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#130422 - 03/10/10 11:33 AM danger of hiking vs bping
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3971
Loc: Bend, Oregon
We have another lost hiker in Oregon. Been out in subfreezing weather for 4-5 days now. Apparently she was "going for a short hike" and though there is the chance of foul play, she probably got lost and didn't have the judgement to sit still.

The reason for this post is this. Is Back Packing a safer sport than hiking simply because people are more prepared and intend to spend the night out so they have gear, and just maybe more planning and skill? It is assumed that the hiker was lightly dressed. Did she have any of the ten essentials?

There is this attitude that going for a hike is just walking down a trail and "what can happen?" Well you can become lost, spend the night in cold unprepared and die.

My prayers are that she will be found alive, but there isn't a lot of hope for that.

People are always accusing me of being alarmist and of writing about what "could happen". I hope maybe bringing up this subject might help someone else from falling into the "walk in the park trap".
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#130428 - 03/10/10 11:48 AM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: Jimshaw]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
I always feel safer backpacking. I still carry enough to survive a night out when day-hiking, but there is that added comfort of knowing your sleeping bag is in the bottom of the pack! Considering the small weight of a sleeping bag, I even take it with me on day-hikes sometimes. I have done over a dozen "bivys" - a few surprises and a few planned. Unless you have spent a night at 12,000 feet sitting on a ledge with only a space blanket, and nearly out of water, you have no idea what it is like. It humbles you for sure. And makes you think a lot more about being prepared.

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#130430 - 03/10/10 12:20 PM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: Jimshaw]
dolomiti Offline
member

Registered: 04/13/08
Posts: 139
Loc: houston, tx
I think backpacking lends itself to preparedness and I tend to lean towards being prepared for the unknown. I have a hard time doing a hike without having enough food for 48 hours, matches, warm clothing to sleep in, etc. I never understand the people embarking for a hike with sandals and shorts when if they don't get back in time, will have to endure 30 degree temps during the night.

It is like comparing sailing around the bay in a dinghy vs. in an equipped blue water cruiser.
_________________________
If you go hiking with friends,
there are many plans to coordinate;
if you go hiking alone,
you can leave right now.

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#130432 - 03/10/10 12:26 PM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: Jimshaw]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I'm finding that a lot of the folks being searched for in my area are either day hikers or people who intentionally go looking for a way to die. Not a lot of backpackers get in trouble - some delayed ones, some of them get sudden weather they weren't prepared for, and once in a while, someone just inexplicably sits down on a rock and goes on a permanent leave of absence with the full backpack sitting next to them.

I dunno, that sounds like a pretty good last day to me. Sitting on a mountain.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#130487 - 03/10/10 09:53 PM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: Jimshaw]
Howie Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/03
Posts: 481
Loc: Canora, SK, Canada
I am surprised there are not more incidents of people in trouble. I often see folk hiking up to Mt Frosty in Manning Park with no warm clothing or even a jacket. The weather can change very quickly in the mountains and these folks just donít seem to realize it.

Here in Kamloops we get at least one person a year who gets stuck on the side of one of our steep hills. One year I was almost one of those people but I have since learned my lesson. Some of the cliffs around here can be hazardous. In todayís paper is the story of a lady who was running with her Great Dane in one of our parks. She took a wrong turn and slid down a steep slope where she found herself stuck on a cliff too difficult to navigate up or down. Her dog managed to join her but now he too was stuck. The lady called 911 on her cell phone and members of the fire department sprang into action. They got her down safely. In her case the cell phone saved her but there are lots of places where cell phones donít work in these parts.

Howie

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#130493 - 03/10/10 11:05 PM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: Jimshaw]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
We have another lost hiker in Oregon.


That's too bad.

Quote:
Is Back Packing a safer sport than hiking


I don't know. The guy that died in the Ozarks last Spring had all the right gear and some experience to boot according to what I read, and he didn't get lost either.

Every hike I've ever been on was a "walk in the park", for me. But I always took the time to prepare. Even when I go out on a day hike on a trail or bushwhacking I have enough gear and food to survive at least a few days.

I think it may be more of a problem of not realizing one's limits. Everyone certainly has a limit for how far they can go and remember the way back in completely unfamiliar territory. And how far they can push themselves before breaking down physically.

I've never tried to push that too far. I've always tried to be aware of my limits. How do you teach someone to understand this?

It's not necessarily an experience based thing. It is more intuition based. The guy that fell into the Mt St Helens had a ton of experience, but ignored it somehow.

Captain Cook had lot's of experience too, but he sure blew it. I don't say that in a off handed way either, I point it out because it shows a lack of intuition for his limits and no one would question his experience.

I think for each of us everyday is a struggle to avoid making a, for lack of a better term, stupid decisions. Seriously, it is a struggle. It's very easy to screw up.

OregonMouse pointed out in a recent post how important it is to pay attention to things you see on the way in when hiking. This seems like such a basic concept but I think it is often ignored when speaking of hiking in it's most basic terms. The focus is usually on the trail, or the destination, or the gear, but almost never on paying attention to what you see on the way in, even though that's almost everything you'll see.

Familiarizing oneself with their surroundings when hiking gets lost in the conversation somehow, yet it's one of the most important things a newbie must learn. That and knowing their limits, all of their limits.

Jim, I'd bushwhack with you durn near anywhere, but I would not climb with you most anywhere you'd want to climb. You see, I'm fine anywhere in the forest, but not on a cliff face. That's where I hit one of my personal limits very quickly blush

I'd pilot my boat, on the lake it's docked at at, on the blackest of nights when the GPS is working, but if it broke down I'd set every anchor I have and wait till light to continue on, even though I know the odds are I could make it back with my experience navigating all 80 miles of channel in that lake. Odds are you'd still be sitting on pins and needles when I did it though and would never try it yourself the first time out even with the GPS.

That too, I think, is a fair example of intuition, experience, and knowing one's limits when making a decision. But how do you teach someone that? I don't know, I guess they either get it or they don't.

Even that doesn't matter because one thing is for certain, we are all only one stupid decision away from being lost.


_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#130501 - 03/11/10 02:30 AM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: billstephenson]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6747
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Lots of good input from everyone!

It is really important to take enough stuff when dayhiking so that if you're stuck out overnight you can survive. You may not be comfortable, but you'll be alive and able to hike out (or wait the next several days for searchers to find you if you're lost). Keeping your head is vital in such situations. Stop, have something to eat and drink, calm down and start a realistic assessment. If it's close to dark, round up wood, water, a sheltered place to spend the night.

In this particular case, there is lots of speculation around here about the possibility of foul play, but the Skamania County sheriff's office claims no. My heart goes out to this girl's family and friends.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#130534 - 03/11/10 02:59 PM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: OregonMouse]
dla Offline
member

Registered: 09/06/04
Posts: 275
Loc: Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
Every year we lose people. There is something about the PNW that swallows folks - never to be found. My heart goes out for the family of that young woman.

I personally believe it was foul play. This gal had hiking experience and SAR combed the area. Unless she took a 20 mile bushwhack and died in a hole, I think they would've found something. But not all SAR is created equal and I don't know what that area is like.

Just another solemn reminder to be prepared.

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#130539 - 03/11/10 04:00 PM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: dla]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6747
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
There is a whole maze of unmarked trails and logging roads in that area. A lot of people have reporting going astray from the PCT (I understand that most through-hikers skip the climb to Table Mountain and road-walk to where the PCT crosses the road above Carson). I also cannot believe that, if this young lady were even moderately experienced, that she would start for Table Mountain at 3:30 pm. (15 mi. RT from the Bonneville trailhead, almost 3500 ft. elevation gain). The credit card receipt was found on a logging road several miles from the PCT.


Edited by OregonMouse (03/11/10 04:02 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#130562 - 03/11/10 08:47 PM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: dla]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Interesting question, but it's hard to get meaningful data to study. Backpackers do, indeed, have more stuff and should be able to survive an unexpected night out. I can recall several operations where backpackers got into trouble. How do you get a statistic of accidents per hiking miles or excursions?

What stands out, looking at incidents in Southern Arizona, was a common denominator of inexperience and lack of skill for both day hikers and backpackers. Again, most backpackers do some day hiking before they jump into overnight trips, and hence acquire some experience.

But I will never forget the backpackers that abandoned their hypothermic comrade at a high mountain pass, hiking down the valley and out to safety. Forty-eight hours later, we found the frozen corpse. How's that for competence?

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#130565 - 03/11/10 08:57 PM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: oldranger]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6747
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Oldranger, I'd say that was not just negligence, but, at the least, manslaughter!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#130567 - 03/11/10 09:08 PM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: OregonMouse]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
It was very strange, indeed. Two of the group had taken a course in winter survival(!). The deceased's brother contacted me after the incident and obtained information, but I do not know what action was taken.

As was mentioned in another thread, it is important to choose your hiking companions wisely.....

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#130574 - 03/11/10 11:18 PM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: OregonMouse]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3971
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Mouse
"Oldranger, I'd say that was not just negligence, but, at the least, manslaughter!"

I don't know mouse. If they weren't licensed in anyway but just hiking friends, while I don't think its a good idea to leave someone behind to die, we don't know the circumstances. Its pretty hard to carry someone, could you? If they were all hypodermic they could have been incapable of rational thought, extremely scared, or simply in a situation where their survival meant leaving one behind who couldn't keep up. I've certainly been in situations where the weather went totally to (insert your own term) and I knew that I had to keep going until I got to the truck or become very hypodermic, and my buddy was either ahead of me or behind me but we couldn't keep an eye on each other much less act as a team, it was "each man for himself". If one didn't show up it would be for the rangers to find him and warm him up because I couldn't. And we weren't in trouble because we were either poorly prepared nor inadequately provisioned, it was one of those 35 degree winter storms, it was like being swept into a whirlpool, you can only try to get yourself out. This is why I prefer to backpack with my mountaineer friends, they are tough and resourceful and have stared down the devil before. Judgement, knowing what to do in the worst of circumstances does not come easily, it is learned through tough times, and being very fit can help one to survive where another may perish.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#130576 - 03/12/10 12:48 AM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: Jimshaw]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I agree that it's difficult to gauge the level of irresponsibility without details. I would generally suppose that I would never leave a mildly hypothermic person alone - trying to get them to be not-hypothermic and watching their mental status to make sure they aren't turning really hypothermic would be important. But, I can also suppose that mitigating circumstances might intervene with this meritorious goal - what if the person is clearly mentally altered and refusing to go with you? and staying means sitting in a blizzard while the trail disappears? and you are not prepared for the weather? and you are running out of food? Could pile on what-ifs along with a few unknowns for a while...

Some cases are less gray. In the case of a serious head injury, making the person comfortable as possible and going for help would be the extent of my ability to provide aid. (This was an actual case - the person who left the injured party was a medical doctor. Some things you can't do in the wilderness. Carrying your adult hiking partner who is incapacitated and babbling is one. Treating him for such injury, another.)
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#130578 - 03/12/10 06:20 AM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: Jimshaw]
GrumpyGord Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 932
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By Jimshaw
This is why I prefer to backpack with my mountaineer friends, they are tough and resourceful and have stared down the devil before. Judgement, knowing what to do in the worst of circumstances does not come easily, it is learned through tough times, and being very fit can help one to survive where another may perish.
Jim


Some time ago I read "Deep survival, Who Lives, Who Dies and Why" by Laurence Gonzales and it is very surprising who survives. In many cases it is the one you would least expect. Frequently the macho fit guy dies and the wimp survives. Very interesting study.

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#130686 - 03/14/10 02:11 PM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: OregonMouse]
dla Offline
member

Registered: 09/06/04
Posts: 275
Loc: Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
Some quad riders found her at the base of an 800' cliff.

As a parent of daughters that age I feel sad for her family, yet glad that they have some closure.

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#130703 - 03/14/10 08:44 PM Re: danger of hiking vs bping [Re: dla]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
That's sad. I was hoping she'd make it out and be fine, as I'm sure we all were.

Thanks for letting us know...
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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