Mark
  • Member for 7 years, 9 months
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Logic behind hikers yielding to horses?
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19 votes

In the Grand Canyon, it's because it's easier for a human to get off the trail than it is for a mule. I suspect the same reasoning applies in most places.

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Is burying human waste always the lowest-impact solution?
13 votes

If you were the only visitor to the area, the lowest impact would be to defecate on the surface and leave it. Few animals bury their waste, so natural disposal has evolved around dealing with surface ...

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Can I sleep in my canoe with it adrift on a commonly used lake?
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12 votes

For the specific question of drifting on the Great Lakes, doing so is effectively suicide. First, there's the matter of traffic. The Great Lakes are a major shipping lane, with upwards of a hundred ...

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Am I packing too much for a 2-3 day hike in the forests?
12 votes

For the most part, your list looks reasonable for traditional (ie. non-ultralight) backpacking. The most important thing now is to get the pack fitted and balanced properly, and then get used to ...

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What batteries would make sense to power 12v devices (e.g. blankets, lights) for camping?
12 votes

Some back-of-the-envelope calculations: 12 volts * 4 amps = 48 watts * 8 hours = 384 watt-hours. That's the minimum battery capacity you'll need to power this for a night. The Goal Zero Sherpa 50 ...

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What is wrong with the rabbit living under my shed?
11 votes

The rabbit doesn't look like it's going hungry, so it's probably just not interested in what you're giving it. Rabbits favor grasses and leafy plants, so if you insist on feeding it, try something ...

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How hot does it have to get for hiking to become unsafe?
10 votes

The limit isn't temperature, it's heat index. Since your body cools itself by sweating, you need to take the humidity into account when figuring out if you're going to overheat. As an example, 10% ...

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Do barrel style root cellars get colder the deeper you dig them?
10 votes

For any reasonable depth (ie. something you'd be willing to dig without specialized machinery), a deeper hole makes for a more stable temperature. The extra mass of soil surrounding your cellar acts ...

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What are the key differences between Mountaineering and Rock Climbing?
9 votes

According to my father (a self-identified mountaineer), the difference is as follows: A rock climber encounters a cliff on a mountainside. He spends some time studying it, finds the most interesting ...

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Can any automotive fluids be made safe to drink?
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8 votes

There are three fluids in your car that contain water: the battery electrolyte, the washer fluid, and the coolant. Everything else is hydrocarbon-based, and in a properly-functioning car, contains no ...

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What is the best time of day to view Bison in Oklahoma?
8 votes

I'm not familiar with the Wichita refuge; my bison experience comes from the Yellowstone area. That said, I would never describe bison as being particularly "active": they spend most of their time ...

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How do you determine how long a hike will take?
8 votes

Naismith's rule is a good starting point, but it doesn't really cover unusual trail conditions. My rule of thumb is to convert distance, elevation, and trail condition to "equivalent miles": Each ...

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How can one know where to throw one's spear when spearfishing?
7 votes

The easy technique is to simply hold the spear in your hand with the tip under the water and stab the fish. Once your spear enters the water, refraction has identical effects on your view of the ...

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What to consider while walking around a Geyser
Accepted answer
7 votes

The big risk in geyser basins is that you can't see what's going on underground. There are often latent hot springs or fumaroles: areas where hot water or steam has eroded the ground almost all the ...

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Depth Perception in the Mountains
7 votes

Yes, and yes. According to people I've talked to who work at the Grand Canyon, visitors from the western United States (especially the rural parts of the Mountain West) find the canyon more ...

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Does fordable by 4WD imply fordable on foot?
6 votes

The presence of a ford in a river is a local condition: it's a point in the flow where the river has leveled out, producing a wide, slow, shallow flow. In addition, a ford generally has a hard bottom,...

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Water filters - why sand and rocks?
6 votes

His filter has basically two stages: A series of mechanical filters (coarse rocks, fine rocks, coarse sand, fine sand) to remove macroscopic contaminants (eg. dirt) from the water. By using several ...

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How would one assess the safety of a wooden bridge?
5 votes

Look under the bridge for cracked or rotted beams -- in particular, cracking in the middle of the bridge, or rotten wood at the ends. If the bridge is more sophisticated than a deck nailed on top of a ...

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What to look for on the site of a geocache?
5 votes

Since you describe it as "near your residence", it's probably what is known as an "urban micro": a small, camouflaged container attached to something like a street sign or a lamp post.

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Is it feasible to hike Zion and Bryce in Utah in mid-May?
5 votes

Zion has only one unpaved road you're likely to want to drive on: a one-mile stretch of the Lava Point road. That road is marked on the map as "impassible when wet", which I suspect means an SUV won'...

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How much should I worry/care about the "Known to the State of California" warnings on fuel canisters?
Accepted answer
4 votes

Most of the time, the "Known to the State of California" warning is an incantation to ward off lawyers. That's not true for fuel. White gas/Coleman fuel/whatever-it's-called has significant amounts ...

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Should overweight people ever climb?
4 votes

It's called the "mountain climber's weight loss program": eat everything you want, and climb two mountains a week. Serious rock climbers aren't fat because they can't eat enough to get fat. Climbing ...

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What must be causing a decrease in sparrows and an increase in pigeons in my town?
4 votes

At a guess? A change in architecture. Pigeons favor cliff ledges as nesting sites; they'll happily build nests on window ledges as a substitute for natural cliffs. Sparrows favor cavities: tree ...

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Do mountains regularly (for a mountain) change height?
4 votes

Some mountains change height at a surprisingly fast rate. For example, the magma chamber beneath the Yellowstone caldera is currently inflating. This is causing some of the nearby mountains to grow ...

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Is it safe to be in a vehicle during lightning/thunderstorms?
4 votes

If your vehicle has a closed metallic structure, you are definitely safer inside than out: if lightning strikes your vehicle, or near your vehicle, the metal will conduct the electricity away from you....

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Color vision deficiency a dead end for mountaineering career, as an athlete?
4 votes

It depends on the nature of the deficiency. The most common form, red-green colorblindness, isn't a problem: I'm not aware of any situation where color coding is used to convey safety-critical ...

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What hikes are must-do at the Grand Canyon north rim?
3 votes

This really depends on what sort of condition you're in. For example, if you're a trail-runner in good shape who's used to high altitudes, the 28 miles from the rim to Phantom Ranch and back would be ...

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Are statistics about the frequency of crime actually useful in determining how safe a trail is?
2 votes

The crime rate on most trails is 0, due to the very low frequency of use. The trails that have had a crime committed on them tend to have a very high crime rate, again due to the low frequency of use....

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What is the longest stretch of bike trail that parallels a navigable river in the US?
2 votes

For reasonable values of "trail", "parallels", "navigable", and "river", the Washington and Idaho Centennial Trails run 59 miles from Higgens Point on Lake Coeur d'Alene to Sontag Park on the Spokane ...

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What format should I use to report my location to emergency responders?
1 votes

I'd give my position in terms of landmarks ("I'm about five miles up Independence Creek; look for the silver emergency blanket draped over the bushes"). If I had a GPS, I'd also give coordinates in ...

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