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Missing hiker wouldn't drink untreated water
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Scott Toraason
Did missing hiker have a compass? on 09/22/2007 23:58:42 MDT Print View

I’m very glad she is alive. I understand she did not have a map, I do not know if she had a compass. With the two, especially a compass, she could have easily established a baseline back to a forest service road or trail head prior to starting her hike which is a common sense approach in new areas and would not have gotten lost.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Did missing hiker have a compass? on 09/23/2007 07:46:45 MDT Print View

Scott, if you had read the story involving her, you would have noted that she wasn't on a FS road.
Just having a compass and map doesn't mean you are ok. Many who carry those items have no idea how to properly use them! It gives a false sense of safety to many. They carry it due to being told they should.

Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Did missing hiker have a compass? on 09/23/2007 07:55:40 MDT Print View


That is one of the important things to be able to read and orient a map (preferably a topo sheet). Using the map properly oriented with a compass (preferably declination adjustable; or know how to work without this feature) you would then try to triangulate your position by back shooting bearings of reference points with the compass.


Edited by naturephoto1 on 09/23/2007 07:58:24 MDT.

Greg Vaillancourt
(GSV45) - F

Locale: Utah
Look at how many people go out with only a GPS on 09/23/2007 08:23:36 MDT Print View

No map, no compass.

Utter faith in their electronic device. Expect to read reports in the future about these people.

Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
I don't think she HAD to drink water..I would have though... on 09/23/2007 09:32:18 MDT Print View


I don't think it is true that she would have HAD to have drank some water to survive that long..

According to "Physiology of Man in the Desert" by E.F Adolph as found in The Complete Walker IV, if she were walking at night until exhausted and resting thereafter and the maximum daily temperature (f) in the shade was 70 she could have lived for 7.5 days without water. The amount of time only increases as the temp drops. The table is interesting and I can repost it in another post if people want to talk about it..

That three day water rule is more a myth than a truth. Of course it depends on so many factors such as size, health, ambient temperature, wind, available shade, and I think mostly on the state of mind... Mind is very powerful when it comes to survival. I would recommend everyone reading Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales. It's an interesting book about the psychology of survival..

I myself would have drank some water! Simply from the fact that I don't have the willpower not to drink if I was walking next to a stream! I can only imagine the temptation.. I wonder if she was able to not pee the whole time too!

Edited by arichardson6 on 09/23/2007 09:34:04 MDT.

Scott Toraason
Did missing hiker have a compass? on 09/23/2007 11:30:52 MDT Print View

I read the report Sarah, and if one is unfamiliar with a compass and baselines one should not be hiking alone. The very idea that someone would carrying a compass as a false sense of security is mind boggling; and that this individual should be excused or blameless for not having a compass or accept no responsibility for knowing how to use the one she had is…well be that as it may, in my opinion it was the reason SAR was necessary.

Lance Marshall
(Lancem) - F - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Benefit of the doubt on 09/23/2007 13:51:17 MDT Print View

I believe we should not criticize Mary with limited information. We can only speculate when she began drinking river water after leaving her note: “no food, h2o, or map”. We can only speculate exactly what gear she carried and what her level of knowledge and expertise is.

At what point do you gear up for a walk? A quarter mile walk to a roadside overlook? A mile walk on a paved path to a popular waterfall? A three mile trail run on an established path? Each situation is unique and has its own risk assessment dependent on many factors. In Mary’s case we don’t know the details.

The one fact we do know for certain is that Mary is alive and well after five unplanned nights in the forest. As an outdoor community we should be grateful for her safe return, support her where we can, and learn from her experience.

Edited by Lancem on 09/23/2007 13:57:39 MDT.

Alan Garber
(altadude) - F
the original post on 09/23/2007 15:54:09 MDT Print View

I think there should be no blame and we cannot know for sure what transpired. Newspaper reports are sometimes inaccurate.

Bearpaw's point I think was the essential point about survival and drinking untreated water. Obviously polluted water avoid (duh!) but the incubation time for water borne illnesses in the bc is 7-10 it doesn't make sense to avoid drinking untreated water. Simple arithmetic. That is why I don't consider water treatment in my survival survive a few days I won't worry about the risk of water borne illnesses....

As far as other points, as to what to bring on a day hike and how to be prepared: that is open to discussion without any blame. We can all learn.......

In medicine we have morbidity and mortality conferences to learn how to do things better. This is sort of the equivalent..........

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Before you all pile on her on 09/23/2007 17:16:14 MDT Print View

I don't think critiqueing an incident should be equated with "piling on her". As one poster mentioned, it can, and should, be used as an educational/cautionary tool for the benefit of the community at large. It definitely doesn't rise(or sink) to the level of loutishness. You mention that she had a decent sized day pack with a cover. I would
be wondering more about what was in the daypack, like rain gear, extra clothing and food, firestarting material, etc. Does the 10 Essentials ring a bell? Plus the knowledge on how to use them? If she had had rain gear, in particular, she wouldn't had to dry her clothes on rock and lose precious body heat in the process. If she had firestarting material, it might have been appropriate to sit down and brew up that proverbial "cup of tea" and ponder her situation(sterilizing the water in the process, by the way). I could go on, but I will close by observing that a lot of us up here have probably hiked solo in the Cascades, North, Central, and South at one time or another. They are serious mountains and should be approached seriously, which means, IMHO, entering them well equipped both gear-wise and knowledge-wise. It might even be a good idea to NOT hike solo if you are going into rough terrain, by which I mean sketchy trails or cross country routes. No offense intended, but I felt like I had to say my pice about the lout bit and it just went on from there. Peace.
P.S. Anybody else up for designating that "cup of tea" as the 11th Essential?

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
She did have a fire on 09/23/2007 18:15:57 MDT Print View

And that is a point there-she did the best she could in her situation.
Maybe you all don't quite know why I get in a "fine" mood over arm chair quarterbacking.....but on the local NW hiking forums it seems anytime someone gets lost and is found alive they yammer on about it for weeks. About how they'd never do that, and they should have done this that and whatever. It gets tiring-and for the most part is rude to the person who did the getting lost.

Think about it for a second. Can you imagine how embarrassed the person is? Knowing the hundreds (if not 1,000's) of people are discussing you? And second guessing what they did "wrong"? I can only say that if it was me I'd not want to have my face seen for awhile till people forgot!

Yes, we can learn from what happened to the person. But no matter what you call it, it is still arm chair quarterbacking!

And for god's sake:she drank water! AGHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: She did have a fire on 09/23/2007 18:57:24 MDT Print View

Regardless of her experience and skill level, trip planning and execution, and response to her situation, she's lucky enough to hike another day. Not everyone gets that second chance:

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Spokane father and son. on 09/23/2007 19:27:33 MDT Print View

In their case, it was evidently a climbing accident as they had stashed their packs below the summit. What a sad accident.
Experienced or not, you just never know................

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
Inviting Mary Wingfield for an interview on 09/23/2007 21:38:29 MDT Print View

A lot of good points have been made, most important that your brain is your #1 survival tool. I just wanted to suggest to BPL Staff - how about inviting her for interview in which she can share exactly what she brought and didn't bring, and what lessons she had to offer fellow hikers in a similar situation?

I was an elite airborne soldier and SF instructor, and whenever there is such an incident, there is an immediate debriefing, analysis and then rapid sharing of the findings with all personnel, to immediately absorb the lessons and avoid a similar situation.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Missing hiker/ your UL day hike list? on 09/24/2007 07:52:39 MDT Print View

Im also glad she is OK and not a statistic.
If you ever want a memorable experience, go 24 or 36 hours without a drop of water; your next drink will taste unbelievably good.
That story was written very strangely, maybe by someone with no hiking experience; it contradicts itself by saying she was equipped for a day hike, but her pack was in the front seat. Both can't be true.* Maybe the video showed her after she recovered her pack from the car?

In addition to armchair quarterbacking this lets have some of our experienced members put together a UL day hiking essentials list so small, light, and cheap there is no reason to not carry it; maybe 1/2 liter(1/2quart) in volume, 500g(1 lb), and $50 max? (waistpack size?) I'll put up my list tomorrow..

First things first, I suggest everyone keep a micropur tab in your wallet..

*"..equipped only for a day hike...Her overnight pack was in the front seat."

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Missing hiker/ your UL day hike list? on 09/24/2007 09:51:17 MDT Print View

This could be fun. I'd be even more fun if we armchair quarterbacks agreed to be blindfolded and dropped off in the bush with our kit and hiking clothing that'd be worn while walking in conditions of the day and given only minimal info ... like which trailhead we left from, how long we'd traveled to get where we were;-)

Just a minor sanity check on Brett's suggested parameters ... to weigh 500g with 1/2 liter volume the kit would have to be quite dense ... 1/2 liter of water would weigh 500g. I'd be inclined to just specify a volume limit. 1/2 liter would be a challenge, how about 3/4 liter?

Alan Garber
(altadude) - F
Re: Missing hiker/ your UL day hike list? on 09/25/2007 00:44:26 MDT Print View

First things first, I suggest everyone keep a micropur tab in your wallet..

please see my earlier post

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
UL day kit on 09/25/2007 05:13:01 MDT Print View

Jim, you are correct of course, maybe a liter or so..
Alan, sorry, missed your post; glad we agree it is a simple and very light precaution.

Edited by Brett1234 on 09/25/2007 05:13:41 MDT.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Day kit on 09/25/2007 07:15:54 MDT Print View

It's funny, my day kit isn't much different than my overnight kit. I usually still bring a foam pad (summit sit pad), and instead of my personal bivy I bring a slightly bigger AMR bivy that will fit my wife and I together. We usually have our insulated parkas too, some food, water and first aid kit which includes emergency fire/knife/MP1 tabs and some basic meds. Sometimes I bring the little stove if we want tea, sometimes not. We use the same clothing layering system as if we were going on an overnight hike.

Basically I take simple stuff that we can hunker down and wait out a storm or wait for assistance should a major injury occur that can't be self rescued. Might not be comfortable but I just care that we stay alive.

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
same on 09/25/2007 07:25:00 MDT Print View

My wife and I do exactly the same, perhaps with the exception being a very short hike (2-3 hours), in which case we still bring some type of insulation (emergency heat blanket), waterproof shell, first aid, and survival basics etc. 1) Even if you don't need it, you might come across someone who was injured who does 2) There are places we hike where the weather can change in a flash (White Mountains can throw a storm on you in 10-15 minutes with little warning). We've read too many stories, including one in the last few years, where a surprise blizzard killed an experienced hiker in late spring who had some warm clothes (fleece, a light shell), but didn't come prepared for the worst the White Mountains could throw at you, even in late Spring.

We have been very grateful more than a few times that we brought the few extra things, even for a shorter hike. We've just made it part of our basic discipline.

Ryan Gardner
(splproductions) - F - M

Locale: Salt Lake City, UT
In my younger years... on 09/25/2007 07:25:51 MDT Print View

... like I'm really old...

I remember when I was young I used to go for day hikes by myself. My mother dear didn't like the thought of it, so I would show her I was completely prepared for anything that might come my way. I use hike with 2-3 times the amount of gear I carry now... for a day hike! Shelter in case I have to stay the night, a big knife in case of mountain lions or bears (what was I going to do with a knife?), a first-aid kit with enough bandages to wrap my whole body... the list went on and on. It's comical to think of now. Especially because I didn't know how to use 90% of what I brought.

Which brings me to an important point... lots of people bring stuff with the idea that if they get in trouble, they'll figure out how to use it.

(((not saying that was the case with this hiker)))

Edited by splproductions on 09/25/2007 07:30:53 MDT.