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  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlehead View Post
    How does everyone know he died from hypothermia?
    I would have assumed he drowned from flooded rapids.
    I don't think we do know. There were just some suppositions and then judgements early in the thread. Some people jumped on the judgements. I jumped on what I perceive as a dangerous myth about people dying in cold water in under 2 minutes due to hypothermia.

    In the end, I think this is really a we're sad at the loss of a "brother" and a warning that cold spring rivers and specifically the Kennebec River can be dangerous and often underestimated in their danger.

    Everything else is pretty much drift.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  2. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    I don't think we do know. There were just some suppositions and then judgements early in the thread. Some people jumped on the judgements. I jumped on what I perceive as a dangerous myth about people dying in cold water in under 2 minutes due to hypothermia.

    In the end, I think this is really a we're sad at the loss of a "brother" and a warning that cold spring rivers and specifically the Kennebec River can be dangerous and often underestimated in their danger.

    Everything else is pretty much drift.
    that’s it.......

  3. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    We will NOT be safer thinking that hypothermia can cause us to drown in two minutes or less. We will be safer if we realized that we don't have to get out of cold water as fast as possible in a dangerous panic, but instead we have a couple minutes to figure out the safest and most expedient solution to our problem, calm down, gain self control, then execute your extrication.

    The sense of fear generated by the myth that people drown from hypothermia in less than two minutes is the issue I have with the misinformed comments in this and other threads that suggest people die of hypothermia in these short time frames. The focus should not be on getting out of the water as fast as possible, but to get out as safely as possible within five minutes or less, if possible.
    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    I don't think we do know. ...... I jumped on what I perceive as a dangerous myth about people dying in cold water in under 2 minutes due to hypothermia.



    In the end, I think this is really a we're sad at the loss of a "brother" and a warning that cold spring rivers and specifically the Kennebec River can be dangerous and often underestimated in their danger.

    Everything else is pretty much drift.
    Yar... I think I see it now. Turning into a Jordan Peterson/Sam Harris discussion.


    There are three topics of discussion happening at once:
    Fording rivers in general.
    Cold water immersions.
    Hypothermia.

    Where our difficulty seems to lie is in discussing hypothermia. You are quite correct- nobody dies in 2 minutes from hypothermia.
    I used to teach classes and find that this topic is one that has many myths and confusion around it. To be fair; it's also one of those 'weird ones' that few experts agree on.

    "Hypothermia is reduced body temperature that happens when a body dissipates more heat than it absorbs." Seems a simple enough definition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothermia

    The other common definition is that one's core body temp has fallen, the often used number being roughly 95*.
    Again... depending on who you ask the original 'three stages' has expanded to up to five stages.
    Regardless....

    You're discussing severe hypothermia, which I tend to agree is not a serious issue of concern or cause for fear mongering. Paradoxical undressing and terminal burrowing are fun topics of discussion but rare.

    'Lions, Tigers and Bears' was a talk title I once used... of all the false things folks fear in the woods, hypothermia is probably the most dangerous and least considered.

    Mild hypothermia does not require a drop in core temperature. Most folks don't even recognize it as hypothermia and those with mild hypothermia can often still pass the 'fingertip test'.
    Especially those of us who don't need to look up the fingertip test and practice doing it.

    "Symptoms of mild hypothermia may be vague,[13] with sympathetic nervous system excitation (shivering, high blood pressure, fast heart rate, fast respiratory rate, and contraction of blood vessels). These are all physiological responses to preserve heat.[14] Increased urine production due to cold, mental confusion, and hepatic dysfunction may also be present"

    From wikipedia again to keep it simple, but others include goose bumps and other incidental or banal items many would just consider 'being chilly'.

    Also from that article- "Hypothermia continues to be a major limitation to swimming or diving in cold water.[18] The reduction in finger dexterity due to pain or numbness decreases general safety and work capacity, which consequently increases the risk of other injuries"

    The main point of my talks was not severe hypothermia; but mild or moderate being the scarier danger in the woods.
    Principally because it robs you, very quickly, of your most important tools. Your mental cohesion and fine motor dexterity.
    Hypothermia is a silent spiral of problems, few of which are directly related to being cold.

    Hypothermia is or it isn't... you are either producing enough heat to maintain your temps or you are not. Once it begins:
    About 30 minutes is the number used when no water immersion is involved to go from mild to moderate hypothermia.

    For the most part once you cross into moderate it is very hard to reverse the spiral. It is an odd condition and I still believe drinking alcohol is the best comparison.

    We all like to state that the most important piece of gear you carry is in between your ears... there are only three things that can rob you of that critical tool: Death, Panic, and Hypothermia.
    If you're dead... not much you can do to resolve that.
    If you panic... I agree with your take that the only cure to panic is knowledge and control; which take some experience to implement. This is a general danger to those in the outdoors in everything from navigation, animal encounters or cold water immersion.

    To me the greatest danger is hypothermia. Principally because 'being cold' is something that males especially are simply taught to 'deal with' and tough out.
    You're crossing a stream in winter... no **** it will be cold. Get er done and get back to hiking and you'll walk yourself warm.
    Generally many long distance hikers deal with hypothermia with that 'walk yourself warm' mentality. To be fair, it can actually work.

    The problem occurs when the alarm bells don't go off in your head about what is actually happening.
    When charging down the trail to warm up; navigational errors and mental errors increase.
    Coupled with a slight shiver, loss of dexterity, motor function impairment and slowed reaction time... the odds of a fall increase.
    That's the spiral, and the what if game turns into reality.

    On a mountainous trail your walking warm trick may lead you up onto a ridgeline or other exposed spot, where even a mild breeze and damp clothing would spring you from mild to moderate hypothermia in minutes.


    A fall on the right rock could break a bone, knock you out, or simply end your hike. You may not slip right into moderate hypothermia... but pain, injury, distress may further spiral things for you.

    As I said in an earlier thread... one might not consider hypothermia the 'nail in the coffin' but in an otherwise healthy and capable outdoors person it is commonly a primary link in the chain of events that ends poorly.

    A typical hypothermia bout is not fatal.
    That hiker didn't fall too badly. The white blazes and clear tread-way shine brightly in the mental fog allowing one to stay the course. Or clears the ridge. Or stumbles to the next shelter chattering and shivering but jetboil or a fellow hiker come to the rescue.
    Hypothermia is weird. It hits folks different at different times. Many of us get the opportunity to 'practice drinking' and find out if we are a lush, a lightweight, or have a tolerance like Andre the Giant... few get the chance to casually experiment with Hypothermia's effects until it is too late. While I didn't do it much at the boy scout talks, for older boys and adults I often went back to booze...
    A little white wine may make you chatty, a little red wine may make you sleepy.
    A beer might be just right, but one more is rarely refused.
    A tequila may make you puke, and a whiskey may burn from your belly to your toes an' back to your nose.

    A drink at the bar may let you approach someone.
    A second may get you acquainted, and a third may get you intimately acquainted.
    Be it three or four... none can say what quantity causes evening beauty to turn back to ugly come morn.

    The moral of the hypothermia story is always simple... dumb things do happen.
    But dumb things tend to happen with alarming frequency when hypothermia is involved.



    As I mentioned earlier; When a drunk driver crashes into a tree. We all agree he died of driving into a tree, not of alcohol consumption.
    Though we also agree that he and the tree were never likely to meet if'n it wasn't for the drinking.
    One doesn't need 'severe alcohol consumption' to die, nor do many people die of true alcohol poisoning.
    But many people do die of 'mild or moderate' alcohol consumption every day, though we don't think of it that way.

    Just like booze, we all think we can handle it or we're fine...Specially us tough manly men outdoors folks.
    But any sober person looking at you can tell it's just the booze talking and you got no business operating a vehicle.

    Any level headed outdoors person could look at you and tell it's just the hypothermia talking and you're not in control of your vehicle.
    Take it seriously. If you're solo, you got nobody to watch your back or take the keys away if your decision making has become impaired.

    When you start to shiver... pull over, stop fer a hot coffee and sober up before you crash.

    If that doesn't do it, get a hot meal in you and sleep it off.

  4. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlehead View Post
    How does everyone know he died from hypothermia?
    I would have assumed he drowned from flooded rapids.
    If it means anything to the family fer what it's worth....

    'Suicide by Kennebec' is about the only invalid cause of death proposed.

    Most likely a combination of factors all led to a bad conclusion. There is probably nothing to point to or blame on it's own.

    Machismo, mental state, or just plain old 'guy syndrome' may have led to attempting the crossing to start.
    -I am a month or so from 40 and still think of myself as 20 when I take on a physical task. Finding out halfway through something I could once do easily is a frequent occurrence... one i'd not like to have in the middle of a river.
    -One could also consider a bit of the current trail mythos... that ALL it takes to reach maine is the willpower.
    -Katahdin fever and making miles may have been part of the reason to push rather than chill for a few days until the ferry was up.

    Poor knowledge of/or lack of a plan for a risky ford is a good start.
    -Blowing up an air pad and removing your shoes.
    -Inflating your trash compactor bag and tying your bear bag line to your pack so you can float it or dump it.
    -Grabbing a solid 6' stave to plant upstream rather than using trekking poles.
    -Planning on getting swept and being ready for it- basically figure you're going to swim and have a plan on how you'll do that.
    -Scout the river downstream to see if there is a way out if all goes wrong; search for strainers or other obstacles that would turn floating until you could exit fatal.


    Cold Water immersion.
    -Could be fatal in and of itself at the wrong place and time.
    -If facing up stream as you should be and swept off your feet... typically you're leaning into it and will fall face first... the shock could easily cause you to suck a breath of water.
    -One simple way to reduce the chances of the reflex part is to immerse yourself in the shallows at the edge of the river to get it over with.
    -The river itself is a chest deep ford in summer... in swollen spring it would have been a swim period. Hard to say if that was known, considered, or not.
    -Even if it was a ford and not a swim... it's a long enough crossing that cold water immersion exposure would have been well beyond a few minutes. This is a bit more than simply tumbling into and quickly bailing out of cold water.

    Hypothermia.
    -It was likely cold enough out that it was possible just from hiking.
    -Simply stepping knee deep into water that cold would have instantly started the hypothermia process.
    -The loss of dexterity in the feet could have caused lost footing.
    -The loss of mental function could have effected or overrode the instinct to abort the crossing.
    -The longer the crossing went on, the deeper hypothermia would have set in. Escalating from mild to moderate hypothermia in waist deep cold water cold happen very quickly, and fording a tough river if all goes right can easily take 10-30 minutes of careful, slow movement. A hot drink or meal before beginning might have helped some.

    The gentleman could have done everything right in terms of crossing precautions or cold water immersion and still 'lost' the battle with hypothermia.
    Could have been a big, tough, strong person with experience, awareness and self control. He may have planted a solid up stream pole, toed the river bed, floated his pack and properly inched his way across while maintaining his tripod connection to the riverbed. With blood and adrenaline pumping he may been doing everything right... but simply run out of time.
    Grip on the staff, dexterity in the toes to find good footing, slow reaction to a pulse in the current, might have pushed him over.
    Lethargy, apathy, confusion or disconnection may have led to not fighting much to reach a shore once he went over.


    He could have tried like hell, done everything right and simply succumbed to the fact that a swollen river flows right by your willpower and Ma' Nature has zero f's to give.

    The technicalities are not that important. The most important lesson is when to say no.


    Sometimes you just picked a fight with the wrong Mother F'er and lost.


    "Why... Johnny Ringo, you look like somebody just walked over your grave."
    "My fights not with you Holiday"
    "I beg to differ sir, we started a game we never got to finish... Play fer blood, remember?"
    "...I was just fooling about."

    "I wasn't."

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  5. #85

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    It might be worth mentioning one other serious objective hazard associated with fording fast moving streams, and that is foot entrapment. As a former 20+ year raft guide on Southeastern rivers, foot entrapment was easily the #1 cause of drowning on the rivers I was associated with (boat pinning being a close second). In gravel bottomed streams this is much less of a risk than ledge bottomed streams and if I recall correctly, the Kennebec is kinda' a combination of the two. Our general rule of thumb was any fast moving water knee deep or deeper should not be forded.
    Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.

  6. #86

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    One of an officer’s LEGAL DUTIES is to prevent individuals from harming themselves or others. That is literally the very definition of the job. I know this VERY WELL since my father was a police officer, and I am an attorney. If the officer in question was still grieving and not yet fit for duty, not ready to DO HIS JOB, he shouldn’t have been on patrol. But that’s so much for your “empathy” toward our veterans and the issue of mental illness.

  7. #87

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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    It would be ironic if the police officer was still mourning the death of Deputy Cole and decided not to confront a crazy person he didn't know. If someone is determined to kill themselves by doing something a normal thinking person wouldn't do, why would the responsibility lie with anyone other than the person making irrational decisions?

    Your brother was a free person, able to make his own decisions. We don't live in a police state up here in Maine. People are allowed to.make mistakes and pay for them. The onus is not on anyone other than himself.

    I'm sorry your brother came back from the war a changed person. That happens. It's one of the hortors and evils of war.
    One of an officer’s LEGAL DUTIES is to prevent individuals from harming themselves or others. That is literally the very definition of the job. I know this VERY WELL since my father was a police officer, and I am an attorney. If the officer in question was still grieving and not yet fit for duty, not ready to DO HIS JOB, he shouldn’t have been on patrol. But thanks SO much for your “empathy” toward our family, veterans and the issue of mental illness.

  8. #88

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikkicam View Post
    One of an officer’s LEGAL DUTIES is to prevent individuals from harming themselves or others. That is literally the very definition of the job. I know this VERY WELL since my father was a police officer, and I am an attorney. If the officer in question was still grieving and not yet fit for duty, not ready to DO HIS JOB, he shouldn’t have been on patrol. But thanks SO much for your “empathy” toward our family, veterans and the issue of mental illness.
    Condolences for the loss of your brother, but your father being a police officer and your being an attorney have no bearing on this.

    Neither you nor anyone else is completely aware of the totality of the circumstances. It could be as simple as the officer advising your brother not to ford the Kennebec and your brother giving his assurances that he wouldn't, only to do so after the officer left. And how was the officer to know he was dealing with someone with mental issues from one very brief encounter?

    Continuing to focus your anger on someone who probably did exactly what any of the rest of us would have done in the same circumstance is not productive.

    And perhaps consider that you are causing anguish for someone who did nothing wrong.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  9. #89

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    Police have no legal duty to protect you, or prevent you from harming yourself. In fact, police officers have liability in some instances when intervening against a person when they're not breaking a law.

    This man was walking the wilderness with (untreated/undertreated) dementia and paranoid schizophrenia - and people are blaming the cop? A man without the facilities to obey countless warning signs and orders from a law enforcement officer, or the wherewithal to circumvent those dangers, has no business out there.

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    condolences to your family but you say "anybody would have known he had a mental illness" but I think its important to understand that many hikers may look/act nothing like what anybody would consider to be 'normal' ….. so even if most people would have thought it was a mental issue, if the police officer is familiar with hikers then the attitude/actions might not have seemed different then many other hikers he has encountered and very likely the police officer did not see a mental issue at hand.

    Also there was talk about how hypothermia wont set in submerged in water in 5-10 minutes..... the guy operating the ferry this September told me about the incident and said "that's a 5-10 minute swim if your a good swimmer"... so we aren't talking about a 2-3 minute crossing here either. He also pointed to the bank and said "the water was up to the trees", which is 10-15 feet higher then when I was there. He also added "the water was about 42 degrees"

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    There is something that I have been curious about since the first posting of this thread. He must have been a southbounder to have run into a LEO before attempting to cross the river since there are no roads where that could have happened for a couple of days on the western side of the river. I know that Google Earth seems to show roads on the western side, but they are old logging roads, many of which are impassable so that LEOs wouldn't be traveling there. If he was northbound I seriously doubt that the LEO contact spoken of in the news happened. And, yes I have been there on both sides of the river.
    Everyone has a photographic memory. Not everyone has film.

  12. #92
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    One more reason to put a suspension bridge across or relocate the trial to a safer spot, I reckon. Some people will not adhere to warnings no matter how much you tell them, whether sick or not. Some are lucky to get across, some are not. Sorry for your loss, but to blame the officer is asinine.
    - Trail name: Thumper

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    Yar... I think I see it now. Turning into a Jordan Peterson/Sam Harris discussion.


    There are three topics of discussion happening at once:
    Fording rivers in general.
    Cold water immersions.
    Hypothermia.


    That was the most applicable thread discussion analogy ever.

    What we need is Ben Shapiro to keep it on topic.

    I thought we were discussing drowning rather than simply fording?

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