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  1. #81

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    When you look at your phone, you can see your longitude and latitude. When you talk into your phone, you can tell the person on the other end of the line that information. How can I make my point any clearer? Where have I failed?

  2. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by treroach View Post
    When you look at your phone, you can see your longitude and latitude. When you talk into your phone, you can tell the person on the other end of the line that information. How can I make my point any clearer? Where have I failed?
    ONLY IF you know how to access that info on your phone AND THEN ONLY IF you have location services enabled AND THEN ONLY IF your phone can see 3 or more GPS satellites. Northern GA isn't flat suburban Texas with multitudes of cell towers and unobstructed views of GPS satellites in the sky. Just because you can get a signal to a single cell tower doesn't mean you have the other functions available. Add that if you only have a weak signal, you won't have data, and unless you have downloaded offline maps prior to getting wherever it is you are, you won't have map access/navigation available on a phone even if you can get a GPS fix.
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 02-21-2020 at 19:43.

  3. #83

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    whiteblaze is not the place for that
    Oh, so Whiteblaze is the place for speculation without facts. Thanks a lot.

  4. #84

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    ONLY IF you know how to access that info on your phone AND THEN ONLY IF you have location services enabled AND THEN ONLY IF your phone can see 3 or more GPS satellites. Northern GA isn't flat suburban Texas with multitudes of cell towers and unobstructed views of GPS satellites in the sky. Just because you can get a signal to a single cell tower doesn't mean you have the other functions available.
    Kind of makes you wanna take a stand-alone gps unit like a Garmin Oregon.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk

  5. #85

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    Thanks for getting us back to the ballpark of a real, human conversation, 4eyedbuzzard, but I think you can safely presume that everyone reading this knows that northern GA isn't 'flat suburban Texas'. Most of us have probably been there/done that - I'll bet you have, and if you make the same wager about me, you'll be a correct as well. So... as far as your first two 'only if's...', that is precisely what I was referring to when I wrote that the 'dispatcher presumably should have been able to DIRECT Mr. Noonkester to tell them his location'. Among the numerous unanswered questions is whether the 911 operator knew how to access long/lat on the phone, and subsequently attempted to guide Mr. Noonkester to share this potentially life-saving info. As far as satellite connections go, I'm certainly no expert, but the claim that one can have a cell phone conversation yet not be able to see long/lat on phone seems dubious (again, not saying it's not possible). Guthook and GPS seems to have a MUCH greater range than cell phone calling, and guthook sure seems to work everywhere on the trail these days.

  6. #86
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    First, my sincere condolences to his family. And in discussing Eddie's tragic death, I in no way wish to diminish their loss. But as many of us here may quite literally follow in his footsteps, it's important for us to have an idea of what may have happened and what may have gone wrong leading to this tragedy. Unfortunately, when things go wrong, it's important to answer the "who, what, why, etc." to better learn how to prevent such events happening to others.

    My initial thoughts were hypothermia, brought on by hiking into deteriorating weather conditions and failing to turn back and or hunker down before getting soaked. But the timeline doesn't really play into that as the proximate cause. He departed Amicalola Falls headed up the Approach Trail on Friday. Yet the calls to his sister and 911 don't occur until Sunday. So, it gives rise to the question of what happened on both Fri and Sat, and especially very early on, on Friday, during the hike. Now, even for an out of shape 60 year old (and I can personally attest to the effects of aging on physical ability/endurance) getting to Black Gap shelter is 7.3 miles or Springer Mtn Shelter at 9 miles or so. There's a lot of elevation gain in the beginning and lots more ups and downs follow. But, while it's a tough introduction in the sense of the work involved in moving one's weight uphill, it's an established footpath, well blazed/marked, etc. But even for an out of shape old guy, Friday should have put him at one of the two shelters mentioned, and Sat on to Hawk Mtn. How does he wind up at Cochran Falls? After reaching the top of the falls, did he decide to detour to the Hike Inn for medical or fatigue reasons and then get lost on the HI trail? Or perhaps on High Shoals or Nimblewell Gap Rd and then on the Hike Inn Rd further up the Approach Trail - and then got off that road to follow Cochran Creek (downstream) where it crosses, hoping to find his way to safety? That he wound up off of ANY trail or road and spent two full days lost and winding up where he did is puzzling and plays into a possible medical event that brought on confusion or panic or loss of mental function very early on during the hike. It doesn't seem likely hypothermia would have been in play on day 1 after only climbing the stairs to the top of the falls (1.4 miles) or even a bit further. Hopefully Emergency Services and the Medical Examiner can put together some likely scenario. It's such a very sad story.

  7. #87
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by treroach View Post
    Thanks for getting us back to the ballpark of a real, human conversation, 4eyedbuzzard, but I think you can safely presume that everyone reading this knows that northern GA isn't 'flat suburban Texas'. Most of us have probably been there/done that - I'll bet you have, and if you make the same wager about me, you'll be a correct as well. So... as far as your first two 'only if's...', that is precisely what I was referring to when I wrote that the 'dispatcher presumably should have been able to DIRECT Mr. Noonkester to tell them his location'. Among the numerous unanswered questions is whether the 911 operator knew how to access long/lat on the phone, and subsequently attempted to guide Mr. Noonkester to share this potentially life-saving info. As far as satellite connections go, I'm certainly no expert, but the claim that one can have a cell phone conversation yet not be able to see long/lat on phone seems dubious (again, not saying it's not possible). Guthook and GPS seems to have a MUCH greater range than cell phone calling, and guthook sure seems to work everywhere on the trail these days.
    Well, you might be surprised how many thru-hikers are shocked at how mountainous northern GA is. But that aside, Guthook maps are already downloaded so a cell signal isn't required - only GPS. But, honestly, why do you assume that 911 operators have foolproof access to lat/long data? They don't in many cases due to the caller's phone not resolving the location or the 911 equipment not being able to. Also note that the 911 dispatcher stated that Mr Noonkester seemed confused, so even if he (Mr N) could have viewed his own location, he might not have been able to do so or communicate that info due to confusion.
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 02-21-2020 at 19:58.

  8. #88

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    I don't know what kind of phone you got, but mine does not display location data unless I pull up a map.

    However, I have location enabled, along with Google Emergency Location Service. The GELS automatically sends location data when making a 911 call. But the 911 center needs to have the ability to see that data and not all do. This is an Android feature and must be enabled. Not sure if it is turned on by default or not. Since mine is turned on, it's probably default. Apple phones must have a similar feature.

    The weather history link which was posted on page 4 is interesting. It rained like crazy on Thursday the 13, and not again until the next Tuesday. But these are weather stations are in the valley. We all know that higher up conditions can be much different, with fog and drizzle lingering for some time. It was also on the chilly side Sat and Sun.

    If he did indeed head out on Friday, only getting as far as the hike inn trail is strange. Could he have been lost all that time?

    Way too many questions and not nearly enough info.
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  9. #89

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    I don't know what kind of phone you got, but mine does not display location data unless I pull up a map. My last phone had long/lat info on the compass page, my new one requires that I pull up a map - both are Smartphones. Way too many questions and not nearly enough info.Truth. That 911 call is key, but the entire SAR failure has us all bewildered, I believe. Was he 'cramped', 'confused', or both? When I first saw the story on Monday, the authorities were not asking for volunteers. Why the heck not, if they knew he was out there? Why wasn't the alarm raised to highest level with all hands and volunteers on deck immediately? Was it something from the call that led to a seemingly muted response on Monday? Nimblewill expressed this concern better than I have here. Until the 911 call is public info, too many essential questions will remain unanswered.


    You might be surprised how many thru-hikers are shocked at how mountainous northern GA is.
    It's not the ignorance of thru-hikers that would surprise me, but rather the ignorance of Whiteblaze posters that would. Again, I think it's a safe assumption that everyone reading/writing here knows the area - not to mention we've probably all seen Deliverance!


    Guthook maps are already downloaded so a cell signal isn't required - only GPS.
    Right, and although again I'm not an expert, from what knowledge I do have through experience and from what I've found from quick searches today, it doesn't seem possible that someone can make a call, yet not have GPS. IOW, if you can make a call and you have GPS (which almost every phone does), your GPS should be working.

    Why do you assume that 911 operators have foolproof access to lat/long data?
    I DO NOT assume that; I do assume that almost everyone has it on their phone, and further, that if one can make a phone call, the GPS is functional.

    First, my sincere condolences to his family. And in discussing Eddie's tragic death, I in no way wish to diminish their loss. But as many of us here may quite literally follow in his footsteps, it's important for us to have an idea of what may have happened and what may have gone wrong leading to this tragedy. Unfortunately, when things go wrong, it's important to answer the "who, what, why, etc." to better learn how to prevent such events happening to others.
    I think it's safe to say that you speak for all of us here - and well said. This is a tragedy that tears at the heart. It's a 'how could this happen?' unlike anything I've seen since Inchworm. In that case, it seems like almost everything that could have been done was done, but to no avail (D. Dauphinee's 'When You Find My Body' is a great read). In this case, there are disturbing signs that not everything was done. For now, the mystery of this case is certainly equal in magnitude to that which surrounded Ms. Largay's case before the discovery of her remains.

  10. #90

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Way too many questions and not nearly enough info.
    That says it all. Not enough data.

  11. #91

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    There's not much I can add to this conversation, but my own experience. In 2017, I did a section from Newfound Gap to Springer, and then the 8.8 miles approach trail to Amicalola State Park. It was in August late afternoon. My first thought was, "how lucky I am to go southbound". If you are northbound, it is a constant incline of 8.8 miles. My next memory is, how isolated this section can be. It is very strange. You are so close to civilization, and at the same time, you take a wrong step, and you find yourself in a very deep ravine. I hope his family and friends can find some condolences in that he did what he wanted to do. There's no much else to say.

  12. #92
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by treroach View Post
    ...When I first saw the story on Monday, the authorities were not asking for volunteers. Why the heck not, if they knew he was out there? Why wasn't the alarm raised to highest level with all hands and volunteers on deck immediately?
    Because the absolute last thing needed when trying to rescue a lost or injured person is having to rescue lost or injured volunteers. Unless the volunteers are organized and trained, they can often create more problems than they solve. People mean well. But without verified knowledge of their skills and capabilities, sending them out in bad weather in a mountain rescue situation is asking for additional trouble.

    As to GPS and cell phones and the current state of E911 in many locales: By using AGPS and location services/sharing, Dominos can deliver a pizza right to your picnic table in a park - but E911 isn't guaranteed to even find you, nevermind save your life if you choke on a piece of pepperoni. 911 dispatchers still rely mostly on reported locations from the caller as there are too many instances where GPS data is inaccurate or unavailable due to technical problems and/or equipment limitations.

    Read up a bit on how GPS and AGPS work, especially in relation cell phones, and more so in areas with physical obstacles like mountains, trees, and such; GPS fix times, almanac and ephemeris data and such and how it all works; 911, esp E911 and legacy equipment, upgrade costs for PSAP's and rural emergency services, etc. Sorry, but it just isn't as simple logistically nor technologically as you seem to assume.
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 02-22-2020 at 03:18.

  13. #93

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    I would like to see a factual summary of events, without speculation, of what went wrong.
    In studies of outdoor fatalities, it's never one thing, it's cascading errors, problems, and weather, many factors.
    We need to learn something from this sad event... it can happen to anybody.
    Indeed it can happen to anyone. It can happen to those who are not well prepared or in good physical shape and can happen to the most experienced and well equipped, as we have seen over the years. 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 or mistakes". Though it is never pleasant to discuss accidents and events that have caused a death, understanding the events that led to it often helps others avoid a similar circumstance. It's a time honored way to increase our collective knowledge of a specific set of circumstances and honors the victim(s) by learning from them.

    The chain of events that lead to life threatening situations can be difficult to see as the links are being forged and seem minor. Having a heady goal of some type like reaching a summit creating what I call the "blind ambition" (aka "get there-its) scenario, or a medical condition like hypothermia that reduces cognitive ability and increases the potential for poor decisions. When hiking alone these circumstances can be deadly as one can ignore personal minimums or not recognize the slow, nearly imperceptible loss of mental faculties. It then becomes important to have set hard guardrails or minimums that are easily recalled and are not ignored as they may be the only thing standing between life and death.

    Since I hike alone most of the time, I use the "3-Strikes" rule, a fairly straight forward concept that allows for some unplanned issues that develop but puts a stop-line in place. For example a late start that puts the return close to sunset, weather development that I have marginal gear for, gear failure of any type or conditions requiring different gear, or if I am with someone else and observe a change in physical/mental condition. While none of these are in and of themselves critical, when all are added together they can easily be. In combination to 3-strikes, I also use an old bromide "if there's a doubt, there is no doubt" to help make decisions. This is a simple way to remind myself if there is a doubt about conditions or other aspect of the hike, there is no doubt it should be addressed.

    If one looks at accidents and circumstances that have been fatal, there are usually many seemingly minor issues or links in the chain that seemed innocent at the time they occurred but would later become one of the lynch pins that led to a bad ending. Breaking the chain of events is dependent on recognizing these small issues and addressing them. Though it sounds kind of corny, having a rote saying that has the potential to push through the daze of exhaustion, hypothermia, or fear and/or panic, can reduce the potential of making a wrong decision that leads to an unfortunate end.
    Last edited by Traveler; 02-22-2020 at 10:23.

  14. #94
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    This:

    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    The chain of events that lead to life threatening situations can be difficult to see as the links are being forged and seem minor, there is a heady goal of some type like reaching a summit creating what I call the "blind ambition" (aka "get there-its) scenario, or a medical condition like hypothermia that reduces cognitive ability. When hiking alone these circumstances can be deadly as one can become self-driven to ignore personal minimums or recognizing the slow, nearly imperceptible loss of mental faculties. When hiking without anyone with you to help make decisions or observations of mental/physical condition, it's important to have set hard guardrails or minimums that will be easily recalled and are not passed by as they may be the only thing standing between life and death.
    And especially this:

    To that end there are a few guardrails one can put into place that can help mitigate conditions that are leading to a life threatening situation. Since I hike alone most of the time, I use the "3-Strikes" rule, a fairly straight forward concept that allows for some unplanned issues that develop but puts a stop-line in place. For example a late start that puts the return close to sunset, weather development that I have marginal gear for, gear failure of any type or conditions requiring different gear, or if I am with someone else and observe a change in physical/mental condition.
    I also use an old bromide "if there's a doubt, there is no doubt" to help make decisions. This is a simple way to remind myself if there is a doubt about conditions or other aspect of the hike, there is no doubt it should be addressed.

  15. #95

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    Sad ... ...

    lets all take a moment .....

    Please make donations to rescue teams, we can always use a little help....

    Mountaineering insurance is not a bad investment. Some jurisdictions charge the person who was rescued....American Alpine Club has great policies, I have used them for several mountaineering trips, its about $45.00 per month

  16. #96

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    Traveler - Thanks for sharing great wisdom there; those are truly words to live by.

    4eyedbuzzard - I was hiking the AT near Stratton, ME, in July 2013, when I was surprised to see a man and his canine companion emerge from the 'impenetrable forest'. They were locals who were a part of the massive SAR effort to find Inchworm. We all know the unfortunate ending, but there's no doubt the effort to find her was substantial. And although I'm not well-versed with cell phones, I have a little more understanding of SAR. You are certainly right that managing volunteers can be an enormous task in itself, and that on occasion, the risk of having volunteers involved can outweigh the potential benefit. This does not appear to be such an occasion. Additionally, there were numerous offers at least as early as Monday from well-qualified, professional units to which the local authorities responded with 'at this time, we are not seeking assistance'. Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but we now know that the 'problem' wasn't solved, and the 'additional trouble' of having more searchers may have, in fact, saved a life. BTW, I did read up a bit on cell phones/GPS and spoke with a few people who know much more than I do about the technology (not hard to find someone who fits the description!)... everything I've turned up so far indicates that, if you can make a phone call, your phone's GPS can tell you where you are. If you can provide any source that indicates otherwise, I'd be obliged. Take care - as you know, I'm also a 'metroplexer', but I spent several years living up in NH as well, and always consider the Whites my 'second home'.

  17. #97

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    Quote Originally Posted by treroach View Post
    BTW, I did read up a bit on cell phones/GPS and spoke with a few people who know much more than I do about the technology (not hard to find someone who fits the description!)... everything I've turned up so far indicates that, if you can make a phone call, your phone's GPS can tell you where you are. If you can provide any source that indicates otherwise, I'd be obliged. Take care - as you know, I'm also a 'metroplexer', but I spent several years living up in NH as well, and always consider the Whites my 'second home'.
    GPS and cell service are two fundamentally different systems. One relies on terrestrial towers to make a phone call, the other is listening for time signals coming from orbiting satellites. Without a connection to those satellites, at best you get a vague triangulation of position based on cellular data assuming more than one tower picked up the signal from your phone.

  18. #98

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    Quote Originally Posted by CalebJ View Post
    GPS and cell service are two fundamentally different systems.
    Thanks, CalebJ, but I get that. As an analogy, the high jump and the slam dunk are fundamentally different endeavors, but if you can high jump over 7', you're going to be capable of giving Vince Carter a run for his money - even if you're only as tall as Spud Webb. Similarly, my point is that if you can make a cell phone call, you're going to have GPS on that phone. If you're making the claim that, in fact, it's possible that this scenario is not true (i.e. that one can make a call and yet not have enough satellite connection to have a GPS reading), more clarity would be appreciated. Even better, can you provide any evidence? The best evidence, of course, would be to go to the HI trail, open your phone and check it out. I'll be able to do this in less than two months. Until then, anything else you can provide would be appreciated - no more explanation of the technology is necessary.

  19. #99

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    I can't tell if you're just trolling us at this point.

    What I attempted to explain in my previous posts is that the two systems don't rely on the same connections. It is entirely possible to have a connection to cell service and not GPS or vice versa depending on the environment at hand.

  20. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by CalebJ View Post
    What I attempted to explain in my previous posts is that the two systems don't rely on the same connections. It is entirely possible to have a connection to cell service and not GPS or vice versa depending on the environment at hand.
    True Statement. You can have cell coverage and be able to make and receive calls without having a GPS fix. This happens all the time when in tunnels, in buildings, in canyons and under heavy tree canopy that GPS signals are not able to penetrate. Of course you could also have the GPS function turned off and still make calls.

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