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Two Year Old Mystery Solved,

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by leghog, May 27, 2016.

  1. herektir


    Aug 27, 2010
    It is sad she died that way but really she wasnt up to the task mentally far as i can tell from reading. Thing is, perhaps she was trying to challenge herself, trying to force herself to adapt as a sort of therapy. Personally, I tend to wander off trail on purpose for day hikes but I try to be prepared with water, food, strong hiking stick, a 357(there are black bears caught on game cameras where i hike), and a gps that would only get turned on if i do get lost. I guess i just like not following set paths when in the woods.
  2. Esav Benyamin

    Esav Benyamin MidniteSuperMod

    Apr 6, 2000
    Talk about getting lost. I spent most of my life in NYC. In Manhattan, where the streets are numbered and form a checkerboard grid. It was a common sight to see a couple of tourists with a map -- yes, often held sideways or upside down. Lost.

    I would get them reoriented and usually found they were only only a few blocks from their destination. So it was easy to walk them there. I can imagine, in the woods, with no passing strangers to help them, they would be in trouble.
  3. Bob W

    Bob W

    Dec 31, 2000
    We were told on seismic surveys that if we became totally lost or had an emergency, just unplug some geophones and someone would be there very quickly. They might not show up happy, but they'll be there.

    Similarly, working underground in coal mines, if you need to attract attention real quick, pull the emergency stop on a conveyor belt.

    Wandering into the HQ of a US Air Force survival camp would probably have the same effect.
  4. JV3

    JV3 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 17, 2010
    good question! most a.t. thru-hikers don't carry a topo map, just an elevation profile and distance markers between landmarks...years ago someone asked me so i did a detailed photograph of the 2012 guide book...as you can see it's completely useless in any kind of off-trail scenario.

  5. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    We have the benefit of hindsight and a good map. She might have had only one. When people suffer from panic disorders, they hold onto what to us would seem the strangest of things. In her case it was likely a tidy camp, a snug sleeping bag, and the hope that others would come. Even her attempts at signalling might have been all she could do. Anything without going back into the forest that was unknown. Every coping mechanism she had ever developed would have been cranked to 11, logical or not, but anything to keep the panic away. Where you or I might have had a patch of torched forest 100 yards wide to see from the air, maybe she just couldn't entertain the thought that it might not work.

    We don't often here of people dying of panic anymore, since many more people have a woobie with them all the time, believing that cell service is just up that hill, or emergency services certainly knows where I am. But all my wilderness training was filled with stories of people found dead, scraped up like they had been beaten, from running headlong through the woods. Maybe 20 years ago things were different. 20 years ago she might never have left her home, and might have been found due to the mail piling up, not because someone knew she was gone. Brave of her to try, needless of her to die, but at the end, none of us make it out alive.
  6. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    My favorite and one of my most embarrassing moments in my life was archery hunting with my older brother. We were hunting from blinds near the base of a mountain hoping to see deer as they were moving from the fields in the valley up into the cover of the mountain. Well.... I had only been to my "spot" once and trying to find it in the dark was a challenge to say the least in woods where everything looked the same especially in the dark. Walked with my brother to his spot and I was to head across the hollow to my "spot" using a flashlight. I stated off in the right direction and wandered and wandered thinking I should have easily have traveled the distance, maybe 300-400 yds. Next thing I know I see a light and I think "Oh no, another archery hunter...." It was my brother. I had wandered in a complete circle right back to him. He asked me what direction was my spot and I pointed. Then he pointed. He knew I was totally mixed up at this point. I started wandering in the right direction a couple hundred yards and just stopped until it got light enough to see and moved to my spot. We laugh about it now. But I was truly mixed up in terms of direction.

    In a life or death situation, if you never recover your senses, you could easily be in trouble.
  7. panzertroop


    Aug 8, 2008
    It has been reported that she was prone to fall behind, get disorientated. She also packed light because she didnt like carrying the weight. Those indicators point to someone who should have not been on the trail alone if at all. So many hikers rely on marked trails, GPS, phone service etc. None seem to have the means to navigate with a compass (which would have helped her if she shot a back bearing), signal for help, or even make a fire. Backwoodsman skills are lacking with a lot of backpackers and thru hikers. Very sad.
  8. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    My cousin had gotten lost on a hunting trip. The only time in his life he had been lost .He said he panicked !! Then it can quickly go bad !
    I always try to at least study a topo map ,usually have a copy. Been with maps all my life .Made maps of Bronx NYC [streets disappear then re-appear 1/2 mile away etc !] Used many types of maps.

    Then on a hunt two of us experienced types had to go south. Didn't need compass, didn't need map, just follow the sun. But late in the year the sun moves fast to the west . Much later -"Where have you guys been !!"
  9. pinnah


    Jul 28, 2011
    I took a backpacking trip in NH with 2 experienced hikers who had section hiked both the Long Trail (VT) and AT. On the second day, after nearly 24 of hard steady rain and one treacherous river crossing, it was clear that we couldn't do another crossing, which was interesting because the trail had another crossing within a 1/2 of the last one. We were 4 miles from the road and made the decision to bushwack along the trailless south side of the river.

    As a hunter and backcountry skier, being off trail is normal for me. For my friends, it was their first extended time off trail. They admitted to being "freaked out" (their words) by the experience and it showed in their eyes and the timidity with which they moved.

    This is a sad story. I can see it happening. Experience can be deep, but sometimes we need broader experience to prevent deep experience from being a (dangerous) rut.
  10. Quirt


    Oct 10, 2005
    Profound words!
  11. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    Panic can be good, when its controlled. I like to push my students as far as I can since some of the more important memories I have are of being lost, or freaked out, and getting through it as a little tyke. By remembering what that felt like when I was 10, I can move past it. But when its your first time, and there is no safety net....

    "I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

    seems a bit silly on its face, but what is experience but mistakes, fear, and bad choices? As my dad would say, good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.
  12. sams


    Apr 21, 2001
    The woman paid the ultimate price for not being prepared, ready, and qualified. Very sad.
  13. Chignecto Woodsman

    Chignecto Woodsman

    Aug 2, 2014
    Some pretty harsh comments in here for a woman who died, and someone we know very little about. I can see trying to learn from what happened, but to say she was out of her place with the little knowledge we have is pretty ridiculous.

    She was an elderly woman with a bad back, circumstances left her alone for a three-day hike and she ended up lost in difficult territory. Rescue crews said she had a nice and tidy camp, and she survived for some 27 days - which is the time you need to be able to survive on your own before starvation sets in. That is actually very good.

    If anyone failed here and is worthy of criticism it is the search crews. Their base of operations was simply too far out to provide an adequate search. But given the territory it was just an unfortunate event which became fatal for the woman. It would be easy for most people to become lost in such a place.
  14. panzertroop


    Aug 8, 2008
    I dont think its harsh based on what has been reported. See was prone to being disoriented, falling behind and even left her SPot device back at the hotel because it was too heavy. She really was out of her element. So many people have no business doing that kind of hike.
  15. Herlock


    May 13, 2015
    Hi. This is a very sad story. May God let her roam His mountains. Here fortunately it’s very difficult that average hikers who get lost die. Many people get lost every year but, generally, they are rescued still alive. Alps are “wild” but unless one really does crazy things (like rope or free climbing alone, glaciers climbing, extreme off-pist skiing, etc. and gets seriously hurt or unconscious) it’s difficult to get completely lost. There are always shepherds, hikers, woodsmen, etc. around, manned mountain huts and all the trails are pretty well marked. Also the distances and the wood/wild areas are not comparable in size to the ones you have in U.S./Canada/Russia, etc. I can say my backcountry is more forgiving, in this respect: one day walking through the woods here will get you out somewhere, one way or another. What they recommend here (besides having maps, compass, water, some food, warm and dry clothing, etc.), is, in case of being lost, to decide one direction and follow it straight, either walking down (to reach the nearest valley and hit a village), possibly following down a torrent bed, a creek, etc. or (safer solution in my opinion, mountain creeks can be quite tricky) walking up, until getting above the treeline (around 1800-1900 mt.) where one can better orient him/herself and cell phones are normally working (antennas have been installed quite high up) so it’s possible to call the Soccorso Alpino which can send a chopper, in worst cases. Those who don’t manage is either because they are panicked and go around in circles or they can’t move because injured and alone. It’s wise not to hike alone (but sometimes it’s beautiful) and always inform in a very detailed way where one is going ( # of track followed, mountain peak to reach, planned stops, mountain huts along the way, etc.). I think fear it’s always good, it adds some caution to courage, panic is always bad because one can completely loose his/her mind and start doing very dangerous things. Mountains can easily kill, it's good to know our own limits.
  16. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Herlock aren't the Alpini involved with SAR at times ? I thought I heard about that.
    One other point should be mentioned here - Hypothermia can be very dangerous .In cold [doesn't have to be winter ] hypothermia can play mind games .One case I heard of the person started to disgard his clothing piece by piece. Not well dressed to start when hypothermia came he made things a fatal situation as he shed his clothing .
  17. Bob W

    Bob W

    Dec 31, 2000
    The same is true where this lady was lost. The small bit of land she was 'lost' in is ringed by paved highways 5-10 miles away in any direction. Dirt roads, creeks, hilltops, and the hiking trail were all within one mile of her in almost every direction. It would have been difficult for her to have not found a way out within a day, had she only picked a direction or followed a landform.

    Any of this would have worked for this lady too. The top of the hill, down a creek, pick a direction, find an old trail or road and sit there... All of these locations in a wide area were checked repeatedly by rescue teams.
    Anything but sit in a hidden spot in the forest, especially if you don't have to. There is no evidence this lady was injured or otherwise immobilized.
  18. Bob W

    Bob W

    Dec 31, 2000
    How far away was their base of operations? From their survey routes (posted in the other topic), they looked pretty much everywhere. Every hill and ridge, every drainage, every old logging road... And they apparently had no clue where to start searching, other than somewhere between the location she was expected and the location she was last seen, many trail-miles apart. And one of the hikers to last see her didn't know exactly where, somewhere in an 8-mile trail section.
  19. Gaston444


    Oct 1, 2014
    What I don't understand is the noise aspect. The search teams must have been making noises, and they went all over within ear shot.

    If she had a wistle she could have have been heard. Was that too heavy too? I won't look so dismissively at the little TOPS whistle now...

  20. Chignecto Woodsman

    Chignecto Woodsman

    Aug 2, 2014
    One of the articles stated that they were only reaching the area where she was lost by the time they had to turn around, and due to the difficulty of the area only officially trained experts were allowed to go on the search. If true then they were only searching the area for an hour or two, at most, and then going back to their base.

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