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192 Not Losing It 2010-02-19

Amy on top of a mountain taking her pack off

In the summer of 2009 we took a long trip to Colorado to climb all of the 14,000 foot mountains. We walked a lot of miles and took a few breaks along the way. On two separate occasions we lost our cameras. We had to be doing something wrong. Now some folks would have been happy just to admit they lost it, but my mind does not work that way, I needed to find what we were doing wrong.

The first time we lost a camera, we were climbing Missouri Mountain. Starting from the trailhead we hiked through Missouri Gulch to a trail junction. There we took a break. We ate, drank, and adjusted our clothing layers for the climb ahead. After a short rest we were back underway. Up near the summit ridge Amy discovered she did not have her camera with her. We climbed to the top and then on our descent we asked everyone we saw had they found a camera? Nope. When we returned to the junction we found the camera just where Amy had placed it.

The second time we lost a camera, we were climbing Castle Peak. After a long hike up the four-wheel drive road we took a break. We ate, drank, and adjusted our clothing layers for the climb ahead. After a short rest we were back underway. In just a few minutes I discovered my camera was gone. I returned to our rest spot and found it just where I had place it.

Looking back on our two lost occasions, I looked for answers so we could avoid losing things.

Both times we lost the cameras we were taking breaks. Well the obvious solution was not to take breaks!

In rock climbing, a gear intensive activity, you have to actively practice doing a visual sweep for gear before leaving every belay. It is so easy to set a piece of gear down on a ledge and find it missing a few hundred feet higher. The last person leaving the ledge has to do a sweep before climbing.

In hiking the visual sweep would also help. Each person should scan the area for stray items and the last person should look throughly. The finder of almost lost gear is always considered the hero, no exceptions. The sweep would help find things but would not necessarily keep us from losing them.

We both carry our cameras in cases with shoulder straps. Changing to a belt attachment might keep us from setting the case down while we were resting. But on the belt, the camera might face even greater perils than being lost if we had to stop to "dig a hole."

Re-thinking our two lost scenes, we both walked to an area took off our packs, took off our cameras, turned and sat. After sitting we reached behind for our packs to find the food, water, and clothing. When it was time to go, we stood grabbed our packs, and started hiking - without the camera.

The answer was obvious, we needed to keep everything in front of us. It was when we set the case down and then turned to sit ourselves that we did not pick up the case. Now when we take a break, we keep everything in front of us. Packs, camera cases, GPS, sunglasses, or dirty socks - if we keep them in front of us, we will not leave anything behind, not even the dirty socks.

Happy trails.


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