1,338 forum posts
This question is in regard to the recent hypothermia deaths in the Ozarks as linked---
On my last February trip I was caught in a several day butt-cold rain and mused over the terrible plight of the hikers and so I wrote this in my trail journal while inside a warm, dry tent during a nasty pelting cold rainstorm---
"It's still winter so the rain/wind combo isn't something you want to be out in overnight like that poor father with his 2 sons in the Ozarks. The rain was atrocious with tolerable temps but by nightfall the temps became grim by falling into the 20F's---a terrible situation to those outside overnight and soaked to the skin."
"In such a scenario one must act quickly and get out of the wind and prepare for the cold, a near impossibility if drenched. What would I do? Get out of the wind down the hillside and look for a rock face overhang or a dead tree blowdown and start playing gopher big time by scrapping out dirt and rocks and dead leaves to make a little cubbyhole depression."
"Then I'd stuff it like a madman with dead leaves and more leaves and yet more leaves and bury myself and my kids in the hole. Also I would remove our clothing and wring them out thoroughly and either put back on if wool or poly but leave off if cotton. Then I'd leave the kids and gather another 50 lbs of wet leaves and pile them on top of us---no time to make a debris shelter with a pole or a lean-to---ya gotta burrow into a squirrel nest of dead leaves out of the wind with a rock wall or a dead tree trunk to huddle against."
"Nature has a million places for the primitive human to go rodent and find shelter. We're not stupid and when push comes to shove we will try to survive like a mouse in a rat nest. The dead leaves have to be in a big pile and you have to be at the bottom of them and you have to curl up together like puppies underneath to stay warm."
"Once the terrible truth hits that you've made a terrible mistake, get busy with a shelter before 2nd and 3rd hypothermia hits. It's better to be under a crappy shelter by a rock or dead tree holding each other than to be exposed out in the open doing the same. Humans are nesters by instinct and there are a thousand natural human rat dens all thru the woods."
"It's easy to write this during a butt cold rainstorm while sitting inside a warm tent and it's another to be drenched at 30F and miles from nowhere in the dark. It's overwhelming and the natural tendency is to curl up, shiver, shake and go. The will to live gets destroyed."
"Imagine the value of a simple 5x8 tarp---together with dead leaves you stay warm and not newly wet. There's nothing in nature like a 5x8 tarp unless you find a big hollow log or a large rock overhang or have time to make a debris hut with lean-to stick frame and bushels of leaves. Leaves become your insulation---fiberfill---look at a mouse nest."
"Here's a lesson for all dayhikers---carry rain jackets and carry tarps, period. Or a bivy sac."
Anyway, the whole point is this---I'd like to see Grylls or Stroud or Cody pull the same exact event in the same exact conditions drenched with a dip into the 20F's and overnight. They don't have a tarp or cordage or a saw or machete or knife and they are soaked---just the same clothes the father and sons wore. I mean drenched and shaking with 1st stage hypothermia. Now get to work! Screw the camera crew, screw your cameras---death is 2 hours away and what are you going to do??