Article in NYT about ethics of water sharing

5:30 a.m. on September 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Talks about when/whether hikers should share their water with others that have run out, for example in the Grand Canyon in Summer. I guess a hiker died recently even after some other hikers had given him some of their water...

8:46 a.m. on September 2, 2011 (EDT)
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The only cure for novice mistakes, is to take an experienced partner.  I know of a lot of problems I never encountered because of the people I was hiking with when I first started out.  Trip preparation & planning was always at the top of their list.

One good note from the article: you do meet nicer folks on the trail:)

9:13 a.m. on September 2, 2011 (EDT)
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I agree, Guyz, finding some experienced people to go with when getting started is so very important. Unfortunately, there are droves of people who don't realize they don't know what they need to know.

I look at it like this: in almost all situations, if I am properly prepared I will have be equipped to help someone who needs it. I don't think I have been on a single group hike in years during which haven't I provided water to someone who ran out. Having enough to spare is something that I see as an imperative aspect of being prepared. 

10:42 a.m. on September 2, 2011 (EDT)
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An interesting article.  Thanks for the link.

I think this quote is well said:  “I would do everything I could in my power, without sacrificing myself.”


11:35 a.m. on September 2, 2011 (EDT)
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When I go on a backpacking/hiking trip with more than myself there is some degree of the sharing of weight after each of use as packed our own individual packs.  Usually one person is incharge of planning the diet.  After each of use packs our pack we each drop off our pack to the person who is in charge of meals and food at which point the that perosn distrubutes the food evenly through out the packs based on pack size and the persons ability to carry weight.   Then everyone checks out everyones list so that we can make sure we have doubled or trippled up on things like water filters, etc.  The problem is not hiking or backpacking with the people in my group.  The problem therein lies with people we might run into that come unprepard.  I'm willing to sacrifice some of my supplies to help people get back home.  I'm not willing to give up supplies so that they can keep going outwards.  If your so unprepard that I have to give you my "stuff",  water, food, shelter, etc. you need to turn around and go back home and rethink your plans.  That does not mean I will not help you continue your journey outwards if you are well prepard and you forgot a single thing or you are well prepard and some piece of equiptment breaks or does not preform as it should.  If you did not bring a tent and just have a tarp,  then you must use your tarp, mosquitoes, ticks, spiders, fleas, chiggers and all.  If we were to go into potentionally harsh conditions then I will not travel with someone who I felt was ill prepard in anyway.

12:41 p.m. on September 2, 2011 (EDT)
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First-of-all, The New York Times is a VERY liberal rag.   Trust me.

I'm from Nu Yawk ... lived there most of my life.   I, along with dozens and dozens of people I know, halted our subscriptions to the NYT, given the penchant to "exaggerate", plagiarize, and out-and-out fabricate stories.

Giving the NYT some benefit of doubt, here ... assuming (?) they couldn't figure-out some way to put their own political 'spin' on this story ... this pitiful soul ( the doomed hiker ) is guilty of extreme apathy.

Ignorance is acceptable.   Apathy is not.

His demise should be a warning to us.   We're supposed to use good judgment, in our forays.   Taking heed of warnings and admonitions is ALWAYS to be observed and followed.   To NOT do so, we proceed at our own peril.

Men are know to be 'hardheads'  ( I know ... 'cause I am one).   Still ... no excuse.   As this hiker might admit, if he were still here today.

Chalk another one up for the dreaded "Darwin Award".   Another statistic.

I pity the fool !   --  TV's "Mr. T."

I have sympathy for the family.  


1:43 p.m. on September 2, 2011 (EDT)
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As is well-known and prominently warned about on signs and handouts at Grand Canyon and other desert parks, it is all too easy to get dehydrated. One of the signs and symptoms of dehydration is "the Umbles" - stumbling, mumbling, fumbling. Loss of judgment is part of this.

Without knowing much of the factual information, it sounds like one of the typical cases of "not knowing what you do not know" - non-familiarity of desert conditions, not becoming fully informed about the trail (distance, elevation gain and loss, availability/nonavailability of water), and so on. At GCNP, you start in the pine forest at the rim, but descend to desert conditions - rule of thumb - temperature drops about 3.5 to 5 degrees for every 1000 ft of elevation gain. Given the 4500 ft between the river and the Rim, the temperature difference is 16 to 22 degrees. Suppose you start at dawn (late for a day hike round trip) for the 15 mile round trip. It might be 45F at the start (using today's forecast) and 88F high at the rim during the day. That means 61F at the river at dawn, but maybe 110F at the river as the high for the day (today's predicted high at Phantom Ranch is 106F). Luckily, the humidity is likely to be low, which will feel cooler than the 90-90 weather of the Gulf Coast (but you will sweat off a lot of water).

It might take just 3 hours to get to the river, but the 8 miles and 4500 ft climb (using the "standard" formula) will take 8 to 9 hours to return (gee, that was without a pack - how about adding 1 or 2 gallons of water, at 8 to 16 pounds?). As an old desert rat (I was born and bred in the middle of the Arizona desert, where we used to play and run in 120-130F heat), I have a chance of doing that. But most hikers would probably start with only a couple liters of water. Ok, so you can refill at the bottom of the canyon. At that kind of temperature, you are likely to need at least a gallon of water (preferably with a hydration mix in it). Hmmm... referring back in the archives of Trailspace, I see a lot of posts by people saying they can do just fine with a liter for a full day's hike. That kind of hubris in people unfamiliar with desert conditions means getting dehydrated. And as you get dehydrated, you get The Umbles, and judgment goes way down. In some ways, it is a wonder there are not more deaths in the canyon at this time of year.

I hike in some of the parks around here all year around. In August, we sometimes run as high as 90F (usually more like 75F). My typical trails are a round trip of 8-10 miles, and 2000-2500 feet accumulated climb, about 3 to 4 hours. On a hot afternoon, I go through a 2 liter Camelbak. But I pass people with one of the little 1/2 liter bottled water containers. Some of the trails are mostly under trees in shade. But some, like Mission Peak's "Peak Trail" are in sunlight all the way. Too many people seem to believe that, since they can get away with a half-liter of water on a hike like that, they can do the Grand Canyon as a day hike with one liter of water.

Ignorance? Inexperience? Hubris? Doesn't matter what you call it. Oh, for R2, one of the aspects of dehydration is increased apathy and malaise. The apathy is a result, and one of the later stages, not the cause.

3:13 p.m. on September 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Rather than debate the semantics of whether this chap succumbed, due to ignorance or apathy ... the over-riding point of this topic is that we are all at risk of serious injury or death, no matter what the endeavor.

Why should we be surprised?   In the death, itself?   Or, the manner of death?

Someone here ("SageToSnow" ?) mentions that more people die of "donuts" than our pursuits in the outdoors.

Indeed.   I wonder how many people suffer "death by cheeseburger"?

I saw a cartoon in a national newspaper, "USA Today", about a week ago.   It was making light of the recent 'Draconian' requirements by the FDA (according to the Tobacco Institute) for more serious (shocking?) warnings on cigarette packaging and tobacco products.

It showed a pictograph of a fat guy having a heart attack.   The pictograph was on the wrapper for a "Big Mac", with a government warning about cholesterol.

Hikers should be apprised of their responsibilities for providing for their own safety.   How many warning signs must be posted?

Are there "lightning bolt" pictographs on every electrical outlet in your home or workplace?

Statistic:  Ten out of ten people die.

Whether it be by hypothermia, radiation exposure, jealous wife, suffocation, drowning, shark attack, asthma, gangrene, heart-attack, liver-failure , choking on a chicken-bone ... whatever.

The globe is becoming over-populated.   Check-out the movie, "Soylent Green" (with Charlton Heston) sometime.

It was this fellow's "TIME".

If reading this story compels ONE hiker to seriously assess his hydration needs and reserves, when in this sort of environment, then the New York Times has provided yeoman service.

I'm still not going to subscribe to the Times any more.   The "Village Voice" and the "New York Post" are more informative.   Not chock-full of liberal editorials.


4:00 a.m. on September 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Robert Rowe said:

Statistic:  Ten out of ten people die.

I am living proof this isn't always true.  But some day I may tire of being the contrarian.


4:00 a.m. on September 4, 2011 (EDT)
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9:56 a.m. on September 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed ~~

I understand there are many unanswered casting-calls for folks of your ilk, in horror-flicks.

A new career for you, perhaps?


10:41 a.m. on September 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Maybe climbing gear should come with huge "do not remove this" tags with cartoons of people falling off cliffs, pulling out badly placed pro, rapelling off the end of the rope, etc..

11:13 a.m. on September 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Stupidly should be painful!

Extreme stupidity should be Fatial!

This probably seems a little extreme, but I just think some people do really really stupid things and it's natures way of clearing out the trash.   I am always amaised at the things some people can do and live through, I guess it will catch up with them sooner of latter


1:04 p.m. on September 6, 2011 (EDT)
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I read about this when I got back from my trip there. I was in the Canyon the same day that fellow died. In fact my trip was largely marked by having to “rescue” my hiking partner. Check out my trip report:


The "shade" high at Bright Angel camp was 108 when I was there. After seeing this I was even more certain that I did the right thing in getting my friend out of there.


1:13 p.m. on September 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Bill S,


When I was hiking through the Canyon with full pack I was going through about .75 liters per hour... so I tried to keep 5 liters on me at most times.

April 25, 2018
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