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Fall Hiking - Fresh leaves and descents


PereUbuToo
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I just recently returned from an awesome overnight hike on the AT from Salisbury, CT route 41 AT parking to the Race Brook trail (a loop with road walking on 41 back to my car). The trip was AWESOME partly because I under-researched and was surprised by the views from the summits, the Mount Race ridge line (a cliff off to one side!) and the Race Brook falls. That said I took a nice spill descending Bear Mountain when slipping on leaves even when being quite cautious - I injured my shoulder and I believe tore my rotator cuff.

So my question - is there any gear that could have helped me to get better footing on that descent? The leaves were everywhere, very fresh and it was wet. I almost thought something like micro-spikes might help if only for 1 small section (~50 yards?)  Also, when scrambling (steeper descent) how should I use trekking poles? My trekking pole got somewhat stuck and maybe my improper use helped cause the injury? I fell fast and not sure exactly what happened but felt the pole pull my arm up a weird way.

p.s. I returned to backingpacking after 20 years - back then I had a few smaller successful trips but the pack weight took away the enjoyment. I have to say things like ultralight packs, tents, sleeping gear have brought back the enjoyment. I spent a lot of time initially with a spreadsheet and weight but now I don't dwell on it and the gear is secondary to enjoying the hikes because I am not thinking about how much I want the pack off my back! :)

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Welcome to the forum and welcome back to backpacking! Hard to say exactly but I have always found that it’s the descent where one needs to really watch their footing, and perhaps simply slowing down would help. Also, with the poles it sounds like you were using the straps so possibly consider unlooping from those when needed and from what it sounds like the tip got stuck in the ground...in that case using some rubber trekking pole tips could help (I use these tips from Black Diamond all the time except in icy conditions).

Other than that I would say just go slowly and use the poles to maintain multiple points of contact at all times...sometimes on those steep descents I find it most stable to turn my feet sideways and work my way down the slope in that manner. Hope this helps!

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K. Urs Grutter

We are used to these conditions...

My "recipe": Using rather long poles. I am 5'10 and use the 130cm BlackDiamond Z-s, much longer than the "experts" would advise, but long enough to go about a yard or more ahead of your feet, bending / leaning forward when going down, as: You practically never fall on your nose, but you easily slip and fall on your butt.

Maybe you give this technique a try as soon as your shouder is back in working order...

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I agree with the other commenters. To me, using micro spikes on a downhill doesn’t sound like a good idea. I would fear they might grab too much and then momentum and gravity might pitch me forwards. I would love to hear others’ thoughts. 

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K. Urs Grutter
9 hours ago, Pat K said:

I agree with the other commenters. To me, using micro spikes on a downhill doesn’t sound like a good idea. I would fear they might grab too much and then momentum and gravity might pitch me forwards. I would love to hear others’ thoughts. 

True, people are always afraid of falling on their nose, this is why they never do. Going downhill safely means you must avoid to ever have momentum taking over. Normal incident is people slipping and falling on their back. I usually do not use micro spikes, but I would suggest to do so if you are prone to slipping. Due to decades of mountain hiking, my personal technique is a bit different, but it requires pretty good reflexes and therefore is not for everyone.

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Just to add to my initial description. The initial descent was a scramble, so it was not really possible to walk steadily though I tried. I believe my best bet was to probably get on my but or turn around and descent more carefully (probably without poles).

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