lady" mine and get some material, but halfway there the road was blocked by snow and it was already 4PM.  She was all too ready to strap on her back, lace up her boots, and follow me up the trail, through knee-deep snow, and she did.  Slowly, but she did.  Tossed some water and snacks in her pack, grabbed my pack with the InReach, and some spare ammo, and went for broke.

Sadly, the location information was poor, and by 5PM, I could not ascertain how close we were (or weren't).  The choice was push on, or turn back.  Alone, I would have pushed on.  With her, I didn't want to take the chance of hiking the woods, with an iffy trail, well into the darkness.  Plus the drive back to camp was a solid 30 minutes, on poorly marked USFS roads that had some serious washouts and tie-rod breakers. 

But, she loves to explore and see "what's around the next corner", and that makes me proud.  She's curious and daring, if a bit too stubborn. 

 

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After reading all everyone else's story's I guess I've had good luck the only thing I've had to deal with is getting a nail in my tire so I took the nail out and got my tire repair kit out and plugged the nail hole with a tire plug and re inflated the tire out at Bass Camp. I sure am lucky that's the worst that's happened when exploring 😀

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Just keep at it and explore deeper something miserable but exciting to tell later will be bound to happen at some point. Just try to avoid anything too serious. Also nothing needs to of gone wrong for something to be a difficult explore. It could just be a difficult location to get to or find. Sometimes it could be the story of the past that you piece together afterwards based upon what you found. I'm hoping to get a hold of somebody based on what I found... just been procrastinating at the thought of creating a facebook, lol. 

As far as difficult or bad things that have happened. I've run out of water 3 times... the worst time I actually turned back because I started to think the 5 liters would not be enough and I was right. Horrible 90 minutes without water down a shadeless sun exposed hill to the first nasty trickle of water that I happily drank straight. Speaking of being hot and dehydrated dry foods like granola bars become the worst tasting food ever to the point you may not be able to eat them. So I have learn to pick back up snacks that have more moisture in them. In the snow I've learned that the set of footprints your following has at least a 50/50 chance of belonging to somebody that is lost. Walking back 5 miles from your friends stuck truck is exponentially more unpleasant when it rains hard the whole time.  

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On 7/6/2018 at 1:43 PM, braindead0 said:

Hopefully that didn't jinx you ;-)

Being prepared goes a long way toward keeping he drama under control

"Well, I guess I'm making camp right *here*" is sometimes the best decision you can make when things go sideways. 

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That would be neat to visit. 

I'm starting to think that 'getting there' isn't so bad, at least in terms of mines.  The harder thing is rigging up a safe rope system to descend.  If I ever get around to publishing my 2nd 'Thompson' mine video from a few months ago, you'll see that getting down was a bit of a nail-biter.  I have training and experience in using the equipment.  But in the end, I went single rope with an anchor I would use again (but which wobbled a bit). 

Most of the time the challenge is anchors deep inside a mine.  I have limited trust in timbering, primarily for two reasons.  First, it's timbering that may be 50-100 years old.  That always spooks me.  Second, if something gives, you have to be really aware of how the dominoes are going to come down and what comes down with them.  An overhead set of braces for a winze is easy enough.  A few pieces of wood come down, wedge across the opening, and that's it.  If they form the bottom of some greater support structure, then you're more likely to have a bad day.

That's another reason I research mines as much as possible.  I'm always thinking of an escape plan, should everything utterly go to shit in a hurry. 

 

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1 hour ago, Bob said:

I gotta place, I made a video on it a while back, where rappelling down the mine shaft we be awesome. I bet nobody has been down there in 100 years, and it looks to be  extensive. I bet it won't be long before they are sealed up. 

Point me in the right direction and let's go!

1 hour ago, braindead0 said:

I've got a friend I ride with on occasion, he's interested in getting into some mines.. mostly wants to explore adits.  I told him I'll hand out with the other end of the rope  😉

Does he know anything about ropes/climbing/technical rescue?  If so, he'd probably be fine.  If not, don't encourage him until he does know something.  Lol.

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3 minutes ago, desertdog said:

Point me in the right direction and let's go!

Does he know anything about ropes/climbing/technical rescue?  If so, he'd probably be fine.  If not, don't encourage him until he does know something.  Lol.

He's young and perhaps a bit reckless...I did the same when I was a kid... without any lifeline..  If he gets into trouble, I'm popping my PLB and staying outside to wave down any SAR that show up.  No way am I going to become a second body to rescue 😉

I will ask though, for all I know he's an avid climber...

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1 hour ago, Bob said:

I got stuck the first time I tried to get to this place, and the second time I had to rebuild parts of the road and move boulders. Not much hiking, but plenty of digging and moving boulders around. The question I keep asking myself though, was it worth it? I loved the fact that nobody had been there in a long time, just wish it wasn't filled with rodent droppings. I have a fear of bringing the Hanta virus home to the family. I know it's super rare, but it's very deadly if you catch it. I would have liked to have looked around in there more. Plenty of old stuff to see. 

How much farther was the location past where the road needed work? If it is inside of a couple likely hard or sketchy miles for your vehicle I tend to just walk the last bit. Particularly if the road is on a steep hillside. Even if it ends up I could of driven I'll often walk it first because the last thing I want to happen go down for the first time some horrible narrow road next to a cliff, encounter a part I can't get past, and then have to try and back down (or up) who knows how far to a spot large enough to turn around. I've done that before and had to try and turn around in a horrible spot. My last explore vid in alpine up to those mines I just walked and as it turned out the road wasn't that bad and I could of just driven up (then anyways) but I'd rather be safe then have something go wrong on that hillside.... there was an old truck on the side of the hill from a long time ago that did slide over. 

Something I will say about the harder to get to or find places is that those are the ones most likely to be undisturbed and have some cool things. The rat crap is also I fear of mine. The one place I went to that was really difficult to get to I actually brought and left a broom and masks and cleaned it up. Since it was nice enough and we were going to stay there the night, and most likely be back some time, I thought it was worth the effort to suffer though carrying it up there. The other thing I'm going to do before visiting a place that far back is I'm going to get some lock opening skills. One for safety, when your that far back if something goes wrong being able to enter a locked cabin and use some supply, shelter, fireplace, etc could save your life. Secondly it's really frustrating to do all the research to determine that something is indeed on public land, then back pack in miles, only to encounter that there is a lock on there from decades ago or that some other jerk took it upon themselves to illegally throw their own lock on there.  

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   I would also be worried about recognizing faults and bad ground too. I’ve seen some youtube vids where the ground was scary looking on film miles away. Some of those we would have put in split set rock bolts with mats and screen and steel sets too YIKES !!! 

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Most of the mines I've come across fall into the category of not something to go into alone. Flooded and too cold. Entry is only from an air vent only. Too much overburden collapse at the porthole. I was going to explore a mine near Indian Wells and I looked in and just said to myself nah... this is a terrible idea to do alone... this mine looks too big and I'm not sure what the charge level on my light were at. Turns out somebody fell down a vertical shaft and died in there. I also think that it may of been used as a hiding place for another interesting story. I'd love to go back and explore it, it could be made into a cool story including other places, but it's not a place to wander in alone and without being well prepared. Definitely has some dark history around it.  

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  The death march . . . 

       So me and my wife decided we were going to do a hike into some ruins. I had looked it up and planned it out but really didnt know the area or much else of the place. The temps were to be in the mid to high 80’s fehrenheit so no big deal uh. Unless you’re talking monsoon muggy nasty humidity. Well it turns out, it wasnt the hi 80’s but the low to mid 90’s. My dog can not deal with heat and is my gauge since my heart attack several yrs ago.  We walked along and it started getting warm, then hot. When we got to an abandoned RR road my dog started whining because the rocks on the rr bed were HOT. I decided to abort and we headed back to the truck. On the way back my legs, knees started to fail me. The pain was beginning to get unbearable but i was really more worried about my wife.  We got up the trail a ways and because it was taking longer to go back, we were running out of water. At this time my wife said she needed to stop. She drank the last of the water and I had her sit with her chihuahuas while I took my dog and went to get water. I litterally ran the remaining mile or so, legs in excruciating pain as fast as i could to the truck. Gave my dog water, started the truck with the ac full blast and him in it. Took several bottles of water and RAN all the way back to her. She drank some water, dumped some on her head, and we walked back out. We sat in the truck with the AC blasting, drinking water awhile then left. 

1. I didnt research it well enough

2. It took 6 or so hrs to drive it and stupid here wanted to leap right on the trail, tired and during the wrong time of day

3.  I should have carried much more water. 

Lessons learned: stop being STUPID 

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On 12/17/2018 at 3:44 PM, braindead0 said:

He's young and perhaps a bit reckless...I did the same when I was a kid... without any lifeline..  If he gets into trouble, I'm popping my PLB and staying outside to wave down any SAR that show up.  No way am I going to become a second body to rescue 😉

I will ask though, for all I know he's an avid climber...

SAR teams head into mines frequently (in 'mine country', at least).  Most recent one I can think of was in AZ this past summer.  I saw pictures and footage of the rescuer going down to recover the victim (alive, but hurt), and they rigged some stuff that at least looked dicey (may have been perfectly safe for a 1-2kN rescue load, for all I know). 

I keep telling our unit people that we need to do some confined space/cave rescue practice, in the very least.  Either would come in handy during a USAR event, especially in quake country.  I think the idea is finally starting to get a little traction, too.  Granted, caves are far less likely to be overcome by gravity, but many of the same principles apply (light sources, air monitoring gear,  unstable edges/surfaces, water, etc.)  

That's not to say you won't die, and I generally don't like to enter mines without at least one responsible adult on the outside.  At the same time, when I'm looking at a 50-100 year old mine that's accessible, I figure it didn't fall in on itself since the last person walked out.  So there is no logical reason it's suddenly going to be that "today is the day".  Honestly, between going into mines and driving in the Bay Area, I'll take the mines.  At least desert mines. 

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On 12/17/2018 at 4:20 PM, SteveHazard said:

Most of the mines I've come across fall into the category of not something to go into alone. Flooded and too cold. Entry is only from an air vent only. Too much overburden collapse at the porthole. I was going to explore a mine near Indian Wells and I looked in and just said to myself nah... this is a terrible idea to do alone... this mine looks too big and I'm not sure what the charge level on my light were at. Turns out somebody fell down a vertical shaft and died in there. I also think that it may of been used as a hiding place for another interesting story. I'd love to go back and explore it, it could be made into a cool story including other places, but it's not a place to wander in alone and without being well prepared. Definitely has some dark history around it.  

Better off to not go in alone if you don't know much about the underground layout.  If you have a map, and know of multiple exits, it's less dangerous, on two counts.  First, you have the possibility of escape and second you have a greater chance of good air and replenishment of bad air. 

Beyond that, after a while studying the older methods of cut-and-fill, false flooring, and split-leveling, you can spot the dodgy stuff and proceed accordingly.  Most people die in mines because they fall, and most falls are because they have inadequate light sources.  Some die of hypothermia (flooded mines, but I've been in dry mines that got me close), and very few die from rockfall. 

But, odds are made better by being prepared.  I usually have no less than 3 sources of powered lighting, an O2 meter (which I need to replace soon), a bunch of glowsticks (usually the white ones), a small can of compressed 'pilot' oxygen, gloves, a helmet, good boots, and a stout knife.  If I'm going down into a hole, then a descent/ascent system will be built according to proper TRT practices where possible.  If not doable, then I'll settle for good mountaineering rope setups as well. 

I've been in mines where people used shitty 3/8" Home Depot rope (left behind) for going down winzes as a backup handhold.  Crappy knots on crappy anchors = sudden death. If possible, I like to get a truck up close and personal (safely) to the shaft and use it as an anchor.  If it's good enough for fire/RS1, it's good enough for me. 

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  I recall that guy in the mine shaft. He dropped about 50 ft and broke his leg. It was his mine, he owned it and was going to start working it. The shaft was about 100 ft deep.  

More than cave ins, I would be concerned about slabs of rock bouncing off my head. I had a pc of slab knock me to my knees. It hit my hardhat, knock an 8 stitches gash on my arm. We had first aid stations everywhere and I went there and cleaned it and put a butterfly on it. The emt chewed me out for not hitting the emergency cage out. (I finnished my shift)

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18 hours ago, El Polvo said:

  I recall that guy in the mine shaft. He dropped about 50 ft and broke his leg. It was his mine, he owned it and was going to start working it. The shaft was about 100 ft deep.  

More than cave ins, I would be concerned about slabs of rock bouncing off my head. I had a pc of slab knock me to my knees. It hit my hardhat, knock an 8 stitches gash on my arm. We had first aid stations everywhere and I went there and cleaned it and put a butterfly on it. The emt chewed me out for not hitting the emergency cage out. (I finnished my shift)

Concussions are bad things, to say the least.  Delaminating rock is probably the one thing that freaks me out the most.  I've stood in stopes where waste rock is 80-100 feet above, held in place by a floor or wall of timbers, and that doesn't bother me nearly as much as little cracks in huge slabs.

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18 hours ago, El Polvo said:

  I recall that guy in the mine shaft. He dropped about 50 ft and broke his leg. It was his mine, he owned it and was going to start working it. The shaft was about 100 ft deep.  

More than cave ins, I would be concerned about slabs of rock bouncing off my head. I had a pc of slab knock me to my knees. It hit my hardhat, knock an 8 stitches gash on my arm. We had first aid stations everywhere and I went there and cleaned it and put a butterfly on it. The emt chewed me out for not hitting the emergency cage out. (I finnished my shift)

Oh there is another one in that area that somebody died in? The one I was at it was a woman that died when she entered with a kid, a nephew maybe. 

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There is a place an hour away from my house called Molly Stark Sanatorium. This was a tuberculosis hospital that was built in 1929 and It closed about 20 years ago. Honestly it looks like something out of shutter island. After the place sat abandoned for about 15 years the people that owned it gave it to the city and the city made the grounds around it into park. This place was so cool looking and rumored to be haunted they gated the whole building off and put barbwire around the whole fence. Also its surrounded by a neighborhood all around it and the sheriff department is a block away. Because kids try to get in there so much even with all of that the sheriffs just sit in the parking lot all day and when there not there the moment you pull up it reminded me of area 51 because they will just sit there and watch you till you leave. I needed to get in there because no one had any photos or videos in there really since it closed. we tried during the day not a chance. What we did was went during the day every day untill we seen someone cut the fence we waited untill july 4th weekend because we knew no one would be looking for someone breaking in during the holiday parked our car a mile down the road walked in from the woods at midnight snuck through the hole we saw earlier and some how managed to find a board that was hanging and we got in through a small crack. that place was like fort knox still to this day i think we are the only ones that took video and photos in there lol 

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