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Hunt
05-17-2010, 10:01 PM
I just came back from a week of exploring Canyonlands Utah and one day we had a very dangerous close call for my wife and son. This relates the importance of ALWAYS having your minimum survival gear with you. The three of us went out on a marked trail about 5 hours before sunset for a 5 mile loop hike on a well maintained trail we were told by the ranger only had a 300 ft elevation change. The weather was fine, about 60 and clear skies so we figured nice safe day hike, so we took off with just cotton sweatshirts on and nothing else for weather protection, no food, water or any survival gear. We walked in about a mile and steeply descended much more than 300 ft in just the first mile. I was really whipped as the previous 3 days had been filled with much more demanding canyon descents and miles of hiking in sand. I decided to head back to the car and felt confident in the safety of my son (25) and wife as they are accomplished hikers and martial artists and after all the sun is out and it is an easy marked trail. I got back to the car and fell asleep, I woke up to a light rain shower and nasty storm on horizon, wife and son were about 1/2 hr over due, wind chill way up and temp down to about 46! Sun was going down so I drove up a ridge and glassed the canyon and basins they should have been in-- nowhere in sight! I glassed all angles from every vantage point I could find they still must be at least a mile or two out and the light rain and wind this is not good. Also those canyons are a very bad place to be lost if the trail is lost it is easy to get way off the path. Forget finding your way after sunset with no light. Considering the storm, lack of gear and nightfall coming they could succumb to hypothermia very fast. If they didn't get out by nightfall there would be big problems. On my last pass on a high ridge glassing as the sunset I saw them jogging about a mile off coming back the way they went in, reversing the loop.

What happened? we got bad advice from Ranger the trail had about 1000 ft total in ascents and descents, they got about 90% of the loop done but had no map and thought they took wrong turn so decided to jog back adding an extra 4 miles of rough terrain and racing the sunset. That would be better than spending the night in the rain and exposed to hypothermia.

Lessons here: Never venture *anywhere* in the backcountry no matter how good things look at the moment without minimum survival gear.

map, some way to stay dry and warm, poncho or ultralite tarp, fire making ability, flashlight, whistle, candy bars, bottle of water frs radios.


Carry enough to get you through 1-2 days until search party can find you. If they didn't make it out, I would have had to go in by myself, may be a good idea, maybe not, or start a search party, the rangers were gone by 5pm!
So this meant driving an hour into the sherrif in Moab, a search party wouldn't have been put together and out to site for 5-6 hours just to start searching, hypothermia could have killed them in that time. Be careful out there things can go bad very fast.

duckman1
05-18-2010, 8:47 AM
Good Advice!

PatriotnMore
05-18-2010, 9:07 AM
Glad everything turned out for the good. I am surprised that you received bad information from a Ranger, I would let him know his advice was incorrect.

I learned a long time ago, I don't go out hiking or anywhere that is remote without a few things. A backpack to carry my gear, layered clothes including a jacket, beanie and gloves, some snack foods, first aid kit, 50' of para cord, emergency blanket, poncho, water, knife, and maps if available, and now I have found a folding ground cover which can be used to lay on or used as a shooting mat, I carry on the outside attached by D links. It may sound like alot to carry, but it really isn't, everything is compact and small except for the jacket.

The mat is really cool, nylon on one side, and fleece like material on the other.

This is why to me, having the right backpack is important, if you have one that is well built, easy access pockets, hydration compatible, and is comfortable to wear, having the gear is easy because you will always have it with you. Often times just using the backpack as a pillow, or chair to hold your back up while sitting, makes them worth the effort of carrying one.

Hunt
05-18-2010, 9:00 PM
actually the trail loop was only about 3 miles from the visitors center / ranger station at the Island in the Sky CNP. The Ranger was new, she kept refering to printed descriptions of the trails and she didn't even know where to look for info on river floats. We usually do carry enough for an overnight emergency, but as they say these search and rescue stories always start out the same. "oh we were just going for a....surely a safe thing" After this experience I will be refining the every day carry kit for sure. I like the idea of a good FRS radio as well. If a search party was ever needed and they knew you had a radio they could scan the channels, be a fast way to get found.

TKM
05-18-2010, 9:32 PM
I lived in Carlsbad, New Mexico for a while.

It wasn't unusual to have tourists die within a mile of the highway. Every year the Sheriffs Posse goes out to find lost deer hunters.

The vultures help.

Mother Nature will cheerfully give Darwin a hand.

These two were their very own kind of special.

http://www.outdoorplaces.com/Features/story/mercykill.htm

Hunt
05-19-2010, 6:01 PM
I lived in Carlsbad, New Mexico for a while.

It wasn't unusual to have tourists die within a mile of the highway. Every year the Sheriffs Posse goes out to find lost deer hunters.

The vultures help.

Mother Nature will cheerfully give Darwin a hand.

These two were their very own kind of special.

http://www.outdoorplaces.com/Features/story/mercykill.htm

The Carlsbad NM story reminds me of a desert survival course I took one time in the AZ Superstition mtns in August. The thing that is so hard to grasp is that a simple hike in good weather can turn so bad, so fast.