*** ALERT *** APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER FOUND!

*** ALERT *** APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER FOUND!

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by BackpackingLight.com Staff | 2009-04-30 10:04:00-06

*** ALERT *** APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER FOUND!

UPDATE 5/2/09 4:07 PM:

KEN KNIGHT WAS FOUND TODAY AND WALKED OUT UNDER HIS OWN STEAM.  HE IS AT THE HOSPITAL AND MORE DETAILS WILL LIKELY FOLLOW ONCE WE HAVE THEM.  -Addie Bedford


Name
: Ken Knight
Height: 5'4"
Weight: 180-200 lb
Point Last Seen: Punchbowl Mountain on the Appalachian Trail in VA
Time Last Seen: Sunday, April 26, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Unique Characteristics: wearing a dry-bag style backpack with a bright orange packbag, hiker is vision-impaired.

If you have info, please contact us: publisher@backpackinglight.com.

Photo above taken Wednesday, April 22 on the Appalachian Trail.


Citation

"*** ALERT *** APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER FOUND!," by BackpackingLight.com Staff. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/missing_hiker_alert.html, 2009-04-30 10:04:00-06.

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Forum Index » BPL.com News and Info » KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA


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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 09:06:52 MDT Print View

*** URGENT ***

Backpacking Light editor KEN KNIGHT is missing after a hike on the Applachian Trail in Virginia.

If you saw Ken or otherwise know of his whereabouts after Sunday morning, please contact us at the following email address:

PUBLISHER@BACKPACKINGLIGHT.COM

About Ken

Ken is 5'4" tall and approx. 180-200 lb. He is vision impaired, has dark hair, and is probably using a dry bag-style pack with an orange packbag.

Ken is an experienced AT hiker but his vision impairment may have caused him to lose the trail.

Point Last Seen

He was last seen on the AT on Sunday morning, around 9-10am, at Punchbowl Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway, mile 51.7, in the area of Buchanan and Bedford, Virginia.

He'd been trailing behind a group and meeting up with them at their camp sites. On Sunday, he reported not feeling well and suggested he
might go off the trail. The group did not see him since leaving Punchbowl Mountain on Sunday.

He was anticipated to reach mile 76.3 on Tuesday, which the rest of the group did. To date, he has not arrived, and he has missed his flight back home to Michigan Wednesday night.

Ken regularly blogs via iPhone when he has cellular coverage. His last known blog entry was Sunday morning, April 26, at 6:36 AM Eastern:

http://twitter.com/kenknight

Search in Progress

Ken's family has been notified, and a search is currently in progress by NPS and VA State SAR.

Non-agency SAR and other volunteers interested in assisting with this search should contact us at publisher@backpackinglight.com, who is coordinating the efforts of outside volunteers with the SAR Coordinator on location. Please send your name, cellular phone number, and distance from SNP in your message, and then wait for further instructions.

Please Distribute This Info

Please distribute a link to this post as wide as possible via this tinyurl link via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking avenues. Please copy and paste this exact text to retweet this info on Twitter etc.:

EMERGENCY @KENKNIGHT (KEN KNIGHT) MISSING ON A.T. IN VA: http://tinyurl.com/ded5tt INFO? EMAIL PUBLISHER@BACKPACKINGLIGHT.COM RT @BIGSKYRY

I am in contact with the NPS Ranger and the VA State SAR, the agencies responsible for the search and will relay info promptly them.

Best Regards,
Ryan Jordan
CEO Backpacking Light

Edited by ryan on 04/30/2009 14:27:50 MDT.

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 09:19:58 MDT Print View

I wish I could do more, but my thoughts and prayers are with Ken and his family.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA" on 04/30/2009 09:23:30 MDT Print View

Ryan, have you posted this on White Blaze? Ali

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Locale: www.jolly-green-giant.blogspot.com
. on 04/30/2009 09:26:22 MDT Print View

N/M

Edited by regultr on 02/18/2010 20:29:39 MST.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 09:26:44 MDT Print View

Someone did Ali, I added the last known location info to the post.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA" on 04/30/2009 09:27:07 MDT Print View

Ryan, I just found the posting on white blaze. If he doesnt show up today you should consider contacting Tom Brown Jr at www.trackerschool.com he is in New Jersey and one of the best trackers in the world. Ali

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 09:27:45 MDT Print View

Ali: feel free to post a link to this thread at Whiteblaze, or anywhere else. I'll be the point person to manage communications from BPL's channels including backpackinglight.com, twitter.com/backpacking and twitter.com/bigskyry, and FB. Thanks.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA" on 04/30/2009 09:34:02 MDT Print View

Done.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Re: "KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA" on 04/30/2009 10:32:49 MDT Print View

James, may I use your photo to add to an event distribution post on Facebook, to show who Ken Knight is? It might help people look for him. Thanks.

Facebook Event Post for Ken Knight Search

Edited by butuki on 04/30/2009 10:34:54 MDT.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Re: "KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA" on 04/30/2009 10:43:40 MDT Print View

Miguel, use the photo here:



It's a photo from the trek showing his pack and clothing that he's wearing. He'll probably be a little scruffier, but his beard doesn't grow too fast.

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Locale: www.jolly-green-giant.blogspot.com
. on 04/30/2009 10:44:20 MDT Print View

N/A

Edited by regultr on 02/18/2010 20:30:38 MST.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
gear description? on 04/30/2009 11:06:44 MDT Print View

i work with MD DNR and will send a message to the South Mountain Recreation Area (they handle the AT in MD) to be on the look out for his gear if i can get a description beyond what has been posted here. i hope he is ok and holed up off trail somewhere.

UPDATE:
i have emailed the info and picture to our AT folks and it should be up to the Ridge Runner at Annapolis Rocks today.

-Steve

Edited by asciibaron on 04/30/2009 11:22:34 MDT.

Rosaleen Sullivan
(MamaRosa43) - F - M

Locale: New England
Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 11:15:38 MDT Print View

I just posted the original message to WomenHikers@yahoogroups.com. We have several members in VA.

If my school/work E-mail blocks the message, I will resend it tonight from home.

Good Luck, Ken!

Rosaleen

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 12:22:20 MDT Print View

Ken comes into our Ann Arbor shop somewhat regularly; I've printed pertinent info from this thread and posted his pic on our community message board. All in all, I realize that probably won't help... It would be great if outfitters along the AT could do the same, though.

Fingers crossed-
Brad

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 12:34:03 MDT Print View

Thoughts and prayers coming from Oregon here.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
HAVE YOU HIKED WITH KEN KNIGHT BEFORE? on 04/30/2009 13:35:53 MDT Print View

I'm looking for Ken's hiking partners.

I'm most interested in folks who have been hiking with Ken on multiple trips, over the span of many months/years.

If you meet these criteria, please drop us a note at publisher@backpackinglight.com with your phone number, email address, and a brief description of your experience with Ken, so we can put VA SAR in touch with you for an interview.

Thanks,
Ryan

Jonathan Boozer
(anywayoutside) - MLife

Locale: South East
Re: HAVE YOU HIKED WITH KEN KNIGHT BEFORE? on 04/30/2009 13:45:07 MDT Print View

copied this to the Whiteblaze thread also.

Jeff Antig
(Antig)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 14:24:25 MDT Print View

This may be of use:

Rather than rangers, try contacting a county police department for help. They should be able to track his cell phone signal (no matter if it is on or off) despite the strength of it. We've had many people tracked this way.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Cell Phone Tracking on 04/30/2009 14:34:24 MDT Print View

Yes, I hope someone is working on this possibility. They were able to track the climbers' on Mt. Hood a few years back even in a snow storm.....

If he has his iphone on, this could be a big help in locating him. (If he has a new iphone, the GPS will work regardless of whether he has a signal.)

Rob Speiden
(speiden) - F
KEN KNIGHT's FOOTWEAR on 04/30/2009 14:44:31 MDT Print View

Hikers,
I am a member of a Virginia SAR tracking team, and am currently on standby to respond to the search effort for Ken. One thing that would help significantly is to know what brand of boot he is wearing. Does anyone know what type of boots he wears and/or have a picture of him showing his boots, the outsole would be ideal.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Ken Knight Missing on 04/30/2009 14:49:31 MDT Print View

We are thinking of Ken and sending lots of positive vibes for his safe return home.

Hang in there everyone.

Bryan and I have posted this on the front page of our outdoor adventure site. Although it is Canadian we do have several American hikers there. I will also post the information, as promised, on my blogs and other sites throughout the course of the evening.

If anyone can think of anything else we can do to help please let me know.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: KEN KNIGHT's FOOTWEAR on 04/30/2009 15:26:52 MDT Print View

Emailed Rob.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 16:01:01 MDT Print View

I didn't see a post on Sgt Rock's Hiking HQ, so I posted there. http://hikinghq.net/forum/showthread.php?t=4360

Not much use posting on our Pacific NW forums, so I didn't.

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/30/2009 16:21:24 MDT.

Gregory Knight
(gregoryknight) - F
ken knight on 04/30/2009 16:50:33 MDT Print View

I am Ken's brother, Greg. As has been said, Ken is a very capable and experienced hiker.

Because he has been missing and not heard from in so many days, at this point we are quite concerned that something bad has happened.

I wanted to let you all know how much we appreciate anything you do to help find Ken.

with appreciation,

Greg

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: ken knight on 04/30/2009 17:08:58 MDT Print View

My prayers and thoughts. Let's hope this ends well.

Edited by kennyhel77 on 04/30/2009 17:09:31 MDT.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 18:30:56 MDT Print View

Posted at equipped.org

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 18:38:46 MDT Print View

Posted to my blog, which auto-publishes to my Facebook account.

Chris Maltese
(WolfTracker) - F

Locale: Boynton Beach, FL
Posted at bladeforums on 04/30/2009 19:21:43 MDT Print View

Posted at bladeforums on Wilderness and Survival Skills forum.

Sending up smoke and prayers for a safe and speedy return.

Matt Mahaney
(Matt_Mahaney) - MLife

Locale: In the District
KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 19:46:02 MDT Print View

Ryan I wrote Leonard Adkins an email. He suggested contacting the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club. http://www.nbatc.org/ Does anyone know if they have been contacted?

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 20:58:43 MDT Print View

I went through this a few weeks ago when a mate went missing in Alaska, took a wrong turn in a whiteout. What saved him , and I hope will be the same with Ken, was the experience accumulated over many years in the outdoors.
Franco

James Walke
(jaywalke2) - F
Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 21:16:46 MDT Print View

Unfortunately, it won't do much good to contact them until we have a location for the call-out. I'm planning on going, and I can get the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club moving, which is a bunch of strong hikers who know the trail like their own back yards, but without a location we are all just waiting with a thumb up . . .

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 21:40:06 MDT Print View

First of all, thank you everyone for your patience, consideration, and information. I'm in awe at the amount of information that we've received, consolidated, and have been able to pass along to VA SAR.

Second, the ATC has been notified and their information officer will likely be the liaison to the individual trail clubs. If trail clubs would like to help, they should call ATC.

Third, a statewide VA SAR callout has been issued. There are going to be a very large number of searchers on the ground by morning. This is a huge, complex search encompassing an area of more than 300 square miles for the initial search focus. It's heavily wooded, steep, and almost futile to scan from the air. Spend some time in Google Earth and you'll appreciate what these guys are up against.

Today, NPS, along with some private parties, were the first on the ground to do a preliminary trail sweep. This was vital to making sure nobody was missing anything obvious. Tonight large search parties are being organized, and in the morning, a massive search begins in earnest.

We've had the opportunity to work with the VA SAR tracking team and we hope to God Ken is wearing his Inov-8's because they have one of the most unique sole patterns found anywhere...

SAR Trackers are on the ground TONIGHT working the area before it gets too contaminated. This is a key reason why the search must be organized and directed by VA SAR. Tracking and K9's may be really important in this type of search, and minimizing contamination of the area early is key.

In addition, our friends in Ann Arbor were able to go into Ken's house this evening and secure laundry items that will be delivered to VA SAR tomorrow evening for the K9 search teams. We were unable to make the last flight out of Detroit that could have gotten the items into Amhurst early tomorrow, so they are being driven across the country and delivered by hand.

I have been flooded with emails from people offering support and have a willingness to help with the search. I'm humbled, and thankful for that.

However, it's really important at this point to let VA SAR take the reigns and do what they are trained to do. VA SAR is somewhat unique in that it's one of the few states in the nation where statewide SAR teams can be mobilized quickly and consistently. They have good infrastructure, good support, and a lot of people.

Adding more people to the mix *right now* who are not VA SAR trained is probably going to slow things down rather than help. The next 24-48 hours are extremely critical and SAR operations must happen as efficiently as possible.

However, stay alert. If this search winds down and Amhurst County starts pulling back resources, then that might be the right time to jump in. I've been involved in that situation before, having served on SAR teams in both WA and MT, and all I can say is that Ken is resourceful enough to survive out there for a pretty long time. Not finding Ken is not an option for me.

Finally, please don't stop distributing this information. My hope is that somehow, somewhere, we can find somebody who ran into Ken since Sunday morning so that we can update is last known location and make this search area smaller. 300 square miles of steep woods out there is a crazy big area to start on.

Again, thanks for your patience, and prayers.

Stay tuned,
Ryan Jordan
President/CEO
Backpacking Light

Edited by ryan on 04/30/2009 21:57:23 MDT.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 21:45:46 MDT Print View

Ryan, you rock.

Matt Mahaney
(Matt_Mahaney) - MLife

Locale: In the District
Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 21:54:45 MDT Print View

Thanks for the update.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
RE: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 04/30/2009 22:08:52 MDT Print View

Thanks for the update Ryan. The SAR operation sounds much as I figured it would be, based on past experience. I know even though many are willing to help in these cases that too many people looking can definitely create more difficulty in the early stages of a search.

I will be praying he is found quickly, and in good condition.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
First news report I've seen on 05/01/2009 05:27:25 MDT Print View

http://www.wdbj7.com/global/story.asp?s=10284936

As pulled from the station's Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/WDBJ7

Also, if you're using Twitter, search for "Ken Knight" and then save the search. Twitter will then pull up real-time results of your search every time you go to it.

Rosaleen Sullivan
(MamaRosa43) - F - M

Locale: New England
Re: First news report I've seen on 05/01/2009 08:46:04 MDT Print View

No matter what our individual politics and beliefs, it is so awe-inspiring to see the caring and efforts of the PEOPLE of the USA: No matter by prayers or actual showing up and sweating.

Our people ROCK!

(No offense meant to you readers outside of the US, many of whom also are showing support.)

Rosaleen

Ellen Zaslaw
(ezaslaw) - F
anxious on 05/01/2009 10:08:44 MDT Print View

I'm as anxious as everybody else: Ken is at the forefront of my thoughts. He's so tough and so vulnerable at the same time. I'm immensely grateful for the highly organized and professional search that is under way, and for the efficient dissemination of information. I'm grateful too thinking of Ken's intelligence and backcountry skills.

I can't imagine I'm a useful contact, having last hiked with Ken several years ago. Many, many people know him better. But I know him enough to feel a real personal involvement in this--and oh how I ache for his family, whom I almost feel I know, I've seen and heard so much of them in Ken's journals. I'll be following this closely.

Sean Walashek
(caraz) - F

Locale: bay area
Prayers and blessings on 05/01/2009 13:06:50 MDT Print View

I have been sending out the good vibes. Not knowing the man first hand and only through the tellings of you guys I am holding high hopes. If he found his way off trail by accident it certainly seems like he knows what to do as far as waiting to be found.

Jocelyn Dawn
(JocelynDawn) - F

Locale: BuenaVista, Glasgow
Distributed the alert... on 05/01/2009 13:32:50 MDT Print View

I posted this alert on the forums of the Roanoke Outdoor and Social Club... we're a more diverse group than the local AT clubs, but there are over a dozen strong hikers/backpackers in the club who are out on the trails every weekend. If someone's available to help, they'll use the contact info provided.

I also alerted my 'peeps' via MySpace - I live in the immediate alert area so I know people who know people, y'know?

Also - to all the family and friends who are waiting for Ken, there's... well, not exactly *good* news, but certainly one less thing to worry about - I live on the opposite side of Three Sisters Knobs from the Punchbowl shelter and I can tell you the weather's been really mild here all week. It's been a little on the chilly side overnight and the days are a mite damp/overcast but even the temps up in the mountains have stayed well within comfortable ranges for Ken's attire.

Edited by JocelynDawn on 05/01/2009 14:02:03 MDT.

Mark Myers
(n4kss) - F
Ken Knight search on 05/01/2009 15:32:23 MDT Print View

Hello, I live about 11 air miles from where Ken was last seen.
I am a life member of the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club.
I am also a VA SAR resource along with Rob who posted earlier.
I will be leaving shortly to go to a planning session tonight for planning out tomorrows search efforts. Be assured skilled searchers are out there now and all night long tonight. I was wondering if there are any well known areas that people commonly leave the trail for mail, groceries, food, lodging, bus etc and if any of them are in this area. I live near Snowden where 130 and the parkway cross.
Mark
Twitter @idrankwhat

Jocelyn Dawn
(JocelynDawn) - F

Locale: BuenaVista, Glasgow
RE: Mark Myers on 05/01/2009 15:38:35 MDT Print View

Quite a few through-hikers leave the trail where it crosses RT.501 and head into Glasgow for groceries and lodging; there are a couple of small grocery stores, and a family owned restaurant/motel (if they're still in open). There used to be Greyhound service through there but I don't believe there's a pick-up there any more.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Story has hit Associated Press on 05/01/2009 17:14:28 MDT Print View

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-va-missingappalachia,0,6599856.story

Google News Search info: http://news.google.com/news?um=1&ned=us&cf=all&ncl=1344242265

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 05/01/2009 18:48:59 MDT Print View

I was on the search last night and all day today. Here is a very general update - I don't have specifics on clues, etc.

It is a very robust SAR operation with at least 150 people there and over 35 teams went on over 50 separate search missions today. I met teams from as far as Maryland. Teams include multiple dogs teams , horses, ATV's, MTB's and many foot teams.

Even the commo set up has a radio relay airplane on station overhead almost all day long- necessary due to the many areas between mtns and narrow drainages.


The area is large and the terrian is challenging. Weather has been very good in this area for most all week.

Brenda T,
(Brenda) - F
Pulaski, Va resident on 05/01/2009 18:55:02 MDT Print View

Greg, I hope for everyone who loves him they find your brother OK and please try to remain positive. Maybe he only slipped somewhere and dropped that phone! It is wet and the ground slippery. If so and he dropped it when he slip down something and cannot find it, I bet he's sitting by a brook (they're everywhere with all the rain), waiting for the calvary...and very unhappy his phone is missing :>)

It's on local news stations, so you'll be receiving local volunteers familiar with the area as well as the professionals/law enforcement. They will find your brother.

peter goddard
(mr.grumpy) - F
Ken Knight on 05/01/2009 23:07:19 MDT Print View

We met Ken last year when he came across the pond to take part in The Great Outdoors Challenge. He is due to be with us again this year, the event starts next Friday (8th May) so we are all hoping the search is successful and you can get him posted across to us express so he can join us again. We'll keep watching this site for up to date information and we will be wishing you well in your endeavors.

Ryan Knowles
(saintirish) - F
Would like to help in the search on 05/01/2009 23:52:40 MDT Print View

I live in Lynchburg and would possibly be able to help out in the search some this weekend. How do I find someone who could direct me to specific areas that would be good to search, if indeed they are asking for people to help at all (I assume the more people searching the better his chances)??

Stephen White
(LittleNice) - F
KEN KNIGHT MISSING ON AT on 05/02/2009 04:22:41 MDT Print View

I send all of my love, support, and prayers to Ken and his family. I, just like every other person on here, really hopes Ken is okay, and that he'll be found very soon.

Much peace, love, and respect to Ken and all of you awesome SAR team members. Bring 'em home boys! Can't wait to here his amazing story about this one :)

Mike Maurer
(maurer) - F - M

Locale: Oregon
Re: Would like to help in the search on 05/02/2009 06:48:34 MDT Print View

Ryan Knowles,

The command post for the search has been set up at Otter Creek Campground at Milepost 60.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in VA. You could go there and be directed on how to help.

Mike Maurer

DJ Muller
(Rogue) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 05/02/2009 08:36:50 MDT Print View

Though I don't know Ken, the outpouring of goodwill is amazing. Know there are people in Oregon holding Ken in our thoughts and prayers. To the Searchers~Godspeed To Ken I can't wait to read about your adventure when they find you, because find you they will.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 05/02/2009 09:41:35 MDT Print View

I'm thinking of you constantly Ken. I feel helpless over here in Washington but I'm glad to know we have so many friends that are tracking you down. You're such a resourceful and inspirational guy- I know you've got this one and like others, I know this is going to turn into one of your great podcasts or videos after you get home safely.

With love,
Doug

matthew sweeney
(andykaren) - F
Ken on 05/02/2009 11:27:46 MDT Print View

I meet ken on AT in 03. God bless him

Aussie

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Ken Knight on 05/02/2009 11:55:30 MDT Print View

Thoughts-prayers and hope to all involved in finding Ken!!

-Jay

Tom Gantert
(tomgantert) - F
Ann Arbor News reporter Tom Gantert looking to contact people who know Ken on 05/02/2009 13:36:43 MDT Print View

Hi,
My name is Tom Gantert. I am a reporter from The Ann Arbor News.
I am trying to contact people who know Ken for a story we are doing. My number is 734 994 6701. My email is tgantert@aa-news.com
Thanks

James Stinnett
(fatherof6) - F
Ken Knight on 05/02/2009 13:52:52 MDT Print View

I live south of Amherst Co. in Lynchburg, VA. I have spoken with Wendy White concerning volunteering to assist in the search effort for Ken. There is no need for volunteers at this time. I will assit in any way I can. If there are others out there that want to assist in the effort as the week progresses and there are fewer SAR personnel on the trails? Please contact me here or at jstinnett@cvfcu.com.

My prayers are with Ken, his family, friends, SAR and co-workers.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Updated info on search for Ken Knight on 05/02/2009 14:05:31 MDT Print View

Here is some updated info on the search for Ken. Alan Dixon and Ryan Jordan are on sight and helping with the search. They are sending updates or requests for information when they can - cell phone coverage is poor. I will post more information as I receive it from Ryan or Alan. We hope that it might spur some connection with another person who may have seen Ken. And of course there are many of us very concerned and eager to know how it is going.

Point last seen data (previously posted here) has been removed because it may have been incorrect. I will post again as I learn more from the field.

Please continue to actively share this information.


EDITED to remove point last seen data.

Edited by don on 05/02/2009 15:23:50 MDT.

Paul Potts
(paulrpotts) - F
Ken Found! (Unconfirmed) on 05/02/2009 15:51:30 MDT Print View

Per @brbuchanan on Twitter, Ken has been found alive!

No other info yet.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 05/02/2009 15:57:15 MDT Print View

Hopefully we'll hear confirmation (one way or another) soon! In the meantime, I'm continuing fervent prayers!

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Ken Found! (Unconfirmed) on 05/02/2009 15:57:22 MDT Print View

Ryan Jordan's Twitter says the same. Waiting for details now.

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
live from va on 05/02/2009 16:00:59 MDT Print View

Ken has been found, confirmed

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Ken Found! (Unconfirmed) on 05/02/2009 16:02:33 MDT Print View

Thank goodness! Please do share more info as it becomes available. You've been in the thoughts of a lot of people, Ken!

Brenda T,
(Brenda) - F
good news on 05/02/2009 16:04:51 MDT Print View

so glad to hear this. I just got out of the woods myself (we are clearing a homesite) and logged on to see this.

Everyone gets their wish A great story of what happened and a safe loved one!

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
Have to admit on 05/02/2009 16:05:44 MDT Print View

I'm a bit teary-eyed at this good news.

I don't know you Ken, but I've been thinking of you a lot the last couple of days.

So awesome for everyone involved - big smiles, big smiles...

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: live from va on 05/02/2009 16:07:07 MDT Print View

wonderful news! Is he ok though?

Steve Cain
(hoosierdaddy) - F

Locale: Western Washington
Re: Re: live from va on 05/02/2009 16:09:02 MDT Print View

A member on Whiteblaze reported that he walked out with firefighters and is lucid.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Re: Re: live from va on 05/02/2009 16:10:40 MDT Print View

From Ryan-

"Ken walked out on his own, now en route to Lynchburg hospital. Yes, all really is well!"

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Ken Knight on 05/02/2009 16:13:22 MDT Print View

Great news. What a relief.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Ken Knight found and is OK on 05/02/2009 16:30:07 MDT Print View

All -

I heard the same from Ryan - awesome!

Don

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Hooray! on 05/02/2009 16:45:26 MDT Print View

I just posted this info on Sgt. Rock's Hiking HQ (in answer to my previous post) and on the Trail Journals forum, also on nwhikers.net where the subject had also come up. That's three less forums to notify.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Edited by hikinggranny on 05/02/2009 16:46:04 MDT.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
What a Relief on 05/02/2009 16:48:22 MDT Print View

So glad this has a happy ending. and oh So glad we have SAR operations.

Praise the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

Edited by Rezniem on 05/02/2009 16:54:14 MDT.

Judi Henson
(ritzhenson) - F

Locale: The Deep South
Praise God! on 05/02/2009 16:51:19 MDT Print View

I'll second that "Praise God...!"

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Ken found on 05/02/2009 16:57:54 MDT Print View

Ken Knight
Cutline: "Appalachian Trail hiker Ken Knight is wheeled into Lynchburg General Hospital shortly after he was found in Amherst County on Saturday."

(Via Lynchburg News and Advance: http://tinyurl.com/dh2g9u)

Edited by citystuckhiker on 05/02/2009 16:58:28 MDT.

James Stinnett
(fatherof6) - F
Ken on 05/02/2009 16:58:39 MDT Print View

There is s picture of Ken being rolled into the ER at Lynchburg General Hospital here: http://www.newsadvance.com/lna/news/local/article/missing_at_hiker_found/15648/

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: What a Relief on 05/02/2009 16:58:43 MDT Print View

AWESOME! Welcome back, Ken!

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Ken - Trip Report? on 05/02/2009 17:01:37 MDT Print View

Come on Ken - it's been at least 15 minutes since you got to a Hot Zone.

Welcome Back!

Edited by greg23 on 05/02/2009 17:04:45 MDT.

Unknown abc
(edude) - F
Praise the Lord on 05/02/2009 17:09:30 MDT Print View

Praise God! Update as to his condition?

Edited by edude on 05/02/2009 17:13:25 MDT.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Ken Knight found and is OK on 05/02/2009 17:09:49 MDT Print View

Good news! I'm looking forward to the trip report.

Unknown abc
(edude) - F
Re: "I'm looking forward to the trip report." on 05/02/2009 17:14:47 MDT Print View

>"I'm looking forward to the trip report."

LOL

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: 10T 524631m E 5034446m N
Re: on 05/02/2009 17:16:02 MDT Print View

Way to go!

Edited by ChrisMorgan on 05/02/2009 20:38:41 MDT.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
probably one dic*kens of a trip report on 05/02/2009 17:19:11 MDT Print View

"it was the best of times, it was the worst of times;..."
.
.
.
and the rest of the opening lines of "A Tale of Two Cities:"

"... it ws the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way."

DJ Muller
(Rogue) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Re: Re: Ken Knight found and is OK on 05/02/2009 17:20:04 MDT Print View

Wonderful news!!! It is such a marvel at all the goodwill and talented people that brought this scenario to a happy ending. To Ken, I hope you are feeling alright and please accept my best wishes for a quick return to "normal" activities.

Mike Maurer
(maurer) - F - M

Locale: Oregon
Ken set a brush fire on 05/02/2009 17:39:02 MDT Print View

Just found this online - http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hwmLOFtvzzrQIEMGPivIGMUtp7EwD97UD3H80

It says Ken set a brush fire to attract attention and that's how they found him.

Mike

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Ken Found! (Unconfirmed) on 05/02/2009 17:39:17 MDT Print View

That is very good news...

Dan Cunningham
(mn-backpacker)

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
WOW! on 05/02/2009 17:43:26 MDT Print View

I am so happy to hear this - got teary eyed when I read it. Absolutely amazing... too often in life we don't get happy endings with this stuff. I am just so happy for Ken and all of this friends and family. What an amazing day for them.

Ellen Zaslaw
(ezaslaw) - F
Ken has been found on 05/02/2009 17:47:09 MDT Print View

Hallelujah! Ken, you gave us terrible scare! Welcome back. Good on you for setting that fire--I knew you'd have cleverness and skills to work with, if you were in a condition to use them.

Ellen

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Ken set a brush fire on 05/02/2009 17:48:03 MDT Print View

>It says Ken set a brush fire to attract attention and that's how they found him.

Way to go Ken! Good thinking!

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Update from Ryan re Ken Knight on 05/02/2009 17:50:15 MDT Print View

Here's an update from Ryan:

Ken walked out of the woods on his own near John's Hollow, several miles south from where we was last seen near Bluff Mountain/Punchbowl.

He was met on his way out to the road by area fire crews, who were reponding to a nearby fire. Ken set the fire to attract attention.

We're en route to the hospital now to congratulate him on a job well done. All of VA SAR is very proud of him today!

Unknown abc
(edude) - F
Brush fires on 05/02/2009 17:52:41 MDT Print View

when I read this one

http://www.wdbj7.com/global/story.asp?s=10284936

It sounded as though the fire fighters thought it was a brush fire..but I guess setting a real brush fire works just fine too =p lol

gail staisil
(woodswoman2001) - F
"KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA" on 05/02/2009 17:54:36 MDT Print View

I am so greatful that Ken is OK. Even though I have just hiked with Ken a few times at group outings years back I know he is a very capable and resourceful outdoorsman. Thanks to all the search teams involved especially all the guys from Lower Michigan who drove over to help find their friend. Thanks Andy, Dennis, John, Chuck, Steve, Paul, and Matt!! Can't wait to hear your story Ken.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
hmmm - and in Dic*kens' "Hard Times" on 05/02/2009 18:00:44 MDT Print View

"...Dic*kens uses the symbol of fire to explain the contradictory forces that lie within a single concept."

from "Living and Dying with Fire in Charles Dic*kens' 'Hard Times'"

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1592695/living_and_dying_with_fire_in_charles.html

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Ken set a brush fire on 05/02/2009 18:41:30 MDT Print View

> It says Ken set a brush fire to attract attention and that's how they found him.

Fantastic news. He's been in my thoughts a lot so it's great to hear he has been found!

Brenda T,
(Brenda) - F
Pulaski, VA resident on 05/02/2009 18:52:10 MDT Print View

I told my husband I thought it was smart he set that fire because it's supposed to storm...at least 1/2 inch or more (70% chance) starting sometime tonight, so since it's already pretty wet, wouldn't have been a big terrible fire :>)

Been sprinkling on and off all day where I live about 2 hrs west. Wouldn't surprise me at all if he could tell the weather and knew this was a good idea in the conditions? (winds pretty calm too). I knew they'd find that man!

Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Re: Update from Ryan re Ken Knight on 05/02/2009 18:55:11 MDT Print View

Awesome news! Glad you're okay Ken!

Kevin Lane
(KEVINLANE) - F
Ken on 05/02/2009 19:15:17 MDT Print View

Does this mean we do not get to split up his gear?

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Re: Update from Ryan re Ken Knight on 05/02/2009 19:19:20 MDT Print View

Praise God! Great news!
Welcome back, Ken!

Kathleen B
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Ken is Found on 05/02/2009 19:20:06 MDT Print View

I can't believe how emotionally involved I've been with Ken's situation. I didn't even feel like doing my usual Saturday DIAD today. I am glad to trade my prayers for tears of gratitude.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Ken is Found on 05/02/2009 19:30:51 MDT Print View

YES!!! My wife and I are cheering right now. Way to go Ken! So, so glad you're okay!!!

Doug

. .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Ken is Found on 05/02/2009 19:38:40 MDT Print View

Very happy to hear the good news! Praise God for answered prayers!

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Yay!!!!! on 05/02/2009 19:39:42 MDT Print View

SOOO glad Ken's been found in good health!! I've only been a part of the BPL online community for a short time, but I can say that I'm proud to be a part of it. It was amazing to see so many people selflessly offer their support, time, energy, and skills in the effort to find Ken. From something as simple as a recommendation on a lightweight stove to helping save a life, BPL shows that some people still really do care to help others. I applaud you all.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Yay!!!!! on 05/02/2009 19:50:54 MDT Print View

I can't believe how emotionally involved I've been with Ken's situation. I didn't even feel like doing my usual Saturday DIAD today. I am glad to trade my prayers for tears of gratitude



Kathleen, we are all a very small community and when something goes wrong, we all get very concerned. We all know how things can turn south quickly. That said, I too was keeping an eye out and was elated today when I saw that, not only was he found, but was walking out on his accord.

How friggen cool!!!

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Best News Ever! on 05/02/2009 20:10:57 MDT Print View

That's awesome... glad he is safe and sound!!!

Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
Amen on 05/02/2009 20:31:21 MDT Print View

One of us got lost today
on that trail that never ends
one of us has lost his way
between the blazes and the bends
the trees stood silently
and the laurels bloomed
the river rambled lazily
in the springs
sneezy baby blooms

a black bear sees him wander by
the deer look fast, and scatter
an owl knows he's passing by
and the squirrels all chatter

all of us, we hold our breath
for but the grace of Terra
it could be us,any of the clan
that wander in the past
out all alone in danger

one of us has found his way today
back to the loving arms of friends
one of us has found his way
and soon will hike again

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Ken is Found on 05/02/2009 21:00:11 MDT Print View

Thank goodness! What wonderful news! I must say it's been frustrating being so far away (Japan) and feeling like there was nothing I could do.

Great that Ken is safe, that he walked out on his own, and that he was resourceful and knowledgeable enough to set that fire.

Great seeing all the outpouring of goodwill and help from so many people (including MANY people outside the US! Believe it or not, people outside the US also care about others and do what they can to help!). It really shows what people around the world really are like, that there are far more people of goodwill than crazies and monsters.

Amazed by the power of the internet. Truly awesome. The news spread around the world like wildfire.

Edited by butuki on 05/02/2009 21:17:24 MDT.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Amen on 05/02/2009 21:23:14 MDT Print View

This is great news. Welcome home Ken!

Robert Hausam
(rhausam) - MLife

Locale: Salt Lake City, Utah area
Yes! on 05/02/2009 21:35:38 MDT Print View

I'm also praising God for Ken's safe return! It appears that he did the right things, and from the photo he appears to be in pretty good condition. Absolutely wonderful!

Rob

ERIC WELSH
(G7) - MLife

Locale: WYOMING OR INDIANA
FANTASTIC !!! on 05/02/2009 21:51:23 MDT Print View

Well done, Ken. I am eager to hear the story . . .

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: Ken Knight on 05/02/2009 22:02:24 MDT Print View

I've been following the story since it first broke and I am so glad and relieved!
Welcome home, Ken! I look forward to reading your story. I have always preferred a happy ending. :-)

KYLE PARKER
(swiggydig@gmail.com) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
happy endings... on 05/02/2009 22:06:44 MDT Print View

Ken, I've never met you, but have listened to all of your podcasts and feel like I know you through them. I said my prayers for you and am very glad you made it out ok. Your adventure reminded me of Don Fendler's ordeal on Katahdin in the late 1930's, you would probably like his book, Lost On A Mountain In Maine.

Alan Lindsey
(cobaltspider) - F
happy endings... on 05/02/2009 22:27:54 MDT Print View

Ken, glad to hear you made it out. You are a trooper and I wish you a speedy recovery!

Jeff Antig
(Antig)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
So glad on 05/02/2009 22:42:23 MDT Print View

I've been checking the updates frantically. Right before I clicked the link to check it again, I was saying "if they still don't find him, I'm going to go on a cursing rampage". Thank goodness!

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Great News! on 05/02/2009 23:16:52 MDT Print View

I'm so happy to hear Ken has been found. Actually, from the sound of it, I guess I should say that I am happy to hear he found his way out.

I look forward to hearing the whole story once he's up to it.

Misfit Mystic
(cooldrip)

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
happy ending on 05/02/2009 23:41:13 MDT Print View

This is great news! Glad Ken is safe, and it is further testament to value of experience and staying calm. Here's wishing you a speedy return to the trails! A community's prayer is answered! HALLELUJAH!

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
happy on 05/03/2009 04:13:52 MDT Print View

I'm happy you're safe and warm again Ken. I hope our trails will one day cross again.

Cheers Eins

Hendrik Morkel
(skullmonkey) - MLife

Locale: Finland
Great ending on 05/03/2009 04:29:17 MDT Print View

Glad to hear you made it out alive, Ken. And looking forward to the Trip Report and items found most useful ;)

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Great News! on 05/03/2009 05:13:03 MDT Print View

I bet Ken's embarrassed as can be! Hee! Hee!

(meaning: all the comments and concern pouring in is going to be hard to deal with!)

Edited by butuki on 05/03/2009 11:47:54 MDT.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 05/03/2009 05:24:26 MDT Print View

Ken, We are all so glad to hear of your safe return and eagerly wait your story.

You are inspirational!

Jamie

Jim Colten
(jcolten)

Locale: MN
Re: Ken is Found on 05/03/2009 05:59:03 MDT Print View

Wonderful news!

Mark Myers
(n4kss) - F
Local news stories from our area on 05/03/2009 06:13:53 MDT Print View

http://www.wdbj7.com/global/story.asp?s=10284936

http://www.wset.com/news/stories/0509/619048.html

http://www.wsls.com/sls/news/local/article/visually_impaired_hiker_missing_on_appalachian_trail/34377/

http://www.newsadvance.com/lna/news/local/article/missing_at_hiker_found/15648/

Looking forward to your story Ken!

Mark Myers
Angel SAR, SARTI, NBATC

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Local news stories from our area on 05/03/2009 08:30:39 MDT Print View

I think it's time to take the red emergency banner off the top...

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
AWESOME NEWS!!!! on 05/03/2009 08:50:43 MDT Print View

So glad to hear that Ken is safe and sound. This has made my day.

Welcome back Ken.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: AWESOME NEWS!!!! on 05/03/2009 09:28:41 MDT Print View

As I expected, the nasty comments are starting to come in.

http://tinyurl.com/dh2g9u

If the link does not work for you, try the Lynchburg New and Advance's site, http://www.newsadvance.com. The comments are on the story headlined "Missing AT Hiker Found."

Edited by citystuckhiker on 05/03/2009 09:50:16 MDT.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Ken Knight - Awesome News on 05/03/2009 09:30:37 MDT Print View

After much worry, many prayers and a large outpouring of effort by many the outcome was positive, this time.

What can be done by/for Ken to help eliminate or reduce the risk of a recurrence. Is there such a thing as a trail trained seeing eye dog? I, for one, would be willing to contribute to such a cause in an effort to see Ken remain safely active within the hiking community.

I do not intend this as being critical or judgemental of the situation. It is obvious by the number of postings on this site alone that Ken is well thought of and respected. I'm being sincere in asking what, if anything, could be done to provide a greater level of safety on future adventures.

Would an electronic device such as a SPOT (Satellite Personal Tracker) or a ACR Personal Locator Beacon be a user friendly option for those visually impaired?

Edited by thomdarrah on 05/03/2009 11:15:09 MDT.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Ken Knight - Awesome News on 05/03/2009 09:33:35 MDT Print View

I'm reserving any comments on cause and future hikes until more facts come out from those involved.

j tomais
(jtomais) - F
nice on 05/03/2009 09:57:44 MDT Print View

Isn't it nice that your mag is now famous because your editor got lost? Ha! How much money did it cost to find your editor? I know, I am supposed to think courageous, but seems more like irresponsible.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Re: Nasty Comments online on 05/03/2009 09:58:20 MDT Print View

Deleted my comment. Not worth it. Glad Ken's great. Didn't realize that was him moderating all those podcasts I listened to on the way to work.

Edited by Rezniem on 05/03/2009 22:33:33 MDT.

Jonathan Boozer
(anywayoutside) - MLife

Locale: South East
Re: Re: Nasty Comments online on 05/03/2009 10:19:48 MDT Print View

Sometimes Nate it troubles me that I agree with you so much.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: nice on 05/03/2009 10:28:12 MDT Print View

Isn't it nice that your mag is now famous because your editor got lost? Ha! How much money did it cost to find your editor? I know, I am supposed to think courageous, but seems more like irresponsible.




Nice comment j tomias. Real mature. Glad you have such a wonderful opinion.

Edited by kennyhel77 on 05/03/2009 10:29:04 MDT.

Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 05/03/2009 10:43:28 MDT Print View

Don't feed the trolls just ignore it.

Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
Re: Re: nice on 05/03/2009 10:49:51 MDT Print View

Hey tomias have you ever:
1 broke the speed limit
2 swam in the ocean
3 played a sport in school
4 dove off a diving board

There are dangers everywhere, to live life is not irresponsible. Or are you insinuating that people with disabilities don't have the same right to pursue happiness as those who don't?

Tom Brown
(brown_thomas_t) - F
Re: Re: Nasty Comments online on 05/03/2009 10:56:18 MDT Print View

I'm one of the "Lynchburg trolls" Nate referred too. As Red Cross volunteers, my wife and I were also one of the people who was at the Incident Commmand center running the search for Ken at 6:30 am yesterday morning. I was there along with about 150 other local trolls who also volunteered their time and worked their butts off in the massive search for Ken.
Nate, I can tell you that none of us trolls would martyr themselves before rescuing someone who's lost in the woods - even you. Although, after your moronic comments and insults too those Virginians who had their boots on the ground instead of in a cozy chair in front of a computer, I'd definitely take the time to have an extra cup of coffee before I hit the trail looking for you.

Unknown abc
(edude) - F
Nasty Comments on 05/03/2009 10:56:59 MDT Print View

>"Ken Knight, 41, was found at the base of Little Rocky Row after a small signal fire he lit got out of control, turning into a 2-acre brush fire on the ridge that got everyone’s attention, said Lt. Brandon Co.cke of the Big Island Volunteer Fire Department."

>“He was fine, Said Co.cke "He was talking, laughing and carrying on.”

Wow, what misunderstanding jerks. I'll bet the 2 acre bush fire is an exxageration, those idiotic news peoples!

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Trolls on 05/03/2009 11:02:14 MDT Print View

Okay, this is getting off topic and I feel responsible.

Tom, I don't think you understand the term "troll", or else you wouldn't have called the volunteers on the ground "trolls". Trolls are people on the internet who get kicks out of posting incendiary, often cruel, things.....their favorite targets are the disadvantaged/minorities.....

Everyone here has nothing but respect and admiration for local volunteers.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: nice on 05/03/2009 11:02:43 MDT Print View

I take comfort in knowing that one S&R volunteer or professional contributes more to society and our nation than a thousand intertubes trolls. I also know that a successful search is a thousand times more rewarding to these selfless folks than a recovery operation.

By my crude arithmetic that means this wonderful outcome for Ken is one million times more valuable than a thoughtless lashing out from one small, angry person.

It's a happy day, indeed!

Unknown abc
(edude) - F
Trolls on 05/03/2009 11:05:33 MDT Print View

Yes, the S&R team as well as the ER people are the ones who deserve the honor here...I was taliking about the media that twists and exxagerates things so people will pay more attantion to the story. They are the jerks. just look at the exxagerated cooments above.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Ken Knight - Awesome News on 05/03/2009 11:59:59 MDT Print View

Please, please, don't turn what for most members of BPL is a joyous time and thread into something crass and irrelevant. Waiting for the news of Ken's safety has been quite emotional for a lot of us and this thread was where we watched it. If you want to quibble over silly ideas, please do it on another thread. It is disrespectful for what we went through and hoped for here.

Tom Brown
(brown_thomas_t) - F
Ken Knight awesome news on 05/03/2009 12:25:42 MDT Print View

Welcome home, Ken! I can't wait to read your account of this whole thing, but first take some time to just relax, rejoice, and reflect.

Amy Rochelle
(amylrochelle) - F
Personally, I admire Ken on 05/03/2009 12:55:32 MDT Print View

Personally, I admire Ken. He doesn't let his lack of sight define him or what he's able to accomplish and experinece in life. He's out living life to the fullest, and doing so independently, well educated and prepared.

People who know and love him were mobilized instanteously it seems. If only we could all be that kind of friend to percipitate such a respnse from so many people in our moment of need.

Derek Anderson
(asaw2513) - F
Wow on 05/03/2009 13:28:50 MDT Print View

Hello,
I was one of the people at the search and would first like to thank everyone for all the good things that have been said. I am glad ken is safe and is going to be allright. And would like to say thanks to all the people whom came out to help look for ken to. It was a pleasure to meet Ryan also. Not many people can say there boss will come help look for them if they were lost! As far as the comments that were on the media site. Just don't pay any mind to them. They are people that hide behind the computer screen and complain because they have nothing else to do. THE important thing is that by pulling all of the resources together such as, The VA dept of emergency management, the national park service, black diamond search and rescue, intermont search and rescue, Angel search and rescue, mid-Altaic search and rescue and all of the other VA SAR teams, the c-a-p, and all the fire fighters and volunteers and red-cross all pulled to gather to help find ken.

that is the most important thing of all that KEN IS SAFE. Who cares what those rude internet trolls say.

Edited by asaw2513 on 05/03/2009 13:31:24 MDT.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
positivity. on 05/03/2009 13:53:40 MDT Print View

Hi all.

As other posters have noted, it would be great to keep this thread SOLELY about the search for Ken and the positive conclusion to it.

I imagine that there could and should be another thread later where we all can talk about what went wrong and all that (I imagine Ken might want to be involved so it's all firsthand info); that's how we all learn more about how we all stay safe in the backcountry. But until then, let's try to limit this thread to our good wishes about Ken being safe and sound, and our thanks to all the hardworking SAR folks and other volunteers that helped to get him back safe.

So... welcome home Ken, and THANKS to everyone's great efforts to help make that happen!

Dave

Lyan Jordan
(redmonk)

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 05/03/2009 13:55:43 MDT Print View

Thank you to everyone involved in the search and rescue effort, and others that aided the process. It is so awesome to read that Ken is found, alive, and doing well.

Donald Johnston
(photonstove) - MLife
Some thoughts. on 05/03/2009 14:20:26 MDT Print View

I can understand the comments of some members of the general public to the newspaper articles. They don't have the perspective, don't understand and don't really want to. It's easy to judge and even easier to judge when you don't have anything more than general information or broad overview from one perspective. Whatever mind set is currently popular in the general public due to current events will also have it's influence.

Backpacking like many outdoor activities involves some risks. That is a part of it we all accept at some level. Some wouldn't really want to participate if there wasn't this challenge to overcome. All of use hope that should something go terribly wrong somebody will come looking for us and not be all about assigning blame and who should pay. We hope that we won't see our experience hashed over in public forums. Who can say what combination of circumstance will be the the one that would get us? Yet we all prepare because we accept that it could happen.

I was on site though I never did anything more than be available and listen. I'm sure I probably misunderstand some of it also but I think I'm close. From what I understand what Ken experianced this time normally would not play out this way but like most situations requiring rescue it was a combination of very minor things which combined to make the perfect storm. Maybe it isn't the storm that would have gotten me or you because our boat has a different design which just happens to make a difference. How did we end up on the boat we are on and will we always be in the right boat for the particular storm that comes our way? What if what I really need is a sub?

We backpackers try to learn everything we can to prepare for the unexpected and talk a lot about it and achieving balance at the same time in forums. We talk about what to do if indeed it does all go wrong. Ken is a very experienced backpacker and as each of us are aware of our individual circumstances he is well aware of his own and like us is normally very successful at managing it appropriately. He has been successful at it for more years than many of us have been into the sport. Ken actually achieved in this situation what may hikers who end up in a rescue situation have not by making enough correct choices to come out with a positive outcome. Most experienced backpackers will see this immediately but the general public will not. Those with less experiance may still think it won't happen to them because they are unable to see a situation that could get them. We have spent so much time and energy and care to make sure it won't. For most of us that one really bad day won't ever come. Yet in this community regardless of experience we all think we need to be prepared so it doesn't happen to us. We spend quite a lot of time on this subject.

You can exam any set of events after the fact and come up with a different way to do things next time. It's how we learn to do better next time.

When I put myself in Kens place I have real fears that I would not have made those correct decisions. I would have been to hasty. I probably would have taken some risk that might have gone very bad or gone good to get myself out of my situation. How many who didn't make it out have done this before me resulting in sage advice in the texts such as stay put and they will find you. Move around and you make it harder for them to find you. Could I have made myself stay in place with little food that many days? I like to eat.

Like many backpackers I didn't think I could be the one to accidentally start a forest fire but I had that notion scared out of me in a back county campground in Yosemite one year when I discovered the DIRT under my stove in this heavily impacted dirt campsite smoldering enough to burst into flame before my eyes when I lifted the stove to packet it up after I cooked dinner. Dirt doesn't burn does it? I learned that it can if composed of enough organics of the right kind and moisture level. I've always carried something very light but effective to place under my stove since.

Could I make signal fires every day for a week without a spark getting far enough away to set off something unnoticed before it is too late? I realized after this event that I have not practiced making signal fires. I wonder how many backpackers have? When the rubber hits the road and I need to do it how big does it need to be to make enough smoke using the materials I have at hand to be noticeable. Sure I've read about it but that isn't the same as doing. If this is a much larger fire than I have experience with how big of a clearing do I need to account for sparks that might travel and what about ground that might appear safe but doesn't turn out to be? I know how to make small controlled fires. Something big and smoky enough to attract attention isn't in my practiced skill set. Could I achieve a week worth of signal fires before something went wrong?

Many of us have hiked with Ken. Those few I have talked to would not be very critical of how he handled his perfect storm. Impressed is more descriptive. I'm sure he has spent a lot of time the past few days pondering what little things he could do differently to shift the odds farther away from this occurring again. I expect he will have gained valuable insight I could learn from.

Photon

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Some thoughts. on 05/03/2009 15:42:54 MDT Print View

Nicely said, Photon. Your post should be required reading for any of us who are tempted to rush in with Monday morning quarterbacking. For myself, I'm happy that Ken is safe, and I'll wait for his own post-trip analysis.

Edited by Dondo on 05/03/2009 22:34:57 MDT.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 05/03/2009 16:26:12 MDT Print View

Hey, you live & learn. Nice to learn from others' mistakes, but it doesn't always work that way.

Dana S
(Naman919) - F

Locale: Richmond, Virginia
Welcome back on 05/03/2009 16:33:38 MDT Print View

Humbled at the way our community has banded together to support all the SAR operations. Thank you to everyone involved in the search for Ken.

Great to have you back Ken!

Joshua Billings
(Joshua) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz,Ca
Good news on 05/03/2009 16:50:32 MDT Print View

Glad you made it out safely. Good to know that BPL can be used to rescue people. I should hope my name would never be in a red band above the screen but its nice to think that BPL would be there as a tool in my rescue.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Good news on 05/03/2009 16:55:18 MDT Print View

I'm still floored by the amount of support that went out from non-BPL sources. Twitter, for example, had this news flying around very quickly after Ryan posted it here.

Lisa Tompsett
(nativecherokee) - F
Prayers Answered on 05/03/2009 17:09:58 MDT Print View

Thank God Ken was found and is alive to tell the story!

I heard of Ken's disappearance from a co-worker whose husband is friends with him. I don't know Ken at all yet I have been drawn to the story of his disappearance with a concern I can't explain. I prayed very hard for his safe return and am glad to hear it happened! It was very touching to see the outpour of concern and the way people near and far gathered to help with the efforts to bring this man home alive. As many others have already said we can only ignore and feel sorry for those who condemn and criticize Ken for being brave enough to continue with his passion for hiking despite his disability. No time or money on this earth is too much when it is spent to save a human life!

Ron Hedlund
(papamuskrat) - F
Why people do SAR on 05/03/2009 17:11:57 MDT Print View

Life is a gift from God. It is precious and priceless, and that is why so many people put so much into the SAR effort. Many situations I see, I realize it could easily have been me in the ringer. Mistakes get made. Sometimes, even when we learn from them, we make them again.

I'll wait for the dust to settle before putting deeper thought to pen. Still recovering from the short-term effects of gravity on an aged, overweight body.
Reply With Quote

from sarman on Whiteblaze.com

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Looking forward to Ken's analysis on 05/03/2009 17:24:11 MDT Print View

Yes, I hope someone will get the red banner off the home page! Of course it is a weekend! With the entire BPL staff either looking for or worrying about Ken for most of yesterday, they deserve a rest day.

I am looking forward to Ken's own analysis of what happened. I know it will probably be a while--it should be, because he needs to recover from the experience and gain some perspective on it.

Since I have reduced vision in one eye from a detached retina and several subsequent surgeries, am at high risk for the same thing happening again in either eye, and have a family history of macular degeneration, I could very likely end up as a visually impaired backpacker myself. This makes me doubly interested in Ken's situation!

One other thing: it's not every boss who would drop everything and travel across half a continent to help search for an employee! I well remember a colleague who almost got fired when he left work to participate in a SAR operation to which he was called. Fortunately, our human resources department scolded the supervisor instead! Good for you, Ryan!

Photon, your post was excellent!

Edited by hikinggranny on 05/03/2009 17:50:46 MDT.

Matthew Roberts
(matthewjamesroberts) - F

Locale: San Fernando Valley
Red Alert on 05/03/2009 17:36:13 MDT Print View

I have also been following Ken's progress. I am excited to hear the wonderful news.

The red banner at the top of the page has served to be very effective.

1

It would be appropriate for one of the backpackinglight.com website admins to rewrite the Emergency Alert at the top of the webpage to "MISSING HIKER FOUND".

Edited by matthewjamesroberts on 05/03/2009 17:39:27 MDT.

James Walke
(jaywalke2) - F
Re: Some thoughts. on 05/03/2009 17:55:26 MDT Print View

"Never did anything"? What are you talking about? If you had not been there, who would have rocked that mesh shirt to represent the UL community?

Seriously, Don, I think just talking to his parents about past trips provided a degree of comfort equal (or beyond) going out with a team. I know that seeing his friends come from far and wide meant a great deal to them.

Derek Anderson
(asaw2513) - F
freinds on 05/03/2009 18:44:51 MDT Print View

I think it was also great that many of his friends and family traveled a very long way to help look for him.

Timothy Foutz
(glad777) - MLife

Locale: Virginia
Re: Re: Nasty Comments online on 05/03/2009 22:13:53 MDT Print View

Hey Nate you are as big an idiot on this as everything else. Everything is about politics with you. You are nothing but a typical whining leftist. You want to take shots at people in Virginia pal come hear and do it on the ground. You will find we don't take well to being insulted by leftists from a shall we say manhood challenged part of California.
One more thing you leftwing idiot 60 percent of the budget is not spent on the war. The bulk of the goverment spending is used for social programs and education and whatever other scams you leftists have inflicted on us.

Timothy:
A somewhat rash and intemperate personal attack which has resulted in several people very quickly Reporting your posting. Oh Dear.
Let's all try to retain a sense of humour and good will?
Cheers
Roger Caffin
Online Community Monitor
Backpacking Light

Edited by rcaffin on 05/03/2009 22:33:32 MDT.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
moderator needed - personal attack on 05/03/2009 22:23:55 MDT Print View

timothy - i think you forgot to count to ten first.

nate wasn't criticizing virginia in general, just the trolls.

btw - my dad was born there, my mother lives there & i completed my military training there. there are many wonderful things about virginia and many wonderful people there, just like there are many wonderful things about california and many wonderful people here.

btw, nate is one of those wonderful people, even though he's not from california :)

Lawton Grinter
(disco) - M

Locale: Rocky Mountains
positivity on 05/03/2009 22:58:15 MDT Print View

Ditto what Dave T said.

Ken we are all glad you are alive and well . . . and quite relieved!

-Disco

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: positivity on 05/03/2009 23:04:32 MDT Print View

Positivity...seriously.

I don't know Ken, but I think anyone that spends any time in the backcountry can empathize with the situation that him and his family and friends just went through.

Cheers and keep trekkin' Ken!

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Timothy Foutz on 05/04/2009 07:57:04 MDT Print View

Firstly, I'm glad Ken Knight was found. I'm also glad that BPL could mobilize its resources to help in the rescue efforts.

That said...

Timothy Foutz, wow what to say? Can you maybe provide a working definition for "whining leftist"? How about a working definition for intolerant bigot? Maybe, while you're at it, you could do me a favor and provide some sort of substantive evidence that the bulk of the US budget is spent on social programs?

Clearly, whatever is being spent, it wasn't enough to educate you, was it Tim?

I hardly post here anymore. BPL seems haunted by gear fetishists and trolls these days. I rarely learn anything here anymore. But I was well pleased that BPL could help rescue Ken. Too bad he has to come home to this kind of sh*t.

Mark Eggeman
(Mark_Eggeman) - F
Thank You on 05/04/2009 09:15:44 MDT Print View

I just wanted to take a moment to thank Ryan Jordan and the others who assisted us with the search for Ken. I know you had to tolerate a lot of questions and long interviews, but your insight as to Ken's routines and hiking habits were a huge advantage to us. Thanks again for all of your help, and please convey our best wishes to Ken.

Kind Regards,
Mark Eggeman
VA. State Search & Rescue Coordinator

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Thank You on 05/04/2009 09:33:40 MDT Print View

Timothy, have you ever been to California? Orange County which seems to be about half of Los Angeles as well as the bread basket area of our state ie The Central Valley vote conservative. Oh, we also have a Republican Gov. too. Your damnation of all things California sounded rather heavy handed and not too informed. I think that the next time you spout off about politics, you should get a degree in it first, then you and I can talk trade so to speak. I have been to Virginia many times passing through on I-95. Richmond is a wonderful place and the scenery is quite beautiful. I really feel the shot you took at Nate was not cool. BTW he is a California transplant, like alot of people that live here. Which means that he is from another state.
Signed, your bleeding heart liberal.

PS It must bum you out that Obama is doing a good job huh?

Kathleen B
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Ken Knight is Found on 05/04/2009 09:40:43 MDT Print View

Here's an article from an Ann Arbor newspaper that has a little more information about what happened to Ken.

http://www.mlive.com/news/annarbornews/index.ssf?/base/news-32/124144804992460.xml&coll=2

Misfit Mystic
(cooldrip)

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: Thank You on 05/04/2009 09:47:27 MDT Print View

Mr. Eggeman the thanks go to you and the rest of VA SAR, and to all the others across the country, tirelessly working to ensure happy endings!

Paul Haan
(Siler) - F
a little reflection on 05/04/2009 12:10:33 MDT Print View

The emotions from this weekend are beginning to settle and before this thread goes dead I’d like to share a few observations which may be instructive to those interested in learning.

I am one of Ken’s friends from Michigan who went down to VA to help in the effort. I can tell you I was blown away by the professionalism and the response of the VA SAR groups. The systematic, evidence-based way that they approached this search made me very confident in their efforts to find Ken — but that did not relieve my emotions when it came to imagining what condition he might be in when found. Nothing could address my emotions other than finding him.

As others have pointed out, Ken needs to accept the assistance and interactions of other hikers, even if it is not welcomed or uncomfortable. That is one lesson that should be learned to avoid a re-occurrence for Ken as he rightfully continues his hiking.

I would like to address some other decision points from which any of us who hike in groups can learn… not Ken’s actions, but the actions of those around him. Actions which certainly were not causal in nature, but which certainly impacted how events unfolded.

I have lead group hikes in the past and will continue to lead them in the future, but I know I will do them a little differently from this point on. Following are some of the things I will do as a result of lessons learned.

1) I will require participants to clearly state any medical, personal or other pertinent limitations that they may have that will impact the group hike. I will also inform the participant that this information will be shared with all other participants should they choose to join the group hike.

2) I will share this information on individual limitations with all others in the group in advance, and will review these issues at the pre-trip briefing.

3) I will strongly encourage group participants to be mindful of the whereabouts of their fellow hikers at all times. Personally, I believe this business of “I’ll meet you at the shelter” should be reserved for casual acquaintances met along the trail, but not for organized group hikes. I don’t personally ascribe to the “we’re a group but we’re all hiking independently” philosophy. Either we’re a group or we’re not, and everyone needs to know EXACTLY where things stand.

4) At exit, I will require the whole group to stay put until all hikers are out. One of the biggest factors in delaying the search for Ken was the fact that the group disbanded and then later needed to make group decisions about what could of possibly happened.

I know many of us hike with people we have never or barely met before. In the future, I know I will be more careful in assessing the dynamic being established in a group and will do what I can to foster accountability.

When I met Ken as he was exiting the hospital, one of his more astounding comments was when he said he thought people were looking for him as soon as Monday, maybe even Sunday night. When we pointed out that that was far from the truth, he was absolutely shocked. After getting off the trail, he did many things right (staying put, making sure he had water, shelter, etc.). Had there been closer tabs upon his location and a more prompt identification of the fact that he was lost, I am certain that he would have been located much earlier and with much fewer resources expended. And I don’t think that is an unreasonable expectation to have of the hiking community.

I would encourage all of us to continue to follow this situation as the facts now unfold and more objective lessons are learned. I encourage everyone to think “how does this apply to me? And what can I do better as a result of this shared experience?” We can all do some reflecting upon what it means to be a hike leader, a group participant, and a member of the hiking community.

Please don’t take this missive as an attempt to place blame on any one person. I will admit that I have broken all of these lessons learned in the past just like anyone else. I’m simply broadcasting these thoughts in the hopes that we can all learn something from this experience.

Lastly, I’ll be joining many of Ken's freinds in making sure that Ken is making an objective assessment of this experience, learning from it, and changing behavior. And I have the good fortune of being able to do that in person!

Hike safely!

Siler
GAME’00
LT’01

Ron Hedlund
(papamuskrat) - F
Siler's Got It Right On on 05/04/2009 12:37:56 MDT Print View

Siler, you make many very well reasoned statements of fact and opinion. It was truly a pleasure to work with you Saturday. It is not always a good situation to have friends of the subject tag along on mission tasks, but that was not the case with you.

I have a lot of respect for you and your abilities, and should I ever have the opportunity in the future, I would enjoy your company on a hike. And please personally, extend my best wishes to Ken.

Joe Figura
(GrinchMT) - F

Locale: Big Sky Country
Re: Reflection on 05/04/2009 12:41:13 MDT Print View

As an ex Paramedic & SAR person, I agree with your assessments. Not knowing the full story, and even now not knowing it but getting the jist of it, I questioned why he had been missing since Sunday without being reported, or where was his group? I am glad Ken had the knowledge to do the right thing and stay put and that he is now safe.

Kudos to all who stepped up to the plate to find Ken. Mission accomplished :)

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: a little reflection on 05/04/2009 12:42:00 MDT Print View

Siler,
wise words. I couldn't agree more. Everyone should reflect on his or her role in what has happened during this week and should consider ways to prevent that this can happen again.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: a little reflection on 05/04/2009 12:54:11 MDT Print View

The Sierra Club will train people to lead trips for free (except for some leadership seminars and partial cost of wilderness first aid) and they go over all of what Siler mentioned.

Edited by jshann on 05/04/2009 13:54:30 MDT.

Ron Hedlund
(papamuskrat) - F
Other dynamics involved on 05/04/2009 13:16:15 MDT Print View

There were many dynamics at play here, from what I have learned from post-reports and from e-mails received from hiking party members.

I feel confident Siler and other friends, family and boss will prevail.

The blogging has certainly been more dramatic and less focused than the searching. :)

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Re: Re: a little reflection on 05/04/2009 13:32:21 MDT Print View

Here's a link from a member of Ken's "group" about when/why they started the search.

In short, it doesn't sound like there was a "leader" for the trip. Just more of a shuttle organizer. Everyone was on their own. If they left early or stayed late, they were on their own. There were no expectations that someone in the group would even be aware of your location on the trail and/or if you went home early.

greg osborne
(outdoorsmanonat) - F
at hiker and Intermont/black dimond member on 05/04/2009 14:21:31 MDT Print View

i have to say one thing, the main thing ken is safe and is in good health. I was also on the search for him all night friday into early morning hours, and all day saturday.the other thing is that ken did the right thing by staying put and trying to signal for help. knowing the terrain and were he was with the over cast its hard enough for hikers as is to go through a few sections. there was one climb that was 3,157 ft in a 8 to telve mile spand, w/ alot of deep drainages. 300+ acres to search was a large task for the area. his friends and family giving intell to VASAR was a big help and much thanks to them.And would like to add one thought for all hikers, if ever lost (hopefully never) a loud whistle goes a long ways, three long blast signals for help. and dont be afraid to ask for it. life in its self is to short not to give up a egoe. and to ken much much respect to you i know personly i couldn't have done what you have.

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: at hiker and Intermont/black dimond member on 05/04/2009 14:58:18 MDT Print View

>I would encourage all of us to continue to follow this situation as the facts now unfold and more objective lessons are learned. I encourage everyone to think “how does this apply to me? And what can I do better as a result of this shared experience?”

To me, it sounds like this group of hikers had very different expectations about what it meant (and therefor what would be done) if one of them didn't show up at a given shelter each night.

The big takeaway from that, I think, is that we do need to make those that may depend on us and those we may depend on (it's a two way street) quite aware of our expectations. They're not always the most pleasant discussions to have, and require some give in our egos, but they are certainly important. As hikers more more towards a cohesive group, it requires more accountability, but provides more security. As they move towards hiking alone, there's more autonomy, but also the necessity for more self-reliance. Either way, its most important that people know their status, so they can act accordingly.

Edited by dsmontgomery on 05/04/2009 14:59:26 MDT.

Brandon Cocke
(VaFarFighter) - F
Big Island Vol. Fire Company on 05/04/2009 15:35:46 MDT Print View

My name is Brandon Co cke, Lieutenant of the Big Island Vol. Fire Department here in Central Virginia. I have been reading these posts and would like to add a little bit of personal knowledge. I would also like to answer a couple of questions about the fire, and subsequent "find" of Mr. Knight.

Yes, the fire was contained at approx. 2 acres of land. But, the reason the fire was this size was due to the fire department, not Mr. Knight. The fire had gotten into a very rocky, and steep area of the mountain. Due to these conditions a fire line was dug around the fire, and in some places a good distance from the fire. The fire was then allowed to burn to the fire line, and let the fire extinguish itself. Take away the fires fuel, the fire can't continue to burn. This is how all wildland fires are contained, not by using water. Unfortunately this does increase the over all size of the fire, but it is very effective.

And now for the "billing" and "costs" that so many people have talked about. This company is a very proud 100% volunteer department. We have never, and do not plan to ever bill a person for fighting a fire, of any kind. And being that I was the officer in charge of the fire that Mr. Knight started, I do not foresee this changing now. As for Mr. Knight starting the fire, no one in this company has any hard feelings toward Mr. Knight for his actions. If I were in the same position, I would have done the exact same thing. Big Island Vol. Fire Company has the privilege of serving two counties, The County of Amherst and the County of Bedford (where we are stationed). Both communities are very good to the company and they make sure we are funded to purchase equipment, and tools for these types of calls. Not to mention that it just wouldn't be right to send any "customer" or our services a bill.

I would like to also add that Mr. Knight did indeed walk out of the woods and get into the ambulance under his own power. This was amazing to me considering everything he had been through. To Mr. Knight: Central Virginia is in the middle of "The Bible Belt". And though the community of Big Island did not personally know you, please know that tons of prayers were said for you. We were all extremely happy that you came out without any injury.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Big Island Vol. Fire Company on 05/04/2009 16:25:39 MDT Print View

Hi Brandon

Welcome to Backpacking Light.

We do appreciate you letting us know about why the fire reached 2 acres. Fwiiw, I have been a member of our local volunteer bushfire brigade here in Australia (where I live), and I understand exactly what you are saying about making a containment line around the fire. We fight fires that way too.

I think I can speak for Backpacking Light and its members in saying a big thanks to you and your brigade members for your assistance in helping Ken. We do appreciate it.

Yours
Roger Caffin
Senior Editor for Technology
Backpacking Light

Dan Cunningham
(mn-backpacker)

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Re: Big Island Vol. Fire Company on 05/04/2009 19:48:34 MDT Print View

Brandon, my hat is off. People like you make the world a better place. Thank you for being you, and thanks for helping the rest of us.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: a little reflection on 05/04/2009 23:15:15 MDT Print View

Thank you Siler for your thoughtful examination of the situation and your responses and suggestions. This is the kind of response I was looking for in another thread I started about learning from Ken's ordeal, but I guess I phrased my intentions poorly.

I am a Type 1 diabetic and my condition is very serious out away from immediate help. I've done a lot of mountain walking and know what I am doing, but in spite of that, three times, while I was on my own, twice in the deep backcountry mountains here in Japan and once two years ago in the Alps in France, I got into situations where I almost died due to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar attack). Luckily in all the Japanese situations I was able to keep my head and carefully think my way out of the problem, and in France a woman walking late in the evening just happened to walk by and offered chocolate bars (plus, I was astounded to find out, she knew how to deal with my situation), but if the blood sugar had gone down so low that I lost consciousness I wouldn't be here today writing this.

Whenever I go hiking with others (or even whenever I start teaching my classes or go to dinner with someone) I always let the others know what my condition is and what might happen. Nine times out of ten nothing happens and there is no need for concern, and even when something does happen I am prepared and deal with it right there (I am no longer shy about stopping to eat something or taking out my insulin and injecting myself in a restaurant or in front of others, but in the first few years it was terribly embarrassing and humiliating and I would go seek a public bathroom to inject myself... something I can't stand doing due to the atrocious conditions of public bathrooms). I always carry a cell phone for emergencies and always have a special bag of emergency food just in case. I leave, with loved ones, detailed maps and directions about where I am going and how I will get there. Unfortunately Japanese mountain safety authorities can be awfully lax about keeping tabs on who is up there (they are woefully understaffed and underfunded, too) so a lot of the people and places to leave information at the trailhead and such just don't exist (then, civilization is never as far away as it is in the States or Australia).

I think your decision to tell other members of a hiking group about an individual's condition is an important point, and such information could help preserve the safety of the group and provide other member's valuable starting points for when that individual does get into trouble. From the way you spoke about Ken it seems you understand how unwelcome or uncomfortable help from others can be, but, and I say this mostly for the benefit of other leaders, please do be careful about what and the way the highly personal information about a person with disabilities is divulged. This information not only constantly forces such people to have to bite back their feelings about publicly spreading highly personal information around among people who would most likely not reveal their own highly personal information to strangers, but there is history behind the diseases and disabilities that people have, history of fear, pain, anger, prejudice, ridicule, a sense of helplessness. People with disabilities are forced to learn how to deal with this in order to survive and so will often allow their information to be disseminated, but not without regret or anxiety. I once told a class of my university students about why I had to occasionally eat something in front of them in the class (in Japan it is frowned upon to eat in public, especially a workplace) and the students proceeded to spend the whole class making fun of me and jeering at me. I laughed it off, but the humiliation hurt a lot. Of course, these were particularly juvenile students and so I couldn't expect more from them.

Part of living with a disability is to come to terms with your own vulnerability, imperfections, frailty, and even mortality. Everyone has to face that, of course, but with a disability it hits home very hard, and with something chronic it never goes away. You have to learn to grow a thick skin and, if you want to make through mentally, to grow to have a sense of humor about what you can't do anything about. I admire Ken a lot for having the courage to get out there and continue hiking in spite of the fear (and that fear NEVER goes away, no matter how much they say they don't fear it) and limitations. Having my own disability and having face situations where my disability put me in life-threatening danger, I understand, viscerally, what he is up against. Having a disability, in one way, has its advantages, too. For one you learn to grow strong and overcome fear and limitations. Two, you learn to truly live within a community, relying on other people. All of us are reliant upon others to survive, but a disability brings this home in a way that doesn't allow argument or excuses or denial. Sometimes a very hard pill to swallow if you are proud and independent.

Ken's story is a great lesson for all of us going out there. The way he dealt with the situation is an great example of how things should be done and I'd very much like to see an article here about it.

Thanks for listening.

Miguel Arboleda
Tokyo, Japan

Edited by butuki on 05/04/2009 23:22:25 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: a little reflection on 05/05/2009 10:33:29 MDT Print View

Miguel, have you ever brought up to your doc for you to decrease insulin dosage as a way to keep blood sugar a little higher (only during your trip) so you don't run the risk of hypoglycemia? Doc may say hail no, but it'd be interesting to know his opinion. Incapacitating hypoglycemia will kill, but mild hyperglycemia won't. I guess the high sugar could cause an issue with water (increased thirst, increased urination) though.

Edited by jshann on 05/05/2009 10:46:57 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: a little reflection on 05/05/2009 11:54:53 MDT Print View

Hi John, yes, I do decrease the insulin, but it is often hard to gauge exactly how much when doing very strenuous walks. The stress from being in a foreign country and being pretty scared about whether I can manage to control everything while there kicks in, too, making it doubly hard to guess what doses I should take. For the most part I do pretty well with controlling the insulin when I'm in familiar territory, and most of the time I have no problems, but occasionally, as such things tend to do, things get out of whack.

I try as much as possible not to eat foods too high in sugar, and tend to do much better with carbohydrates that have a lot of fiber in them, making the energy last longer. But I also need to supplement that with good amounts of protein and fats. I tend to bonk when relying too much on carbohydrates, and that is what often causes the hypoglycemia.

My doctor is okay, but I've never had good diabetes care here in Japan. The medical system here is antediluvian and I'm always surprised by how much more knowledgeable diabetic patients are in the States and Europe. All my doctor said to me when I told her about walking the mountains was, "Wow! Your should write a book! None of my other patients do things like that!" No help beyond that.

Mark Hurd
(markhurd) - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: on staying put. on 05/05/2009 14:11:58 MDT Print View

When Ken realized he was lost he did what is generally recommended and stayed put. That single act may have saved his life, especially given his visual difficulties. I would offer that staying put is a brave and difficult thing to do for most of us. A poster here by the name of Lorraine Pace published the following in a thread about lost Mt Hood Climbers a couple of years ago. It is pretty long, but makes a great point and I think is worth the space.

-Mark
------------------------------------
Lorraine wrote:

Someone named Stuart posted this at www.buschcraftuk.com in the bushcraft and survival forum. It's brilliant so thought I'd share it. It's geared at hiking rather than climbing, but the idea works.

"Survival is all about a good cup of tea.

This is an idea which I suppose was born from a conversation I had with Mors about a year ago. we were sitting by the fire discussing Mors favourite beverage coffee, when we came to the conclusion that as long as you had what you needed to make a cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate you could make yourself very comfortable in the wilderness.

I thought back to this conversation recently whilst in Brunei trying to form a lesson plan for teaching civilians (not survival/bushcraft enthusiasts) preparation and initial action plans for becoming lost in the jungle.


"FOR GOD'S SAKE MAN, DO SOMTHING!"

The primary mistake made by individuals who suddenly realise that they have become disorientated is to assume that they must do something immediately about their situation, even if they are not sure what exactly they should be doing.

This overwhelming urge to do something often leads to people choosing a random direction which they assure themselves is the right way, setting off and continuing to wander with increasing panic until darkness falls and they are forced to stop and endure an extremely uncomfortable night out.

of course the correct action would be to stay put, relax and think about the situation whilst preparing for the possibility of an extended stay, once you have relaxed and taken the time to think about what happened and observe your unfamiliar surroundings things often become clearer (this takes at least an hour) you may suddenly realise exactly where you went wrong and be able to orientate yourself with your surroundings.

if you don’t take the time to sit down relax and think, and instead simply push on without knowing where you are or where your going you are just making it harder for people to find you as the chances are high that you are simply walking further and further away from you planned route.

there are of course acronyms use for training the military which cover the correct actions in this situation:

S. stop
T. think
O. orientate
P. plan


however it has been my experience that the desire to be doing something to help the situation is so strong that many people will continue to wander aimlessly hoping they will find there way even whilst repeating to themselves Stop, think, orientate, plan. they have convinced themselves that the initial minute and thirty seconds that they stopped and looked around as it dawned on them that this wasn’t where they were supposed to be, constituted the stop, think and orientate portions and that deciding to walk "Thaddaway" constituted a plan.

what I felt was needed was a simple and familiar task which required little or no cognitive thought and which would occupy the individual satisfying their need to do something whilst at the same time forcing them to stay in one place long enough for them to relax and return to a rational state of mind.

this task would ideally be something that was static and took time to complete but which every individual knew how to accomplish without thought or any special training, it would also be beneficial if the task went some way to preparing them for an extended stay if necessary.

"TEA, TWO SUGARS PLEASE"

and thus I decided to tell my students that they should at all times carry a small pouch on their belt when heading out which contained all the items necessary to make a cup of tea in the bush and as soon as they found themselves outside there comfort zone they should immediately sit down and start brewing.

this action whilst satisfying the need to do something forces the individual to stop and prepare a fire, then boil some water, have a warming drink and a think, all without consciously thinking about it

in doing so they have created a fire which will provide them with warmth, cooking, water purification, light, a rescue signal, and psychological security.
They have hydrated themselves and provided warmth internally via the tea and more importantly the action of making a cup of tea is a familiar one and undertaking a familiar task makes the situation feel less threatening and goes some way to making the person psychologically more comfortable.

In addition to all this the ‘cup of tea’ method deals with a fundamental part of such situations which is often overlooked in survival and rescue training…. cultural attitudes and social stigma.

“WHY DON’T MEN ASK FOR DIRECTIONS?”

A fundamental factor when explaining why people acted the way they did when faced with the realisation that things were going wrong (and one which most effects men) is caused by social and cultural conditioning.

It is well known to search and rescue institutions the world over that lost men (its almost exclusively males) will sometimes deliberately hide from the search teams and some will deliberately injure themselves or freign an injury when they realise they are about to be rescued.

WHY? It’s the case of a simple five letter word which plays a big part in the physiological approach to a survival situation especially with males:

PRIDE

In the first instance they hide from the rescue teams because they are still convinced that they can get themselves out of this situation without the perceived shame and ridicule of having to be rescued, often they feel that they if they can quietly follow the rescue teams without being noticed they can get out and announce confidently “Lost? Me? Never! I knew exactly where I was, I didn’t need rescuing”

In the second instance people who are simply lost will injure themselves deliberately or fake an injury as they realise rescuers are coming for them, this time to avoid the perceived ridicule of being “an idiot who got lost and had to be rescued, by real men” with an injury (fake or otherwise) they can claim “yes I was making a daring ascent of the north face in whiteout conditions when I was caught in a rock fall and injured, I therefore had to await rescue whist enduring the harsh conditions and my injury, Lost? No not at all.”

Sounds crazy I know but any S&R personnel will confirm the above, Male pride is a powerful thing (powerfully stupid)

The other social aspect is the stigma attached to carrying survival equipment, many people fear that when Joe public asks “what’s in that pouch on your belt” and receives the reply “my survival kit” they will imagine them to be a Rambo wannabe who is probably a little strange and sleeps in camouflage pyjamas.

Even those that own survival kits often don’t carry them because “it’s only a day walk, I wont need it” the perception being that survival kits are for jungle expeditions and mountaineers

How does the cup or tea approach combat this then? Well the feeling that you must do something often stems from the fear of how you will be ridiculed if you don’t get yourself out and have to be rescued.

As an example scenario the group that I was teaching in Brunei were all expatriate workers and participants in the Hash, for those not familiar with Hashing it is a weekly social event which involves cross country running along trails marked with paper followed by much consumption of alcoholic beverages (often called a drinking club with a slight running problem).

Where ever there is an expat community there will be a hash club and the runs cover what ever terrain the country offers in Saudi Arabia the runs are done in the desert and here in Brunei they take place in the jungle, the participants don’t actually know where the trail goes they just follow the paper.

The combination of often harsh environments, the runners not actually knowing where they are going, and the often poor preparation of the participants who run off into the desert or jungle late in the evening wearing football boots, shorts and a t-shirt carrying only a 1lt of water means that becoming lost is common place and deaths although rare have occurred on hashes.

People who do become lost can look forward to the well established tradition of being ridiculed for the rest of the evening and forthcoming runs until the misfortune of someone else moves the focus of attention.

Hash clubs are a perfect example of the worst conditions for the social pressures which lead to serious survival situations.

Even though they are about to run a route they don’t know into the jungle/desert, runners don’t carry survival equipment because no one else does and they don’t want to appear odd, peer pressure at its best.

When a runner loses the trail they often don’t sit and wait to be found because this will entail ridicule, instead they wander desperately trying to find the trail again in the failing light.

In these often testosterone rich environments the cup of tea approach often works where others fail, by short circuiting the whole “Oh **** must do something, must find the trail, don’t want to look like a fool, I’ll go thaddaway” scenario.

With my students I simply instilled the understanding that if anyone asked what was in the pouch it wasn’t a survival kit, it was a brew kit for making a cup of tea when they took a rest stop. This doesn’t seem as odd to Joe public and seems positively normal if you happen to be English.

if you find yourself lost and disorientated with a sudden urge to do something and a fear of being ridiculed after rescue, STOP and make a cup of tea, since you haven’t wandered too far of course and you now have a fire someone will probably be along shortly and when they do happen upon you, your not lost you simply stopped for a cup of tea, would they like to join you? You can walk out together after.

And if no one finds you tonight, well you have a fire going, some water purified and enough tea for tomorrow and most importantly your not thrashing your way though the jungle in the dark, thirsty and exhausted with no idea where your going.

Survival, it’s as easy as making a cup of tea."

Kenneth Knight
(kenknight) - MLife

Locale: SE Michigan
Alive and Well on 05/05/2009 14:54:05 MDT Print View

I am alive and well. I realize everyone reading this thread knows this by now, but you have not heard it from me yet and it is high time I said so. I am healthy, happy, and getting my life back to normal.

I want to thank everyone who kept me in their thoughts. I especially want to thank the SAR teams that were searching for me along with the invaluable help of friends from Michigan and Backpacking Light's own Ryan Jordan.

I see that there has been discussion already taking place about what I should or should not have done, about whether a person with low-vision should even be allowed to hike, and what can be learned from this whole affair. I will have plenty to say in due time but I am not going to rush in and respond to specific comments in this thread at this time.

For now rest and relaxation is the order of the day.

Ken Knight

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Questions about the Ken Knight SAR Mission? on 05/05/2009 14:56:45 MDT Print View

Hello Everyone,

Ken will probably post a short hello here soon. Also, I know you all have abound a thousand questions for Ken, and about the rescue.

I've been compiling a long list of the important questions (and answers from first hand sources!) surrounding the incident, and will be posting it at BPL in the next 24 hours.

If you would like to submit a question to be considered for inclusion in the FAQ, please do so here:

Submit a Question about the Ken Knight SAR Mission

Thanks again for everyone's support during the past week. Pretty incredible community we have here. I'm really proud to be a part of it.

Best,
Ryan Jordan
CEO Backpacking Light

Edited by ryan on 05/05/2009 15:13:59 MDT.

Chris Chastain
(Thangfish) - F

Locale: S. Central NC, USA
Re: Alive and Well on 05/05/2009 16:54:46 MDT Print View

"...every now and then I know it's kinda hard to tell, but I'm still Alive and Well!" - Rick Derringer

Welcome back. Can hardly wait for the story.

Jeremy Greene
(tippymcstagger) - F

Locale: North Texas
Re: Alive and Well on 05/05/2009 19:33:09 MDT Print View

Glad everything worked out OK. I look forward to reading an article on this event. No need to rush it though. Good to have you back.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Alive and Well on 05/05/2009 19:33:28 MDT Print View

http://www.newsadvance.com/lna/news/local/article/rescued_hiker_recounts_six_days_lost_in_mountains/15696/

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Pay for the rescue efforts? on 05/06/2009 05:19:54 MDT Print View

From the above article: "Knight refused to address comments that suggest he should be held financially liable for the cost of his search and rescue or liable for the damage caused by the fire he set."

Good for you Ken. A couple of thoughts on people who think Ken should be financially responsible....

1. You weren't there.

2. If you had been there, I doubt you would have told yourself, "I hope no one is looking for me. Otherwise I'll have to pay for this. Well, I guess I should sit here and wait to die."

3. I don't hear anyone saying that people who are rescued by the Coast Guard should get billed, for example.

4. "but he burnt two acres of land!" Two acres is not that large of an area folks. Granted, it could have gotten bigger, but the fact is, two acres is smaller than two football fields. Its about the size of a square with sides being 295 feet long. Plus, firefighters LET the fire get larger than it was because of the containment ring they dug around it.

5. Most of those involved were VOLUNTEERS. If I volunteer for something, its usually not because I'm receiving vast sums of money in return.

6. "he shouldn't hike because of his vision." Many people without vision problems get lost every year. Picture your favorite hobby/pastime/thing to do. Now have some stranger tell you that you shouldn't do it because you walk with a limp, or only have 4 fingers, or are visually impaired, or whatever. I don't think that would fly too well with you.

Many people chose to jump into action to find Ken without thinking of themselves. What would we all have thought if those involved made a different choice? Here's the headline for you. "Man dies on mountain because fears of the cost of a rescue mission trumped rescue efforts." Those same people saying Ken should pay for this would be saying that more people should have done something. Ken was right when he said, "There’s a lot of backseat hiking going on."

Edited by T.L. on 05/08/2009 17:40:10 MDT.

Jocelyn Dawn
(JocelynDawn) - F

Locale: BuenaVista, Glasgow
Piffle on the naysayers on 05/06/2009 12:15:52 MDT Print View

A few thoughts:

1. Glad to hear you're doing well, Ken. Super-glad to hear that you were missing b/c you temporarily misplaced yourself rather than b/c you ran into a momma bear.

2. I don't think that Ken being legally blind was the single reason he lost the trail and I think people are making too big a deal out of it... statistically speaking, lots of people get lost on the trails each year and the vast majority of them are both fully sighted and not as capable as Ken - and considering that I live in the area of the incident, I can vouch for the trail systems being confusing and intersections being easy to miss in many places.

3. That Ken is legally blind is no reason to not hike. There is absolutely no reason to not hike, period - there are simply situations that require extra precautions. If you're diabetic, carry emergency glucose supplements. I wear glasses; if I should fall and break my glasses, I'd be in much the same situation as Ken was, able to make out shapes and colors but not be able to see detail until it's 4" in front of my face - so I carry a back-up pair of glasses. If you're hiking in a group, as I often do, have the fastest hiker and the slowest hiker (that's usually me) carry walkie-talkies that have the appropriate range for the terrain. Hiking is good exercise, it maintains a healthy heart and muscles, it calms the soul, and it is accessible to everyone.

4. I think people are confusing a 'brush fire' with a 'forest fire'... a 'brush fire' causes minimal damage to trees; it basically runs through the underbrush. That entire area will be fine - stuff will start growing back this year and two years from now you'll hardly notice anything ever happened there unless you're trained to look for it. It's a drop in the bucket compared to the natural fire that occurred in the Natural Bridge area last year that resulted from lightening hitting a tree.

mark henley
(flash582) - F - M
Just really glad Ken is alive and well on 05/06/2009 13:29:14 MDT Print View

I've been hiking parts of the AT for about 5 years now ..... I can certainly understand how Ken got lost. Even with good Vision it can be easy to miss a marker and before you know it ..... you've got that sinking feeling in your gut.

Ken should be commended for doing the right stuff at the right time. The signal fire was brilliant.

SAR rocks. You have to love people who will drop their lives and dedicate their time to pulling our collective tails out of a jam.

The Staff at BPL rocks. I know that Ken has found a great employer.

I'm continually saddened by those who will use any forum whatsoever to further their personal political agenda. We almost lost a brother in arms people .... lets keep our eye on the ball, ok?

Ken .... I'd hike with you anytime!

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: Alive and Well on 05/06/2009 20:20:06 MDT Print View

Hello Ken-
First, good you survived your stranding without to much damage to your body and mind.

Here is what I think:
1. If you start a hike as part of a group the "Leader" (or "Organizers") and the group are responsible for you. If you are a mis-match - too slow or too fast, you should bail and be "accompanied" back to your rig by the fast hikers in the group on the first morning. Or, one or two of the group should volunteer to hike with you, forming a slower section of the group. I assume that at 5'4" tall and 190 pounds you are not a fast hiker.

2. You should stay found with map, compass and GPS, together. You may need to take a class from an up-to-date instructor to learn these skills.

3. You should be aware of where your common digital cell phone stays connected with one or more cell towers so you can return to that point.

4. You should leave your cell phone "on" in a top pocket of your pack so that you can be located by local Search and Rescue Units at specific lat-lon coordinates as required by FCC E911 Regulations. You must be in contact with two towers to be located by lat-lon coordinates (misrepresented as "GPS Coordinates" by cell phone providers). Note that cell phone providers locate phones by triangulation of at least two towers - they do not use "GPS coordinates" provided by an on-board GPS chip from DOD satellites with a separate antenna tuned to Department of Defence satellite transmissions. If your cell phone is not in contact with Cell towers, you can not be pin pointed by Providers.

5. If you become lost, you should stop right there. Do not wander down a drainage to your detriment or death. Use your whistle (hopefully a loud one - even though it may not be Orange). Turn on your emergency strobe light, a few dollars from your bike store.

6. If you really need water, go there but fill up and return to where you realized you were lost and see if you might track back to the trail. This might be very close!
--trad_guy

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Re: Alive and Well on 05/06/2009 20:47:16 MDT Print View

This sounds awfully pedagogical and isn't very good advice.

Edited by dsmontgomery on 05/07/2009 04:14:44 MDT.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Re: Re: Re: Alive and Well on 05/07/2009 06:07:10 MDT Print View

Yeah, but at least he paid his $25 to post his opinion. Not like those bloody freeloaders. :^)

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Re: Alive and Well on 05/07/2009 11:07:52 MDT Print View

Robert,

I have to apologize for my earlier post. It was rude and not very helpful. I do disagree with some of the points you made, but shouldn't have been so dismissive. Here's a more thoughtful response:

- On the responsibility of group leaders and escorting hikers:
I don't think this makes sense for adults who voluntarily form a hiking party. This sounds more appropriate for young Boy Scouts or novices paying a guide. I think earlier points made about groups deciding when they are actually a "group" and setting out clear expectations for all the members is a good idea. I also don't think that this bad experience dictates that someone who has done so much despite visual limitations should now be put in some kind of wholly dependent position. That seems like it would be miserable, and unnecessary.

-On navigation and location devices
I believe Ken mentioned that he is considering what he can do to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future, and is also considering how he might be more easily found if it does. I whole heartedly agree that the systematic use of a map and compass are key to not getting lost. GPS devices are fine, but not a necessity and not as reliable. I don't know how the whole equation plays out for someone with limited sight.

I also think that having a cell phone is fine, and may be of some use in certain circumstances, but I also believe that leaving it on as a sort of make-shift locator beacon is a bad idea. In most places, cell reception is the exception, not the rule, and leaving it on just makes it quite likely that it will run out of juice for when you need it to work for a call or to be triangulated in the event that you can find that rare signal once you are lost. An actual locator beacon would be far better.

I also doubt the utility, especially for the weight, of a strobe light. It is my understanding that the vast majority of SAR operations occur during the day, when a strobe light would be far less effective than other forms of signaling like a whistle, mirror, or, as Ken saw, a signal fire.

Edit: Oh, and Rod,
I'm fine with freeloaders, but I do think you're missing out on some good content. :)

Edited by dsmontgomery on 05/07/2009 12:43:02 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Robert's comments on 05/07/2009 11:29:49 MDT Print View

Robert, I can't tell if your comments were addressed to Ken or to less-experienced folk. If they were addressed to Ken, I think they're a bit out of place. Judging from what has been posted here, Ken obviously did follow the protocol of what to do when lost.

If your remarks were addressed to others, though, then some of them have some merit. Certainly everyone should remember "STOP" as soon as they become unsure of where they are.

A few of your items, though, are, IMHO, inaccurate:

In this case it appears that the "group" was not organized; it was strictly a HYOH type of outing with no leaders--note that it took three days for them to realize that Ken was missing. This undoubtedly is a weakness. As for excluding those who hike too fast or too slow--I was always taught that every group must adjust to the pace of its slowest member. Certainly the group hikes I've been on do so. What does the person escorted back to the trailhead do--camp at the trailhead until his ride shows up a week later? Take off in his own car and leave others stranded at the end of the trip?

At least out here in the west, there are many areas (certainly almost everywhere I hike) where there is no cell phone coverage--I often lose reception while in the car an hour or more before reaching the trailhead. Except locally (Columbia River Gorge), I never take my phone when I'm hiking--it's useless. In addition, if you leave the phone on in an area with poor or no coverage, the battery runs down in less than a day because the phone is actively searching for a signal. Recall that Ken's cell phone battery was dead. In other words, nobody should rely on a cell phone to get them out of trouble.

Why don't we hold off on the "Monday morning quarterbacking" until Ken has had a chance to rest up, do his own analysis and gain some perspective on his experience? I'm looking forward to seeing his analysis, but (unlike the NeoAir review) I think it should wait a while.

Edited by hikinggranny on 05/07/2009 11:36:36 MDT.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Alive and Well on 05/07/2009 11:31:07 MDT Print View

Ken-

I am very happy that you are alive and well. Like most other people on this thread, I think that the fact that you survived is the single most important thing right now. People can sometimes be insensitive and mean-spirited without even realizing it. They may even have good intentions, but just haven't thought about the impact their words may have on another person or other people. Or, maybe they have thought it out. I don't know. The point I'm trying to make is that the negative and critical comments you have seen should be ignored. You have overwhelming positive support from the BPL community, the SAR teams and Fire Department. I too prayed for your safe return. And, it is my hope that one day I will have the privilege of meeting you and backpacking with you. Also, considering the fact that you have much more experience than I do, I hope that one day I will get to learn from you as well. Take care of yourself and rest well.

Kendall

Edited by socalpacker on 05/07/2009 12:03:33 MDT.

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Alive and Well on 05/07/2009 12:48:45 MDT Print View

Kendall,

I always enjoy reading your posts - they are uniformly thoughtful and positive. If there were such a prize, I would nominate you for best forums-man-ship. :)

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: Re: Re: Alive and Well on 05/07/2009 13:57:10 MDT Print View

Hello Devin-
Yes, it takes little experience, thought or effort to give an attaboy, be critical and cryptic in a one liner, or impugn another's motives.

It is more difficult to start a helpful dialog about what traditions, skills, modern gear and techniques might prevent an accident or incident from re-occurring over and over. We can learn from the experiences of others.

First, on the responsibilities of a group, with or without a designated leader. Note that the alarm was raised by the group after some days. Therefor, Ken was considered part of the group.

The ethics and procedures for a group I described are those of the several major hiking and climbing clubs of the West Coast. The Mountaineers have over 10,500 members. These traditions, ethics and procedures are covered in all seven editions of Mountaineering, the Freedom of the Hills, published by the Mountaineers Press.

Also, in answer to another critic, is unreasonable for an entire group to hike at the the same rate as a much slower person. It is also unreasonable for the absence of the slower individual(s) to be ignored for days before the alarm is raised. There is no shame in having a second section of a group. Not in my mind!

Devin, you note that a GPS is unnecessary and unreliable. Actually, today, a $100 Garmin H receiver and the right skills (see Freedom) can show a person where they are on a USGS or equal topo map withing a few meters. (You may need to find a nearby opening in very heavy forest cover.)

It is strange that no one in this thread has mentioned the SPOT Satellite Messenger, more affordable at $149 plus a $100 satellite telephone connection than your fathers PLB. If I might not have good cell coverage, I take my SPOT. So do our SAR volunteers.

Out West, most of our urban facing backcountry has cellular coverage. We like the cell phone because it can take the Search out of SAR. You become stranded and you let friends or SAR know exactly where you are, what happened, how you are and what you are going to do. SAR can tell you what they will do as well.

A bike "strobe" light weighs a couple of ounces and can last a couple of nights if kept warm. Our SAR members wear them. Mirrors are only good if folks are watching on sunny days ;-))

None of my posts question Ken's experience or abilities. Folks, please do not casually question my motives. Please do not be impolite or un-kind.

We can learn from the experiences of others:
A QUOTE FROM 1871

See yonder height! 'Tis far away -- unbidden comes the word "Impossible!"

"Not so," says the mountaineer. "The way is long, I know; its difficult -- it may be dangerous."

"It's possible, I'm sure; I'll seek the way, take counsel of my brother mountaineers, and find out how they have reached similar heights and learned to avoid the dangers."

He starts (all slumbering down below); the path is slippery - and may be dangerous too.

Caution and perseverance gain the day -- the height is reached! and those beneath cry, "Incredible! 'Tis superhuman!"

This is a passage we found on page 161 of "Scrambles Amongst the Alps" by Edward Wymper,
first published in 1871 and reprinted 1981 by Ten Speed Press, Berkley, CA.

Edited by trad_guy on 05/07/2009 15:35:40 MDT.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Alive and Well on 05/07/2009 14:07:41 MDT Print View

Devin-

Thanks for the nice compliment. I really appreciate that.

Kendall

Edited by socalpacker on 05/07/2009 17:37:45 MDT.

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: Robert's comments on 05/07/2009 15:56:05 MDT Print View

Hello Mary-
Perhaps this post from an experienced leader will give you a better understanding of my comments. This excellent post deserves repeating:

Paul Haan
( Siler )
a little reflection on 05/04/2009 12:10:33 MDT

The emotions from this weekend are beginning to settle and before this thread goes dead I’d like to share a few observations which may be instructive to those interested in learning.

I am one of Ken’s friends from Michigan who went down to VA to help in the effort. I can tell you I was blown away by the professionalism and the response of the VA SAR groups. The systematic, evidence-based way that they approached this search made me very confident in their efforts to find Ken — but that did not relieve my emotions when it came to imagining what condition he might be in when found. Nothing could address my emotions other than finding him.

As others have pointed out, Ken needs to accept the assistance and interactions of other hikers, even if it is not welcomed or uncomfortable. That is one lesson that should be learned to avoid a re-occurrence for Ken as he rightfully continues his hiking.

I would like to address some other decision points from which any of us who hike in groups can learn… not Ken’s actions, but the actions of those around him. Actions which certainly were not causal in nature, but which certainly impacted how events unfolded.

I have lead group hikes in the past and will continue to lead them in the future, but I know I will do them a little differently from this point on. Following are some of the things I will do as a result of lessons learned.

1) I will require participants to clearly state any medical, personal or other pertinent limitations that they may have that will impact the group hike. I will also inform the participant that this information will be shared with all other participants should they choose to join the group hike.

2) I will share this information on individual limitations with all others in the group in advance, and will review these issues at the pre-trip briefing.

3) I will strongly encourage group participants to be mindful of the whereabouts of their fellow hikers at all times. Personally, I believe this business of “I’ll meet you at the shelter” should be reserved for casual acquaintances met along the trail, but not for organized group hikes. I don’t personally ascribe to the “we’re a group but we’re all hiking independently” philosophy. Either we’re a group or we’re not, and everyone needs to know EXACTLY where things stand.

4) At exit, I will require the whole group to stay put until all hikers are out. One of the biggest factors in delaying the search for Ken was the fact that the group disbanded and then later needed to make group decisions about what could of possibly happened.

I know many of us hike with people we have never or barely met before. In the future, I know I will be more careful in assessing the dynamic being established in a group and will do what I can to foster accountability.

When I met Ken as he was exiting the hospital, one of his more astounding comments was when he said he thought people were looking for him as soon as Monday, maybe even Sunday night. When we pointed out that that was far from the truth, he was absolutely shocked. After getting off the trail, he did many things right (staying put, making sure he had water, shelter, etc.). Had there been closer tabs upon his location and a more prompt identification of the fact that he was lost, I am certain that he would have been located much earlier and with much fewer resources expended. And I don’t think that is an unreasonable expectation to have of the hiking community.

I would encourage all of us to continue to follow this situation as the facts now unfold and more objective lessons are learned. I encourage everyone to think “how does this apply to me? And what can I do better as a result of this shared experience?” We can all do some reflecting upon what it means to be a hike leader, a group participant, and a member of the hiking community.

Please don’t take this missive as an attempt to place blame on any one person. I will admit that I have broken all of these lessons learned in the past just like anyone else. I’m simply broadcasting these thoughts in the hopes that we can all learn something from this experience.

Lastly, I’ll be joining many of Ken's freinds in making sure that Ken is making an objective assessment of this experience, learning from it, and changing behavior. And I have the good fortune of being able to do that in person!

Hike safely!

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Re: Re: Re: Alive and Well on 05/07/2009 16:39:31 MDT Print View

>Note that the alarm was raised by the group after some days. Therefor, Ken was considered part of the group.

It was my understanding that the search for Ken started when those not on the trail noticed that he missed a plane trip back to MI.

>Devin, you note that a GPS is unnecessary and unreliable. Actually, today, a $100 Garmin H receiver and the right skills (see Freedom) can show a person where they are on a USGS or equal topo map withing a few meters. (You may need to find a nearby opening in very heavy forest cover.)

I maintain that they are unnecessary. They are unreliable in the sense that when the battery goes, it's useless, not that they are inaccurate in their readings.

>Out West, most of our urban facing backcountry has cellular coverage. We like the cell phone because it can take the Search out of SAR. You become stranded and you let friends or SAR know exactly where you are, what happened, how you are and what you are going to do. SAR can tell you what they will do as well.

I maintain that you will simply run out of battery power on trips longer than an overnighter if you keep it on. I also think that it's a poor substitute for a locator beacon if that's what you really want.

>A bike "strobe" light weighs a couple of ounces and can last a couple of nights if kept warm. Our SAR members wear them.

Maybe I'm wrong here. Does a good deal of SAR occur at night? Even if it does, it just seems like a superfluous item.

Edited by dsmontgomery on 05/07/2009 16:41:49 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Alive and Well on 05/07/2009 16:41:58 MDT Print View

Hi Robert

> It is strange that no one in this thread has mentioned the SPOT Satellite Messenger

This may be because our experiences of the SPOT are that it is far too unreliable. You might like to read the fairly detailed review here at BPL to see what failures were found during extensive field testing in two countries. You might also like to note that none of the BPL staff who participated in the field test wanted to keep any of the test units for free afterwards. Yep, we turned down free stuff!

> Out West, most of our urban facing backcountry has cellular coverage.

In that case a cell phone might make a lot of sense. But it is worth remembering that this is not the case for much of the mountains we love. I don't even get cell phone coverage at the trailheads near home.

Cheers

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Re: Alive and Well on 05/07/2009 16:52:16 MDT Print View

"Out West, most of our urban facing backcountry has cellular coverage"

I guess the key here is "urban facing". I was recently in the Wind Rivers, on the west side. We had no cell phone coverage for most of the trip, even when we could see many lights out on the plains.

At home in the Scottish Highlands cell phone coverage is very patchy. To gain it you usually have to head up and away from roads and habitations.

I tested a SPOT independently of the BPL test and came to the same conclusions. In many areas - forests, narrow glens - it did not send a signal.

Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
Re: Re: Robert's comments on 05/07/2009 17:31:15 MDT Print View

Robert,
It sounds like hiking with you would be as fun as joining the army.

All this GPS and cellphone talk might as well be a joke. Cell service is spotty at best on the AT in VA. And except for a few spots a GPS is as good as a paperweight on the AT (long green tunnel remember). You'd be better off carrying a book to read while awaiting rescue than a GPS.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Re: Robert's comments on 05/07/2009 17:59:00 MDT Print View

I don't buy the long green tunnel hype. I've been on a five day AT trip in NC and it was not really different that hiking in Arkansas. Sure, there is some triple canopy forest, but there is plenty of space for even a non sirf gps to work. I'd bet large sums. The long green tunnel thing should really be put to sleep.

Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Actually a modern GPS would work fine on the Appalachian Trail on 05/07/2009 21:47:21 MDT Print View

"And except for a few spots a GPS is as good as a paperweight on the AT (long green tunnel remember). You'd be better off carrying a book to read while awaiting rescue than a GPS."

The new high-sensitivity models work even in under a forest canopy and I would be surprised to find a place on the AT where they wouldn't get a position fix.

I think a GPS would be invaluable to someone that was truly lost and who knew how to operate it. I've used one many times to quickly sort things out. (Although I personally didn't carry one on the AT.) They are especially valuable in fog, clouds or darkness. A spare set of fresh batteries should be standard. Naturally, like any device they can fail. I had one fail last summer. I've also had at least two compasses fail during my lifetime (including one where the polarity had somehow gotten reversed so the North end of the needle pointed South!.) I've had maps fail, too, when I lost them!

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: Devons Insites on 05/07/2009 22:54:23 MDT Print View

Hello Devon-

"It was my understanding that the search for Ken started when those not on the trail noticed that he missed a plane trip back to MI."

I believe some news reports confirm my comment. Check the string carefully.

"I maintain that they are unnecessary. They are unreliable in the sense that when the battery goes, it's useless, not that they are inaccurate in their readings."

I think John Shannon and Bruce Nelson have responded to this old canard. Fresh batteries can last 17 hours in use. You need not have your GPS on at all times. You can carry extra Lithium batteries. They work in your SPOT as well. They are better in cold weather too.

"I maintain that you will simply run out of battery power on trips longer than an overnighter if you keep it on. I also think that it's a poor substitute for a locator beacon if that's what you really want."

If your cell phone is out of tower range, turn it off for goodness sake. "Coupled with a GPS, a cell phone takes the search out of SAR"

"Maybe I'm wrong here. Does a good deal of SAR occur at night? Even if it does, it just seems like a superfluous item."

Yes, you are wrong, Devon. But, I suggest you not bother with the little two ounce bike strobe.

Edited by trad_guy on 05/07/2009 23:08:22 MDT.

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: Jesse's insites on 05/07/2009 23:02:40 MDT Print View

Hello Jesse-
"It sounds like hiking with you would be as fun as joining the army."

I was an Army Officer and the troops loved me. I have been a popular hiking, backpacking and mountain climbing leader for more than 60 years.

If you were to hike with us, you would have fun and learn some new stuff too.

You seem uninformed on the use of the latest GPS receivers. Read the subsequent posts by John and Bruce.

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: The SPOT Personal Messenger on 05/07/2009 23:26:35 MDT Print View

Hello Roger-
You might want to update Backpacking Light's evaluation of the SPOT. Recent reviews have been much more positive than your group report.

It is clear that the SPOT must be used correctly, often not done in early reviews. Note that even the latest GPS receivers must be used correctly to give maximum results.

Adventure racers have been very successful with the SPOT tracking, although it is the weakest of the four uses.

"You might also like to note that none of the BPL staff who participated in the field test wanted to keep any of the test units for free afterwards. Yep, we turned down free stuff!"

This comment is a little dismissive. There are thousands of happy users.

We like our SPOT units here in Oregon. I don't know about Australia's Outback.

This is your original statement:
"In our testing, in field conditions we believe likely to be encountered backpacking and hiking, the SPOT unit did not "deliver virtually every message," as the SPOT unit's literature claims. As such, we see the SPOT unit as an innovative system with a lot of promise, but with some glitches and room for improvement. We make no claims that the current SPOT unit and its supporting system is or is not dependable enough to deliver messages with sufficient reliability all times in the field conditions encountered by backpacker and hikers. That is a judgment call to be made by each prospective user."

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: The SPOT Personal Messenger on 05/08/2009 04:56:06 MDT Print View

> You might want to update Backpacking Light's evaluation of the SPOT. Recent reviews
> have been much more positive than your group report.
Yes, I have noticed that some organisations have posted glowing reviews of the SPOT. However, in many cases those reviews merely confirm what some of us have always said about 'desk reviews' based on marketing releases.

We stand by our evaluation, but we look forward to the release of a V2 correcting the limitations of V1.

Cheers

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: The SPOT Personal Messenger on 05/08/2009 07:28:42 MDT Print View

Robert,
Regarding SPOT, as recently as November on a Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim run (not by me) only 30 out of 198 tracking signals were successful and only 9 out of 33 OK signals were successful.

This was a BrightAngel/Tonto run, with a fairly large exposure to the sky.

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Re: Devons Insites on 05/08/2009 11:46:52 MDT Print View

Hi Robert,

Looking at the news reports, they don't specify who actually called for the search and rescue, other than saying it was by "friends." This confirms that it's too early for people who weren't there to make broad assertions about what was or was not the case.

Other than that, I suspect that you and I have intractable differences about personal autonomy and responsibility, and it's fair to leave it at that. It's also clear than we hike in very different ways and have different criteria for the gear we carry.

I wish you the best in your travels.

Lorraine Pace
(SowthEfrikan) - F
Glad he survived on 05/08/2009 14:50:04 MDT Print View

But who knew that being legally blind was a get out of jail free card? I stand by this. It is reckless and irresponsible for a legally blind person to set off into the wildnerness ALONE and a recipe for disaster. I think he's basically proved my point.

Edited by SowthEfrikan on 05/16/2009 07:39:27 MDT.

Ron Hedlund
(papamuskrat) - F
Re: Pay for the rescue efforts? on 05/08/2009 17:04:05 MDT Print View

Travis - check your math on item 4

2 acres or maybe 4???

Ron Hedlund
(papamuskrat) - F
Acre = 43,560 Sq Ft on 05/08/2009 17:25:41 MDT Print View

Travis, one acre = 43,560 square feet

your math equals four acres, not 2

295 feet on a side = close to 2 acres

Can't help it, I took surveying in college. :)

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Pay for the rescue efforts? on 05/08/2009 17:29:32 MDT Print View

Thanks for checking my math. Yeah, originally I found the area of a square acre, which is 208 feet on all sides. Then I just doubled that, for a total of 416 squared, which equalls 173,056. D'OH!!! My bad. If I'm correct this time, two acres of land is a square with sides that measure 295 feet. Even smaller!!!

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
acreage on 05/08/2009 17:30:15 MDT Print View

Ah, you beat me to it!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Devons Insites on 05/08/2009 17:42:03 MDT Print View

"Coupled with a GPS, a cell phone takes the search out of SAR"

In a lot of mountain ranges, a cell phone is useless more often than not, coupled with a GPS unit or otherwise. Not to be depended on to call in a rescue situation.

Dan Cunningham
(mn-backpacker)

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
@ Lorraine Pace on 05/08/2009 17:49:18 MDT Print View

Lorraine Pace = [not a nice person]

Sorry for the nasty word, it's just that nothing else fit. I've never made a personal attack here on BPL, but Lorraine's comment is out of line.

I understand if my comment gets censored by the mods (although there has been conversation about using douche to clean stinky bags, so really, it's not too far fetched).

Edited by sharalds on 05/08/2009 19:32:13 MDT.

Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
GPS on 05/08/2009 18:02:37 MDT Print View

Ok I didn't know that GPS technology had progressed so much. The last time I used one it didn't work at all unless we had a good line of sight.

But he had a GPS AND a cellphone the batteries were just dead. (dang iphone is just too much fun to play with)

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Glad he survived on 05/08/2009 18:18:27 MDT Print View

Lorraine please explain your comment. I'm sure it was some sort of typo, right? RIGHT? I'm sure our criminal justice system has better things to do than prosecute people like Ken.

Dan, your comment made me laugh (though its not a funny matter) and you hit it on the head.

Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
Re: @ Lorraine Pace on 05/08/2009 18:23:42 MDT Print View

Yep, Dan, that about sums it up.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 05/08/2009 19:33:28 MDT Print View

I took out the "nasty word" in Dan's post but I whole-heartedly agree with him.

Charles Reneau
(charley289) - F

Locale: Cascades and Oregon Coast Range
Good job, Ken! on 05/08/2009 19:47:41 MDT Print View

I, for one, am impressed. Ken took his time, stayed calm, stayed put, got the resources he needed to survive quite a long time (water and firewood). I hope that I would remain that calm and intelligent in the same situation.

And for everyone who disagrees, try walking an AT mile in his shoes!

Tony Beasley
(tbeasley) - MLife

Locale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
Re: Re: Re: The SPOT Personal Messenger on 05/08/2009 23:10:37 MDT Print View

First of all I would like to say how glad I was to hear that Ken made it out safe and well, and I wish Ken all the best in the future and I hope he does many more walks.

On a thread on the Bushwalk Tasmania forum "Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc [split]" an incident came to light where a Spot Messenger was used to alert the local authorities to evacuate a bushwalker in a remote part of the state of Tasmania with a broken leg. Considering the reliability of the Spot messenger has been brought up on this thread I thought this incident might be of some interest to this BPL thread, apparently in this incident the spot messenger worked very well.

The thread can be located at this URL http://bushwalk-tasmania.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=1709 and the postings that mentions the above incident starts near the end of the first page.

Tony

Ron Hedlund
(papamuskrat) - F
Re: GPS on 05/09/2009 04:32:17 MDT Print View

I was using a Garmin Colorado 400t GPS while searching for Ken. We were under some heavy cover on AT and on side trails. Never once did I even have a weak signal, let alone no signal. That thing is awesome. Great mapping software and good display. Just wish the coordinate numbers displayed in a larger font. Yes, battery life could be better. It improved with the software update last year.

Re: the iphone. I had one along as well. The battery life sucks. Did have occasional reception, but very sparse. None near where Ken was found. But it has an airplane feature that improves battery life by eliminating the search mode for a signal when you are out of range. there are also battery boosters available (essentially an external spare battery).

Many of these techno items (GPS) are less meaningful in a limited sight capability setting.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: GPS on 05/09/2009 06:42:49 MDT Print View

@papamuskrat et al.,

We had a 400t in our group as well, and we had no problems under heavy cover. We were using it to track our sweep searches. Pretty cool, being able to have a high level of confidence that we were covering densely vegetated areas thoroughly by looking at the GPS tracks.

We had awful luck communicating with an iPhone, even up on the divide. I had a Verizon phone (Blackberry) and we'd use that to communicate to base via SMS when we couldn't reach it by radio. It was very reliable. We were also able to exchange photos (at one point we were emailed a photo of the sole pattern of one of Ken's possible boots during a tracking task).

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Re 400t on 05/09/2009 09:30:14 MDT Print View

Since this thread has branched out a bit, I'm going to jump in with a couple of thoughts. {I have so few ;-)}
It looks like I'm going to have to get a new GPS if the 400t is performing that well in dense cover. I only found one review on BPL. Any others out there?

I was thinking about comments some made about Ken being financially responsible for his rescue. I know in some places and in some circumstances this happens.
I was in a nasty auto accident in the middle of the night once upon a time but had the 'good fortune' to crash across from a fire station. My car had caught fire after the crash and I was unconscious. I would have died before help arrived had rescue not been so close. They heard me crash.
They were not volunteers, but paid firefighters. They saved my life. They did not present a bill, even though I was at fault for driving while tired and falling asleep at the wheel. I have been giving a donation to firefighters every year since.
I carry a PLB with built-in GPS with me on all hikes. I am often in areas where the trails are overgrown or non-existent. If something happens, I want to make it as easy as possible to find my location. That helps me AND my rescuers. Yes, it is HEAVY, really heavy, but worth it for my family's greater peace of mind and, to a degree, mine.

I've been out there for over 40 years and I like to think that experience might help keep me safe but you just never know..............

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
SPOT Personal Messenger might have facilitated Ken's rescue on 05/09/2009 16:08:38 MDT Print View

Hello Greg-
You posted:
"Regarding SPOT, as recently as November on a Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim run (not by me), only 30 out of 198 tracking signals were successful and only 9 out of 33 OK signals were successful. This was a Bright Angel/Tonto run, with a fairly large exposure to the sky."

Greg, the following is from one of 82 comments published on the REI website, under SPOT "reader reviews".

"I backpack the Grand Canyon twice a year, and recently read about a local hiker who injured his ankle in the Canyon and was successfully evacuated by helicopter in two hours after using his SPOT (his companions hiked up to a ridge before activating it)." While this respondent did not like his SPOT for use in the Grand Canyon, 55 of 82 user reviews were positive.

Greg, since the example of SPOT non-performance you noted was from a running race in the Grand Canyon, please note that it is very unlikely enough time was used to send any of the messages. It is very likely that the SPOT was used incorrectly

The following is how the SPOT can be used effectively. Remember, if you are stranded, Greg, you may have lots of time to use it properly. You are not in a race.

Greg and others, the following might be helpful:

HOW TO USE THE SPOT CORRECTLY:
Perhaps it is not obvious on the SPOT website or in the booklet packed with the device, but SPOT MUST BE LYING ON ITS BACK WITH THE LABEL UP, FOR A FEW MINUTES, IN ORDER TO HAVE MAXIMUM CONTACT WITH THE GPS SATELLITES AND THE COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITES.

People standing around the unit, hooking it on your belt or placing it standing upright next to a boulder may also block the line of site of the electronic signal. This is not a "design fault".

GPS receivers, for best results, must be standing up straight with the the users hand clear of the top and at the lower part of the unit and with no people hovering over and around it in order to see what is going on.

To re-state it, SPOT is best at connecting with the DOD GPS satellites and to the satellite phone communications satellites when it is comfortable lying on its back for a few minutes with the label up. The antenna needs to see the entire sky and not just half or less off to one side. This is kind of explained in the booklet packed with the unit. I have checked this information with SPOT Customer Service and I have heard this explained by a SPOT distributor. Clip the SPOT to the top of your summer day pack or take a rest and give it too, a chance to get comfortable on its back on a rock.

My wife and I are Federally licensed General Class Ham Radio Operators and we have studied the way "antennas" work. They are directional, and that is why the GPS and the SPOT must be oriented correctly. This is not a design fault. I agree with some that the SPOT User Guide should be more clear. I agree that the nice big belt clip should be removed by the operator. Place the SPOT in the top pocket of your day pack (yes, on top of the extra hat, gloves and ClifBars). Or turn it on when you stop for lunch, camp or a 15 minute break.

Some folks expressed concern because their Spot did not report their possition 100 percent of the time. I will bet their SPOTS were clipped on belt or pack and not HAPPY.

One person described how he got a good contact when he laid the SPOT (flat) on the hood of his car. And another described how his balky unit was oriented: . . ."keep spot upright . . . "

THE BASIC IMPROVEMENT OF SPOT OVER LAND PLBs:
An important improvement of SPOT over PLBs is its ability to "real-life test" the communication system where the user actually hikes, hunts, sleds, climbs and wanders. Try it out in slot canyons, under heavy wet tree cover, in a snow storm, on the PCT or the AT, where ever you personally play. If the user programmed message "Hello, I am exactly here and I am having fun" gets through, so will the message "911 Rescue Services are on the way, but don't worry Honey" on another less happy day.

The traditional PLB cannot be tested for whether the signal has actually been sent and received without triggering a Search. PLB users can be fined big bucks for sending a false alarm.
--trad_guy

Edited by trad_guy on 05/11/2009 10:11:13 MDT.

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: Re 400t on 05/09/2009 17:23:50 MDT Print View

Hello Ron, Ryan and PP-
The Garmin line of personal GPS receivers seems to have cornered the market. I use only Garmin GPS receivers, so I am a fan, too.

The least expensive new Garmin is the eTrex H, available everywhere for about $100. The only step up I suggest is the eTrex Venture HC, often available for about $175.

The Venture HC has the latest "H" antenna system so it provides the same speed and accuracy as all the many more expensive new Garmin models. It is packaged with a USB cable to your computer; the eTrex H does not come with a USB cable. I actually like the color screen ;-))

Why pay more for the same fast accurate UTM NAD 27 coordinates? Use it with a USGS Quad topo map or equal (1:24,000 with the UTM grid and elevation lines at 20 to 40 feet).

For long haul truckers: buy trail map trip ticks with waypoints in UTM coordinates and print your own 8.5 by 11 maps to your resupply points off the trail.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: @ Lorraine Pace on 05/10/2009 00:33:02 MDT Print View

Lorraine Pace -

>But who knew that being legally blind was a get out of jail free card?<

Wow... That is just mind-numbingly ignorant. I thought I was done with this thread, but I have to add my two cents. Your post is one of the most cruel and insensitive comments I have ever heard. And, I have heard and been the target of MANY cruel, insensittive and simply brutal insults... It almost leaves me speechless.

Edited by socalpacker on 05/10/2009 00:43:14 MDT.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: GPS on 05/10/2009 00:56:29 MDT Print View

Ryan and GPS Users,

Thank you for your insights regarding GPS units. I too have been considering getting one for the same reasons as P.P. I'd like it just as a back-up since I'm alone most of the time and I wouldn't want to be lost several days. Also, Ryan I appreciate your article regarding the Garmin Oregon 550t as well as your comments about the Geko. I don't want to spend $500 to $600. As you guys have mentioned I would just like to have the added security and peace of mind.

Edited by socalpacker on 05/10/2009 14:11:29 MDT.

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: Traditions, GPS, SPOT, Common Cells, SAR reimbursement and more on 05/11/2009 21:05:48 MDT Print View

Hello Ken-
We await your trip report with anticipation. We hope you will help your many friends learn from your experience.

This thread seems to be winding down and the "Learning from Ken's Ordeal" thread in Philosophy and Technique has attracted only two pages of comments. I will try to sum up my comments in this post.

Paul Haan summed up my comments on the failure of your group's leaders to do their traditional duty and sweep you along. Or, perhaps they offered, but you said no, "I am not part of your group and I will go my own way. You are not responsible for me in any way." Paul Haan summed these traditional obligation of leaders and organizers more completely than I and no one objected to his local words.

A GPS has become almost mandatory for backcountry travelers in recent months. The advent of the $100 Garmin eTrex H and the $170 Garmin eTrex Venture HC make "staying found with map compass and GPS" as affordable as $136 to $206. Both are equally accurate as the high priced models with unnecessary magnetic compasses that turn off as soon as you start moving and barometric altimeters that need constant adjustment to the newly accurate geometric altitude reported on all GPS models.

It is too bad that all of the GPS units mentioned in this post cost $600 and more. No wonder that folks don't need a GPS - at $600 and up, I might not need one either. No one mentioned having $6 Quad maps (or equal) with the UTM coordinate grid in NAD 27. PC maps cost $99 for all 1,900 maps in Oregon, for example. The "best compass for backcountry and mountaineering" is the clear base plate, declination adjustable Suunto M3 costing about $30.

The small SPOT Satellite Messenger costs just $149 plus the annual satellite telephone service. If used with care, it can call 911 and take the Search out of Search and Rescue.

People use their common digital cell phones every day to call for help. Take it along and save the batteries. Don't believe the naysayers. They aren't heavy!

Lastly, don't fall for the propaganda of Conservative talk show hosts like Bill O'Reily and Rush Limbaugh who demand that Mt Hood and Mt Rainier should be closed down for the winter to save the expense of rescuing the fools who risk their lives climbing to the summit.

Each State has laws governing reimbursement for SAR services. In Oregon, the maximum charge is $500 per person if laws were broken or reasonable care was not taken. ". . . evidence of reasonable care includes:
(a) The individuals possessed experience and used equipment that was appropriate for the known conditions of weather and terrain.
(b) The individuals used or attempted to use locating devices or cellular telephones when appropriate.
(c) The individuals notified responsible persons or organizations of the expected time of departure and the expected time of return and the planned location or route of activity.
(d) The individuals had maps and orienteering equipment and used trails or other routes that were appropriate for the conditions.

The elected County Sheriff responsible for SAR can declare that the "individual did nothing wrong" even if the individuals failed to do everything required by Statue such as carrying a cell phone. Goverment agancies seldom charge for rescue services.

"He who knows naught, knows not that he knows naught."

"Hiking the hills and scaling peaks have risks that are hidden to the uninformed and in part, these risks can be mitigated by opening the mind to learning the traditions, current skills, the use of great gear and from the experiences of others.

This knowledge can be learned from wonderful books such as Mountaineering, the Freedom of the Hills, from the world wide web and by the mentoring of others. Classes given by volunteers and offered by the major Outdoor Clubs of the world are a wonderful way to gain knowledge and meet informed companions.

I hope that posters will use as much thought as I have in commenting on this post. Please emulate the sweetness of Kendall Clement. I am new to this web and have nothing to gain from posting here.

A friend who has been a member of BackpackingLight for four years, emailed me with an apology for some of the posted replies I have received.

I can tell you that I was given a complementary subscription by BackpackingLight, so I am trying to pay my dues in this way. My posts require a lot more work than one line zingers.

Edited by trad_guy on 05/11/2009 21:21:34 MDT.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
cheap, light GPSs... Easy Showily vs eTrex H on 05/11/2009 21:26:23 MDT Print View

Hey Robert,

I'd agree with your comments on GPS units. Can't understand why someone in Ken's position wouldn't have one. I suspect he may be taking one on future trips. I'm sure he could have got himself back on the trail if he'd had one.

Having said that, I don't own a GPS unit. But I've considering the eTrex H.

I'd be interested in your, or others, comments on the "Easy Showily" unit. Here are the specs. I'm sure this unit is no where near as sensitive as the eTrex H but it is a whole lot lighter, and has a very nifty functionality that lets you just plug it into your computer when you get home to automatically display all your waypoints on google maps.

Anyway, I'm interested in how well this unit might actually work for giving coordinates in the field.

Cheers, A

ps. Andrew Skurka seemed very satisfied with the performance of his SPOT in Iceland, although I guess there was very little tree cover (if any). But it was out in the middle of nowhere.

Edited by ashleyb on 05/11/2009 21:27:44 MDT.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Affordable PLB on 05/11/2009 21:49:42 MDT Print View

Until SPOT sorts out the bugs, a PLB is the more conservative and far more dependable option for soloists. No check-in functions, but more robust, trustworthy and proven technology. Size and weight have been effectively halved.

http://www.mcmurdo.co.uk/products/product.html?product_type=2&product_sector=5&product=101

I've been a GPS fan for years, like using them and find them very useful. For some unknown reason consumer GPSs are regrettably growing in heft and unneeded feature sets. But, GPS chips are in so many products now that they've become commodities (cheap!) so all the hardware has to do is catch up with the tech. I'll bet dollars to donuts (mmmm, donuts) within a couple of years we'll be able to buy a usable digital camera/navigation-ready GPS that's all of five ounces. Or heck, how about a GPS Kindle?

My underriding concern is the lack of field-swappable batteries in a lot of the current cross-function devices. Who carries extra batteries for their cellphone?

What I'm getting to is my sense that what we "need" is a GPS with PLB function. Make it six ounces with a 2.5x4 inch OLED screen and AA battery power, and I'll be happy.

Cheers,

Rick

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Traditions, GPS, SPOT, Common Cells, SAR reimbursement and more on 05/12/2009 02:11:48 MDT Print View

> A GPS has become almost mandatory for backcountry travelers in recent months.

I am sorry to be so blunt, but that's total rubbish. Ask any older walker how he navigates and he will tell you, with some pride I imagine, that he KNOWS how to use a map and compass. And so did we all before the GPS was ever invented.

What's more, I strongly recommend that people still learn how to use a map and compass. You can do far far better navigation and route planning with a map than with the tiny screen on an expensive GPS. And you can still do it when the batteries run out. In some respects, this is a safety issue.

I grant you, if all you do is walk on signposted tracks then you may not need to know how to navigate with map and compass. But then you are just a follower of other people's navigation. And who knows what sights and places you are missing out on? I am not criticising anyone for doing that: hike your own hike.

Following a GPS through a series of waypoints means that all you are doing is walking along staring at the screen. People who navigate with maps really see the country and understand it. With those skills they can often navigate without using the map much at all. My biased personal opinion is that you are far safer when you know how to navigate properly.

Cheers
Roger Caffin
Speaking solely on his own behalf, and not for BPL.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
precautions on 05/12/2009 08:13:40 MDT Print View

I hike the AT in that area frequently and I know how easy it is to overwalk a switchback and can certainly understand how difficult it would be for a visually impaired person to quickly catch a mistake of that sort, let alone find his way back to the trail.

Since I know that, I'm not sure I understand why a visually impaired person who's an experienced woodsman would undertake a hike alone without taking precautions commensurate with his disability. I seem to recall that even the able bodied Ryan Jordan took a satellite phone on one of his longer treks to assure his survival.

The money and effort expended on Mr. Knight's rescue by the public sector and private individuals would have purchased locator beacons for platoon of blind hikers. I hope Mr. Knight hears this and out of consideration and gratitude purchases one for his next hike.

Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
GPS: Another tool on 05/12/2009 08:53:40 MDT Print View

I don't think it has to be all or nothing. I'm a firm believer in doing my best to avoid getting down to my last option. Maps skills are very important. So is basic knowledge of compass use. A GPS is another option.

I usually carry a GPS in remote backcountry and I tend to use it as a backup. I don't follow my GPS around but try to keep an eye on the big picture, being aware of where I am on the map. I use the GPS mainly to reorient myself. All of us who have spent much time in the boonies have experienced the feeling of "this doesn't make sense." A GPS can help quickly sort things out. It's just another option to me, a sometimes invaluable option that can show me exactly where I am.

I recognize that it is another piece of technology, but with a GPS I can can actually spend more time appreciating the world around me and a little less time navigating and backtracking.

Relying solely on a GPS is dangerous. Adding a GPS to a map and compass increases the margin of safety. Unless there is a factor I'm unaware of, it seems that in this case a GPS could have been used to easily recover the trail.

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: Roger Cafins advice to use Map, Compass and GPS together on 05/12/2009 09:44:02 MDT Print View

Hello Roger-
Thanks for your comment. You under score an important point.

However Roger, you have misquoted from my post ;-(( Here is my full statement:

"A GPS has become almost mandatory for backcountry travelers in recent months. The advent of the $100 Garmin eTrex H and the $170 Garmin eTrex Venture HC make "staying found with map compass and GPS" as affordable as $136 to $206."

Roger, if you Google the phrase "map, compass and GPS" you will find that there are at least 295,000 documents with those three words used together!

A few sentences further on in my post I write:

"No one mentioned having $6 Quad maps (or equal) with the UTM coordinate grid in NAD 27. PC maps cost $99 for all 1,900 maps in Oregon, for example. The "best compass for backcountry and mountaineering" is the clear base plate, declination adjustable Suunto M3 costing about $30."

Let me restate our shared advice: You must use the correct topo map and a real compass together with your GPS.

As subsequent excellent posters have noted, you can carry your GPS shut off in your pocket and use it only when you want to confirm your position to an average accuracy of 4.1 meters.

Note that I use the Garmin Geko 201 when weight trumps utility ;-))

Thank you all for your support in getting informed discussions of this important subject.
-trad_guy

Edited by trad_guy on 05/12/2009 13:31:47 MDT.

Kenneth Knight
(kenknight) - MLife

Locale: SE Michigan
Map, Compass, GPS on 05/12/2009 10:22:31 MDT Print View

OK, this is getting a bit out of hand so I am going to break my silence ahead of time and nip some of this discussion in the bud.

I did have a compass. I also had the regional AT maps. I also, as has been noted elsewhere, had a variety of other gear to help make me more "findable."

Assertions are being made that you will not get lost if you have a GPS, map, and compass. This is nonsense. If it were true the need for SAR would be greatly reduced. Even with these tools once you do find yourself in trouble their usefulness may not be as great as you first might think. After all, a GPS even loaded with waypoints, will only tell you an "as the crow flies" direction to travel. That direction could easily be impassible.

All tools have limitations. This applies even to the venerable compass and map. I know people who have had compasses fail. I know of at least one instance where a person was hiking a trail he knows well with a map that turned out to be wildly inaccurate resulting in him becoming lost for a time. If you do not acknowledge and understand the limitations of the tools you have in the circumstances you find yourself you are more apt to make a bad situation worse.

I will have more to say about what happened in the future. May I suggest though that a more fruitful discussion would be focus on issues that are often glossed over such as what information should be left with people outside of a particular trip (e.g., route plan, gear list, photo) and what can be done when bad things happen. After all while I may be the latest person to need SAR services I am definitely not going to be the last.

Jim Yancey
(jimyancey) - F

Locale: Missouri
Map, compass and GPS on 05/12/2009 12:14:19 MDT Print View

I learned navigation with map and compass (I guess I am one of the "old hikers" Roger referred to.) I quickly became map-obsessed, and I love having a full-sheet USGS topo to orient myself to the country I'm walking through. It literally gives me a big-picture view of where I am, something that a tiny screen GPS just simply can't do. I normally use just the map and compass, along with terrain reading, to keep myself "found." With that said, I do carry a GPS as an additional navigation tool that I use to get occasional "fixes" that I can then use with a UTM grid to pinpoint my location on the paper map. It seems the best of both worlds, and it's fun for me.

Incidentally, I use a Garmin Foretrex 101 without the wrist strap. It's very accurate, but very minimalist (comparable to the Geko.) It weighs next to nothing, uses lithium batteries and displays UTM coords in several datums. That's all I need with my trad paper map and compass. HYOH

Michael B
(mbenvenuto) - F

Locale: Vermont
GPS on 05/12/2009 13:45:10 MDT Print View

Ken, I was psyched to see you get out and don't let the quarterbacking here get you down.

As for GPS, I navigated for about 20 years with map and compass, but now take my geko along as well. I would like to get a mapping GPS, mostly for fun. The GPS is great at confirming you are going in the right direction. But there have been 2-3 times in the past several years in which I was sure the GPS was "wrong" and was pointing me in the wrong direction. Each time, I pulled out my map and tried to figure out what was going on, only to realize each time that the GPS was right and I was wrong.

There have also been 2-3 times in which the GPS has "failed". I have seen the display freeze in super cold temps. The geko also has a bug in which a certain button combination reduces the contrast to zero, and in the field I didn't remember how to undue that setting. The geko has mediore reception in heavy woods, but that has never been a more than an annoyance for me.

So I think a GPS is a useful and helpful tool; but not required and not a replacement for map and compass, but a supplement.

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: cheap, light GPSs... Easy Showily vs eTrex H on 05/12/2009 14:37:29 MDT Print View

Hey Ashley-
Thanks for your post confirming that cheap, light GPS units can work well too.

You mentioned the Wintec WPL-1000 and asked whether it might work on a long hike:

"Wintec WPL-1000 is an auto-show track logger that records track data from the received GPS signal. It is not only the best companion for sport and recreation but also the ideal application in fleet management and after tracking on PC.

All recorded GPS information can be downloaded to the computer quite simply, just plug-in the USB connector to computer and the recorded track will be shown on Google Maps automatically."

This GPS tracker might record your track for download to your computer for display on Google Earth, but it does not do what the Garmin and other "On the Trail" units do.

Many folks actually do not know that they can use the UTM location coordinates (in NAD 27 to match the Quads) shown by all hiking units to find themselves on a required map.

Ken posts "Even with these tools (USGS Quad topo map or personal computer generated equal) once you do find yourself in trouble their usefulness may not be as great as you first might think."

"After all, a GPS even loaded with waypoints, will only tell you an "as the crow flies" direction to travel. That direction could easily be impassible."

Clearly, a tool that can show you your precise location on your topo map, is a very good thing.

(Your unit should not be loaded with waypoints, just a few marking important points on your walk such as water, a shelter, etc. Store your 500 waypoints on your PC. ;-))

Recently a tragedy occured in the mountains near Bend. A father died of hypothermia and his son was cruelly hurt by freezing. They might have found the trail back to their car located not far from their original stranding but having only a GPS, (they did not have a map, compass or the skills to use these tools) they headed for a recorded GPS waypoint miles away down a restricted drainage.

A correctly set up GPS can show you exactly where you are on your map. You can follow your map back to trail or car.
--trad_guy

Edited by trad_guy on 05/12/2009 14:43:22 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Map, Compass, GPS on 05/12/2009 14:37:49 MDT Print View

In that backcountry safety plan sheet I posted, the route and gear are included. SAR would see the type trip and length of time out to figure out what gear/food is carried at a minimum. I did add a spot for communication gear for that general trip plan.

A separate personalized safety plan could be devised that included more stuff like clothing specifics. Or, a person/group could take a cheap digital camera, take a pic of themselves or group at the trailhead, and leave that in the car.

Edited by jshann on 05/12/2009 15:25:16 MDT.

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: Map, Compass, GPS on 05/12/2009 14:59:18 MDT Print View

Hello Ken-
We all look forward to your "incident analysis!"

You suggested:

"May I suggest though that a more fruitful discussion would be focus on issues that are often glossed over such as what information should be left with people outside of a particular trip (e.g., route plan, gear list, photo) and what can be done when bad things happen. After all while I may be the latest person to need SAR services I am definitely not going to be the last."

Here is a message that has been offered to over 7,000 people in Oregon. It is short and sweet-

Four simple responsibilities of the backcountry traveler
Hikers, backpackers, peak baggers, alpine climbers, backcountry skiers, snowshoers, snowmobilers, horsemen, hunters and more
1. Tell a Reliable Person where you are going, what you are going to do and when you will return. Search and Rescue personnel will want to know where you planned to park your vehicle, its description and license number, what gear you have, the names, cell phone information and experience level of your companions. Of course, you must agree that you will call the Reliable Person when you return to town. Also, this encourages your thoughtful setting of a "turn-around" time for your adventure.
The Reliable Person must accept the responsibility to call the local County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue through 911 with the above information if you do not check in by an agreed-upon time. Experience tells us that the Reliable Person may not understand the importance of this responsibility. Your life may depend on a timely call to 911. Oregon Statutes require that you have left this information for Sheriff’s Search and Rescue services or you could be charged up to $500 per person.

2. The Second Responsibility of each individual backcountry traveler or climber is to be equipped with a light weight daypack and enough extra clothing, water, food and selected gear to survive an emergency stop of several hours or overnight. These Essentials are seasonal and should focus on keeping you hydrated and dry, eating simple carbohydrates, and able to stay in one place. If you become lost, signal your location, perhaps with colored tape or a reflective "space blanket", and stay still or exercise your large muscles at your marked position to stay warm. Do not try to find your way until you become exhausted, cold or dangerously wet. Wait at your marked location safely for rescuers. If you are not “prepared”, you could be charged in Oregon for Sheriff’s rescue services
Experienced mountaineers carry the traditional "Ten Essential Systems"!

3. The Third Responsibility is to have a topo map of the area, a declination corrected base plate compass (seventeen degrees currently in Central Oregon) and an inexpensive GPS.
A small simple accurate Garmin eTrex H GPS receiver costs only about $100 everywhere, a compass $35 and a 1:24,000 USGS Quad topo map, $7, total $137. If you do not have a “topo map and compass”, you could be charged up to $500 per person for Sheriff’s rescue services.
Experience tells us that you cannot get by with GPS alone – you need a topo map and declination adjusted base plate compass, and new skills to use them together!

4. The Fourth Responsibility is: Carry your common digital cell phone. Insure that you have the personal option to call for medical or rescue services. I would prefer to call for help on Friday morning at the time my leg was broken and not have to wait until Sunday at 6PM when I will be reported missing. In our experience, there are very few areas in our Oregon Cascades where a cell phone is out of contact. Several cell phones in a group are far better than one. Phone rescuers on your cell phone with your exact UTM (NAD 27) coordinates from your GPs or your map, your current condition and proposed plan of action.
An important new free service is the ability of Rescuers to request from your mobile phone Provider under FCC E911 Regulations, your general location triangulated from cell phone ping records. Another option for some is to carry a $150 SPOT Satellite Messenger which can give your friends or 911 your exact UTM location. Oregon SAR Statutes require you carry a means of communication such as a cell phone.
Copyright© 1995-2009 by Robert Speik. All Rights Reserved.

Edited by trad_guy on 05/12/2009 15:15:04 MDT.

John Carter
(jcarter1)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 05/12/2009 15:38:29 MDT Print View

Okay, I can't sit around and be silent anymore. I hope Robert Speik doesn't mind me posting this, but I was so glad to see Robert posting on these forums, and a little surprised by the reaction of some of the other forum members. So here goes:

Robert Speik is co-founder of the Cascade Mountaineers, based in Bend, OR. He is also founder of www.traditionalmountaineering.org. Robert also teaches mountaineering and navigation courses at Central Oregon Community College. Robert has climbed over 300 peaks. Now in his early 80s and still an active mountaineer, Robert is possibly the oldest person to have climbed South Sister and Mt. Jefferson. He is a well-known outdoorsman in Central Oregon, and you can find him in the local papers now and then.

I tell this to everyone not because we should respect his opinions simply due to his experience, but rather because Robert brings decades of mountaineering expertise and instruction in particular to these forums. He also regularly instructs many mountaineers who have put little thought into their navigation and self-rescue needs. If you think Robert's navigation tools sound a little heavy and technology-driven, consider that part of the mission statement of both www.traditionalmountaineering.org and the Cascade Mountaineers is to educate mountaineers in order to reduce the number of annual fatalities and frostbite-induced amputations that regularly occur throughout the Cascades. These injuries and fatalities are clearly documented on his website each time one occurs. Consider the injury and fatality cases he regularly sees, often resulting from typical lack of planning for disaster, when you consider the viewpoint he is responding from.

Perhaps a healthier discussion would be whether or not mountaineers and backpackers share the same navigating and self-rescue needs. Does someone doing an over-nighter high on a snowy ridge in early June with an approaching front need a PLB more than a low elevation thru-hiker on a well-marked trail in mid-summer? Also consider that, in Oregon, the weather can turn nasty real fast any time of year, especially above timberline, and that in the Cascades, if you are not high on a volcano ridge, you are usually in very heavy tree canopy, making compass navigation very difficult at best.

Interestingly, I took the advice of both Roger Caffin and Robert Speik with the recommendation of the Garmin eTrex H as a lightweight, non-mapping accessory to a map and compass. From what I've read, both would say the same things about the importance of relying on one's brain, and not technology, for navigation, and the importance of keeping one's attention on the terrain, not the GPS screen. I think there was a bit of misunderstanding in some of the above posts.

Again, I hope Robert doesn't mind me revealing his identity, and I know there are other posters here with decades of outdoor experience. It is these experts that add so much value to these forums. I just though it would help steer these discussions more productively, as it seems to me we are speaking in pure absolutes, when really we have two subjects going on here--backpacking and mountaineering (or do we?)...

Edited by jcarter1 on 05/12/2009 15:48:09 MDT.

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: KEN KNIGHT IS MISSING ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN VA on 05/12/2009 16:09:36 MDT Print View

Hi John-
No, John, I don't mind.

You forgot the part about my being a former Chair for three years of the Basic Mountaineering Training Committee (BMTC and AMTC) of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club introducing about 1,000 new people per year with 30 classroom hours and four weekend trips to the traditions, latest practices, skills, gear, etc. of walking on the trail, walking off the trail, scrambling, climbing steep snow, rock and ice to a summit and then rappelling back from the top.

BMTC/AMTC was conducted in five areas of Southern California with a trained and tested volunteer staff of about 200 guys and girls. This is similar to the introductory classes classes put on by the Oregon Mazamas, the Washington Mountaineers and many other Outdoor Clubs.

Whew - I have a hard time saying anything short;-((
--Robert Speik

PS: John, I have ordered the Garmin to USB cable you suggested. Have you told folks here about this nifty affordable item of gear?

Edited by trad_guy on 05/15/2009 15:28:15 MDT.

Rene de bos
(piemel) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Prices on Etrex H/HC are dropping on 05/12/2009 16:09:56 MDT Print View

ETrex H = $80
ETrex HC = $124

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Roger Cafins advice to use Map, Compass and GPS together on 05/12/2009 16:17:48 MDT Print View

Hi Robert

I now understand where you are coming from, and why you are so keen on everyone taking care. OK, map and compass first. No argument that they are extremely desirable.

Where we diverge is on the philosophical issue of what many call the Nanny State. Saying that carrying a cell phone or a GPS is *mandatory* is too much for me. What if you don't even own a cell phone or a GPS? America is meant to be the land of the free, but all these regulations seem to be wrapping you in ever-tightening shackles.

Of course there is a conflict between personal freedom and "what's good for you". And of course fools impose a cost on society. However, I place personal freedom a bit higher up the totem pole. Such 'mandatory' rules would mean no-one could enjoy the freedom of their own environment without spending hundreds of dollars on electronic gear so the State can track them. I couldn't go walking on the local tracks near my farm without carrying hundreds of dollars of electronic gear. What will the next 'mandatory requirement' be? NO WAY!

Am I being melodramatic here? It might seem so, but we are playing out part of this battle in my own country Australia right now. A few vested interests (commercial operators of tourist adventure companies) are trying to force volunteer walking clubs to play by the same rules as are being imposed on those who sell 'adventure trips' to tourists, and some bureaucrats are buying their story. Such regulations would destroy all adult volunteer clubs, as they would prevent anyone from leading an adult club walk unless they had all the licences.

To make it quite clear: I agree and support the moves to impose regulations on those who sell their services to minors and unskilled people. They have a legal duty of care. We have seen too many cowboys in that area. The various Guides Associations in Europe and other countries around the world have a long and honourable history. But leave individuals and their friends free.

Cheers

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: Re: Re: Roger Cafins advice to use Map, Compass and GPS together on 05/12/2009 16:29:03 MDT Print View

Hi Roger-
I agree with you!

Here is an OpEd piece I wrote for our Oregon newspaper:



OpEd: Electronic locator beacons, a mountaineer's viewpoint

Published as a Guest Editorial
The Bulletin
Robert Speik
Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bulletin Reporter James Sinks broke the news that House Bill 2509 might require “mountain climbers” and guides to carry an electronic beacon when they venture above the treeline on Mt. Hood.

A controversy erupted between experienced mountaineers and those who would reduce government costs by controlling irresponsible thrill seekers asking for expensive search and rescue efforts while endangering volunteers.

According to an Oregon State report, climbing accounts for 3.4% of rescues, mushroom picking 3.0%, hiking 13.8%, vehicle, ATVs, snowmobiles 20.5%. Enough said.

Bulletin Reporter Lily Raff wrote about the controversy in an excellent in-depth nine column front page Sunday Perspective: “Locator Beacons, Lifesavers or Unnecessary?”

Lawmakers recalled the 1986 Episcopal School Tragedy where seven teens and two adults died in an unmarked snow cave while for days searchers combed the broad snow slopes of Mt. Hood. The leaders had made many common sense basic mountaineering errors. This tragedy led to the invention of the electronic Mountain Locator Unit (MLU).

For ten days in December last year, the world’s media focused on the plight of three experienced mountain climbers missing in a storm near the summit of Mt. Hood. Two of the three north face winter ice climbers may have fallen, stranding Kelly James. He called his home in Texas using his cell phone, triggering the rescue effort. Days later, when the weather cleared, searchers quickly found Kelly who had died from hypothermia shortly after his one phone call. Kelly did not call 911 for rescue.

In February, eight adventurers challenged Mt. Hood by climbing north up the snow slope from the parking lot to Illumination Saddle to camp in two snow caves. The next morning, while descending the easy slopes in a forecast snowstorm, three became separated from their five companions. Very poor navigation had led them 90 degrees east to a steeper snow slope. Three slid down uncontrolled, abandoned two of their backpacks and then hiked for forty minutes until forced to spend the night ill equipped and un-prepared. They called for rescue. Searchers found them next morning, inexcusably wet, cold, hungry and thirsty. The group committed a comedy of mountaineering errors.

Note that they called rescuers every hour by cell phone. None of the three had their personal GPS to report their exact position or to find the nearby parking lot. However, searchers easily figured out where they were from their phoned information.

By chance, one of the two rented MLUs among the eight climbers was with the group of three. Portland Mountain Rescue (PMR) used the Mountain Locator Unit system. Searchers commented that the MLU was “hard to use and not very precise”.

PMR advocates the use of electronic communications with GPS receivers but does not believe the State should require anyone to use “electronic signaling devices”. I agree.

The following is my observation, speaking from the experience of a traditionally trained mountaineer.

First, a rescue does not begin until a Responsible Person calls 911 if the adventurer does not return by an agreed time.

Second, when a person becomes stranded due to illness or injury to themselves or others, or if they become lost, or are forced to overnight or shelter from a storm, it may be better to phone for help then, rather than waiting for the Responsible Person to call 911 hours or days later. Experience tells me to have this option.

MLUs: Mt. Hood Mountain Locator Units are simple radio transmitters. They are managed by Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, which is liable for maintenance, battery replacement, rental and user instruction.

Note that MLUs require a separate radio or phone call to 911 before any search begins. They are only available on Mt. Hood.

PLBs: A better option is the Personal Locator Beacon. These strong radios broadcast a signal to satellites that is relayed to the local County Sheriff often within five minutes with GPS Latitude and Longitude coordinates. They cost about $450 at local stores and do not require a subscription. The batteries last for years. They weigh a reasonable 12 ounces. Serious backcountry adventurers may want to own one.

SAT-CELLs: A third option is a Satellite Cell Phone. These units work like a PLB, but you can verbally send your GPS coordinates and chat. They are heavy, expensive and require a monthly subscription.

FRSs: "Family Radio Service" Walkie-talkie radios are a low cost option, but someone must be listening.

Best option: Carry your own everyday Cell Phone and your simple GPS.

A good cell phone is FREE with a $20 per month, two-year subscription including 200 free monthly minutes. One can call for help and give their very accurate GPS coordinates.

My friends choose to bring their own cell phones, GPS receivers, base plate compasses, USGS topo maps, and the knowledge of how to use them together. The cost of a quality map, compass and GPS is $136.

Robert Speik pursues an active retirement while writing for TraditionalMountaineering.org


http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/News_Lost_HoodGroup.htm

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Roger Cafins advice to use Map, Compass and GPS together on 05/12/2009 17:12:00 MDT Print View

"Where we diverge is on the philosophical issue of what many call the Nanny State."

Hear, hear, Roger. Your comments go straight to the heart of why many of us venture into wild places. Organizations, by their very nature, seek to impose uniformity and control.
For those so disposed, wilderness oriented organizations offer a safe, predictable "adventure", and I have no problem with that as long as participation is voluntary. But there is an increasing tendency to extend organizational writ and doctrine to all who enter the backcountry. In some cases it is justified, e.g. bear canisters, but will it stop there? I am beginning to fear that the days of those of us who choose to experience the wilderness in a "less structured" way, relying on our own wits, experience, and a bit of luck, are numbered. I hope I am mistaken.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
No map, compass, gps, etc. on 05/12/2009 18:35:49 MDT Print View

I've written here before that there is some liberty in traveling without navigation tools.

Just walk. Get lost. Find your way back.

It's not for everyone (probably not for Ken! :) but it's a pretty fascinating way to travel the wilds.

We intentionally hamper navigation to a great degree on our WT3-EXT course and I don't think our students would have it any other way. Generally, we don't really use "maps".

Traveling the landscape and not your maps, there's something to it.

My point is not to leave the map at home (the compass is nice, though), but rather to drive home the point that navigation devices of any sort probably are not as "essential" to one's survival as we think they are down here in the CONUS, where the point at a furthest distance from a road is only 22 miles.

What they do offer you is efficiency. They allow you to get back to the car when you plan to get back to the car.

But if you have the experience, light gear, some extra food, and the flexibility (and a sat phone to let your wife know that you're not ... quite ... sure when you'll be home), try navigating the landscape without a map ... and see where you end up.

I don't recommend this practice for the casual walker.

But a lot of folks here have no issues hiking 15-20 miles a day, and are experienced traveling off trail. This might be something fun to do for you.

Last year on WT3 our maps contained shaded relief, but no data, no topography, no trails, etc., and we managed to cross 70 miles of the Absaroka Range in 4.5 days, with the last few days in a blizzard, in October. We were pretty comfortable the whole trip, and it was really fun.

Don't sanitize your experience out there too much.

Edited by ryan on 05/12/2009 18:37:15 MDT.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Easy Showily on 05/12/2009 18:39:48 MDT Print View

Hi Robert,

The Easy Showily does give you position info whilst on the trail... but I didn't realise that it doesn't give you UTM coordinates. Back to the drawing board I guess.

I will probably end up with an eTrex H. But I would really prefer to find something lighter, such as the Easy Showily or the Holux M-241 which only weigh an ounce or a half (but unfortunately don't seem to report in UTM coordinates). All I need is something that will give my current position, as a backup/confirmation of my compass. Don't need any other fancy features. Is there nothing out there for under 2oz which will give me a UTM coordinate?

It must be possible, because I was under the impression that you can transform between UTM and lat/long coordinates (through some fairly complex forumla).

Whilst I can get around and "locate" myself using a compass and map, a GPS would be a welcome backup. On a number of occasions I have found myself completely mistaken in my position on a map... the confusion only lifting, or making itself apparent when I come across a feature in the environment which does not make sense according to where I thought I was. I've always been able to work it out in the end, but a GPS would have made life a hell of a lot easier. And if I were ever completely lost with limited vision (due to fog, snow) I would be extremely thankful to have it there with me.

Robert Speik
(trad_guy) - M
Re: Easy Showily vs. Garmin Geko on 05/12/2009 19:09:55 MDT Print View

Hi Ashley-
Golly gee whiz! Questions! I am wearing out;-))

The only way I know of to go from lat-lon to UTM is to change the Units preference in your GPS.

Why do you want UTMs? Because with ten minutes of explanation, you will be able to find your UTM coordinates on your Quad or equal map by just looking at it.

Lat-lon coordinates require a special ruler and more sophistication to find a location. Only pilots and mariners know how to plot it on a chart.

You must match the Datum preference in your GPS to your map - NAD 27 for USGS Quad maps or equal, or you may be as much as 600 feet off the trail or intersection.

Remember, use your map first, then add your declination adjusted compass and then consult your GPS.

(One degree of declination error is about 92 feet in one mile. But 10 degrees is 920 feet in one mile. The declination error in Bend, OR is about 17 degrees. Oh my goodness!)

A local outdoor writer friend told me "I don't need a GPS. I have never been lost for more than 2 days in my life!"

Two good reads on long distance backpacking: "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson and a PCT book, "Journey on the Crest", by Cindy Ross. Both books, written in the 1980s, are hilarious and give a look at both the good and the bad sides of life on the trail.
--trad_guy

Edited by trad_guy on 05/15/2009 11:48:22 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Roger Cafins advice to use Map, Compass and GPS together on 05/12/2009 19:58:55 MDT Print View

Hi Robert

It would seem that we are not very far apart at all. Your OpEd piece was very good. :-)

My experience from many years bushwalking is that it is not the experienced walker who has to be rescued. I suspect this may be your experience as well.

It is the novice who goes quite unprepared, and I cannot see that saddling experienced walkers and climbers with legal requirements will solve that problem. The inexperienced (young males) won't carry any of that gear: they are "far too tough to need any of that stuff". Or "it is too dear and they don't need it anyhow". Well, Darwin rules.

Another class who gives us (including the SAR) grief here in Oz are the know-it-all adults who cheerfully volunteer to take groups of kids (church groups, school groups, etc) into the wild. They assume a duty of care with no training, experience or skill. They feature highly in the SAR statistics. This is where we do need serious regulation.

I support the idea that anyone who takes a party of unskilled children or adults into the wild, whether on a paid adventure trip or as an unpaid leader, has a legal duty of care. They should be legally required to have some assessed skills and should carry some means of yelling for help. A GPS is good but not enough: they should be carrying either a cell phone (IF they know there will be cover), a sat phone, or a PLB.

In our nearby Blue Mountains (where we get a lot of SAR), the local police station has PLBs for LOAN. They reckon it is cheaper to cover the cost of the PLBs. But I gather that the uptake has not been great.

Cheers

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Not well known they're available on 05/13/2009 06:26:35 MDT Print View

Roger,

It's probably worth piping up since I've just finished reading the Coroner's report tonight, that he recommends that 'the NPWS review it's capacity to to educate the public as to the availability of PLB's from Police and the NPWS'

and that 'the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme amend its literature to require co-ordinators to educate candidates about...the value of one candidate in any walking group carrying a PLB where those devices are available from Police or NPWS'

It's not clear whether those were 121s or 406s in 2006, or whether or not they were or are now GPS equipped.

Justin McMinn
(akajut) - F

Locale: Central Oklahoma
Re: Easy Showily on 05/28/2009 12:20:56 MDT Print View

I noticed the posts about how the Easy Showily doesn't show UTM coordinates. The ATP GPS Photofinder Pro just got announced today, and it displays UTM. It will be out in July for $120. I can't find a weight though.

You can insert your camera's memory card into the device, and it will add the gps location data to the photo without the need for a computer.

Photography Blog post