Walter wrote, "If they are fit enough they could have hiked out if the weather turned bad,
IF they had a light that would last long enough and IF they did not get lost.
I'll bet they didn't carry lights either."
Or do something stupid because your thinking was muddled by the cold. This is where people walk off cliffs or simply turn an ankle due to reduced coordination. Or whack themselves with a hatchet ;)
It's always a chain of small mistakes that snowball into a life threatening mess.
Here's a classic and the victim was a State Patrolman, a former Marine and Special Forces soldier. One calamity compounded with another.
Trooper lost in North Cascades admits he shouldn't have hiked alone
By Eric Stevick, Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE -- Daniel Anderson knows he made a mistake.
The Washington State Patrol trooper readily acknowledges he shouldn't have headed out for a solitary trek across the North Cascades east of Darrington.
Anderson, 46, was rescued late Tuesday night along the Suiattle River Trail by search-and-rescue volunteers on horseback. He'd been in trouble since Sunday. He was cold and tired and fearing a third night in a wet sleeping bag without a tent.
"I feel culpable for going alone," Anderson said Wednesday afternoon.
His sense of adventure and love of nature got the best of him, luring him onto the remote and scenic stretch.
Anderson was trying to hike across the mountains from west to east, with his planned destination Holden Village near Stehekin in Chelan County.
Much went wrong after he made the planned decision to press on deeper into the mountains after leaving behind friends who had biked and hiked with him.
On Sunday, Anderson was on snowshoes, heading over Suiattle Pass. He took a few spills in the rugged terrain. He somehow lost his tent. He didn't realize it was gone until he stopped to camp for the night.
"It was snowing," he recounted. "I knew I had an emergency situation."
He used a beacon signal to send an emergency message that would alert others to his whereabouts. A backup GPS application in his cellphone didn't work.
The batteries in the beacon signal device soon began to run out of juice.
It was enough: a Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue team as well as one from Chelan County soon began to mobilize.
Under tree cover at about 4,900 feet, Anderson made a lean-to against a boulder and spent the night.
The next morning the ex-Marine and former Special Forces soldier made a decision. He would keep moving to stay warm.
"At that point, in my mind, the fuse was lit in terms of hypothermia," he said.
The conditions had deteriorated, too. Once-crunchy snow became as loose as sugar. He had to fight his way through it.
"My success was measured in tens of feet," he said.
Anderson blamed himself but refused to let his predicament get the better of him.
"I chose this," he told himself.
He also repeated a State Patrol mantra: "I will not quit. I will not die. I will survive."
He thought about his boys, ages 12 and 8, and how he wanted to see them.
On Tuesday, he could only watch as a search and rescue helicopter flew overhead without spotting him. He wasn't able to signal.
It was confirmation that people were looking for him, and also a lesson that he should have packed a flare.
Anderson managed to work his way back to the trail leading toward Darrington. He was walking down the path around 9 p.m. Tuesday when he met up with a search and rescue team on horseback. They were about 35 miles from a main road.
Anderson said he yelled: "Are you looking for me?"
Anderson rode out on horseback to the trailhead where he was given an ATV ride to a point where he could finally hop into a car for the drive to Darrington. He made the final leg of his journey in a car driven by a State Patrol captain.
Humble and grateful, Anderson expressed his debt to the more than two dozen search and rescue professionals and volunteers who scoured the backcountry.
Oyvind Henningsen, a member of the Everett Mountain Rescue organization, was one of those volunteers.
"This is a great outcome," he said. "It was a prolonged effort by multiple agencies, spanning multiple counties using multiple types of resources."
Bill Quistorf, pilot of the Snohomish County Search and Rescue helicopter, danced around challenging weather conditions to make nine flights over two days.
The helicopter team was able to find Anderson's tracks by homing in on the location where his beacon briefly signaled.
"That was our goal, to get to those coordinates and to get him out of there," he said. "We were happy. We wanted to see his tent."
By the time the helicopter reached that location, however, Anderson had already moved on.
Searchers on Tuesday followed Anderson's snowshoe tracks at the 4,000-foot level for a while near Miners Creek.
Rescuers made it to the 3,900-foot level where rain had washed out tracks in wet snow. That trail disappeared near a steep ravine that searchers described as rugged, icy and slippery.
Quistorf guided one group of searchers to Anderson's snowshoe tracks. They had earlier encountered cougar tracks.
Anderson said he is thankful to those who helped him in his time of need.
"A lot of people put themselves in harm's way for me," he said.
A few minutes later, he expressed his appreciation in a different way.
"I'm grateful we live in a place where life is valued," he said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.