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I've been wanting to travel deeper into the mountains (of Taiwan) for my field recording. I can only go so far if I plan to be out by dark. So I've been collecting gear to allow me to stay a night or two, hiking the whole way.

What I'm wondering is, who has gone out to remote locations alone? Areas far from your vehicle and no cell service. What practical concerns have you met while doing this and what advice can you offer?

I don't have friends or colleagues who are interested in accompanying me. And my schedule is very erratic, so there's typically little notice before I head off. Hardly ideal for planning with a buddy.

Some specifics I'm wondering...

How do you manage to bring all your recording gear AND your survival gear? (I find my recording gear takes up a lot of space)

Do you bring some form of personal protection? (Gun, machete, etc)

How do you go about being tracked/located if you have a major problem?
(For example, I have a tracking app on my phone that allows my wife to know where I am, where I've been, and what routes I took and at what times. I turn it on when I'm out recording. But it's useless in the mountains)

FYI, I've read over some "hiking alone" guides on the Internet, but when adding the recording gear to the equation, it mucks things up a bit.

Thanks for your input.

  • This question is essentially how do I do a thing safely in the mountains. The Field Recording part is incidental, the "thing" could be photography or meditation or many other things and the answers would be very similar. This seems like a better fit for outdoors.stackexchange.com – ObscureRobot Jan 30 '14 at 19:36
  • I agree for the general topic. Almost a "shared question" for both groups if such a function existed. In regards to my first question I was hoping to get the point of view from other field recordists who are carrying a lot of what outdoors people would consider "dead weight", my recording gear. My blimp, mic stand, recorder, battery, headphones, cables, etc, are heavy. I figure other recordists would have advice on what to take and not to take, or offer ways to cut weight. Probably won't get that advice here. However my other questions fit here. – OutRecording Jan 31 '14 at 4:43
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I do a lot of trail running alone in the mountains. I'm usually not more than 5 miles away from my car. Sometimes there are other people hiking/biking around, other times I find myself prety alone. Every bit of advice I've ever seen says that hiking alone is pretty dumb, and they're pretty much all correct. My feeling is that if you are going off somewhere that it is truly remote, like you won't see another person every 30 mins or so, then you really should bring a buddy. If you are headed somewhere that is more traveled, then you probably don't want to record there anyway :)

Here are my tips for exploring alone (I ignore most of these when I run, but I'm an idiot):

Know the location you are headed to before you get there. Know where the trails lead and bring maps.

Be prepared to spend the night in the wilderness (in case something happens). Have something to keep you warm, have a flashlight, fire started, food and water.

Dress for the weather at hand, but be prepared for sudden weather changes.

STAY ON ESTABLISHED TRAILS - DO NOT BE A TRAIL BLAZER OR MOUNTAIN CLIMBER

Get a hiking GPS watch such as the Garmin Fenix. They are expensive, but also serve as a compass and have the ability to track you back to your start. I recently bought one of these for some added piece of mind.

Know about the wildlife you may encounter (plants and animals), know what to do if you encounter them. We have cougars, bobcats, bears, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and poison oak. So far, I've only run into coyotes and poison oak, but I know all the other critters are around.

  • Thanks! The GPS watch is a great idea. Just the kind of info I was hoping to find. That particular one is out of my price range but I've found several personal GPS devices that can guide you back to the trailhead. I'll be picking up one of those. – OutRecording Jan 30 '14 at 10:16
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I don't do a lot of this myself and when I do I'm usually with others, but the number one thing I'd recommend is ALWAYS tell someone else exactly where you're going, when you're going, and how long you'll be gone for. Then of course stick to that plan!

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I've done some recording on my own, but always during the day and I don't wander too far off from the main trail. That said, I did wander off the beaten track at times just to listen for new sounds. Hardly smart when I think back, and I don't think the recordings were any better had I stayed on the track. The places I've been to though are familiar ones to me. I've either trekked there or ran on the trail before.

I reckon if you hike regularly, then you'll be a lot more comfortable doing recordings as well. If you are trekking in that area for the first time then perhaps it isn't a good idea. Safety is the biggest issue, and no recording is worth that much. I'm a little concerned that having asked such a question that you may not trek much yourself, and if that's so, its a definite 'no go' discouragement from me. The wilderness is highly unpredictable and I would only do the recordings if I was comfortable with my surroundings.

  • You are correct, I haven't gone that deep into these mountains. Always just around the outskirts. I've typically brought enough equipment just for that. So deeper will be new to me. If I can find a buddy I'll take that route without hesitation. But so far it's not looking likely and I don't want to limit my opportunities to go out there. So hoping to minimize my risk as much as possible. Thanks for your advice! – OutRecording Jan 30 '14 at 10:23

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