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  1. #1
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    Default Lost hiker found - strange


  2. #2
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    more details. Makes this even stranger to me

    https://www.kgw.com/article/news/loc...d-1a42a3d8f0c7

  3. #3
    John B's Avatar
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    Why strange? To me is seems like the usual phenomena of small errors compounding to make one big problem. What did I miss?

    And another article about him, this one with pics of frost-bitten toes.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...rm/4042122002/

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    Question Simple question

    What, if anything, do you find remotely "strange" about this story?

    A person was taking a long-distance hike, thought he could out-walk bad weather, didn't do so, got lost in a blizzard, and finally got rescued.

    WHAT, exactly, do you find strange?

  5. #5
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    Not a novice hiker - prior AT thruhiker. Maybe some decisions that could have been better, but mostly just sounds like a hike that went wrong due to bad weather. That all his gear was soaked tends to point to some poor decision making on keeping shelter and sleeping bag dry, either thru gear choices or the way he used or packed them. He's lucky the cell call went through...

  6. #6

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    Obviously an experienced hiker.I can see getting lost/disoriented,clothes soaked etc.Would like to know what happened to get his other gear soaked.Sounds like the tent failed.Glad he's ok and I'm betting he will make it.
    One more reason to carry 5.5 oz of plb when solo.

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    Okay, I'll bite on this one. Yes, strange.

    1) This guy is woefully behind schedule to complete the PCT, and if the conditions he encountered last week caught him by surprise and lead to this type of trouble for him, he is way off base talking about still trying to finish. Lot's of PCT hikers run into lots of end-of-hiking-season weather and gear disasters in mid-October in Washington and this guy isn't even out of Oregon yet.
    2) Experience backpacking long distance trails does not make one experienced in either back-country navigation or wilderness survival. I am regularly surprised at the lack of back-country skills many accomplished long distance trail hikers have.

    So, what's strange is that this guy has made it this far without running into problems, and with his experience that somehow his judgement is still poor enough to think he can consider continuing on to the end.

    In the end, I hope this guy manages to redefine success in a way he can carry on and keep hiking without endangering himself when his luck runs out.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five Tango View Post
    ......
    One more reason to carry 5.5 oz of plb when solo.
    The more I think about it, the more that I tend to agree, especially since I don't carry a cellphone and have zero wilderness experience.

    This one weighs in at 4 oz, very small, very unobtrusive. https://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=100

  9. #9

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    When conditions start to deteriorate the smart thing to do is stop, set up camp and get into the sleeping bag before everything gets wet and you become hypothermic. We all know what happens once wet and hypothermic.

    Since the PCT has been so dry, chances are good he really wasn't prepared for wet conditions. I wonder if he even had a tent or tarp?
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    When conditions start to deteriorate the smart thing to do is stop, set up camp and get into the sleeping bag before everything gets wet and you become hypothermic. . .
    35 degrees and raining/snowing is about a rough as it gets out there. There are plenty of times in such conditions I've chosen to keep moving to stay warm. I would hope than any experienced hiker would know how to keep their gear dry inside their backpack. Most complete gear failures I've heard about or witnessed have been a combination of wet cloths from hiking in the rain followed by everything else getting wet through shelter failure, generally due to user error, often due to poor judgement when cold and wet.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  11. #11
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    Ok I guess I owe some explanation. But I first want to say that one needs to look at this like we would look at an account in the American Alpine Journal of a climb which turned into a disaster and see what we can learn from it. Because this was definitely a disaster. Secondly I found the first link I posted 'strange' as the press account was so poorly written that I was thinking that a fair amount of the description of disaster perhaps was due to the reporters not knowing what he was talking about and screwing up the entire account. The 2nd link wiped most of that concern away and I read a couple of others as well that I did not post. Poor writing but the real issue was the hiker.

    In no particular order I see a host of problems here.

    1. This guy IS NOT an experienced hiker. Hiking the AT does not make you one. Many people complete an AT hike and have learned almost nothing about hiking due to the overwhelming support environment they are hiking in. I would say there is a 'good chance' this hiker is one of them. You can recognize an experienced hiker by the decisions they make and the results of their hiking. Bad things happen to everyone but an experienced hiker can deal with them. This was not that tough of a situation.

    2. This guy started May 4th (actually the ideal time to start the PCT) and called for help on Oct 17th. 166 days into his hike. They say he was found at a campground near Jefferson Park which is at roughly mile 2030 of the PCT. 2030 miles in 166 days is ONLY 12 mpd! A couple of comments: Even on the AT that is VERY slow. On the PCT (especially by the time you get to Oregon) walking this slow means you do not belong out there. Thus another bit of evidence this is not an experienced hiker. And this glacial pace is what he was still walking as his comment in the article was that he saw on the weather report that snow was coming in 3 days but he felt hiking on was ok because he felt he could do the 40 miles needed in 3 days. A normal PCT hiker at this point can do 40 miles in 24 hours if really needed. Something is very out of wack here.

    3. How can anyone who is an 'experienced' hiker with some 4300 miles under their belt (especially on the rainy AT) not have the basic ability to keep their critical gear dry and not know how to hike in rain and snow? Did he have rain gear? Did he have a spare bottom layer and socks which were reserved for camping to get dry and warm? He made a very unusual comment after rescue that he thought his tent and sleeping bag might be ruined from being so wet. What?! How can anyone think that?

    4. He ran out of food. He leaves town on Sun afternoon the 13th. 40 miles to go, 3 days for him. On Thur he calls for help. Fri he is out of food. So if he normally hikes this slow does an experienced hiker only carry 3 days of food? IF he hikes this slow and he is heading into potential bad weather he does not add a day or two of food to the pack.

    5. His description of his (likely Guthook app) not working on his cell phone is interesting. I have never had mine not work in storms. Sometimes one has to find a gap in the trees if the tree cover is very heavy. But if you are in low visibility in a storm and you have lost navigation direction what do you do? Do you just keep walking in some random direction? Or do you lay up by setting up camp, getting warm and dry and sit in your tent until the weather clears? He just walks off into the trees. Falls down, gets stuck, hurts his foot, somehow loses some of his gear, gets soaked. Gets very lucky in that he does not die.

    6. He says he is going to go on and finish sometime around Thanksgiving. This would be potentially suicidal as doing that would require top of the line winter mountaineering skills, skis, snowshoes, ice axe, crampons, deep avalanche knowledge and so on. Which he clearly does not have. He has not demonstrated an understanding of what he is doing or the dangers of the PCT. Would any of you folks in New England think this guy should walk off into the Whites once winter has arrived? I note the article said they expected 2 feet of snow in the Oregon mtns this weekend. The northern Cascades in Washington are close to no mans land already. By late Nov? Hah.

    Anyway. Looking at what I wrote I feel a bit bad as the above comes across as very critical. I don't really like that. But talking a bit about disasters hopefully helps educate those thinking of getting out and about do it more safely. nsherry1 makes good points and I am sure many others could add in some. This is a cautionary tale. Neewbe's easily wander out of their comfort zones and nature can be unforgiving.

  12. #12

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    Hum, apparently it took him 10 months to hike the AT. That's really slow. He'd best cut his losses and go home. He was lucky this time.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  13. #13
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    A bit to add about the PCT. It is a very different animal than the AT. In perfect conditions and situations this does not matter that much. Folks get in 'discussions' all the time about which trail is harder. But a lot of those discussions center around irrelevancies like steepness of climbs. And the (family blogging) Trail Angles also mess up folks understanding and make them complacent. The PCT is far more likely to kill you than the AT.

    If you have hiked the PCT just think about how much harder it would have been south of Kennedy Meadows if there were not all of the water caches for you to use. This trail's reputation was based upon the original hikers having to walk without those caches. BIG water carries and, sometimes, very high heat. You look at the PCT water report and see how far off trail some of those water sources are and think about why there are there. Desperate hikers had to go to them to find water. Even in today's world I have had to give hikers in the desert water who were completely out and far from the next supply - sometimes those 'supplies' were actually water caches - what would they have done in the old days? They would not have been out there because they were not good enough yet. If you cannot do a 40 mile water carry if required then you are not really ready for the PCT (you are just ATing it by depending on the Trail Angels). In 2016 in the big dry section north of Rt 58 there are 3 consecutive caches and a small lake. Well the middle water cache was empty. A lot of hikers had skipped filling up at the first cache because it was only about 6-8 miles from the spring at the jump off point. So they were arriving at the 2nd cache empty as the small lake in between the two caches was also empty. It is another 20 miles to guaranteed water. If the third cache was dry they were going to have to bail and/or signal for help. I gave away water at the second cache until I reached the limit of what I needed to make the whole 20 miles if necessary. It is time in this situation for the big all night epic hike as you need to conserve water as much as possible. Big string of headlights across the night. Fortunately for some there was water at the 3rd. But people I helped left the 2nd cache with 1/2 liter for 20 miles if the 3rd was empty. This is not a good situation.

    Think about the high Sierra and the issues with snow, ice, steepness, possible avalanches, water crossings, scarce supply. It can get sketchy out there.

    Think about when winter comes up north. There have been years when the trail is closed by mid-Sept. I doubt there has ever been a year when it was not closed by 1 Nov. If you have not been taught how to spend days in very cold, wet and windy conditions while keeping moving you should not just walk off into the gathering storm hoping things will just work out. Our guy above thinks he will get to Canada around Thanksgiving?

    Yup I carry a smart phone with the Guthook app - it is seriously cool. But I also have two compasses and try hard to keep a map in my head of what the surrounding topography is and where the bail out points are. Get some experience at off trail travel as it is very different than ambling down a trail. I always carry a day or two of extra food (this idea of arriving at your next resupply completely out of food is utterly stupid). I carry some oxy at all times in case I have to walk out with a broken ankle or lower leg - and yes you can as during one of our wars, while on a deep behind the lines mission, I had to walk on a broken ankle for 3 weeks - and I know others who have done the equivalent also. Don't assume your Spot/Delorme is going to survive your next catastrophe and be able to save you - assume it won't and prepare and then if it still is there and works use it - otherwise suck it up and make it anyway.

    When you plan on doing something like this have your skill set sufficient that you can do it without anyone's help. NO water caches, no Trail Angels, etc. Then if you feel like taking advantage of them make sure you say thanks but also make sure you don't really need them.

    I an not trying to badmouth anyone. I just want folks to be safe.

  14. #14
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyoming View Post
    Anyway. Looking at what I wrote I feel a bit bad as the above comes across as very critical. I don't really like that. But talking a bit about disasters hopefully helps educate those thinking of getting out and about do it more safely. nsherry1 makes good points and I am sure many others could add in some. This is a cautionary tale. Neewbe's easily wander out of their comfort zones and nature can be unforgiving.
    Quite frankly, I think your analysis is right on target. I have been lurking around the Reddit PCT forum since I plan on doing a LASH of the PCT next year. Everything I have read on Reddit says this guy ought to be looking at an airplane schedule so he can go home - NOW, not in November. And PCT hikers should be doing at least 20 miles per day and a lot of them are doing 25 to 30 on a regular basis by the time they hit Oregon.

    I hope the guy stays safe, but doing a through hike is hardly worth the risk of continuing. Unfortunately, quite a few PCT hikers get caught late in the season in Washington and fail to complete the through hike (according to Reddit).
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    IMO pretty much a symptom of your pack should be less than 20 - especially pervasive on the PCT - so the season gets late, area is remote/resupply is less available in WA, money is short, attitude is short, lots of factors adding up - only real surprise is that it is not more frequent

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    Okay, I'll bite on this one. Yes, strange.

    1) This guy is woefully behind schedule to complete the PCT, and if the conditions he encountered last week caught him by surprise and lead to this type of trouble for him, he is way off base talking about still trying to finish. Lot's of PCT hikers run into lots of end-of-hiking-season weather and gear disasters in mid-October in Washington and this guy isn't even out of Oregon yet.
    2) Experience backpacking long distance trails does not make one experienced in either back-country navigation or wilderness survival. I am regularly surprised at the lack of back-country skills many accomplished long distance trail hikers have.

    So, what's strange is that this guy has made it this far without running into problems, and with his experience that somehow his judgement is still poor enough to think he can consider continuing on to the end.

    In the end, I hope this guy manages to redefine success in a way he can carry on and keep hiking without endangering himself when his luck runs out.
    Even if he flopped WA he might not get out of that state SOBO without snow travel. Fellow LD hiker friend, TCer, and world adventurer, including a traverse of the length of the Andes, Joey Shonka "Polar Bear", with winter camping and winter LD backpacking experience couldn't make it out of WA on his PCT NOBO because he had delayed too much. I was following him closely in WA state. He is definitely not a quitter with a super strong spirit and body yet it was basically too much a winter solo hike unbeknownst of PCT tread in late Oct. He had to come back the following yr to finish up the Cascades. However, depending on final pace, MPD avgs this hiker MAY MAY still have a shot to finish depending on things like weather, skill set, yaddie yah yah yah.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    IMO pretty much a symptom of your pack should be less than 20 - especially pervasive on the PCT - so the season gets late, area is remote/resupply is less available in WA, money is short, attitude is short, lots of factors adding up - only real surprise is that it is not more frequent
    With all due respect you have no clue what you are talking about. Some of the most experienced, not just letter trails, hikers I know have sub 10 lb base weights. It is not the pack weight but the lack of real experience that is the issue.
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  18. #18

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    "Experience" is a relative thing, some people have 20 years of experience, others have one year of experience 20 times. To paraphrase an old aviation quote: the mountains, much like the sea, are not necessarily dangerous in and of themselves, they are simply intolerant of carelessness and mistakes.

    Regardless of the level of experience one has, all levels share one commonality that can be lethal, making a mistake leading to a second mistake that starts a chain of events that may be a problem to overcome hours or days later. We all make mistakes, some are very small like forgetting the titanium spork, sometimes it's a wrong turn on a poorly blazed trail that leads to to the next decision, compounding the danger if another small mistake is made. World class mountaineer Kate Mastrosova died in the White Mountains from what appears to be poor decisions, hubris being among them in my view, that compounded into a non-survivable situation. She had far more experience than most in alpine mountaineering and poor weather conditions and still was not able to overcome some initial mistakes that compounded to take her life.

    While a privy would not be my first choice of shelter, this young man made the right choice with the information he had at the time, probably breaking the chain of mistakes that would have cost him his life. Nothing strange in that. What would be strange is a world class mountaineers decision to go ahead with a planned day hike in the face of high winds, fast drifting snow, and dangerous icing conditions alone.

  19. #19

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    I'm not sure I'd call Kate Mastrosova a world class mountaineer. Yes, she climbed some big mountains, with guides. Lots of people do that. What people don't understand about the Whites is how strong the wind is up there when fronts are on the move.

    Anyway, experience teaches you when you can get away with a sub 10 lb base and when you can't. And when to switch out to warmer, heavier gear before the 10 lb base is no longer adequate to keep you alive.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  20. #20
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    Last two posts very well said.

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