So Many Lost Hikers

4:43 p.m. on June 6, 2019 (EDT)
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Recently we have 2 in Hawaii, one on Mt Rainier and one lost in AR for a week.  Maybe we just have better news coverage, but I suspect it is something else.  People seem to have a false sense of security carrying their electronics around all the time.  They seem to be distracted and not paying attention to their surroundings. 

I would be scared, embarassed and disappointed if I ever got lost and needed anyone to come out and look for me.  Never put anyone else at risk because of your stupidity is my motto.  What do you think?

6:26 p.m. on June 6, 2019 (EDT)
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I think that none of those listed hikers started out by saying "I'm going to put people at risk because of my stupidity." And at least the woman in Hawaii didn't call for a rescue or depend on her electronics.  She knew that area well, slipped and fell, breaking bones...

7:34 p.m. on June 6, 2019 (EDT)
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No one sets out thinking that way, but some are careless and too lackidasical. 

Injuries can be hard to overcome.  I have only been hurt once in 58 years and that was a broken femur after running into a mountain lion.

7:36 p.m. on June 6, 2019 (EDT)
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Technology would not have been much help in situations I read about occurring locally.  People venture onto snow avalanche prone slopes and unstable cliffs every season.  No one in their right mind would venture into these areas under the pretense they can call for help.  That's just stupid being stupid.  Nowadays these idiots just happen to have phones, whereas in the pre-cellular days they would just have to wait for someone else to call out SAR. 

Some emergencies may have occurred because people perceive the cell phone as a belay device that empowers them to take on riskier activities; nevertheless I think the numbers are mostly due to other considerations.  Perhaps the numbers just reflect the expanding population - twice the population equates to twice the number of emergencies.  Perhaps the numbers reflect the diminished participation in outdoor oriented organizations, such as the scouts, that teach how to deal with the our doors.  In a similar vein it may reflect a lack of mentoring within one's personal social circle, in this case regarding outdoor skills. 

Ed

2:02 a.m. on June 7, 2019 (EDT)
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Carry a d@mn rescue beacon!!

9:48 a.m. on June 7, 2019 (EDT)
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I like Ed's post.   A lot of people seem naive. In the last year we have lost a lot of people in the Grand Canyon and places like the falls in Yosemite.    I think there is a human concept of "body awareness."   Awareness of where people are in space.  I run into people in the grocery store with poor body awareness that block the aisle all the time.  People get focused on taking photos and selfies with their cell phones and fall into the GC.   This is tragic, but it is not easy to remedy. 

Just like we need to bring back anti-littering campaigns because Americans are turning into pigs,  maybe we need an awareness campaign in the park system to caution people about where they put their feet. 

A rescue beacon is a great idea, but being careful so you do not need to use it is even more important. 

10:39 a.m. on June 7, 2019 (EDT)
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I think these particular ones were due to more news coverage, however people overall are definitely more distracted and not paying attention to their surroundings.  The Hawaii story was so unusual and compelling that I think it created more attention for all lost hiker stories for a while. 

But perhaps the media is moving on to the next hot story?  Now the hot stories seem to be about American Tourists getting sick or attacked in foreign countries.   A couple years ago it was getting drunk and falling off cruise ships.

2:01 p.m. on June 7, 2019 (EDT)
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trail map, compass, and basic working knowledge of how to use them still has value. in places with reception, a handheld GPS unit can serve the same functions, though they're subject to battery failure (carry spares), mechanical failure (oops, I dropped it), reception issues (this ravine is blocking my damn satellite signal).  

https://www.backpacker.com/skills/how-to-use-a-compass

I have gotten lost or off course from time to time, though not recently. one tried and true strategy is to turn around and retrace your steps, if you can figure out which way that is.  normally, as soon as i realize i'm off course, i backtrack.  

7:02 p.m. on June 7, 2019 (EDT)
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The only people that get lost coming to my house are the ones that use GPS.

5:10 a.m. on June 8, 2019 (EDT)
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ppine said:

The only people that get lost coming to my house are the ones that use GPS.

 :)  They are probably some of my friends...

Ed

11:52 a.m. on June 9, 2019 (EDT)
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The guy in Arkansas was found after 6 days.  He was only 3 miles from the trailhead.  There is something wrong with this picture. 

 I talk with our local police, canine units and S&R pretty often.  They have mentioned that it is common for people to get into trouble now because they "get too high."  Strong drugs and alcohol commonly incapacitate people.  They lose their sense of direction and can get really lost.  Not something that I hear about except from people out in the field rescuing people that don't really need to be rescued. 

3:29 p.m. on June 9, 2019 (EDT)
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People have been getting high on booze and drugs for some time.  My intensive involvement with SAR dates to the 70s and 80s. We routinely encountered folks incapacitated because of what they imbibed.  Our fatalities routinely showed high levels of blood alcohol on autopsy.  I quit drinking as a result.

I would like to hear from someone familiar with the terrain and situation in Arkansas.  It sounds like the search depended on the availability of the chopper.  Why weren't ground crews beating the bush (or were they??).  The news report skips oer many important details.

8:07 p.m. on June 9, 2019 (EDT)
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Ouachita Is pretty rugged at least the part Jeff and I hiked back in dec 2016. The place we hiked was canopied beyond any possible chance for a helicopter to land. ( only place possible would have been in the middle of the Little Missouri River or one clearing on the 1st night.

as to getting lost well we kinda did also when we crossEd the river. (Went right instead of left) we just followed the river till we found an old logging road. Then we debated turning around and going back the way we came but I told Jeff that a logging road will lead to another road, which it did and then we eventually reached a spot where we were able to get a GPS . We were about 8 miles off course at that point. We hiked the road heading to were the trail rejoined about 5 miles when a Great guy named Joseph came along and picked us up for the remaining 3 miles.

the Ouachita mountains are deceptively rugged. Much more so than anything I’ve encountered in north Georgia or North Carolina.  Up and down hill was always at about a 60 degree grade muddy slippery and loose rock constantly.

The problem with this place is that it is so incredibly pristine that it looks like a walk in the park. I honestly don’t know if it beat us up so bad because of getting off of work late that afternoon and driving thru the night the hopping out of the truck in 20degrees Nd a steady downpour and hiking till dark or if it was the mountains themselves. But it’s definitely not a place for beginners. 

8:18 p.m. on June 9, 2019 (EDT)
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hikermor said:

I would like to hear from someone familiar with the terrain and situation in Arkansas.  It sounds like the search depended on the availability of the chopper.  Why weren't ground crews beating the bush (or were they??).  The news report skips oer many important details.

 Here is my trip report from that placehttps://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-reports/topics/181928.html

I definitely heading back here 1st chance I get. This place is something special. Just plan on resting up this time before hitting the trail.

it has been one of my favorite hikes and I think of it often. Picturesque beautiful beyond your wildest imagination and just the perfect solitude too match all the rock formations and trees.

12:28 p.m. on June 10, 2019 (EDT)
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The local sheriff in Arkansas says hikers get lost in that area "often" but usually find their way or get found in a few hours. He described the terrain as "extremely tough to negotiate," rocky and steep, thick cover. 

Not at all surprising that a guy who was hiking solo for the first time got lost, despite a great deal of advance planning.  Good he was found and didn't have worse than dehydration.  

1:16 p.m. on June 10, 2019 (EDT)
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Are people afraid to drink the water?  Next time you get lost or stuck somewhere, drink the water. 

2:13 p.m. on June 10, 2019 (EDT)
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ppine said:

Are people afraid to drink the water?  Next time you get lost or stuck somewhere, drink the water. 

 Hell how are you gonna get them to do that? You can’t even get people to drink tap water anymore. it has to come in a bottle and have a fancy name on it.

dont believe me try giving someone a glass of tap water next time . Bet it doesn’t get drunk. People seem To think  bottled water is cleaner?  More junk in it than a  glass of pond water 

10:03 a.m. on June 11, 2019 (EDT)
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People have been getting lost forever.

It won't stop. 

The possibility of going someplace so wild that you could get lost or eaten by an animal is part of what makes it awesome. 

Isn't the entire AT within like five miles of a road or something?

Still though weather and injuries happen.  Its cool. Its what makes the Wild what it is.  Want to never get lost? Go tot he Mall.   :)

10:24 a.m. on June 11, 2019 (EDT)
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Since the conversation brought up a thought to me and a question how many are thinking that all their using is a phone app and the gps in the phone to hike? seems the art of reading a map and compass more people are just wondering with lack of navigation skills....

12:54 p.m. on June 11, 2019 (EDT)
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denis daly said:

Since the conversation brought up a thought to me and a question how many are thinking that all their using is a phone app and the gps in the phone to hike? seems the art of reading a map and compass more people are just wondering with lack of navigation skills....

 I’d say You’re right. Although I can read a road map with the best of them, I’ve never been taught how to read a topo map. And to be honest haven’t really ever needed one. ( just always been able to find my way in the woods). I looked for orientation classes because the mountains are a whole nother ball game. But so far haven’t been able to find any outside of Rei and the nearest one to me is probably a hundred mile away. Heck if I’m gonna drive that far I’m going hiking and not some class.

so yeah I’m pretty comfortable in the outdoors but do wish I had better navigation skills with a topo and compass

4:18 p.m. on June 11, 2019 (EDT)
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In much of the US you are never far from a road in any direction, but people seem to have a hard time going in a straight line.  A compass can really help with that. 

9:31 p.m. on June 11, 2019 (EDT)
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John:

The oft cited book, Freedom of the Hills, has a section of map and compass 101 that should suffice.  Read it a couple of times, then get out as the book describes and test  your newfound knowledge.

Ed

6:34 a.m. on June 12, 2019 (EDT)
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Thanks

9:23 a.m. on June 12, 2019 (EDT)
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I am surprised that people here of all places think "in much of the US you are never far from a road."  My favorite definitionn of a wilderness area is "more than 5 miles from the nearest dirt road."  If you think roads are close by, you need to spend some time in the Big Mountains in the western US, and Canada. 

Once you leave the trail network, then navigation becomes very important.  Many people do it for a living.  In remote country only the 15' USGS quads are available.  

10:19 a.m. on June 12, 2019 (EDT)
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Not only are substantial areas far from roads, but the nature of the terrain, especially in mountains, is horrendous, posing challenges even to technically equipped climbers.  I find that I rarely use a compass in hilly country, usually only when clouds impede visibility (twice in 60 years).  But an accurate topo map is indispensable.

Definitely read FOTH or an equivalent.

10:37 a.m. on June 12, 2019 (EDT)
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BTW, there are websites that provide all kinds and scales of customizable topo maps that you can print out at home and for free.  There's no excuse for not having the map you need when you go out hiking, no matter where in the US you hike.

1:02 p.m. on June 13, 2019 (EDT)
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Map of the US showing distance from roads.  Not many places more than 5 km (not miles.) They do exist, but I doubt they are easy to get to for the casual hikers who seem to get lost so easily.  

https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2005/3011/report.pdf

2:17 p.m. on June 13, 2019 (EDT)
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We should probably factor in quality and type of "road".  Are we talking our lane interstate or a set of tracks across the grass?  The big divide is paved (all weather0 versus unpaved.  Many unpaved truck trails are more of a hazard than the typical trail.

1:05 p.m. on June 15, 2019 (EDT)
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Regarding water, I keep a Lifestraw in my pack just in case.  

People have been lost in Congaree National Park which is bounded on one side by a river and roads on the other.  The road can’t be more than a couple miles from the river so it’s hard to get truly lost yet people do.  It just seems basic knowledge of your surroundings and some minor ability to extend your outdoors time if necessary can go a long way.  

5:38 p.m. on June 26, 2019 (EDT)
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Thanks to DrPhun for the map.  I believe that the USGS map is highly conservative, even considering two tracks as roads.  For example it shows the whole state of Oregon to be less than 2-3 kms from a road.  That is not even close. 

Personal experience says this map is way off. 

November 15, 2019
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