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Vegetation as Obstacle

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Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby hightinerary » Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:03 pm

Not long ago there was a thread about talus, which is generally a feature that slows one's progress on mountain terrain. I have learned that vegetation can also be a hindrance - dense stands of aspen, willows, scratchy scrub, thorny bushes, etc. How about some examples of places where one changes one's route to avoid this kind of obstacle?
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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby Andrew Rankine » Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:40 pm

In Arizona cholla cactus can be quite a problem while bushwhacking. Particularly around Tucson, sometimes you have to find a route around gentle slopes and forests of cholla. Mountain biking, the problem becomes even worse... crashing in cholla does not end very well.
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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby MoapaPk » Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:59 pm

There are peaks in zion where the manzanita is so thick, it stops you dead in your tracks.

In desert terrains, any gully that has perennial streams may be choked with brush so thick that you climb onto any less miserable terrain for surcease.

Some of the canyons in the Panamints -- like a few on the east side, say near Hungry Bill's -- are so overgrown, that at times you can hear water running beneath the mat of vegetation. Mercifully, there is a faint use trail in most of these areas, often leading up over the crumbly cliffs.

Back in the old days, when the trailless Adirondack peaks didn't have herdpaths, the thick balsam in krumholtz zones had you climbing 5 feet above ground.

EDIT: after following a stream in the Spring Mountains for a mile, I had seen enough wild roses for the day.
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Last edited by MoapaPk on Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby norco17 » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:01 pm

Andrew Rankine wrote:Image


Anyone that is familiar with cholla will appreciate this photo.
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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby Bob Sihler » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:04 pm

From a TR about Glacier National Park I am working on:

After spending time admiring Margaret Lake from the bench, it was time to move on to Ipasha Lake. This theoretically simple hike turned out to be one of the most unpleasant hiking experiences imaginable. Whether we went high or low, we always found ourselves in high, dense willows, usually well over our heads. Sometimes it was so dense in them that our feet were not on the ground but on the willows instead. Sometimes, when our feet were on the ground, they sank into marshy terrain. At first it concerned me that we might be in real trouble if we surprised a grizzly in there, but then it occurred to me that we were making so much noise thrashing through those willows that no animal except a deaf one could possibly be surprised by us.

I began to consider proposing dropping to the stream and either walking through it or along its edge, but the willows got denser and denser closer to the stream and the ground got soggier and soggier. My wife was hating things enough already and I was worried she might call it quits, so I just pressed on, always attempting to find the easiest path through even if it was less direct.

Finally, close to the lake, things opened up quite a bit, and although it was still pretty soggy, we had visibility and much freer movement for the last few minutes to the lake's blessedly rocky shore.

It took us about an hour to travel that "easy" mile with not much elevation gain.
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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby Daria » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:12 pm

Yea, there was a bad case of cholla when I did Tres Virgens in Baja. Are these the same plants that have the hook at the end of the spike that then makes it very painful and hard to get it out of your skin? Because I got attacked by some of that on this peak in Baja and it was not pretty.

but of course, if you are someone who actually seeks out bushwhack specific objectives, its never really a hindrance, except for when you are dealing with deadly cactus.

here is the volcano in baja and the cactus minefield.

Image

EDIT: I found a picture of the cactus that had the hook at the end of the spike. These things were deadly painful and there was a whole minefield of them heading up this volcano.

Image

Image

FUN. Probably the worst cactus terrain I've ever dealt with.
Last edited by Daria on Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby Burchey » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:21 pm

That Cholla photo makes my everything hurt
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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby Scott » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:22 pm

There are peaks in zion where the manzanita is so thick, it stops you dead in your tracks.

In desert terrains, any gully that has perennial streams may be choked with brush so think that you climb onto any less miserable terrain for surcease.


+1. I'm from the Pacific Northwest, but I can honestly say that often times the desert is far worse. Most canyons with perennial streams are choked with vegetation, but if you are confined to the canyon by steep cliffs this is a huge hindrance (even if the above canyon rims, slickrock and desert is easy walking).

Away from the streams though, it usually isn’t as much a problem, but when there is thick vegetation, it is usually in the thorny variety.

The forested areas an jungles have by far more bushwhacking, but when you are bushwhacking in the desert, it is usually worse.

Don’t forget about poison ivy as being an obstacle, if you are very sensitive to it. It also is an obstacle in desert canyons, but in many other areas as well. Missouri was the worse.
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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby Andrew Rankine » Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:10 pm

Thick vegetation in jungles can be a huge problem for off-trail travel as well, I think that one is obvious. There are some other interesting plants in these areas that make climbing difficult.

The durian, the smelly fruit commonly eaten in SE Asia, is harvested when they fall from tree. People worry about falling coconuts, but durians can be the size of a basketball, and are spiked. These things not only pose a threat from falling, but also their smell. Durians have been banned on Singaporean public transit for this reason (the smell can permeate the air for city blocks-- or in my case, 7th grade classrooms for a week).
Durian:
Image

The meat flower is another that can make climbing unpleasant. This flower, known for its stench, is one of the reasons why Kinabalu is not a fun climb in spring. It can be smelled for a half mile apparently. Another similar flower is the corpse flower, found in Sumatra.
Meat flower:
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Corpse flower:
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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby mconnell » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:02 am

Andrew Rankine wrote:In Arizona cholla cactus can be quite a problem while bushwhacking. Particularly around Tucson, sometimes you have to find a route around gentle slopes and forests of cholla. Mountain biking, the problem becomes even worse... crashing in cholla does not end very well.
Image


Oh, shit! I did that when I was a kid. Backing up to take a picture, I tripped and fell into a cholla. Not fun.
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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby WyomingSummits » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:37 am

The mountains of VA and NC are packed with undergrowth, poison ivy/oak/sumac, thorns of all varieties, rhododendron so thick you only have 3" gaps between trunks, mosquitoes, black flies, chiggers, 3 varieties of poisonous snakes, 80-90% humidity......it's a hell hole. I'll take the west any day.....desert included! That being said, the everglades were the worst navigation/obstacles ever....I can't figure out how people go there for fun. Swamps creep me out bigtime.
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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby Josh Lewis » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:40 am

Jumbo Mountain is terrible! Took me about an hour to go 100 feet or so. :shock:

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Scree and talus is much nicer by comparison.
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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby MoapaPk » Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:08 am

On the planet Zwxfrt, the quzlotl plants steal your credit cards and order thousands of dollars worth of "Hello Kitty" merchandise in your name.
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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby lcarreau » Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:33 am

Always wondered how they managed to get this Kitty down ... probably used Catnip or somethin' ...


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Re: Vegetation as Obstacle

Postby ianamclennan » Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:51 am

In the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains in central Spain, there's an evergreen shrub (Juniper I think) that grows above the tree line covering huge areas of the mountainside. It poses no danger but I'd certainly advise you to go around it. I remember once my girlfriend lost her footing on a boulder and fell into it. The left side of her body was covered in itchy red dots from head to toe. I laughed at her but she didn't think it was very funny.
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