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News Missing Hiker near Buller

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by Nicko4334, Nov 7, 2019.

  1. Nicko4334

    Nicko4334 Hard Yards

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  2. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    hope they find him soon, sheltering somewhere not too cold or wet
     
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  3. Billy_Buttons

    Billy_Buttons A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Sheesh...long overdue. :(
     
  4. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hmm, If he's a really experienced hiker this doesn't look good.

    Probably best scenario would be if he's just lost. But the landscape is pretty rugged and distinctive around there so it's almost impossible for someone with plenty of experience and a half decent map to get properly lost unless everything is under cloud cover. It is possible to get slightly disoriented and unsure quite where you are within a few hundred metres, but no one with mid level navigation skills could get properly lost, the landscape is too distinctive and is almost always visible.

    That leaves other possibilities like accidents. The area abounds in cliffs and for a solo walker, one slip could mean big trouble with no one to rescue them or contact the authorities for help. Rivers like the headwaters of the Howqua and King Rivers are also running high with the spring snow melt, so crossings are always awkward and potentially dangerous at this time of year. The good thing is that the weather has been fairly cool, so snakebite is less likely than it would have been a week earlier.
     
  5. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    Agreed, either police are overstating his experience or he's had a serious accident
     
    #5 Total Whiteout, Nov 7, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2019
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  6. Billy_Buttons

    Billy_Buttons A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    ...I don't think (hit me if I'm wrong) that people go to pristine wilderness to top themselves.
     
  7. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Heading over the Crosscut Saw and down Stanley’s Name Spur to get to Stirling - the optimal route - very exposed with multiple places to slip and fall with significant consequences.

    Howitt in a whiteout ain’t friendly either, and even coming off West Howitt to Howqua or down into Wonangatta ain’t friendly either. Would have been best to stay at Mac Springs or head out towards Avoca or via Magdala to the Bluff.

    Weather on high over the weekend - exposure & hypothermia. And off Hell’s Window into Wonangatta or towards Magdala - ugly as - extremely thick undergrowth and easy to lose one’s way or get tired.

    Even with food and water, if he’s injured he’d be at the limit by now - not good at all.

    if he was unconscious you could pass within 5m of him in bush if off the ridgeline and not see him.

    They should have got infra-red off a helicopter up there after Saturday if they really wanted any chance of finding him alive - even BSAR and SES/ police would be extremely constrained in these circumstances- probability of success extremely low - less than 5% imo.

    with the snow conditions in the next 2 days...
     
  8. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I recall with a degree of optimism the couple who trekked off Mt Buffalo in autumn...
     
  9. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Howitt summit may have been in high cloud over the weekend, but cloud was higher than that in the Alpine till the rain came in late Saturday.
     
  10. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah, I've been disoriented on the summit of Howitt in a whiteout a couple of times. Once in deep snow and once walking on snowgrass and rocks, but in a dense fog. If you lose the track in those conditions and aren't using a GPS, it is exceptionally difficult to find the summit. But I'd describe that as being disoriented rather than properly lost as we knew where we were within a few hundred metres. But on both occasions it took several very experienced navigators over half an hour in horrible conditions to get back on route.

    Friends and family of the poor bloke will almost certainly read this thread, so I'd suggest that people have that in mind when they post stuff here.
     
    #10 Bogong, Nov 7, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  11. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ok @Bogong
    Not sure i completely agree but i will. I don't think i was suggesting that
     
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  12. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    You weren’t
     
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  13. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    Apologies.
     
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  14. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    hoping he is ok/////many folk getting lost this year.Team Bears wonder about the condition of some of the walking tracks comming down of X CUT SAW.... [further comment deleted by Admin - unnecessary]
     
  15. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    The Stanley’s Name Spur isn’t of the best tbh, but the route off West Howitt into the Howqua has recently been maintained.

    Of course Zeka Spur area etc. and the Wonangatta is very much a mixed bag..
     
  16. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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  17. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    Bushwalking Victoria are doing a track clearing working bee for the Upper Howqua, up Queen's Spur track to Stanley name spur and up to the Cross Cut saw and down the Howitt spur track too .
    I walked a good chunk of that terrain in Dec. 2018.The tracks were not that hard to follow .
    I know most of the routes that @Chaeron has mentioned. Yes there are some steep rock scrambles that could be dangerous if wet and slippery. Going up them is better than going down them. Disorientation is possible as @Bogong has mentioned. I have navigated from Mac. Springs up and over to Mt. Howitt Summit West in very low visibility. I was going by compass to reach the Howitt spur track.
    Having a GPS with detailed topographical maps loaded up onto the device can be a useful addition to solid map and compass skills.
    I hope this person is OK. He has been gone too long.
     
  18. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    I looked him up last night. There have been a few recent TV and newspaper reports with reporters standing in front of his car on the Stirling Circuit Road with shots of pretty scenery and people expressing concern, but no real news.

    However the police link in the first post of this thread has now been deleted and there was a single sentence in the more recent media reports that did seem rather weird 'Police suspect he may now be in NSW'. There's no way he could have walked there via the mountains in under two weeks, so perhaps there is an implication that he might have deliberately staged his own disappearance?
     
  19. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    I read something saying that walkers in Barry Mountains should keep an eye out for him. What puzzles me is that I avoid bushwalking in feral weather if possible.
    That is one way to stay safe esp. if you trek alone.
    So, if the missing bushwalker was/ is experienced would he not also do the same thing and time his trip for a better weather window ?. There has been some poor weather recently ( unless of course you are a Nordic skier at Mt. Baw Baw yesterday then you will be pleased).
    The Barry Mountains start at Mt. Speculation and continue to the Twins. That is a fair way off course. Sending a message to his near and dear ones from Mac. Springs that he is heading for Mt. Stirling and then not appearing or leaving a trace in that large swathe of terrain from Mac. Springs to Mt. Stirling is odd and of course most perturbing for those who worry most about his return.
    The AAWT includes the Barry Mtn.s but without adequate provisions walking all the way to The NSW border by this route seems implausible.
     
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  20. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    If your plan is to walk 9 days in the mountains you can expect bad weather at some stage during your walk. Sit it out or push on through. I have done both and there would be thousands more who have done the same, so hardly puzzling. The other alternative is to not venture out at all. Certainly good weather is nicer. I don't know the weather report on the day he was last heard from. It may be possible to walk to the NSW border in the time frame but you would need food drops. Certainly appears all searching has wound up.
     
  21. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-07/hiker-missing-for-over-a-week-niels-becker/11679428
    "



    "He's a very fit person, he's been training a lot for this, and a very intelligent man so he probably has the capacity to cover quite long distances," he said.

    New South Wales police said emergency crews believed there was a possibility that Mr Becker may have entered NSW.

    "We haven't ruled out [Mr Becker going] further afield … it's a fairly large area that we're currently searching.

    "It's about 800 square miles at the moment and then those increasing areas and tracks towards Mount Hotham and even in to New South Wales."

    Sergeant Keegan called on anyone who may have seen Mr Becker to contact Crime Stoppers or Mansfield police on (03) 5775 2555."
     
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  22. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    It’s a mystery......speculation may be useless....What did log book at Mc Springs say after he passed through...Surley one would provide info when one is walking solo?Trip intentions books are a good idea.
    If one existed over near Mt Soeculation we might be able to search more accurately for this guy.
    We keep hearing about persons being fit and experienced .....but sadly they keep getting lost or rescued by helicopter !
    Experienced walkers provide S&R staff with the details of their trips and they leave log entries were possible......hopefully they will find this walker....too many people have been lost already this year .........
     
  23. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    Police say the missing walker did not fill in any hut log books. Neither the Upper Jamieson hut log book, nor the Intentions book at Mac. Springs / VG hut etc. No trace. Experienced walkers and ski tourers always fill in the hut log books so that they can be more easily located if something untoward occurs. It is all rather strange.
    If there was an intentions book in a water proof housing at the Mt.Speculation walking track trailhead, at the end of the Spec. road (like there is at Granite Flat Spur trailhead and at other places in the Alpine N P. ) then that would be good . However if this person does not wish to be located or fill in these books with a relevant entry then that is another matter. We hope he contacts his relatives soon or that he is located before too long.
     
  24. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    "Experienced" can be a subjective term, to some people it can mean doing a casual stroll along a track in Ferntree Gully on the edge of Melbourne. To others you're not experienced unless you've done a few two week off track epics in consistently appalling weather amongst deep bogs and difficult cliffs in western Tassie. So basically when media types say someone is "experienced", it's often meaningless unless they say what they think experienced is.

    And some people with lots of experience (however you define that) have only been members of groups where others have done the navigation. Most people posting in this thread have the sort of unconscious navigational skills that you can only get by navigating in remote areas for a decade or more and by making mistakes and learning from those mistakes. But some people never go to the trouble of learning remote area navigation and practicing it in difficult conditions.

    I have no trouble with spending money and sending volunteers from the State Emergency Service to search for people who are genuinely lost like the couple on Buffalo a few years ago, but if someone isn't genuinely lost and just chooses the mountains as a place to stage a 'disappearance', then... they should be sent a bill for the wages of the police who searched for them and be made to give a very large donation to the SES.
     
  25. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    I agree with you. Sound Navigation skills in shite weather and tested experience and robust self reliance in the wild are not things most people have, esp. as the media might define them. BSAR people also have put in some time and effort with this matter and they are volunteers. Until recently @beefa skiing was heavily involved with them.
     
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  26. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Well hopefully they will locate this person ....hopefully he is moving rapidly ....maybe he picked up some rations left in huts like Mt Wills and is motoring along doing 40km a day....otherwise a fallen unconscious or injured person will be at their limits unfortunately.Perhaps he is sitting in Weston’s Hut oblivious to the drama ensuing......let’s hope for a good outcome.
     
  27. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    Assuming he is OK and fit, he could have made it to Mt.Hotham in 7 days from the Upper Jamieson hut. He could have restocked his supplies at the shop there and kept going to Mt. Nelse/ Mt. Beauty, Mt. Wills , Omeo, and Thredbo! . Yes , he left his car on Brock's road but if he is well but just decided to vanish via the AAWT then he could be motoring along. There is plenty of water out there at present. This is all just speculation.
     
  28. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I’d rather mount Speculation than mount Buggery
     
  29. stansi

    stansi One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    This could be a sore point for some.
     
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  30. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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  31. teckel

    teckel Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Didn't they refer to the Vic Minister for Snow, Ice & Water (the one who fell down/off Mt Feathertop a number of years ago) as 'experienced'? The guy who had no crampons or snow shoes and was trying out his new tent in the snow with normal aluminium tent pegs? I think his name was Tim Holding.
     
  32. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    They certainly brought out the high tech defence search capability for Tim - couldn’t have another Harold Holt/ Stephen Crean scenario...

    The most puzzling recent disappearances in Vic are probably the Barwon prison warden - David Prideaux - who vanished on Stirling in 2011, and Warren Meyer who disappeared from Dom Dom Saddle in 2008.
     
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  33. crackson

    crackson A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Big cats.
     
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  34. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    Possible Death by hypothermia.
    :-(
    It is said that in the last stages of hypothermia the patient becomes oblivious to their plight. If that is what happened then he may not have suffered. However "experienced" bushwalkers and back country ski tourers( i.e. most of the people on this forum reading this ) know how to avoid hypothermia and know how to recognize the first signs of it so that steps can be immediately taken to arrest its further onset.
    One should Always carry a PLB and an emergency bivvy bag when out and about solo.
     
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  35. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    I read he was carrying some ski / alpine gear. Assume had a tent too. If not, he wouldn't have been far from several huts. 25k from Howqua Gap Hut. Similar distance to Bluff Spur Hut, Craigs Hut, Lake Cobbler Hut, Bluff Hut.
     
  36. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    Also, was he last at Upper Jamieson Hut or Vallejo Gantner? I've read both...
     
  37. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    Either the poor chap has perished or he has staged his own disappearance. I will be hiking up at AAWT/The Nobs/ High Cone/ Square top/ Mt. Clear early next week when a clear weather window appears. If I see anything then I will let the Mansfield police know.
     
  38. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    I read somewhere that he left his car keys and his mob.ph. in his car. How very strange.
     
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  39. stallie

    stallie Addicted

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    From a friend's Facebook post who knows the missing person, I infer that he is what we backcountry folk would call experienced. I wouldn't put Tim Holding in that category IIRC.
     
  40. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    Great walk! initial climb is a killer though. Easy to miss turn of to AAWT too if you're not paying attention.
     
  41. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    Very odd. I leave my wallet behind normally. But never keys or phone.
     
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  42. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    I have walked up the Nobs track last year. Oh the horror!.The turn off to the AAWT/Nobs summit is easy to spot , so is the turn off from the Nobs to High Cone. I will have my map, compass and GPS all handy. I have scouted out the Nobs as a day walk with a day pack this time last year. Going up that near vertical 4 x 4 track with a full pack will be tough.
    I want to visit the Southern summit of the Nobs this time. I will drop the pack at the AAWT junction where it veers off to High Cone.I will mark it as a GPS way point so I can find my pack again!
     
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  43. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    Were you reading your own post?
     
  44. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    I used to do that. But in about 2003 I was with a group of hikers on top of Mt McDonald and one of the less experienced people had to get home in a hurry. There were three expert navigators in the group and I drew the short straw to get the person off the mountain.

    Well getting the person down the mountain through scrub to the road near Upper Jamieson Hut was "character building" but we managed to hitch a lift into Mansfield with 4WD'ers. However it was dusk and we had almost no money, so I had to phone a friend to use his credit card to pay for accommodation at Mansfield backpackers and we ate hiking food that night. Another phone call the next morning got the friend to pay for bus tickets back to Melbourne. I was fairly young, but I learned my lesson, so I've taken a credit card and $100 cash on every hike I've been on since.

    BTW, the reports clearly stated that the lost hiker texted friends or family from Mac Springs, so it looks like he did have a phone with him.
     
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  45. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout Addicted

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    Good advice and good point. Though you can tap a smart phone these days just like a bank card. Cash probably a good idea though still.
     
  46. DbSki

    DbSki Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    That may have been Conrad Whitlock who went missing at Buller July 29 and his car was left at Unamed Corner.
    I knew him, used to race motor cycles with him in the 1980's
    I heard from someone who thought they heard a news report that he had been found and that it was suicide but cannot find anything to confirm that story.
     
  47. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    He had Army Reserve experience. That says enough. His only injury was a sprained ankle and apparently Bright hospital is not equipped to treat this so he was transferred to Melbourne by air ambulance. We were supposed to be up there at the same time but pulled the pin because of the weather.

    Like with the bloke you came across on Bungalow Spur who ended up being rescued. The one you left with only his young son to look after him.
     
  48. crackson

    crackson A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Reservists deserve respect for their service.

    Even when they make mistakes.

    Just because.
     
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  49. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Not taking any respect away from their service. Army Reserve training does not prepare people for dealing with blizzards. Army training on the Bogong High Plains has had its fair share of mistakes over the years also and I think as recent as last year a team of soldiers left a mess everywhere they went on a training exercise. I have known many people in military service and most have no navigation skills. The point being that the media latched onto Tim Holding's Reserve training and thought he was experienced and that was not the case. The concept of experienced, as @Bogong related, is quite subjective and for someone with no experience (maybe a reporter) then a person who walks marked tracks and trails on clear days a lot makes the person seem experienced bushwalker.
     
  50. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    I'm really not a military type, but I joined the Army Reserve as a way to earn some tax free money while I was a university student. People who know me won't be surprised to hear that I wasn't the best or most disciplined part-time soldier. But I consistently blitzed things like scouting and navigation exercises. I still remember a corporal teaching recruits a class on navigation. In addition to making the class painfully dull, it soon became clear that he had little idea of what he was talking about, however for once in my life, I bit my tongue and said nothing.

    So being the only person in the platoon with lots of remote off track hiking experience, I always won the night time navigation exercises and was also the best scout because I could read a map properly and interpret it to have a feel for the lie of the land. I could also work out where to hide when the 'enemy' were searching for that pesky scout. That was rather fun because one NCO took a disliking to me, but my surprisingly excellent results in those two areas stopped him my using my rather poor results in other fields to get me transferred out of the unit. But I never really enjoyed the army reserve, so when I was able to get another part time job, I walked out and never went back.

    Anyway, Xplora is right that the Army Reserve doesn't teach navigation at all well, even to the infantry. Most long term overnight hikers would be heaps better at navigation and basic bushcraft than the vast majority of reservists.
     
    Chaeron, Seth, crackson and 4 others like this.