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Topic: How do all these lost hikers get separated?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 16 2013, 1:00 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Seems like every other story about a lost or deceased hikers mentions that he or she "became separated from the rest of the party"

I think a valuable lesson could be learned by other hikers if the reports specified exactly how that happened.  Did the party leave behind a slow hiker?  did the lost hiker decide to go off on his own?  

Missing hiker found dead in Sawtooth Mountains

QUOTE
BOISE -- Custer County authorities say a hiker who was reported missing in the Sawtooth Mountains on Saturday evening has been found dead.

The Custer County Sheriff's Office got a phone call from the Redfish Lake Lodge at 7:35 p.m. Saturday stating that a 55-year-old man who was dehydrated and fatigued had gotten separated from his hiking partner.  The man was last seen on the trail to Saddleback Lakes.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 16 2013, 1:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I think a number of "hiking partners" or "hiking groups" don't actually hike together. They may hike at their own paces and separated widely enough to not even keep each other in sight.

Then, if they have meet-up locations, they may count heads and realize someone is missing — perhaps miles back down the trail. If a hiker wanders off trail to dig a cathole and falls off a cliff in the process, no one has the foggiest idea of the location.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 16 2013, 1:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TravisNWood @ Jul. 16 2013, 1:28 pm)
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I think a number of "hiking partners" or "hiking groups" don't actually hike together. They may hike at their own paces and separated widely enough to not even keep each other in sight.

Then, if they have meet-up locations, they may count heads and realize someone is missing — perhaps miles back down the trail. If a hiker wanders off trail to dig a cathole and falls off a cliff in the process, no one has the foggiest idea of the location.

^ This has been my experience when hiking or backpacking in groups. It could be as simple as one person stepping off the trail to go to the bathroom while the others agree to meet further down the trail.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 16 2013, 2:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Who knew that going to the bathroom in the wilderness could prove deadly.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 16 2013, 2:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

When I hike with a few others, I want to keep track of them and see them at least every 10 minutes or so.  I get annoyed when Zach is too far ahead for me to see.  My last trip to the Canyon was with a 3rd hiker, who easily could out pace me, but he hung back taking pictures and absorbing the scenery.  We were never very far apart, maybe 1/2 a mile at the most.  Still, it was nice to be able to see him as we rounded promontories.

In group hiking, I try to make it a point to have a sweep, and no one falls behind that person.  A side trip off into the brush requires something to be left behind, on the side of the trail that person is headed off.  The sweep then can wait patiently next to the article, and give the person some privacy.  To me, this insures no one gets too far separated from the rest of the group.

Sometimes, a person will leave the trail, but lose track of which direction they were headed once they return to the trail.  This might cause them to travel quite a ways in the wrong direction before they realize it.  Any attempt to make up ground by going x country will only exasperate the issue, making them more lost.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 16 2013, 3:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hiking off-trail in groups, we only "wander" when we get to a homebase. While actually travelling, we stay as a group in direct line of sight. It helps us to navigate safely on things like river crossings or loose rocks. A few times in winter, one or two members who had no navigational skills (or outdoor skills in general) would start to wander off to the side of us and lose direct line of sight. I would explain to them that just a couple of degrees over a short period of time could separate us as a group radically and creates a danger for the entire group as we have to back-track and then determine where they split and follow their tracks until we could catch up.

We also follow the rule of having a leader in front...and one in back.

I think it comes down to - Some people just don't realize the danger they are putting themselves into or their group in certain situations.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 16 2013, 5:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It's the casual, everyday, activities when people have let their guard down that lead to trouble. "Just stepping off the trail a couple of feet to pee", etc. Much like what leads to so many accidents in the home and most especially, the bathroom.....
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 16 2013, 6:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

^^^ Exactly. Stop paying attention and soon enough, something goes wrong. I'm a slow hiker as I like to take in the scenery. A few cats I hike with are fast. They hike ahead and then sit and rest, waiting for me. If I were not to show up in a few minutes, they would hike back and see whats up.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 17 2013, 1:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My guess is that there are many people who don't know the basics, like staying together, sitting down to cool out if lost, carrying emergency shelter, and so on. The wilderness can be unforgiving in ways that inexperienced people can't anticipate.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 17 2013, 2:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My rules are simple---Do Not Separate.  This is only true if I'm "leading" a group.  And it's a good rule to follow for other group leaders.  What groups do otherwise is up to them.

I was out in the Citico/Slickrock wilderness in 2009 during a late October rainstorm at 5,000 feet and a large group of backpackers came up the Nutbuster trail during the night and camped in a high gap.  Two of their party decided to bail and hike out on a loop back to the cars.  

They never made it and instead got lost on the Hangover Lead South trail going down to Big Fat Gap.  Several hours later after "repeated rippings" they crawled back into my high gap camp and fairly well begged me to take them out.

It's a funny sight in retrospect---their pvc rain gear was shredded and looked like banana peels hanging off their waists.  They were cold and shivering and it was late in the day and I told them to set up camp and get warm and double up if need be to get warm.  Why?  Because I was not going to let "their epic become my epic."

The next day we trekked off the mountain and I pointed out the spot they went straight when they should've turned right.  None of this would've happened if the trip leader nixed their plan to bail and instead kept the group together.


Here's the main group heading out of the gap and down one side of the mountain.  The other two wanted to bail and leave down the opposite side, a route new to them.  Heck, the whole place was new to them.


The next day all three of us head off the mountain to their car.  Mission successful.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 17 2013, 3:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I was recently pondering this same questions myself as Oahu just had 3 hikers fall to their death on the trail in the last 2 months alone.

The news never goes into much detail of witness accounts or speculative guesses on the events leading up to the fall so it leaves us to our imagination to try and piece together how it is one person can fall to their death on a trail that hundreds, perhaps more, have hiked before them.

I've often thought that perhaps on some of our more sheer ridge hikes, which can be considering terrifying to the unexperienced hiker could cause some sort of anxiety blackout, leading their body to collapse and tumble down the ridge.

Another, more likely scenario would be exhaustion causing the hiker to not observe the loose ground they are about to step on which then gives way to their fall.

This is an ugly scene in my head but I can't imagine much other reasons for falling off what should be a wide enough trail base to keep you from falling.

Anyway, those are some of my theories. Please feel free to respond or develop this thought further.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 18 2013, 10:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I much prefer to hike by myself than to have members of my group who sit & wait for me all the time.  I wouldn't be able to enjoy hiking my own hike but would instead feel the need to hurry, skip taking pictures, whatever.  And generally, I *want* to be separated -- let's meet up at camp.  So I don't think it's odd that hikers get separated, but just the nature of the activity and the people who practice it.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 22 2013, 1:26 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(CajunHiker @ Jul. 18 2013, 8:09 pm)
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I much prefer to hike by myself than to have members of my group who sit & wait for me all the time.  I wouldn't be able to enjoy hiking my own hike but would instead feel the need to hurry, skip taking pictures, whatever.  And generally, I *want* to be separated -- let's meet up at camp.  So I don't think it's odd that hikers get separated, but just the nature of the activity and the people who practice it.

+1.  I require everyone to stay together when I'm the responsible leader of a youth hike, and with adults I wouldn't leave anyone behind who didn't want to hike alone.  

But I frankly wouldn't want to hike with others who tried to impose rules about staying as a group for an entire hike.  You hike your way, I'll hike mine, and I'll see ya sometime in camp. I "separated" from the group just yesterday in fact.  We reached the first lake on the trail, and I was the only one who wanted to hike another three miles to see an upper lake. I happily hiked on by myself while the others enjoyed a long lunch at the lower lake.  I caught up with them later on the way out.  I like to hike with my dad and brother.  My brother is a lot faster than I am.  My dad is a bit slower.  We all know our way around a map and compass...no need to walk in lock step all day long.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 22 2013, 8:05 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

"Hiking with others" is different than "leading a group".  

"You hike your hike, I'll hike mine, and I'll see ya sometime in camp" is a great mindset to have for the solo backpacker who meets up with experienced friends in the backcountry, but it's the wrong mindset to have with a leader bringing out a group of newbs.  

If the leader thinks this then he really wants to be on his own and shouldn't be leading a group.  If a group new to the area thinks this then you've got a problem and you end up with my example above.

Some of this depends on the terrain and the location as the white blazed Appalachian Trail is a whole different trail than the trails in Slickrock wilderness like the Jenkins Meadow and the Upper Slickrock nutbuster, and the Brush Mt trail in the Citico wilderness.  Even experienced backpackers get lost on these trails.  I would never leave a group on these trails to go their own way and "we'll meet on top."


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 22 2013, 10:03 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Tipi, you hit the nail on the head.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 22 2013, 12:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Right, but I rather doubt that most of these situations described in the original post are "leader organized group hikes for newbies." They are most likely a few friends or family members who go hiking together.  Isn't that the sort of hiking most of us do most often?  When that's the case, do most people require everyone in the party to stay together all the time?  Other than church youth hikes that I'm leading, the last hike I was on with a designated leader was probably 18 years ago.  I lead those hikes to contribute something to my community and give kids an opportunity to hike, but I put that in a completely different category from the hiking I do with friends and family for pleasure. No, I wouldn't leave a newbie behind, but when everyone is reasonably experienced and comfortable, I completely understand why individual hikers are not always with the group.

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