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Picking up climber/hiker hitchhikers


Original Post
phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 617

When I'm driving alone, I just can't bring myself to do it.  I want to, but there are so many years of ingrained perception that I would be putting myself in danger, that I just can't seem to get past that.

This came to mind just recently.  Driving south through Bishop, I passed three male backpackers trying to thumb a ride.  Mouthed "sorry, guys" as I drove pass, and engaged in a mental fight with myself for the next 5 miles.  How in the world could three twenty something backpackers be anything else than they appeared to be?  Harmless.  And yet, somehow, the thought of picking them up is paralysing.

Happened again a week later, this time driving north through Lone Pine.  This time, two young male packpackers.  Again that instinctive "Don't do it!"

On a different trip, driving south through Bishop with a male climbing partner, we passed an older guy with both a suitcase and a backpack.  We stopped for him and gave him a ride all the way to my home town so he could catch the metro to LA.  If I had been with another woman, I think I would have stopped then too.  So something about being alone...But it bothers me not to stop and help.

I wonder if this is an "older generation" mentality.  

Would be interested in hearing how other women perceive this issue.

Muscrat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 3,610

Well, i know you are asking for a woman's perspective, and i am an older male (60+) BUT;
I grew up in the 60's hitched everywhere, gave rides to everyone.
In my case these days it is very selective. I will give rides, at times. BUT, i do not in any way feel guilty by driving by. Yes, 99.9% of the people you pick up are great, but is it really worth the risk, the angst, the etc?
On the other hand, my wife NEVER gives rides to ANYONE, male or female, when she is by herself. Period. NO guilt, no judgement, just her decision, and i 100% agree with it.
In your place, and i know the 395 corridor well, i would, when driving alone, drive by. Just too many lonely spots. And not feel guilty!
Sadly, this is the world we live in.
:(

Sam Cieply · · Venice, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 20

California is full of crazies, I don’t pick anyone up ever. Plenty of people with mental problems who are unpredictable, manic, and appear extremely harmless at first glance. I have met more than a few, and several of them were women so I don’t think this is a gender or generational issue.

phylp · · Upland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 617

Thank you, I do appreciate hearing the male perspective too. Especially hearing that even men can have reservations about picking up people who, based on the surface appearance, would seem to represent no risk whatsoever. I didn’t even bother to ask my husband because I know his opinion is that I should never, ever pick anyone up. 

Carey De Luca · · Yucca Valley, Ca · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 10

I feel ya.  I did pick up a few PCT hikers in Big Bear and I was alone.  It was obvious they were PCTers AND I had my dog with me.  They were super ripe and my dog fell in love with them.  When I have my husband with me, we will pick up climbers and hikers.  We have also had to hitch a ride from the JMT trailhead in Bishop and got a ride all the way back to Rancho Cucamonga!  I don't make it a habit, but Case by case  

Paul Morrison · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 0
phylp wrote:
I wonder if this is an "older generation" mentality.  

It may be, to the extent that the risk/benefit ratio that we may consider before extending this kind of largesse is changing with age and accumulation. Back when I drove a $75 car with nothing much in it but myself and a ragged $5 backpack, I would be just as likely to need this kind of assistance myself from time to time, and more likely to offer it. Now, when my vehicle and the things in it are worth several thousand times more than that, I am much more likely to ask myself first, "What's in it for me?" The answer, now, is much more likely to be, "Less than nothing."

Nick Votto · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 320

In skiing circumstances I have no problem with it (ie. if they have skis or boards) and have been on the receiving end many times getting rides up Teton pass, Berthoud, etc.  
I have definitely benefitted from rides in NH as well, but am definitely leery of picking up backpackers

Phil Lauffen · · The Bubble · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 2,260

As someone who has done a lot of hitch hiking (in the US, Spain, France, and Turkey), you can rest assured that the hitch hiker himself understands the risk that drivers that stop are taking. And if the hitch hiker blames you for not wanting to take that risk when you are alone, fook em.

They will get where they are going.

Sam Miller · · Bend, OR · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 30

I hitchhiked thousands of miles when I was younger, so now I feel obligated to pick up everyone I come across, provided they aren't clearly deranged/mentally ill.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

The risk to a woman, by herself, is greater than that of a solo man. Don't do it!  I have spoken.

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 456

I never pick up hitchhikers, but I would in very specific circumstances. If I came across some climbers way back in City of Rocks, for example, who simply wanted a ride into Almo, or back to their camping. That sort of thing.

Back when I had a pickup, several times I stopped and offered ​rides to people walking bikes in the middle of nowhere, clearly on a trip not having fun. Idaho mountains, Yellowstone, two I remember. But, bike(s) and people went in the bed of the truck. Easy.

For those of us my age, who were around when everyone hitched all the time? A female friend of mine accepted a ride, got seriously freaked and bailed right back out at a stop light. Figured out later she was riding with Ted Bundy. Oops.

Best, Helen

KevinCO · · Loveland, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 60

I am selective in who I pick up.  Every once in a while I offer  a ride to someone who is just walking.  Last year I picked up a young women (she had her thumb out) from Brazil near Eldorado Springs.  She said that she had been waiting a long time.  This speaks to the current climate of fear and caution, because she was beautiful.

In the 90's, I picked up a Native Indian couple (husband and wife) on a long lonely stretch of highway in Arizona.  They gave me a Silver and Turquoise ring.

I hitchhiked quite a bit in Colorado in the 70's.  Two of my friends and I were hitching to a trail head in RMNP for a backpacking trip.  We weren't getting a ride, so I told them to walk ahead and I would wait, hoping to to get a ride and have the driver pick up my friends.  I was anxious to start climbing up steep trails, so my teenage logic thought that it would be a good idea to head up the slope to where the road looped back in a big switchback.  Not long after I got to the road, a car picked me up, with my friends inside.  They just looked at me with wide eyes.  They never asked how I got ahead and I never told them.  

Phylp, I agree.  I don't think that you should ever pick up anyone.  Furthermore, be wary of ambushes-one harmless looking  person hitching and then a guy rushes out when you stop.  With cell phones, calling help for them as you drive by is enough.

Marc H · · Longmont, CO · Joined May 2007 · Points: 250

I just have an anecdote from the past. I remember I was leading some kind of backpacking trip in NH and I had to get to town to pick up some meds for one of the students. It was the middle of summer and very hot and humid; I was shirtless. I put my thumb out and within minutes was picked up by a woman. She told me to put my pack in the bed of her pickup. I was very surprised that a woman had picked me up and I told her as much. She looked me up and down as I sat next to her in just a pair of shorts. She said, “I told you to put your pack in the back for a reason. With what you’re wearing you have nowhere to hide a weapon.”  Smart woman. 

Jeffrey K · · Seattle, WA · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

You're risking an awful lot just to help someone get somewhere faster. If they are in danger, call 911. Broken down? Call non emergency police (or trooper depending where you're at.)

Otherwise you're potentially entering a situation they've thoroughly planned out and the odds are incredibly against you as soon as they're in your vehicle.

Don't see how age or gender factors in, criminals come in all forms.

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

As an RN I’ve actually had 2 pts in 5 years that have been beaten by people they picked up. So unless they have skis in an appropriate environment I don’t pick them up.
It’s too bad we’ve gotten to this point but I gotta look after number 1 sometimes.  

LindsayH · · Kingston, NY · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 55

I'm in the same boat as the OP.

I've picked up hikers and climbers when driving with my husband. And I've felt that momentary pang of guilt for not picking someone up because I'm alone.

I sometimes wonder, if it was a woman hitchhiker and I was alone, would I be more likely to stop? Maybe. But as a rule, I don't pick up anyone if I'm alone. 

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

I don't pick up hitchhikers. Every time I have hitched, always due to mechanical issues on a bike, I've been picked up.

With a dog, baby, and wife in the truck, I just can't see picking anyone up.

K. Le Douche · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 100

To the OP,
I wouldn't wrestle with this too much.  As you drive by you only have about 4 seconds to make a judgement call.  If you pick them up, and they are a murdering nut job, you get killed, and that ain't good.  If you don't pick them up, they get a ride from someone else, and that isn't that bad.  

Personally, I do pick up hitchhikers pretty frequently, but I'm also 6'3" 185lbs, and keep a hatchet next to the driver's seat (no, never had to use it).  I will also only pick up hitch hikers in a few situations.  1. they are CLEARLY climbers or backpackers, and not "urban travelers". 2. they are in an area that sees a lot of hitch hiking traffic (along the PCT, AT, or going up Boulder Canyon to Nederland) or 3. they are CLEARLY in need of help (walking away from the car you passed on the side of the road a mile back, and they're carrying a gas can).

I have also been on the other side of this quite a few times.  I hiked the AT and the Long Trail a while back, and hitch hiked in and out of towns a lot.  I never saw a single woman drive past me, and thought, "the nerve of her.  I can't believe she wouldn't pick me up!"  The ones where you're like, "oh come on?!" where the two guys in a pick up (but that was also back when riding in the back of a pick up was ok).

Adrienne DiRosario · · Troy, NY · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0

Unfortunately everyone’s greatest fear about picking someone up came true for a very good friend of my sister. He was kind enough to offer a ride and was murdered by the man he picked up.

So, I do not pick up hitchhikers. 

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 745
phylp wrote: When I'm driving alone, I just can't bring myself to do it.  I want to, but there are so many years of ingrained perception that I would be putting myself in danger, that I just can't seem to get past that.

This came to mind just recently.  Driving south through Bishop, I passed three male backpackers trying to thumb a ride.  Mouthed "sorry, guys" as I drove pass, and engaged in a mental fight with myself for the next 5 miles.  How in the world could three twenty something backpackers be anything else than they appeared to be?  Harmless.  And yet, somehow, the thought of picking them up is paralysing.

Happened again a week later, this time driving north through Lone Pine.  This time, two young male packpackers.  Again that instinctive "Don't do it!"

On a different trip, driving south through Bishop with a male climbing partner, we passed an older guy with both a suitcase and a backpack.  We stopped for him and gave him a ride all the way to my home town so he could catch the metro to LA.  If I had been with another woman, I think I would have stopped then too.  So something about being alone...But it bothers me not to stop and help.

I wonder if this is an "older generation" mentality.  

Would be interested in hearing how other women perceive this issue.

I don't think it is an "older generation" mentality. I definitely feel like there is a difference when I am by myself, vs with someone. I don't feel comfortable picking up hitchhikers when I am by myself, and I don't do it. But I have given rides to climbers who asked for it on the internet, and have met up with climbers from internet... I think the ability to  talk to them beforehand makes a difference to me.

OTOH, I don't think this is a women-only thing.

A funny story. A few year back, I was on a climbing trip to JT with a male friend. We were out bouldering, and of course ran into other boulderers. One guy was working on the same problem that we were trying, we started talking, the usual chit-chat... he said he was from PA, he and I found that we had some distant friends in common, by the time we were ready to move on to the next problem, he came along, and we hung together all day. So at the end of the day time came to say good-byes, we were heading out to eat at a restaurant in town, and I asked him if he wanted to join us.

He paused, thought for a second, and then said: actually, I kinda wasn't completely straight with you guys, I am from PA, but I'm currently living here, I have a place just outside the park entrance, and I was going to make a curry for dinner, kinda need to cook before the groceries spoil. Do you guys want to come to my place instead? There's plenty of food... I don't like telling people that I have a place to stay here, because a lot of guys then expect to come and hang out, and I don't necessarily want to, KWIM? But you guys seem cool, so...

Seemed like a great idea to me! I said yes, he gave us directions, we got into the car, and then the guy I was with had a total meltdown:"You realize that you had just agreed to go to a house of some guy you know nothing about? He lied about where he was living, what else is he lying about? What if he is an ax murderer? What if he is going to drug you and rape you, or rob you, or murder you? Do you expect me to protect you from all of this? Because I can't, I don't think I could take that guy down in a fight!" I was so taken aback... it wasn't even on my mind at all, I felt like I got a good-enough sense of this new guy, and was not worried at all, I would have been fine going there alone, I wasn't in any way thinking that the guy I was with would be protection against the new guy... it was weird. I told him I could just go alone, if he didn't feel like it, but he insisted that he couldn't let me go alone, even if he didn't think he could fight this guy, because... I dunno... something.

So I guess guys have these fears, too?

wivanoff · · Northeast, USA · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 479
Lena chita wrote:


Seemed like a great idea to me! I said yes, he gave us directions, we got into the car, and then the guy I was with had a total meltdown:"You realize that you had just agreed to go to a house of some guy you know nothing about? He lied about where he was living, what else is he lying about? What if he is an ax murderer? What if he is going to drug you and rape you, or rob you, or murder you? Do you expect me to protect you from all of this? Because I can't, I don't think I could take that guy down in a fight!" I was so taken aback... it wasn't even on my mind at all, I felt like I got a good-enough sense of this new guy, and was not worried at all, I would have been fine going there alone, I wasn't in any way thinking that the guy I was with would be protection against the new guy... it was weird. I told him I could just go alone, if he didn't feel like it, but he insisted that he couldn't let me go alone, even if he didn't think he could fight this guy, because... I dunno... something.

So I guess guys have these fears, too?

So, did you go? How did it turn out? Were you murdered?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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