Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter



Print Jump to Reader Comments

by Staff | 2009-04-30 10:04:00-06


UPDATE 5/2/09 4:07 PM:


: 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:

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


"*** ALERT *** APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER FOUND!," by Staff. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2009-04-30 10:04:00-06.


Reader Comments

You must login to post comments.

New Visitors: Create a new account
Remember my login info.

Display Avatars
Sort By:
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
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
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
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.


Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

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

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

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

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 and the postings that mentions the above incident starts near the end of the first page.