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View Full Version : 46-year-old hiker from Hinesburg dies on Hunger Mountain trail



Kevin Rooney
08-03-2010, 04:22 PM
http://www.timesargus.com/article/20100803/THISJUSTIN/708039896/-1/DIALUP&template=dialup

erugs
08-03-2010, 05:08 PM
That is sad, especially because his friends did as he asked and went ahead without him. I've asked friends to leave me behind when I've had an off day on the trail. I've seen people lagging behind their faster-paced friends. How do we gauge when that is not a good idea, or do we just assume it never is wise?

sardog1
08-03-2010, 05:55 PM
That is sad, especially because his friends did as he asked and went ahead without him. I've asked friends to leave me behind when I've had an off day on the trail. I've seen people lagging behind their faster-paced friends. How do we gauge when that is not a good idea, or do we just assume it never is wise?

Number two, always. Seen too many instances where number one was the wrong choice.

Lefty E
08-03-2010, 06:13 PM
Reality is it happens all the time, we all go ahead when asked or others go ahead when we ask them to..don't get too far ahead without checking back..
we don't know the specifics of the incident, maybe the lead group was not too far ahead, and went back to check..the word "later" has many meanings...condolences..Lefty E

Hiking with Kat
08-04-2010, 07:32 AM
I've been a co-leader on a number of organized hikes and we always make sure the sweep is behind the slowest hiker to avoid such situations. Even on less organized hikes we always stop ever half hour or so to let everyone catch up to make sure something hasn't gone wrong.

FWIW, when someone says they are having a bad day it seems like you want to be extra cautious that they aren't in denial about a more serious problem (men do this all the time, especially around chest pain). If someone is just a slow hiker its probably less of an issue.

Grumpy
08-04-2010, 08:05 AM
I am going to be harshly judgmental about this.

This is a prime example of why parties never should leave members -- and particularly single members -- behind, unattended. Never. Start together, stay together, finish together. Period. It is called working as a team.

G.

Blue
08-04-2010, 08:28 AM
I am going to be harshly judgmental about this.

This is a prime example of why parties never should leave members -- and particularly single members -- behind, unattended. Never. Start together, stay together, finish together. Period. It is called working as a team.

G.

Agreed. Don't bother hiking with a group in the first place if you only want to hike your pace. I have a huge amount of respect for strong hikers who stay with a group and sometimes break trail most of the way.

Grumpy
08-04-2010, 09:54 AM
Agreed. Don't bother hiking with a group in the first place if you only want to hike your pace. I have a huge amount of respect for strong hikers who stay with a group and sometimes break trail most of the way.

When they become part of a group, strong hikers take on an ethical obligation to support the weaker members of their party. That may mean adjusting their pace to accommodate their companions' needs. While I don't believe that weaker hikers should deliberately inflict themselves on the stronger, once the party is formed, it must remain intact, as a team. Period.

By the way, while there are moral-ethical dimensions to my "rule" (a very old, old-fashion rule and traditional, by the way) there also is a practical aspect of it, as well. You never really know when you -- yourself -- suddenly will become the weak link, and find yourself in need of support.

I stand four-square for the idea of personal independence, in hiking and other aspects of life. I reject self-centerdness, however.

G.

SAR-EMT40
08-04-2010, 10:12 AM
I am going to be harshly judgmental about this.

This is a prime example of why parties never should leave members -- and particularly single members -- behind, unattended. Never. Start together, stay together, finish together. Period. It is called working as a team.

G.

I agree with this if this was an organized trip with a leader. As a leader of an organized trip they have a legal obligation. In this case, even though there is no legal obligation, I personally would stay with the person (I am not that goal driven anymore) and let the others go. And in most cases I would insist that they go on if it was me holding the group back. But I also never attend organized hikes because of my attitude. I hike my own hike and I don't expect anyone else to hike it. Of course I solo a lot because of my attitude. ;)

Also bear in mind that it is unlikely that the outcome would have been different even if they stayed with him if this is as suspected, a cardiac event. A sad but unfortunate fact being so far from definitive care and the extended time until first responders could arrive.

Keith

Taconic
08-04-2010, 10:18 AM
Sometimes a bad day is just a bad day.

For example, I made atrocious time yesterday on a couple of miles and ~700 feet. It was definitely an off day. Had I been with anyone, I definitely would have told them to go on ahead. Everyone has days where they just can't get going. On the vast majority of occasions this doesn't mean that you're going to drop dead further up the trail.

One of the reasons that I only hike solo is so that I only have to contend with my own pace. A bad day doesn't bog anyone else down, and a good day doesn't mean that I have to feel obligated to slow myself for others.

I think it's a reasonable assumption to make that anybody throwing themselves up the side of a mountain is in reasonable physical condition. If they're not, then they probably shouldn't be there to begin with. I don't think it's anybody's inherent responsibility to "babysit" other hikers if it can be assumed they're capable.

Consider the AT, for example. It's common practice to leave a shelter with someone in the morning, keep pace and talk while you warm up, and then split up for the rest of the day with a plan to meet at a given shelter further up the trail. Sometimes people get separated by 5 or 6 hours depending upon weather and whether or not it's just an off day. If everyone adopted the "never separate" philosophy, then the AT would be a sidewalk and nobody would ever complete it. Granted, some people stick together the whole way, but they're certainly in the vast minority.

I think that everyone out there needs to take responsibility for themselves. If you tell the rest of your party to go on ahead, then that's was your decision. If something winds up happening to you, then it's your responsibility.

It's unfortunate that this guy died, but I don't think it serves as a lesson about why we should never separate so much as it serves as a lesson in the importance of honestly evaluating your physical condition before and during strenuous activity. If he had a heart attack or something similar, what exactly could his companions have done? Even if they had called 911 immediately, it still would have taken hours for medical aid to arrive and the end result would have likely been the same.

I do believe there are a couple of exceptions, however.
1: Obviously my feelings don't apply if guiding a novice. Even if they feel you should go on ahead, you hauled them up there, so it's your job to get them back.
2: They also don't apply to club outings or something similar, in which case there is a responsibility for the leader to keep track of the party.)

But in terms of a normal group of able bodied people, I don't think there's anything wrong with consensual separations.

RollingRock
08-04-2010, 10:18 AM
When they become part of a group, strong hikers take on an ethical obligation to support the weaker members of their party. That may mean adjusting their pace to accommodate their companions' needs. While I don't believe that weaker hikers should deliberately inflict themselves on the stronger, once the party is formed, it must remain intact, as a team. Period.

By the way, while there are moral-ethical dimensions to my "rule" (a very old, old-fashion rule and traditional, by the way) there also is a practical aspect of it, as well. You never really know when you -- yourself -- suddenly will become the weak link, and find yourself in need of support.

I stand four-square for the idea of personal independence, in hiking and other aspects of life. I reject self-centerdness, however.

G.

Well said! I chew out the strong hikers [privately of course] when they run back to the cars after reaching the summit leaving me [the trip leader] and the slower ones behind. With that said, I also try to identify weak hikers [i.e., unfit] early on who might excessively slow down the group and ask that they turnaround because they can compromise the safety of the group as well.

Grumpy
08-04-2010, 10:26 AM
...

Also bear in mind that it is unlikely that the outcome would have been different even if they stayed with him if this is as suspected, a cardiac event. A sad but unfortunate fact being so far from definitive care and the extended time until first responders could arrive.

Keith

I've thought about that. Certainly the outcome might not have changed. That is reality. But where lies the humanity -- basic moral decency -- in leaving a companion alongside the trail, not out of necessity but of choice, possibly to die alone as did this poor chap?

G.

mirabela
08-04-2010, 10:29 AM
While I respect where all the "never separate, ever" voices are coming from, I submit there are times when it is reasonable to do so -- but those are contextual and based on the nature of the group arrangement, individual experience and training of the group members, experience together, honesty and full disclosure, prevailing conditions, and a host of other factors.

What's probably most important to reiterate here is what Blue mentioned -- men having heart attacks often deny they are having heart attacks, and will minimize the problem and say something to the effect of no, I'm just <tired / having a bad day / suffering indigestion / dehydrated / zapped from last night / whatever>, go on ahead without me.

I'm not going to second-guess what this party did as I'm sure it seemed reasonable to all of them at the time, but the outcome is a sad reminder of what can happen.

Grumpy
08-04-2010, 10:34 AM
... I also try to identify weak hikers [i.e., unfit] early on who might excessively slow down the group and ask that they turnaround because they can compromise the safety of the group as well.

Are "weak" hikers automatically "unfit," or do they just have fewer or lesser physical gifts?

When you ask your weak-unfit hikers to turn around, do you provide them a strong-fit escort back to the trailhead and assured safety, or simply dismiss them to fend for themselves?

By the way, in these discussions about interpersonal obligations I do not differentiate between "formally" organized group hikes (and all the legal baggage they tote) and informal "pickup" groups. Once a bunch of people agrees to go together, they have individually and jointly taken on the ethical obligation to function as a team, in my opinion. I am very old-fashion that way.

G.

SAR-EMT40
08-04-2010, 10:48 AM
I've thought about that. Certainly the outcome might not have changed. That is reality. But where lies the humanity -- basic moral decency -- in leaving a companion alongside the trail, not out of necessity but of choice, possibly to die alone as did this poor chap?

G.

I understand what you are saying having attended enough end of life events to last me the rest of my life. Absolutely no pun intended. But, if the person is of legal age with intact faculties they have a right to determine their fate. I can suggest things to them, I can strongly suggest things to them and even as a last resort I can and have just stood around without their permission, just in case. An unconscious patient is a treatable patient under the law of implied consent. But, if conscious, without explicit consent they are in charge of their fate unless 1. they have given some written consent like should be obtained in an organized trip or 2. they are unconscious or 3. they are not reliable (i.e. altered mentally) or 4. not of legal age without parent present.

If it was not in an organized trip and they didnít suspect any serious underlying condition, I would not find fault with what they did and personally have no issue with what they did.

I do feel very bad for them and their friend. 46 is too young to die.

Keith

dr_wu002
08-04-2010, 10:55 AM
Number two, always. Seen too many instances where number one was the wrong choice.I don't know -- every time I go for a hike / run with Jason Ferris I'm about a mile behind, never thought it was a problem. Do you have an issue with this?

What's probably most important to reiterate here is what Blue mentioned -- men having heart attacks often deny they are having heart attacks, and will minimize the problem and say something to the effect of no, I'm just <tired / having a bad day / suffering indigestion / dehydrated / zapped from last night / whatever>, go on ahead without me.
OK, and what % of time are men just having a bad day vs actually having a heart attack? I've turned around on a bad day and told my friends to go ahead. I never thought this was an issue. We're all adults, regardless, and the individual has the right to make their own decision...

This is a prime example of why parties never should leave members -- and particularly single members -- behind, unattended. Never. Start together, stay together, finish together. Period. It is called working as a team.Give me a break. I'm ok with my friends going ahead -- even miles -- and I'm ok with others lagging behind. Are you going to tell me this is somehow wrong? Even if I'm in a group, I'm responsible for myself just as everyone else, in the end, is responsible for their own well being.

-Dr. Wu

grouseking
08-04-2010, 11:13 AM
I happen to agree both the two different thoughts on this issue...mainly Grumpy, and Taconic.

I think that when it comes to group hiking, yes...you do set up that moral obligation to keep each other as safe as possible. I don't know what I'd do if a member of my group had a serious problem like that, and I could not help because I decided to go way ahead. At the same time, I've been that guy who has told people to continue ahead because I'm a bit slow, or I've been told that I can go ahead for a bit. Though I ALWAYS have a place to meet and wait, like a trail sign, a stream, the big oak tree...etc...I definitely hike in sections, it helps me get to the top, and bottom. :) So I can see both sides easily.

Lots of times, I want to be separated from a group, because I want to take it in a little more. I prefer solo hiking anyways, but I know its risks, so I don't do it as often as I'd like. But that is another different debate.

People hike for so many different reasons. I find that a lot do it for physical well being, and to see..."how fast they can make it to Point A and Point B. " I know I've been like that in the past, though I really don't care how long it takes me anymore, as long as I get out of the woods before dark, or before a big thunderstorm. So I think people feel bad if they are lagging behind someone who hikes faster, just for that point A to point B mentality. I can pretty much guarantee that they aren't just hiking for the point A to B thing, but deep down, the slow hiker is thinking that, and feels bad he/she is holding the fast hiker up.

As for the AT example, it seems like a different animal. Some people stick together, but everyone hikes at a different speed, so naturally you aren't going to wait for all the new friends you've made. Like Taconic said, the trail would be absolutely mobbed in places.

Ok, I see I've rambled and not made much sense. For me....I say that you are responsible for yourself first, and then a close 2nd, the group you belong to, if you so choose to be with a group. Other than that, you do your best to hike your own hike.

Grumpy
08-04-2010, 11:13 AM
I understand what you are saying having attended enough end of life events to last me the rest of my life. Absolutely no pun intended. But, if the person is of legal age with intact faculties they have a right to determine their fate. I can suggest things to them, I can strongly suggest things to them and even as a last resort I can and have just stood around without their permission, just in case. An unconscious patient is a treatable patient under the law of implied consent. But, if conscious, without explicit consent they are in charge of their fate unless 1. they have given some written consent like should be obtained in an organized trip or 2. they are unconscious or 3. they are not reliable (i.e. altered mentally) or 4. not of legal age without parent present.

If it was not in an organized trip and they didn’t suspect any serious underlying condition, I would not find fault with what they did and personally have no issue with what they did.

I do feel very bad for them and their friend. 46 is too young to die.

Keith

Did I suggest active intervention in this (or any other) case? That is not at all what I am getting at. My own living will includes a specific DNR order. I continue to find fault with the behavior of those companions who left this fellow sitting beside the trail. (They left a nice surprise for the other party to stumble across, didn't they?) He should not have been left alone unless there was some compelling reason to do so (which attaining a summit certainly is not, and so they were not facing anything that could be characterized as a dilemma). I think this sorry incident very clearly illustrates the validity of that old rule about starting, staying and finishing together when you hike in a group setting. No quibbling.

G.

Grumpy
08-04-2010, 11:25 AM
...
Give me a break. I'm ok with my friends going ahead -- even miles -- and I'm ok with others lagging behind. Are you going to tell me this is somehow wrong? Even if I'm in a group, I'm responsible for myself just as everyone else, in the end, is responsible for their own well being.

-Dr. Wu

Sorry, but no, I will not "give you a break" on this issue.

I have never argued against taking responsibility for one's own well-being, or substituting reliance on the care and supervision of companions for personal responsibility. I do, however, believe, and have clearly stated my belief that when we agree to go together we take on certain ethical obligations, one of which is to look out for one another. I do not regard leaving a companion sitting alone beside the trail while one goes on to the summit as looking out for one another.

G.

RoySwkr
08-04-2010, 11:31 AM
If it was not in an organized trip and they didnít suspect any serious underlying condition, I would not find fault with what they did and personally have no issue with what they did.

I do feel very bad for them and their friend. 46 is too young to die.

I think that best expresses my feelings.

There are many days I have felt iffy in the morning and started a hike, often I feel better and complete it as planned and sometimes I don't. If I never went on a hike when feeling iffy, I would have missed many good outcomes in exchange for only a couple bad choices.

Even worse, if your friends won't go with you because you might lag, you may never get to hike with them at all. It is not unusual for me to part company during a hike so both parties can do closer to what they feel up to.

But if I thought a friend had a serious medical condition and needed help, no way would I leave them (except to go for help if necessary). In this case, it probably made no difference what they did but it may bother them forever.

SAR-EMT40
08-04-2010, 11:58 AM
Did I suggest active intervention in this (or any other) case? That is not at all what I am getting at. My own living will includes a specific DNR order. I continue to find fault with the behavior of those companions who left this fellow sitting beside the trail. (They left a nice surprise for the other party to stumble across, didn't they?) He should not have been left alone unless there was some compelling reason to do so (which attaining a summit certainly is not, and so they were not facing anything that could be characterized as a dilemma). I think this sorry incident very clearly illustrates the validity of that old rule about starting, staying and finishing together when you hike in a group setting. No quibbling.

G.

I think that I have very clearly expressed my position on the matter. I respect your position but just as clearly I do not agree with it. I can live with that.

I know I am legally and feel ethically justified in my position. So for me, that is good enough.

Keith

dr_wu002
08-04-2010, 12:12 PM
I do, however, believe, and have clearly stated my belief that when we agree to go together we take on certain ethical obligations, one of which is to look out for one another. I do not regard leaving a companion sitting alone beside the trail while one goes on to the summit as looking out for one another.Whatever. Few weeks ago we were doing a long hike and some wanted to do an additional peak, some didn't. We split off, met up later in the hike. You're really gonna sit there and tell me there's something wrong with that?

Look, this poor dude could have gone on a hike alone too and died alone. If he had some history of heart problems or he genuinely seemed ill and his friends took off on him, sure you can find some fault. But you're not going to go around ridiculously dictating how groups should work based on isolated tragedies like this. Don't tell me how to hike.

-Dr. Wu

mookie
08-04-2010, 12:12 PM
i dunno.

i dont see the problem with leaving him. if they had known he was having medical issues then left him would be a differnt story. if someone tells me they are ok then i trust that they are ok. if somone told me they were having chest pains and cardiac issues then i would obviously not keep going.
obviously if there were weather issues of if route finding issues i would stay with/wait for hiking partners.

i have hiked with groups of friends many times and very rarely are we "hiking" together. we may wait for each other on summits but i have yet to be on a group where everyone hikes the same pace the entire hike. hike yer' own hike.....

oh yeah, rarely am i the guy in the front anyway. usually the one being waited for ! and i never expect anyone to wait up for me.

dr_wu002
08-04-2010, 12:17 PM
I think that everyone out there needs to take responsibility for themselves. If you tell the rest of your party to go on ahead, then that's was your decision. If something winds up happening to you, then it's your responsibility.

i dunno.

i dont see the problem with leaving him. if they had known he was having medical issues then left him would be a differnt story. if someone tells me they are ok then i trust that they are ok. if somone told me they were having chest pains and cardiac issues then i would obviously not keep going.
obviously if there were weather issues of if route finding issues i would stay with/wait for hiking partners.

i have hiked with groups of friends many times and very rarely are we "hiking" together. we may wait for each other on summits but i have yet to be on a group where everyone hikes the same pace the entire hike. hike yer' own hike.....Thankfully there are some beacons of rationality left!

-Dr. Wu

mookie
08-04-2010, 12:21 PM
besides,
the only good thing about hiking with groups is the car spot and people to drink beer with after....

Elizabeth
08-04-2010, 12:24 PM
I agree with Taconic and Roy. As a slow-but-ambitious hiker (NOT a "weak" hiker) I mostly go solo to avoid issues of making people wait for me. If I am with friends, I would like for them to go at their own pace and just wait for me at trail junctions, outlooks, or summits. Otherwise, if I felt that I was holding them back, I would actually be less safe because I would try to rush - which could bring on an asthma attack or lead to possible injury.

erugs
08-04-2010, 12:33 PM
Don't tell me how to hike. -Dr. Wu

Saying that others are telling you how to hike is a little strong. I think what others have been posting are their own philosophies. We can clearly see that there are many lines. This is always the case.

For me, the reason I hike is social combined with physical. For me, the social aspect comes first. For me, and I can see that I am not alone with this, staying primarily together is the obligation I assume to be standard when I'm with a group. When I'm hiking alone and come across others, I feel no obligation to stay with them, but if I have arranged to hike with others, and perhaps have commuted with them, their presence is important, as I hope mine is to them. Sometimes that "obligation" has more to do with being a good citizen, like last Sunday coming off Washington late when we met up with a guy who didn't have a flashlight and invited him to walk along with us.

Sharing of experiences is important to me and not as easily done alone. To paraphrase Mark Twain, I've learned that "to get the full value of a joy...have somebody to divide it with." That's what I want in life. But like most everyone I know, I'll pick and choose my companions.

mirabela
08-04-2010, 12:42 PM
What's probably most important to reiterate here is what Blue mentioned -- men having heart attacks often deny they are having heart attacks, and will minimize the problem and say something to the effect of no, I'm just <tired / having a bad day / suffering indigestion / dehydrated / zapped from last night / whatever>, go on ahead without me.

OK, and what % of time are men just having a bad day vs actually having a heart attack? I've turned around on a bad day and told my friends to go ahead. I never thought this was an issue. We're all adults, regardless, and the individual has the right to make their own decision...

Exactly. My point is only that when someone says this, it warrants a few questions, maybe even pointed ones (i.e. are you experiencing any pain? Numbness or tingling? Shortness of breath?) before parting ways.

I think many members of this discussion are quite draconian and black/white in their views. When I don't hike alone, I travel with groups ranging from two avid & experienced mountaineers, to organized groups of youth or adults, to groups including my both my 5-year-old son and my 76-year-old mother-in-law. I'm a Wilderness First Responder and a past trainer of other youth outdoor leaders; I've worked for the GMC, the AMC, and Outward Bound; I've led trips for the Sierra Club, etc. I'm pretty conversant in outdoor leadership, wilderness medicine and risk management, and the bottom line is there are some people I would comfortably part ways with in the woods, and others I would not; there are situations in which I would comfortably separate and situations in which I would not. Almost any bright-line rule we try to lay down for all people in all situations is going to get it wrong. Probably the best thing we can do is to communicate clearly with our partners, groups, or leaders, about what we will expect, and what can be expected of us, in various likely scenarios.

David Metsky
08-04-2010, 01:10 PM
the bottom line is there are some people I would comfortably part ways with in the woods, and others I would not; there are situations in which I would comfortably separate and situations in which I would not. Almost any bright-line rule we try to lay down for all people in all situations is going to get it wrong. Probably the best thing we can do is to communicate clearly with our partners, groups, or leaders, about what we will expect, and what can be expected of us, in various likely scenarios.
This sums up my philosophy very well.

dr_wu002
08-04-2010, 01:15 PM
For me, the reason I hike is social combined with physical. For me, the social aspect comes first. For me, and I can see that I am not alone with this, staying primarily together is the obligation I assume to be standard when I'm with a group. When I'm hiking alone and come across others, I feel no obligation to stay with them, but if I have arranged to hike with others, and perhaps have commuted with them, their presence is important, as I hope mine is to them. I agree, and I like the social aspect (usually). Actually, I most of the time hike with other people. But people have to understand that different people are going to work together differently. Sure, when we planned a recent Great Range Traverse we talked beforehand about what people wanted to do, if we were going to split up etc. In fact, a few of us bailed a little early to get started on picking up the cars we had spotted (so we could get to drinkin!). Other times I'll be on a hike and someone will want to run a section and I won't; I'm not going to say, hey don't run away! Whatever, I'm cool with people going ahead... I'm not going to hold someone back. Likewise, if I'm out hiking with someone, I'll sometimes take off into a run and don't even look back -- if they're with me, fine -- if not, they'll catch up. It can't be too bad a situation because I hike with the same people all the time and nobody seems to mind. You do your thing and I'll do mine. But, if someone asked me to stay with them or if they seemed hurt or injured of course I wouldn't abandon them.

-Dr. Wu

Maddy
08-04-2010, 01:18 PM
Would having an experience dealing with a friend's fatal outcome change anyone's mind about leaving a group member, aka "friend", behind on a trail?

I remember being injured on the Tuckeman trail but able to walk out. Word got out to other hikers that someone was injured. Suddenly a young skier appeared off the Shelburne ski trail and walked me back down. I told him he didn't need to do this but he insisted saying he "really didn't feel like skiing anyway." I suspect that might have been a little white lie. He took my pack and helped me with my dog. What a selfless person. I was very grateful for the help. I sure hope no one leaves him behind on a hike if he is not feeling up to snuff.

Sometimes people are embarrassed by the fact that they cannot keep up for whatever reason. They don't want to ruin your day. It's so easy to say to someone "I'm really tired today so I will hang out with you. No big deal. "

I'm with Grumpy. We are graduates of the same "old school." I could not have a good time wondering if the friend I left behind was OK, never mind having to deal with the fact the h/she died alone on a trail. Somehow thinking that the outcome would have been the same doesn't do it for me.

I would not leave my dog behind. Why would I leave a friend? I honestly cannot wrap my mind around this.

mookie
08-04-2010, 01:26 PM
Would having an experience dealing with a friend's fatal outcome change anyone's mind about leaving a group member, aka "friend", behind on a trail?

I remember being injured on the Tuckeman trail but able to walk out. Word got out to other hikers that someone was injured. Suddenly a young skier appeared off the Shelburne ski trail and walked me back down. I told him he didn't need to do this but he insisted saying he "really didn't feel like skiing anyway." I suspect that might have been a little white lie. He took my pack and helped me with my dog. What a selfless person. I was very grateful for the help. I sure hope no one leaves him behind on a hike if he is not feeling up to snuff.

Sometimes people are embarrassed by the fact that they cannot keep up for whatever reason. They don't want to ruin your day. It's so easy to say to someone "I'm really tired today so I will hang out with you. No big deal. "

I'm with Grumpy. We are graduates of the same "old school." I could not have a good time wondering if the friend I left behind was OK, never mind having to deal with the fact the h/she died alone on a trail. Somehow thinking that the outcome would have been the same doesn't do it for me.

I would not leave my dog behind. Why would I leave a friend? I honestly cannot wrap my mind around this.

because a friend telling you they are tired and friend being injured are two totally different scenarios.....

dr_wu002
08-04-2010, 01:34 PM
I remember being injured on the Tuckeman trail but able to walk out. Word got out to other hikers that someone was injured. Suddenly a young skier appeared off the Shelburne ski trail and walked me back down. I told him he didn't need to do this but he insisted saying he "really didn't feel like skiing anyway." I suspect that might have been a little white lie. He took my pack and helped me with my dog. What a selfless person. I was very grateful for the help. I sure hope no one leaves him behind on a hike if he is not feeling up to snuff. .I think there are two scenarios here. There's the "see ya" scenario where people gotta get a peak even if there's someone lagging behind, maybe injured, maybe has a history of health problems, maybe is not an experienced hiker. etc. Scenario two is you're with a group of people you know well, are cool with etc. They want to go off and do their own thing on a hike, or run ahead, get an extra peak, whatever -- there's nothing wrong with that if everyone is cool with it. It doesn't even have to be discussed, you have some faith in your friends sometimes... I can't see how there could be anything wrong with that. Sure, someone could get injured but that's how life goes. I oftentimes wonder if my friends are going to murder me some day so I guess it works both ways. The situation gets more iffy, I think, when it's a group of people that don't know each other well or something. But a bunch of friends out having fun don't need to be holding hands the whole time...


I would not leave my dog behind. Why would I leave a friend? I honestly cannot wrap my mind around thisI think the difference is that you own your dog and it relies on you, almost entirely, for its well being. Friends will rely on each other for varying degrees. Some more. Some rely on you for a car spot and beer at the end of the hike. Some friends are imaginary and you take them on your solo hikes. I would never abandon a friend ever. Strangers... I've helped strangers before, carried out packs, given food and water etc. I've also abandoned weirdo strangers that I didn't want hiking with me (although I probably would not abandon an injured wierdo unless they were a total freak or violent or insisted that I leave them alone which has happened -- maybe they don't want help from a fellow weirdo). I'm totally cool with friends going off and doing their own thing, especially when we know each other well etc. There's a difference between going off and doing other things and abandoning though.

-Dr. Wu

Maddy
08-04-2010, 02:37 PM
because a friend telling you they are tired and friend being injured are two totally different scenarios.....

I totally agree.
I did not know this person. I was not even his friend.
I cited this example because I was amazed that he cared enough to give up his afternoon of skiing to help a complete stranger, even after he could see that I was upright and able to negotiate the trail, albeit slowly. He was really a kind soul and a great companion for a few hours.

My dog does depend on me but friends do to when we are hiking together. That is the point I was trying to make.

I cannot recall who this happened to but it was a woman member of VFTT. She had gone hiking with a "group" and was left behind, much to her dismay. We had a similar discussion at the time about this very topic. I recall that she was very upset when it happened to her.

Outward Bound certainly taught us that you don't ever leave someone under any circumstances, unless it's to get help. I paid big bucks for that course so I think I will continue to practice what they preach. I respect that it's not for everyone but I can live with it.

dr_wu002
08-04-2010, 02:47 PM
I cannot recall who this happened to but it was a woman member of VFTT. She had gone hiking with a "group" and was left behind, much to her dismay. We had a similar discussion at the time about this very topic. I recall that she was very upset when it happened to her.

Outward Bound certainly taught us that you don't ever leave someone under any circumstances, unless it's to get help. I paid big bucks for that course so I think I will continue to practice what they preach. It's not for everyone but I can live with it.Yeah, if you want to stick together as a group or you don't feel as comfortable and your group leaves you, yeah, you've got a problem... most people eventually hike solo or find a group of like-minded people to hike with. Feeling abandoned sucks.

But if it's a group of friends that all feel comfortable doing their own thing I don't see a problem with that. I've had situations where on a backpack some people separated and didn't even show up where we were supposed to camp that evening... and it wasn't an issues, I knew that they were competent hikers and certainly responsible for their well being so it was fine. They certainly didn't feel abandoned because they were having fun doing what they were doing and there was some understanding that yes, we're a group, but people are also free to do their own thing. You might say, "well, what if they died??" and if they did that's something the rest of us would all have to live with and that's that.

-Dr. Wu

mirabela
08-04-2010, 03:10 PM
Outward Bound certainly taught us that you don't ever leave someone under any circumstances, unless it's to get help. I paid big bucks for that course so I think I will continue to practice what they preach.

I can cite at least four examples from personal experience where, on OB courses, one participant was allowed to remain behind, go ahead, or pursue an alternate route.

I'm not saying that just because it happened on an Outward Bound course it was the right thing to do, either. Just this: even a rigidly protocol-driven organization like OB recognizes that reality in the outdoors is wholly situational.

Craig
08-04-2010, 03:14 PM
I observed 1 guy in a group of 3 fall ill to altitude sickness at about 13K on Long Peak in Colorado last year. This guy was so sick he had to lie down next to the trail and couldnít continue. His 2 companions left him there in order to bag the peak. They told him, ďWeíll pick you up on the way backĒ. It would have taken them about 3 hours to summit and return.

I caught up to the 2 and highly recommended that they didnít leave their companion behind. I had to be quite blunt with them as it was obvious peak fever had a firm grip on them.

Some folks donít have the capacity to make appropriate situational decisions.

When you have folks like that, then Ďone size fits allí rules are probably the next best thing.

Maddy
08-04-2010, 03:31 PM
I can cite at least four examples from personal experience where, on OB courses, one participant was allowed to remain behind, go ahead, or pursue an alternate route.

I'm not saying that just because it happened on an Outward Bound course it was the right thing to do, either. Just this: even a rigidly protocol-driven organization like OB recognizes that reality in the outdoors is wholly situational.

Very interesting.


PM me is you are willing to share more specifics. I would love to hear about it. The instructors knew our whereabouts at all times and all individuals had to function as group members, helping each other. You must be an OB alumnus Would love to chat more about it.
Was this part of a teaching plan?
I cannot fathom them leaving a student alone who was not up to snuff and announced that h/she was going back to base.

I don't want to get to far afield of the topic here.

Grumpy
08-04-2010, 03:33 PM
... I've had situations where on a backpack some people separated and didn't even show up where we were supposed to camp that evening... and it wasn't an issues, ...

-Dr. Wu

This actually did happen to an acquaintance of mine in the spring of 2009, on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. My acquaintance, who happens to be legally blind is a very experienced hiker -- even goes on extended solo trips. In this case he arranged what I could best describe as a cooperative venture with a bunch of people, who "organized" themselves via the internet, met and set out, staying more-or-less together.

Things didn't go all that well. At one point my acquaintance wandered off the trail, and became lost. Those wonderful companions of his failed to "notice" his absence from the party for 2-3 days -- it was that long before anyone bothered to report his having gone missing.

Luckily, all turned out well for my acquaintance. I admire his spunk. I hold his hiking companions in disdain for their shortage of what I would call, for lack of a better term, simple social responsibility. I shake my head that my acquaintance was not carrying one of those personal locator beacons, given his limitations, even though he definitely is a techno-geek. That would seem to be a socially responsible thing for him to do, on his own part, it seems to me. My conclusion is that I am unlikely ever to be much of a new-ager.

As matter of disclosure, I find this issue to be especially sensitive at this moment in time, having landed in the hospital ER a week-and-a-half ago suffering from congestive heart failure. Symptoms? Intense fatigue and shortness of breath. Hell, I've felt that more than once on hikes over the last 55 years! Doing much better now, supported by supplemental oxygen and some meds to cope with fluid buildup. Underlying cause of this excitement was lung cancer, diagnosed two years ago and which will not go away. My hiking days almost certainly are over and done with. But I am happy my companions last week didn't leave me to catch my breath while they went on with their own things. I never was alone in crisis, and that in itself was of some comfort.

G.

Maddy
08-04-2010, 03:34 PM
most people eventually hike solo or find a group of like-minded people to hike with. Feeling abandoned sucks.
-Dr. Wu

Your are right. Finding a group of like-minded people is critical. You need to more or less be on the same page if you are going to function cohesively.

dr_wu002
08-04-2010, 03:35 PM
Here's a happy ending story. A tale of "False Abandonment" from Timmus's final ADK46 peak where we did Big Slide. They missed a junction, I lagged behind and went the right way and...

I was going first, and I missed the junction just below the summit. So John, Brian and I went 300 feet down the trail leading to JBL. It was not fun climbing it up. Gail did the same thing, while Frank took the right way. But Frank didn’t know we were behind him. So he asked to a hiker going up how far he was from us, and when the man said he haven’t seen a group of four, Frank thought he might have fall on his head and been unconscious for a couple of days ! We all regrouped at the Garden parking lot, and thought it was pretty funny. Having a very slim grasp on reality to begin with, this was a confusing situation. I asked the guy I met several times if he saw my friends etc. First thought was head injury but he verified the time and date so logical conclusion was some unfortunate transfer to a parallel universe or something occurred. I sat for sometime in a hazy state of confusion on "the Brothers" or some ledgy peaks until I met up with Gail, who had made a wrong turn but corrected her mistake. Great, so we were both trapped in a parallel universe. I was seriously freaked out. Eventually the rest showed up and explained their mistake. I literally stopped to take a picture and they got far enough ahead to blow through a junction and me, with no map and no idea where I was except for a trail up Big Slide and an already crumbling psyche to boot.

My point is -- if we all stayed together that day, there would be no cool story to tell afterwards. Most don't end up with death. Most end up with redemption, like this story did!

-Dr. Wu

dr_wu002
08-04-2010, 03:41 PM
As matter of disclosure, I find this issue to be especially sensitive at this moment in time, having landed in the hospital ER a week-and-a-half ago suffering from congestive heart failure. Symptoms? Intense fatigue and shortness of breath. Hell, I've felt that more than once on hikes over the last 55 years! Doing much better now, supported by supplemental oxygen and some meds to cope with fluid buildup. Underlying cause of this excitement was lung cancer, diagnosed two years ago and which will not go away. My hiking days almost certainly are over and done with. But I am happy my companions last week didn't leave me to catch my breath while they went on with their own things. I never was alone in crisis, and that in itself was of some comfort.Wow, that's rough stuff... hope you're on the mend.

Look, I would never "go off and do my own thing" in plenty of scenarios. If I was hiking with my mid-60's dad, no matter how much he tells me to go ahead I'm sticking right with him. There's a time and a place for everything.

-Dr. Wu

sardog1
08-04-2010, 03:41 PM
Some of us were trained in an ethic that says, "Leave no one behind in the mountains." Some like to label that irrationality. I'll leave it to each person to decide who they'd like to hike with.

Maddy
08-04-2010, 06:20 PM
. But I am happy my companions last week didn't leave me to catch my breath while they went on with their own things. I never was alone in crisis, and that in itself was of some comfort.

G.

Very happy to hear that it worked out well for you and that you are feeling better now.
Take care of yourself.
Sure could do without this "aging" process. Making the most of it is a full time job!
Keep the faith! :)

David Metsky
08-04-2010, 09:42 PM
Some of us were trained in an ethic that says, "Leave no one behind in the mountains." Some like to label that irrationality. I'll leave it to each person to decide who they'd like to hike with.
And those of us who split up when the group is in agreement and we feel the situation makes it acceptable are sometimes labeled irrational as well. There's room in this world for all of us to enjoy the out of doors.

Hike your own hike, and/or the hike of your group ethic. It's all good.

sardog1
08-05-2010, 05:48 AM
And those of us who split up when the group is in agreement and we feel the situation makes it acceptable are sometimes labeled irrational as well. There's room in this world for all of us to enjoy the out of doors.

Hike your own hike, and/or the hike of your group ethic. It's all good.

Just to be clear on what I said. The question is whether to leave a single person behind, not whether to split a group into subgroups. If two or more people want to be left, that's fine with me.

Kevin Rooney
08-05-2010, 06:14 AM
I am going to be harshly judgmental about this.

This is a prime example of why parties never should leave members -- and particularly single members -- behind, unattended. Never. Start together, stay together, finish together. Period. It is called working as a team.

G.

I'm with Grumpy on this.

David Metsky
08-05-2010, 06:50 AM
Just to be clear on what I said. The question is whether to leave a single person behind, not whether to split a group into subgroups. If two or more people want to be left, that's fine with me.
Again, people solo hike all the time, so I don't see a single person as being a bright red line in this case. We're not going to agree, but we can disagree agreeably.

sardog1
08-05-2010, 07:11 AM
It wasn't you that I was thinking of when I referred to a previous reference to irrationality.

mookie
08-05-2010, 07:15 AM
It is called working as a team.

G.

baseball is a team sport, not hiking (in summer around here anyway).....everyone should be able to take care of themselves....

but,
its unfortunate that stuff happens on the trail and obviously i think if any one of us came across someone in need we would help them without a question.

bigger moountains, winter differnt story, obviously.

i am just curious, do all you "team" players ever hike alone?
probably +/- 30% of my hikes are alone...

sardog1
08-05-2010, 07:52 AM
i am just curious, do all you "team" players ever hike alone?
probably +/- 30% of my hikes are alone...

99.999% of my hikes are solo. And it's still my opinion that people who agree to hike as a group ought to accept the responsibility for ensuring that all members return to the trailhead. And that someone who wants the group to leave him/her behind alone should be disregarded in that preference.

mookie
08-05-2010, 08:03 AM
99.999% of my hikes are solo. And it's still my opinion that people who agree to hike as a group ought to accept the responsibility for ensuring that all members return to the trailhead. And that someone who wants the group to leave him/her behind alone should be disregarded in that preference.

i guess i feel that the people i hike with would be fine alone, especially if they told me so themselves.
likewise, i would hope that they would feel confident leaving me alone if i told them to go ahead.

if i was having cardiac issues or broke my leg and they took off on me to go bag a summit i would be pretty pissed off though.

Grumpy
08-05-2010, 08:17 AM
baseball is a team sport, not hiking (in summer around here anyway).....everyone should be able to take care of themselves....

The concept of "team" transcends the narrow thinking of competitive sports. It means joining together in common effort to achieve common goals. In hiking, the primary team goal proprerly is to get everyone home together.


but,
its unfortunate that stuff happens on the trail and obviously i think if any one of us came across someone in need we would help them without a question.

But that has not been the question here. The question has been the propriety of leaving someone from your party lone, along the trail.


bigger moountains, winter differnt story, obviously.

No. Same story, just circumstances that differ in levels of drama.


i am just curious, do all you "team" players ever hike alone?
probably +/- 30% of my hikes are alone...

As I've noted, my hiking days most likely (most certainly?) are over, for health reasons. But in 55 years of active hiking I commonly went alone, ordinarily because no companions were available on my schedule, or shared my destination interests. I am a firm believer in self reliance. But my upbringing dictates that when hiking with others I have an ethical obligation to be concerned and look out for their welfare in addition to my own.

G.

Snowflea
08-05-2010, 08:31 AM
If his friends hadn't honored his wishes and continued on, what are the chances the outcome would've been different?

I can see both sides of this debate, but in this case I don't think his friends were in the wrong at all. Unfortunately, people die of heart attacks every day.

Carpe diem!

mookie
08-05-2010, 08:43 AM
well either way its very unfortunate that the hiker died on the side of the trail. there is a good chance he would have died either way before help arrived (speculation).
These guys also have to live with what happend on hunger that day.

i dont believe any of us were with him on the trail that day so we have no idea how the decision for the party to continue without him came about.
if he told the others he was having trouble breathing and chest pains then yeah, that is horrible that they continued on.
if he told them he was just having a bad day and wasnt feeling the hike then i dont see how we can raise an "ethics" issue.
if an able bodied adult tells you they are fine and just having a bad day then cant we just believe them? i have been that guy a many times when hiking with the faster crew.

Tuco
08-05-2010, 09:12 AM
If this person asked his friends if they minded he hike ahead and and they all agree (and subsequently he dies) is this any different? I keep reading the phrase "leave behind" like some kind of negative action, or against a person like an abondonement when in most cases its likely an agreement among the group to split up.

I have had many days when I feel poor and ask the group to leave me and usually they don't but I have no issue if I ask them to do so and they did.

I only have an issue when there is 1) no communication, 2) somebody strays from the communicated plan or a person requests that they not hike alone and the group still separates from them........

RollingRock
08-05-2010, 09:31 AM
It's hard to make any judgements on this incident given we know very little of the facts. The article said he was only 1/2 mile down from the summit at around 3pm. To me that indicates they were descending. The fact that his friends came back and assisted the hikers who found him with CPR indicates they could not have been too far ahead. I'm just reading between the lines given the facts we know but it indicates they probably waited up for him at some point in the trail [as all fast hikers in a group should do] and then went back once he didn't show up.

erugs
08-05-2010, 09:50 AM
Seems like we're getting twisted around with this thread between judging that particular experience (which we can't, really) and looking at the general concept as a learning experience. Kind of like a dress rehersal. Lot's of thoughtful responses, though, that are helping me understand what I might do and might not do and why.

RoySwkr
08-05-2010, 10:32 AM
If I am with friends, I would like for them to go at their own pace and just wait for me at trail junctions, outlooks, or summits. Otherwise, if I felt that I was holding them back, I would actually be less safe because I would try to rush - which could bring on an asthma attack or lead to possible injury.

This is the point that the "stay together" thinkers seem to miss. There can be tremendous pressure on somebody to continue beyond where it is wise for them personally if the only alternative is that everybody turns around. Even if their companions willingly give up their destination, the "quitter" may worry about never getting invited again. It's better for everyone if the person with a blister or sore ankle waits in a good place or starts back alone than if they try to push on and conk out farther from safety.


I would not leave my dog behind. Why would I leave a friend? I honestly cannot wrap my mind around this.

Most people leave their dogs alone when they are at work, in the grocery store, etc just not while hiking. Most people let their teenagers go to school and to the mall alone although there is some risk they will die from a traffic accident etc. A serious medical condition on a hike should be dealt with immediately just as it is elsewhere, but if somebody is more interested in going to the summit and somebody is more interested in taking pictures of flowers, who's to say they have to go on entirely separate hikes instead of walking partway together?



Outward Bound certainly taught us that you don't ever leave someone under any circumstances, unless it's to get help. I paid big bucks for that course so I think I will continue to practice what they preach.

I think you are mixing apples and oranges. Guided trips will get sued if they leave somebody behind (and something bad happens) so they have to stay together, and Outward Bound is as much a group dynamics exercise as outdoor education anyway. Most OB courses do deliberately leave people alone for a solo day under controlled conditions.


99.999% of my hikes are solo. And it's still my opinion that people who agree to hike as a group ought to accept the responsibility for ensuring that all members return to the trailhead. And that someone who wants the group to leave him/her behind alone should be disregarded in that preference.

I agree that people should stick with the expectations they have set - if they agree to stay together they should. But I don't see why a group can't start off together with the expectation that some members will drop out early - I've done that a number of times.

Maddy
08-05-2010, 10:37 AM
i am just curious, do all you "team" players ever hike alone?
probably +/- 30% of my hikes are alone...

Absolutely. Have been a solo hiker (with dogs) much of my adult life and have done some group hikes. Rough estimate...~30% group. I prefer small groups.
I am older and slower now so I have to pick the areas I hike very carefully. Also both my dogs and I have orthopedic challenges to the point that I have recently done a few hikes without them.
Bernie in rehab!!!
http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u235/dogmom_bucket/IMG_1051.jpg

Maddy
08-05-2010, 12:06 PM
[QUOTE]Most people leave their dogs alone when they are at work, in the grocery store, etc just not while hiking.

Right on. I would not leave Bernie because he is too slow, or Kodi because she it turning back as she had done on several occasions.
I would not do it to a friend either. It's that simple.
Whatever reason I would have to contrive I would accompany them back. Too often people who do not feel quite right will not complain because they don't want to ruin the day for everyone else.
Even in a hospital setting patient's will tell the nurse "I've had chest pain for an hour but didn't want to bother you." People who have heart attacks don't always grip their chest and fall flat to the floor. Some feel they have a little indigestion, or only their arm aches, etc.Some feel a little nausea. You can become gravely ill very fast with a variety of medical condtions, but have only minor symptoms at the onset. Why risk it? If you stay the outcome might still be grave but your friend will not have to die alone.



I think you are mixing apples and oranges. Guided trips will get sued if they leave somebody behind (and something bad happens) so they have to stay together, and Outward Bound is as much a group dynamics exercise as outdoor education anyway. Most OB courses do deliberately leave people alone for a solo day under controlled conditions.

I may not have been clear enough when I wrote "Outward Bound certainly taught us that you don't ever leave someone under any circumstances, unless it's to get help."
We were separated into sub groups several times and did our solos. These were controlled situations and cannot be compared to leaving someone alone on a trail to hike back down.
What we were taught was not intended to be some useless exercise to get us through the course and avoid a lawsuit. It was up to each one of us to determine if we wanted to live by these principles.
I respect that other hikers disagree.
SARDOG said it best.
"Each person must decide which group h/she would want to be with."

cushetunk
08-05-2010, 04:06 PM
I think this debate has interesting philosophical underpinnings about the relationship between people and nature.

No really...

The "never split up once you start up the trail" group is applying a hard-and-fast rule that only applies in the context of being out in nature. This sort of rule seems to arise from the mindset that nature is separate from everyday life, and fundamentally different.

The "split up based on context" group is applying to hiking essentially the same standard that gets applied most everywhere else in life. This seems to arise from a sense that being out in nature is not fundamentally different from the rest of our everyday world.

SAR-EMT40
08-05-2010, 04:13 PM
The "split up based on context" group is applying to hiking essentially the same standard that gets applied most everywhere else in life. This seems to arise from a sense that being out in nature is not fundamentally different from the rest of our everyday world.

For me, it is exactly that. Just an extension of my everyday existence. I don't spend as much time as I would like but I am certainly comfortable enough in the woods that it is just an extension of my everyday existence and how I treat people every day. I don't treat people differently simply because I find them out in the woods. They are still competent to make decisions about and for themselves unless otherwise indicated.

Keith

Maddy
08-05-2010, 05:40 PM
I think this debate has interesting philosophical underpinnings about the relationship between people and nature.

No really...

The "never split up once you start up the trail" group is applying a hard-and-fast rule that only applies in the context of being out in nature. This sort of rule seems to arise from the mindset that nature is separate from everyday life, and fundamentally different.

SAR-EMT40

I don't treat people differently simply because I find them out in the woods. They are still competent to make decisions about and for themselves unless otherwise indicated.

I disagree 100% with that statement. I think the "groupies" come from a place of commitment, of loyalty, of caring. We are all in it together. We are a team, and we can all feel comfortable with the knowledge that our peers will be there for us. We share our joys, our difficulties, and our weaknesses.
I experienced this way of being during my OB expedition. In my last post I wrote "It was up to each of us to determine if we wanted to live by these principles." I took these home with me and live by them each and every day.
I don't feel that we disrespect other people's right to make their own decisions. I think most individuals function very well independently but when we take on the responsibility of joining a group, we function as a unit. We respect each other and work out our differences. We want to be supportive. Everyone in the group has a voice in the decision making process. I believe this transfers very well when dealing with everyday problems at home and at work.

There are just two different "group" systems and we get to pick which one we would like to be affiliated with. What more could we ask for??? It's what makes the world go round.

Taconic
08-05-2010, 06:43 PM
I think this debate has interesting philosophical underpinnings about the relationship between people and nature.

No really...

The "never split up once you start up the trail" group is applying a hard-and-fast rule that only applies in the context of being out in nature. This sort of rule seems to arise from the mindset that nature is separate from everyday life, and fundamentally different.

The "split up based on context" group is applying to hiking essentially the same standard that gets applied most everywhere else in life. This seems to arise from a sense that being out in nature is not fundamentally different from the rest of our everyday world.You raise a valid point and make an excellent observation. I never viewed it from that angle.

I have always felt very comfortable with and spent a lot of time in nature, so it's really not surprising that I feel the way I do. It's also not surprising that somebody more divorced from it may have the antithetical viewpoint on this issue.

Again, great observation. It puts things into an interesting perspective that I think all parties can share.

Maddy
08-05-2010, 09:17 PM
I have always felt very comfortable with and spent a lot of time in nature, so it's really not surprising that I feel the way I do. It's also not surprising that somebody more divorced from it may have the antithetical viewpoint on this issue.


I have spent most of my free time for ~40 years in nature and I feel very comfortable there. In fact it's my positively favorite place to be. I am not comprehending your point. Are you saying that the "never split up once you start up the trail group" would be likely to have an antithetical viewpoint on how we interconnect nature and the everyday world as described by "Cushetunk"? I am very interested in your observations.
Would you be willing to share in more detail how you arrived at that conclusion? What specifically about a group that hikes together would make us have a more divorced relationship between nature and the everyday world?
My experiences with nature be they in a group or solo enrich my daily life in more ways that I could write on this post. I know that for me nature is very much interconnected with the everyday world.

I feel very badly for the hiker who died and for his friends. They will never forget.
If nothing else this sad story serves to remind me once again that I need to be there for my friends is we are hiking together. If I was concerned about a friend in the "everyday world", I would do my best to be available to them in any way I possibly could. I have taken 4 wilderness courses and they all teach the same thing. I don't view any of my instructors as having a divorced relationship between nature and the everyday world. If I learned anything it was to care more deeply for my fellow humans in this everyday world. IMHO there is no "divorce" or "disconnect" from nature in how I live my life each and every day.

SAR-EMT40
08-06-2010, 09:09 AM
I think the "groupies" come from a place of commitment, of loyalty, of caring. We are all in it together.

I reject out of hand the concept that "groupies" are somehow more noble, humane, or even more committed, loyal or caring, than another simply because they want to force their presence on an adult who has expressly stated his/her wish that their help isn't needed or wanted.

On this we will need to agree to disagree.

Regards,
Keith

The Hikers
08-06-2010, 09:28 AM
Some great things to think about in this discussion!!
As for us, We seldom hike with anyone else,basically because our hikes follow weather forecasts and we don't have to wait for weekends. I always let Joyce lead, because I am comfortable with her pace. Sometimes, if she feels "off" she will say "you go ahead". I ALWAYS decline. I am not comfortable with not knowing how she is doing, and besides I didn't come to hike alone.
One time on a summit in the Winter, the wind was howling and cold. I wanted to take a few more pictures, so I told Joyce to go further down the trail, around the cone and I would join her when I was done. Through miscommunication, she continued on down the trail, and when I came around the cone, she was not there waiting. What followed was panic on both ends.
Joyce was now waiting a good half mile below for me to catch up. I was still on top, not knowing if something had happened to her. Shouting upwards "Are you alright?", She thought she heard "No".
By the time I decided to go down, and we met,you can imagine the frantic state we were in.
So my answer, at least for us, is that we will stick together. In an emergency situation where it might be necessary for one of us to go for help, we both have our cell phones, and GPS to make sure of location. Hopefully we will never have to worry about that scenario.

erugs
08-06-2010, 09:49 AM
[QUOTE=The Hikers;325493]One time on a summit in the Winter, the wind was howling and cold. I wanted to take a few more pictures, so I told Joyce to go further down the trail, around the cone and I would join her when I was done. Through miscommunication, she continued on down the trail, and when I came around the cone, she was not there waiting. What followed was panic on both ends. Joyce was now waiting a good half mile below for me to catch up. I was still on top, not knowing if something had happened to her. Shouting upwards "Are you alright?", She thought she heard "No".
QUOTE]

Great story which I can relate to. I was hiking Howker Ridge with friend Joni. I was taking a photo and wanting to take the time to get it just right and Joni said she was going ahead to take a "bio" break. Unfortunately, I didn't see where she left the trail to do so and kept going trying to catch up. I pushed myself harder and harder and still didn't catch up to her. Finally, in desparation I blew my whistle. (Of course then I couldn't hear anything so didn't know if there was a reply. Lesson: if you blow your whistle, cover your ears!) Finally, I learned that I was way ahead of her on the trail. We agreed that if either of us stepped off trail again we would leave our pack trailside.

Most of my friends now use Marco - Polo to let us know how far apart we've spread out. Usually not far at all. The words seem to carry well and the simplicity of it gets the point of "where are you" across -- unless someone else, not of our group, hears and responds as in the game.

Finally, I, too, am very comfortable being in the woods alone. I feel self-sufficient and confident. I don't understand the suggestion previously posted that people who prefer to stay together have a fear of some sort.

hikerbrian
08-06-2010, 10:25 AM
If I am interpreting cushetunk's point correctly, I believe these are the questions he is asking:

1. In everyday life, do you ever leave those that you care about alone?
2. In the mountains, do you ever leave those that you care about alone?
3. If your answers to these two questions are different, why?

Cushetunk has suggested one possibility, which is that some treat their time in the woods differently than they treat everyday life.

Maddy
08-06-2010, 11:10 AM
I reject out of hand the concept that "groupies" are somehow more noble, humane, or even more committed, loyal or caring, than another simply because they want to force their presence on an adult who has expressly stated his/her wish that their help isn't needed or wanted.

On this we will need to agree to disagree.

Regards,
Keith

I can understand your concern and I hope to help sort it out.
I wrote "I think the "groupies" come from a place of commitment, of loyalty, of caring. We are all in it together. We are a team, and we can all feel comfortable with the knowledge that our peers will be there for us. We share our joys, our difficulties, and our weaknesses."
I did NOT write that we are " more noble, humane, or even more committed, loyal or caring, than another simply because we want to force our presence on an adult who has expressly stated his/her wish that their help isn't needed or wanted."

The key word is more.
We DO come from a place of caring and concern for each other. I could have written that "we are bunch of idiots, who beat our teammates into submission, who are terrified of the woods, and cling to each other for support." That's just not true. I never said we cared MORE than others.
ALL of my experiences in the mountains, including my courses, taught me to be less self-centered and more caring. Yes...I try to practice this but I think it would be the height of arrogance and stupidity to say that others are insensitive, uncaring, not loyal because they choose a different path.

We hikers are all very different people.
We need to pick the group we want to hang with, the one where we feel most comfortable.
I thought this was a discussion about how the groups operate and why we believe and respond the way we do. Very simply, I spoke from my heart and shared a story of personal growth.
I think it might be time to review my disclaimer.

funkyfreddy
08-06-2010, 11:14 AM
I think that in the end we all need to hike our own hikes...... try as we might to prevent - s##t happens. We can all analyze and Monday morning quarterback from the comfort of our chairs and couches, but it won't change a thing.....

I don't hike in handcuffs, ropes, or leg chains and I hike with companions that are both faster and slower than myself. The key is communication..... I don't expect them to hike at my pace and be joined to me at the hip 24/7.

Wilderness can kill you...... a fact that can be both beautiful and terrible.... if I die on the trail I hope folks will remember that i died doing something I loved.... not such a bad way to go all things considered....

SAR-EMT40
08-06-2010, 01:27 PM
I can understand your concern and I hope to help sort it out.
I wrote "I think the "groupies" come from a place of commitment, of loyalty, of caring. We are all in it together. We are a team, and we can all feel comfortable with the knowledge that our peers will be there for us. We share our joys, our difficulties, and our weaknesses."
I did NOT write that we are " more noble, humane, or even more committed, loyal or caring, than another simply because we want to force our presence on an adult who has expressly stated his/her wish that their help isn't needed or wanted."

The key word is more.
We DO come from a place of caring and concern for each other. I could have written that "we are bunch of idiots, who beat our teammates into submission, who are terrified of the woods, and cling to each other for support." That's just not true. I never said we cared MORE than others.
ALL of my experiences in the mountains, including my courses, taught me to be less self-centered and more caring. Yes...I try to practice this but I think it would be the height of arrogance and stupidity to say that others are insensitive, uncaring, not loyal because they choose a different path.

We hikers are all very different people.
We need to pick the group we want to hang with, the one where we feel most comfortable.
I thought this was a discussion about how the groups operate and why we believe and respond the way we do. Very simply, I spoke from my heart and shared a story of personal growth.
I think it might be time to review my disclaimer.


Just checking, because on my read it appeared to me to be implicit in the narrative. If I misinterpreted it, then so be it. Me mentioning that I believe that the "Hike your own hike" group to be a very self reliant, knowledgeable about outdoor activities and generally very handsome/pretty, productive citizens. Could be interpreted by some to mean that I consider those not of a like mind to be less capable, not as smart, productive, etc.

But, I am very glad we were able to clarify this. ;):D

Regards,
Keith

Maddy
08-06-2010, 01:38 PM
Just checking, because on my read it appeared to me to be implicit in the narrative. If I misinterpreted it, then so be it. Me mentioning that I believe that the "Hike your own hike" group to be a very self reliant, knowledgeable about outdoor activities and generally very handsome/pretty, productive citizens. Could be interpreted by some to mean that I consider those not of a like mind to be less capable, not as smart, productive, etc.

But, I am very glad we were able to clarify this. ;):D

Regards,
Keith

Dittos Keith!!!:D

--M.
08-06-2010, 06:20 PM
Doesn't this come down to some basic logic-tree decisions?

Is there difficulty/distress? That's different from "I'm slow, go ahead."
==If so, then this ____...;
==if not, then that ____....

There's a difference between stylistic differences and intra-issue (apples-to-apples) philosophical differences. In the example given in the OP, the hiker slowed because of difficulty/distress and made the (apparent) error of recommending splitting the group, when he maybe should have said "I'm having chest pain." If his fellow-travelers detected difficulty, that's very different from "Oh, you're fine? Okay, we'll see you at the next lean-to."

I have been in several of these situations, just never with a bad outcome (yes, a very limiting factor). In one, the right play was to split the group and half (2 guys) run ahead to get dinner going and the other 2 guys (one struggling, one fine) coming along as they could. I've also been very ready to tell partners "I'm fine, but slow; go ahead to the next check-point." It takes self-knowledge and mutual trust & familiarity between partners. My hiking buddies know when I'm fine and when I'm bonking, and I know these things about them. It's tougher hiking with people we haven't hiked with before (aren't familiar with their bio/style/health/fitness).

I like cushetunk's idea, but even with a high comfort-level within the woods, I realize that I can run into deep water there much more easily than I can in suburbia. It's not a true apples-to-apples comparison, for me, unless you convert "everyday life" to, say, a trip to the city (in which case the same rubric applies).

Grumpy
08-08-2010, 08:00 AM
This thread has turned into quite a discussion, and I’ve enjoyed it.

Having raised the issue of the old group hiking rule, “start, stay and finish together” I’ll add a comment on the application of it, and maybe rules in general.

First, though, let’s look at the Hiker Responsibility Code, as it appears on the http://www.hikesafe.com/ web site:


Hiker Responsibility Code

You are responsible for yourself, so be prepared:

1. With knowledge and gear. Become self reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.

2. To leave your plans. Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you will return and your emergency plans.

3. To stay together. When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group. Pace your hike to the slowest person.

4. To turn back. Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike. The mountains will be there another day.

5. For emergencies. Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Don’t assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.

6. To share the hiker code with others.

hikeSafe: It’s Your Responsibility.
The Hiker Responsibility Code was developed and is endorsed by the White Mountain National Forest and New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Please note item 3 in that short list. This is not an appeal to authority. It is mentioned to illustrate that my belief is not distanced from mainstream thinking.

The idea of a “bright line” to guide decision making has been mentioned somewhere along the line in this discussion, maybe more than once. How do you really know when your companion, who says, “go on head, I’ll be OK,” is really in distress or not? What’s the “bright line” of his/her distress or situation that tells you to stick with your teammate?

Actually, the rule is our bright line.

It serves as a check rein on impulses. We are about to leave our panting companion, just for a little while to go on and bag the summit, and then we bump up against the rule. It causes us to pause, take a serious, more reasoned and less impulsive second look at our choices and the situation and our pending decision.

That really is what most rules are about.

Not things to be followed slavishly, as many have pointed out or argued. But rules serve as bright lines defining the appropriate default decision in a given situation – the decision that may or may not actually be necessary or even obviously indicated (or optimum, or even "best"), but at the same time never, ever will be the wrong or harmful or regrettable choice to take.

On to other matters …

Custehunk posted, above:


The "never split up once you start up the trail" group is applying a hard-and-fast rule that only applies in the context of being out in nature. This sort of rule seems to arise from the mindset that nature is separate from everyday life, and fundamentally different.

The "split up based on context" group is applying to hiking essentially the same standard that gets applied most everywhere else in life. This seems to arise from a sense that being out in nature is not fundamentally different from the rest of our everyday world.

I don’t think this is true at all. I apply the same concept of team to my everyday life as I do to hiking in groups. My career working as a news photographer covering all sorts of events certainly put me on a team. I sure as shootin’ worked diligently to never leave the word guys stranded without the full support of my services. It is a matter of professional obligation. It requires self-reliance and understanding, personal initiative, self discipline and, sometimes, the willingness and ability to go where my personal impulses and conveniences don’t take me.

Same applies to my now nearly 42-year marriage with Mrs. (Pretty) Grumpy. Hey, we long have operated separately, at times. For years, Mrs. G reluctantly ceded to my wish to hike alone, understanding that if something dire happened to me out there, sadness was OK but there was to be no anger or regret. And I’ll tell you what: Never has there been doubt between us that the other has his/her back. Tough times and good times, we’ve hung in there, honoring that long ago pledge to start, stay and finish together. It’s been a life of commitment, and not a bad one, by any means.

A closing thought.

Anybody who can wear a silly chicken hat and still retain a sense of personal dignity is somebody whose comments are worth attending to. So Dave Metsky gets the nod this time:


And those of us who split up when the group is in agreement and we feel the situation makes it acceptable are sometimes labeled irrational as well. There's room in this world for all of us to enjoy the out of doors.

Hike your own hike, and/or the hike of your group ethic. It's all good.

I couldn’t agree more with that last comment. Except to add, please do it responsibly.

G.

RoySwkr
08-09-2010, 07:02 PM
Please note item 5 in that short list. This is not an appeal to authority. It is mentioned to illustrate that my belief is not distanced from mainstream thinking.

Do you mean #3?

Until Conservation Officers and Wilderness Rangers patrol in pairs instead of singly, I consider that code the height of hypocrisy.

Grumpy
08-10-2010, 07:01 AM
Do you mean #3?

Until Conservation Officers and Wilderness Rangers patrol in pairs instead of singly, I consider that code the height of hypocrisy.

Yes. Number 3. My error.

You may consider that code the height of hypocrisy. That doesn't at all mean it fails to convey first rate advice.

G.

blacknblue
08-10-2010, 08:27 AM
You may consider that code the height of hypocrisy. That doesn't at all mean it fails to convey first rate advice.


Quite the thread indeed...

3 thoughts:

1) The hikesafe principles may be generally sound, but please understand the context of them.
First of all, they are only the most current of a long line of different educational and safety codes that have surrounded outdoor recreation in the northeast over the past century or so. I'm sure they will be modified again before too long. It would be chronological snobbery to assume that we've somehow arrived at the most proper and thorough safety code.
Secondly, these sorts of things are usually aimed at novice hikers. Look at the other five items on the code. Would you really want to harp on them to the VFTT community, which is, by and large, an experienced group? Some of them read like motherly nagging. It's fine and well for those getting their feet wet, as we all did at some point, but I no longer need to be reminded that "Weather changes quickly in the mountains" any more than that I can never ever ever split from a group for any reason whatsoever.

2) Most (if not all) of the examples thrown out by the "never separate" contingent involve sickness, injury, etc. I don't remember anyone in the "okay to separate" contingent arguing that it is okay to separate in those conditions. So, it seems largely a strawman argument.

3) This reminds me of the "never leave your pack in the col" thread (somebody smarter than me can figure out how to include the link). The two main contingents there argued over "never" and "sometimes", with the "nevers" citing endless examples of catatrophes, and the "sometimeses" citing particular circumstances in which it's okay. In my mind, it came down to whether you chose inflexible, hard-and-fast rules, or whether you take things situationally and make wise decisions based on the circumstances.

My main thrust on both of these topics is that being out of doors is seldom predictable and never the same situation twice. There are countless variables, and real expertise and wisdom comes not from following hardened rules that were set in the valley below, but from adapting to the situation on hand. Does that make for more complications? Sometimes. Does that make me more hesitant to hike with people I don't know well? Absolutely. But it also makes the outdoors more interesting and enjoyable.

funkyfreddy
08-11-2010, 11:15 AM
My main thrust on both of these topics is that being out of doors is seldom predictable and never the same situation twice. There are countless variables, and real expertise and wisdom comes not from following hardened rules that were set in the valley below, but from adapting to the situation on hand. Does that make for more complications? Sometimes. Does that make me more hesitant to hike with people I don't know well? Absolutely. But it also makes the outdoors more interesting and enjoyable.

Very well said!

sapblatt
08-11-2010, 11:43 AM
Sorry to hear about this...
I hike group/solo about 50/50
Our friend and VFTTer Ray died on a hike two years ago - he had felt tired and wanted others to go ahead - they refused and stayed with Ray who soon collapsed. Nothing could have been done in my less than professional opinion to save Ray high up on a bushwhack. His two hiking companions were with him and did not leave him - they did CPR for a long time. Very sad day, very sad part of life. I can think of many times where I have been tired and turned around when I am alone - I think in a group situation I agree with everyone here - the smart thing to do is not leave anyone alone who is struggling. It could be sore legs and being winded - and it could be a heart attack. It is just a hike - it is not worth any goal to return down a mountain to a dead companion you could have stayed with.

nietzschescat
08-11-2010, 12:59 PM
When I was 25 I probably would have taken a friend at their word if they said they were tired and to go on without me. I'm almost 50 and I can't imagine going on without someone. I usually hike with my husband and we stay together. If I'm hiking with a friend we would generally have visual contact on a trail.

I grew up in the country running around in the woods following animal trails and eating berries and it's never been a place where I'm afraid, but as I get older I realize how fragile we all are. My biggest concern now is what to do if something happens to my husband who is twice my size. At what point do you make the decision to leave someone and get help?

My thought as a nurse is that his friends wouldn't have been able to help him if he had a MI, but they probably would have felt better in the long run if they were with him when he died.

sapblatt
08-11-2010, 01:02 PM
My thought as a nurse is that his friends wouldn't have been able to help him if he had a MI, but they probably would have felt better in the long run if they were with him when he died.
There is a lot of truth in that statement