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Reader Poll: Have You Ever Been THAT Guy?

Taking a Break at Lake of the Clouds Hut, Mt Washington

Taking a Break at Lake of the Clouds Hut, Mt Washington

Have you even been the person who has bonked on a hike and made the entire group turnaround?

I’ve been that guy a couple of times and it is a sobering experience. One the one hand, it can be a real relief both physically and mentally to raise your hand and say I can’t go any father. But making the decision to ask for help or admit that you’re too tired to go on can be embarrassing.

You’ll hear leaders say “we hike as a group, and stay as a group”, but have you really internalized what this means? Are you really willing to drive 2 or 3 hours for a day hike and then turn around before it’s finished if someone is not feeling well and can’t go on?

Having been that guy, I’ve learned that the other people in your group are often far more understanding than you realize. Some may have been feeling the same way but not had the guts to speak up. Others understand that group hikes are not  always successful and that going as a group is worth the risk of failure because it’s far safer.

Hiking with good trip leaders can also make a big difference. They’re trained to monitor all of the hikers in a group to see that they’re keeping up, eating, and hydrating properly. If they see that one or more people are bonking, they may call the trip and turn it around without having to single anyone out as the cause.  That can help make the this kind of experience far less humiliating.

Have you even been THAT guy or gal? What did you takeaway from the experience?

Please leave a comment if you’d like to share your story.

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15 Responses to Reader Poll: Have You Ever Been THAT Guy?

  1. Brian Peterson May 15, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    I have never been that guy, but I have been with people that have spoken up and said they need to turn around, it’s just not their day. I would much rather have someone speak up, than get me and the group into a messy situation if something more significant were to happen to this person. The hike will always be there, it ain’t going anywhere, so it’s not a big deal if I don’t complete it on that day. Also for someone to speak up, they must be feeling awful, because they want to complete the hike just as much as I do, especially with all that gets invested into a hike with the logistics, driving, and allotting the time to do it.

  2. Chad May 15, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    I have wanted to be that guy!! But I have had plenty of Scouts bonk out. On our first true hike of this summer the older Scouts were out hiking the younger. Luckily we had 4 adults and so we split the group but kept an older Scout with the younger to lead them. He set a great pace back to the car stopping often enough.

    Issues we had:

    One Scout packed 4 knives, 3 pairs of shoes, etc. At the shakedown we told him he had too much equipment and supplies. He told us he required this stuff. We let him haul it and a mile in, he had learned his lesson.

    Another boy “quit” 500 feet from the trailhead on the way back to the car. I grabbed his backpack, pulled him back to his feet, told him to keep his head down and walk. Within 4 minutes we were done. Within 15 of that, it was like he had not quit. LOL!

    What I learned:

    Our Scouts, whether hungry or not, must eat breakfast. Hiking on an empty stomach slows us all down.

    I need to help ensure they get up earlier to hit the trail and eat.

    Older Scouts do a great job mentoring younger ones but some experience must come on the trail.

    My 60 pound pack is (I have lost 35# but am still a big guy) a joke. I am going ultralight from now on. Doesn’t matter if I am fat or skinny. Ultralight is the way to go!

    Turning around isn’t a big deal as long as you use it at a learning experience.

  3. Bob Tattoo Mason May 15, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    I’ve driven 2-3 hours for a solo hike only to find poor weather. Turned around and drove home. Mountain is not going anywhere. Couldn’t be so picky doing the AT. Hike on – Tattoo

  4. Liz May 15, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    I was ‘that guy’ once a few years ago…. we were doing Moosilauke (still haven’t gone back to this day!) and I realized I was still sick… halfway through the hike. Fever and trouble breathing. Minor, nothing serious, but I felt like crap and we turned around, which made me feel worse. My hiking group is all family/good friends though so everyone understood. It was a huge bummer! Better to turn around if you aren’t feeling well than push yourself further and possibly end up in a worse situation. Going to finally conquer Moosilauke this year I hope :)

  5. Joslyn May 15, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    I have not been that guy, buy my husband has. He twists his ankles easily and we’ve had to cut hikes short. Seeing how long it can take for him to recover, I don’t think I’d ever get mad at someone for being that guy. Hiking is fun but this is not my every day life and I still have a job to go to and I have to be able to function for my family, and that’s true for everyone. You said it when you said the trail’s not going anywhere, but ruining someone’s day, week, and sometimes their year over a bit of trail is not okay. Also not speaking up and getting to the point where you can’t get back out anymore is just that much more dangerous for the whole group.

  6. Grandpa May 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    I haven’t caused others to call off a hike yet but I did bonk on a day hike in the Grand Canyon, forcing my partner to leave me behind and head for the top for more water. I trudged on and was about a half mile from the top when he got back to me. I learned valuable lessons on hydration from that incident, which served me well the next couple days in the canyon.

    I’ve made the call to turn back several times when hiking with the grandchildren because I don’t want to go beyond their safe limits.

  7. Mazzachusetts May 15, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    That’s a major argument for going in small groups or even solo if you are determined to finish your trip.

    I really don’t understand the big 10+ person group hikes, they have to statistically have a higher rate of failure for a larger number of variables/reasons. I’m an impatient bastard though so just my opinion.

  8. Grannyhiker May 15, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

    I was the bonker twice. Once I chickened out climbing a talus slope to the top of a peak. The group leader sent someone down to talk me into coming up. I made it! As my reward, it was the first time I ever got to sign a summit register. The other time, another person in the group was really glad that I admitted bonking, because she was wearing down, too. Since we got back to our base camp just 5 minutes before the heavens let loose, there were no regrets.

    More recently (in my 70’s), I have slowed down enough that I just won’t hike with groups any more. I actually feel a lot safer when hiking my own pace and not pushing myself to keep up with a group!

  9. Walter Underwood May 15, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    I’ve been the slow guy, but I haven’t bonked.

    I have called a hike when I was the leader. We were within a (steep) half mile of the summit of Mt. Diablo, it was quite a bit hotter than forecast, and one of the guys was less recovered than he’d hoped from a 24-hour bug.

    After some discussion at a halt, the group found a shady spot, two of us hoofed it back downhill to the car, then we drove up to where they were waiting. It was a good chance for the Scouts to learn about safety decisions, too.

  10. socal hiker May 16, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    I bonked on a summit attempt of Mt. Shasta. My feet had gone numb and I was worried about the possibility of frostbite. The kicker is we were only a couple hundred feet from the summit. Luckily we went up in 2 groups and I was able to head down with a group that had already summited. It was really hard to turn around but I’m glad I did.

  11. Brian Green May 16, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    As you probably remember, I was the weakest link on my climb of Mt. Whitney last summer and ultimately the one that had to call it quits. It’s embarrassing, humbling, and humiliating to be the one to do that, but good hiking partners that understand the difference between pushing too hard or living to try again another day can make all the difference.

    I’m a pretty fit person. I am active, athletic, and do a lot of very active sports, but altitude sickness does not discriminate and can strike at anyone regardless of the level of “fitness”. That’s hardly an excuse, but great hiking partners who could see the signs and read them for what they were convinced me that it was the right thing to do.

    That was the first time in my entire life when I had reached the absolute end of my physical ability. I could not take another single step forward – I’ll never forget that moment. ^BG

  12. Adventurer May 18, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    A few years ago at age 60, I bonked during a winter traverse of the Presidential Range. I had driven up from Virginia and my hiking partner had flown in from Illinois. He was very understanding. I felt terrible at the time and I still feel bad about having to quit the hike.

  13. Dan @ ShareThisAdventure May 19, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    I’ve been that guy! I learned to get into better shape and train harder, and that mental toughness is also a key…

  14. esmphoto May 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    I have not been that guy, several times when I have tried to turn around I’ve had my group flat refuse to let me, and force me to continue. Wasn’t particularly fun but I came out fine


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