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Casual Hiker
03-27-2011, 04:09 PM
From Boston.com today:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2011/03/27/nh_rescuers_search_for_hiker_lost_on_mt_jackson/

All's well that ends well!

terrykhiker
03-27-2011, 05:32 PM
Most likely she took the wrong trail off the summit. the Webster Cliff in either direction would take a hiker into timberline on routes that receive very little winter travel. This is particularly the case for the north direction. By the time one realizes they are not on the trail they came up (Webster/Jackson, Jackson branch) the only way to recover is to go back to the summit of Jackson. This is very difficult to accept when it is late and getting a bit tired.

Obviously, the lady was experienced and well equipped and there is a good chance that she might have gotten out by herself in the days before cell phones.

Mansfield
03-27-2011, 08:36 PM
" the only way to recover is to go back to the summit of Jackson."

You could keep heading down the Webster Cliff trail (hang a right at the junction of the spur path to Webster); I made the same mistake on a windy cold day this winter, makes for a longer descent but better than going back up!
Glad she got out ok!

peakbagger
03-28-2011, 06:34 AM
I was out with a group yesterday doing Jackson and encountered the person who had been lost coming down along with the Fish and Game folks. We didnt ask a lot of questions but it was pretty obvious where the general area was where the hiker got lost. It was on the Webster Jackson Trail before the summit and by the looks of the tracks in the woods, she never summited.

Even though the trail is quite obvious for 7/8 of its length, it looks like the combination of wind and snow squalls on Saturday had erased the trail. In some stretches it completely disappeared in areas without a lot of tree cover and I expect with the very high winds and marginal visibility on Saturday, that it would have been impossible to follow the trail and quite easy to miss a turn and accidently follow an open spot.

It was interesting to note that the only snowshoes carried by the Fish and Game crew were Sherpa's.

peakbagger-paul
03-28-2011, 07:46 AM
Jackson is tougher in the winter than its elevation and distance from the road would suggest. On the Webster-Jackson Trail, once you get to the area just below the summit cone, the trail tends to disappear. Tracks usually lead in several directions, mostly not up the actual trail, and people seem to find different ways of reaching the summit. Coming back down could easily be confusing with the multiple tracks.

RoySwkr
03-28-2011, 12:13 PM
Even though the trail is quite obvious for 7/8 of its length, it looks like the combination of wind and snow squalls on Saturday had erased the trail. In some stretches it completely disappeared in areas without a lot of tree cover
Coming up W-J in snow, I have twice circled the cone R to WCT. First time was a day like you describe where I lost the trail, 2nd time the first cliff was too icy for my taste. The whack is probably no worse than the trail if conditions are such that you can't find the trail.

Mountain49
03-28-2011, 04:23 PM
For the record I did summit Jackson! Thanks for your comments.

Mountain49

David Metsky
03-28-2011, 04:32 PM
Glad you made it back here to post!

Kevin, Judy and Emma
03-28-2011, 04:34 PM
I was on Mount Washington listening in to the radio talk as it was happening and thought, "OMG". I am 210lbs and in pretty good shape, but 70mph winds can toss me around like a tumbleweed.

KDT

Dennis C.
03-28-2011, 05:01 PM
On the Webster-Jackson Trail, once you get to the area just below the summit cone, the trail tends to disappear.
Actually you come up to the base of a rock wall ... which can be tricky, especially in winter (icy). Most take the easiest way up that wall on the right side and turn left to traverse over the top. From the there it's pretty clear (open) where the trail goes ... up toward some open ledges and then to the summit cone. Was this the area of confusion, Mountain49?

Lefty E
03-28-2011, 05:28 PM
When I did it last year about this time, there was no trail near the summit..I was lucky with a bluebird day, so I could see the summit easy and went right over towards Webster Cliff trail as this was the easiest route..I was actually standing above the fir trees so I had no issue..might have sucked in a whiteout...

roadtripper
03-28-2011, 06:25 PM
With so many people getting lost on Jackson this year, wouldn't it make sense to add just a few trail blazes at key sections where all this confusion is occurring? I like keeping trails as wild as possible, but if so many people are going off course it's a hazard...

Mountain49
03-28-2011, 07:20 PM
I'm not sure. I went to the left, hiking to the summit, then followed the cairns to the top.I thought I went back the same way but when I reached a relatively flat area, the trail disappeared. There were 2 groups of hikers who'd summited perhaps 20 minutes before me, and their steps were already wiped out by the strong wind. I tried going further down, then cutting back to the left,but still could not see a trail. I called AMC Highland Center at 2:45pm, hoping that I could get 1 or 2 people to hike up and show me the way to get on the trail. Unfortunately this turned into a big production, with Fish and Game getting involved. I'm grateful they came but it was overkill. I had warm clothes and boots and spent the night in a protected area. I was cold but I was okay. I moved around to make sure I didn't get too cold. The next morning I was cold and hungry, but really okay. When I saw the helicopter close to 10am, I thought, oh man, please don't charge me for thisI was not prepared for the amount of interest this incident got. I got home from work today and there was a reporter wanting to interview me! I said no thanks!

Kevin Rooney
03-28-2011, 07:20 PM
With so many people getting lost on Jackson this year, wouldn't it make sense to add just a few trail blazes at key sections where all this confusion is occurring? I like keeping trails as wild as possible, but if so many people are going off course it's a hazard...

I think that's a fair question, but from a practical point of view, that summit doesn't have much to attach a blaze to. Coming up from the notch side, it's rather ledgy, and blazes painted on the rocks would be obscured by snow & ice. In years past, truck reflectors nailed to krumholz and colored poles have been used at treeline on the winter Tucks trail to guide people back into the trees. Something like that might be order if necessary for visibility.

Edit - Mountain49 - very glad to hear you're OK!

Mike P.
03-29-2011, 01:20 AM
For the record I did summit Jackson! Thanks for your comments.

Mountain49

Glad you are fine.

Silverfox
03-29-2011, 05:34 AM
Glad that you are okay..

we were coming back down through town from Isolation and saw Fish and Game heading north and hoped for a happy outcome as it was not that nice a day

Sometimes in deep snow it can be hard finding the "shelf" to the summit there from up above the spring..have seen a couple spruce trap swimming up there in the past

audrey
03-29-2011, 04:18 PM
When we climbed Jackson last winter, the entire summit area was pretty featureless, with just the tops of the spindly trees emerging from the snow. We just followed some tracks but definitely were not on the trail, weaving in and out of little thickets. Very easy to get into trouble if it hadn't been a gorgeous sunny day.

mtnpa
03-30-2011, 09:03 AM
http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Newsroom/News_2011/News_2011_Q1/SR_Mt_Jackson_Rescue_032711.html


Anyone out there make fun of my big winter pack?

MadRiver
03-30-2011, 10:05 AM
I have hiked with Julie a number of times and I think she handled herself quite well given the circumstances. She called for assistance and found shelter for the night. Well done Julie!

Jasper
03-30-2011, 11:19 AM
It appears you handled yourself well given the situation. :)

forestgnome
04-04-2011, 01:51 AM
Glad you're safe, Julie!

Many people in that situation along the Southern Presidential Ridge end up in the Dry River Valley trying to escape the wind. Even if a hiker does start pushing down the western slopes their tracks disappear so they are hard to find if they don't make it all the way out.

Julie had enough to keep herself warm. In a situation in wich many would panic, she made a good decision and hunkered down for the night.

happy trails, Julie :)

weatherman
04-04-2011, 04:44 PM
That flat area is positively maddening. My brother and I attempted a Jackson-Webster loop a few winters ago on a perfect bluebird day, albeit with deep snow. We summited Jackson fine, then turned right to tackle Webster. We got down below the rock wall into the flat area, lost the trail, floundered for over an hour, found a zillion or eight fir traps (yes, we were wearing great big snowshoes), and despite not even being at our turnaround time had no choice but to grunt back up over the wall to reclimb Jackson and go down the way we came back up. Still never got to climb Webster in the winter.

Weatherman

Becca M
04-04-2011, 06:30 PM
... all good arguments for carrying a GPS, compass, map, extra batteries, SPOT, bivvy, etc., etc., but especially a GPS!!!!

RoySwkr
04-04-2011, 06:55 PM
had no choice but to grunt back up over the wall to reclimb Jackson and go down the way we came back up.
Or bushwhack around cone like I've done twice, see above


... all good arguments for carrying a GPS, compass, map, extra batteries, SPOT, bivvy, etc., etc., but especially a GPS!!!!
I thought about a GPS, but either you have to run a track log and hope you don't lose the unit on an overhanging tree or get it too wet to function, or else hope your GPS maps are better than MyTopo :-)

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=44.20436,-71.38281&z=15&t=T

Becca M
04-04-2011, 07:24 PM
Or bushwhack around cone like I've done twice, see above


I thought about a GPS, but either you have to run a track log and hope you don't lose the unit on an overhanging tree or get it too wet to function, or else hope your GPS maps are better than MyTopo :-)

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=44.20436,-71.38281&z=15&t=T

For the $$$ it cost, I definitely don't want to lose it so I just keep it off and zipped in an inner pocket at all times until needed. I have also used it to find Webster!!! ANYWAY, If I turn it on, I could still leave it in the pocket and it would get the track. I can always justify spending the $$$ for any additional margin of safety!!!!

weatherman
04-05-2011, 01:45 PM
Or bushwhack around cone like I've done twice, see above



We half-heartedly tried to do that but found a bottomless pit of fir traps every 20 feet or so, plus we were more or less in the canopy (we're tall). The trail was the only reliable way to make progress. Anyway, back on topic, I really like Julie's idea of calling to see if anyone could tell/show her where the heck to go. Hard to do operationally, but a good thought! Another possible use for a GPS, assuming high accuracy and functionality and good batteries and....

Dr. Dasypodidae
04-05-2011, 03:16 PM
I have hiked with Julie a number of times and I think she handled herself quite well given the circumstances. She called for assistance and found shelter for the night. Well done Julie!

I agree. We hiked this route on Sunday and the wind was blowing in the tracks as fast as they were set. There was one set of tracks mistakenly heading east instead of west in the flat area below the summit cone. Only because I have been on this trail many times in the winter did I know where to go. Perhaps a few high blue blazes on trees in this area would be helpful for winter hikers?

Maddy
04-05-2011, 03:24 PM
I agree. We hiked this route on Sunday and the wind was blowing in the tracks as fast as they were set. There was one set of tracks mistakenly heading east instead of west in the flat area below the summit cone. Only because I have been on this trail many times in the winter did I know where to go. Perhaps a few high blue blazes on trees in this area would be helpful for winter hikers?

OH NO...not a BLUE blaze in a "pristine" wilderness! ;)

Seriously, I am surprised that with the number of people getting turned around in that area that they have not done something about this long ago.
It's interesting to read that more that one has encountered difficulty with route finding.

Dr. Dasypodidae
04-05-2011, 06:11 PM
OH NO...not a BLUE blaze in a "pristine" wilderness! ;)

Seriously, I am surprised that with the number of people getting turned around in that area that they have not done something about this long ago.
It's interesting to read that more that one has encountered difficulty with route finding.

No problemo, as the tricky area below the summit on the Webster-Jackson Trail is outside the Dry River Wilderness. :)

However, the Webster Cliff trail is more or less on the wilderness boundary, so blazes might be more problematic there?

RoySwkr
04-05-2011, 06:39 PM
However, the Webster Cliff trail is more or less on the wilderness boundary, so blazes might be more problematic there?
The Wilderness is carefully defined to be 50'? NE of the trail so it would be the A.T. guidelines that rule, and they are far more generous than typical WMNF standards.



I really like Julie's idea of calling to see if anyone could tell/show her where the heck to go. Hard to do operationally, but a good thought!
I would have thought it would work better, particularly if when the rescue team arrived in the area they could call her cell phone and tell her to unwrap hood and listen for foghorn blast



Another possible use for a GPS, assuming high accuracy and functionality and good batteries and....

If you could furnish accurate coordinates, a rescue team could find you right away but it might take them 3 hours to get organized and get there

Assuming that the rescue center unlike MyTopo has good trail coordinates, they should be able to give you a vector to return to the trail and you would be on your way immediately. Whether they would actually do so is questionable, as there might be swamps or cliffs on that route and rescue groups tend to be snotty about trusting the general public.

It would be better to call a friend with the necessary info, anybody have a phone # for DP?

DougPaul
04-05-2011, 08:47 PM
Assuming that the rescue center unlike MyTopo has good trail coordinates, they should be able to give you a vector to return to the trail and you would be on your way immediately. Whether they would actually do so is questionable, as there might be swamps or cliffs on that route and rescue groups tend to be snotty about trusting the general public
I have read of a GPS equipped party being directed back to the trail by the authorities via a cell phone. Much easier than sending out the SAR crew to find them and escort them back...

IMO, the best strategy is to load the best available maps or GPS tracks (eg the WMNF GIS tracks announced in http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?t=38643) into the GPS before starting out. In either case, you have to take the possible map/GPS track errors and the possible current GPS location errors into account. In an area like Mt Jackson with a deep snowpack, there may be no surface cues to the location of the trail so this technique may get you close to the trail but you still may not be able to locate it*. (When we used this technique on the Pemi Lollipop ski, we were below timberline so we could usually tell when we were in the corridor.) However, one should be able to follow the map trail or GPS track to a place where there are sufficient surface cues to find the trail corridor.

* You may want to use this technique in conjunction with a mechanical compass to follow the vector from the GPS.

Doug