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peakbagger
07-10-2014, 06:17 AM
An interesting article about a lost hiker at Baxter State Park and the lack of rescue response by the rangers

http://bangordailynews.com/2014/07/09/outdoors/brewer-teen-rescues-grandfather-on-katahdin-upset-with-park-policy/.

The rangers used to meet hikers heading up the trails and would ask them to show them that the hikers had the required gear which included a flashlight. I have been staying at Katahdin Stream in the past and after dark have observed a line of flashlights heading down the Hunt trail from the parking lot. Many folks underestimate the hike up to the top or start to late and get down late well after dark.

I expect if conditions were dangerous the ranger would have responded differently but given recent overnight temps I expect it would be definite story but not a hazard.

I seem to remember hearing a story from a long term VFTT member about having to spend an unplanned night out on the trails at Baxter. They had a flashlight

Raven
07-10-2014, 06:55 AM
An interesting article about a lost hiker at Baxter State Park and the lack of rescue response by the rangers

http://bangordailynews.com/2014/07/09/outdoors/brewer-teen-rescues-grandfather-on-katahdin-upset-with-park-policy/.

The rangers used to meet hikers heading up the trails and would ask them to show them that the hikers had the required gear which included a flashlight. I have been staying at Katahdin Stream in the past and after dark have observed a line of flashlights heading down the Hunt trail from the parking lot. Many folks underestimate the hike up to the top or start to late and get down late well after dark.

I expect if conditions were dangerous the ranger would have responded differently but given recent overnight temps I expect it would be definite story but not a hazard.

I seem to remember hearing a story from a long term VFTT member about having to spend an unplanned night out on the trails at Baxter. They had a flashlight

Glad they are okay. I thought this was an excellent quote from the article from the Park Director.

“We try our best to prepare people,” Bissell said. “We’re going to tell you what you need and advise you as much as we can. Your safety is something we take as our responsibility right up until you get to the trailhead. Then, after that, it’s yours.

“Think about what could happen,” Bissell said. “Sometimes hikes don’t go as you plan.”

Wise words.

Tom Rankin
07-10-2014, 07:26 AM
I know it says they planned to split up, but there you have it! They separated, and there was a problem. Shock!

Neil
07-10-2014, 07:31 AM
My feelings are a little mixed regarding the rangers "sending" (I doubt they actually "sent" him) a probably tired young man up the trail alone in the dark to search for his 75 year old grandfather. (he was under 18 but they didn't know that until later, which may have been a major oops moment because when they did learn of his age, they sent someone up)


That’s when the rangers learned that Ross and Landry were both 17 and sent a ranger up the trail.

Rangers are most likely pretty hardcore types whose comfort and competency zones are on a whole different scale from most peoples. As such they might not regard being out on a trail after dark as all that big a deal and shrug it off. Also, they've seen scenarios like this one how many times? But still, one might ask if they aren't paid to deal with stuff like that? I guess not based on this:

In scenarios where a hiker has not returned to a trailhead before dark, the park policy is that rangers assist in the rescue if the hiker is known to be injured. However, if there isn’t evidence of a medical emergency, the ranger’s first option is to equip an able-bodied person from the hiking party to search the trail, according to Baxter State Park Director Jensen Bissell...
From the hikers' POV it must have seemed extremely callous. From the rangers POV, leaving grandpa behind on the mountain in order to go fishing, common accord or not, might have seemed callous too, even if unrelated to their decision making as per park policy.
The "victim" did the best thing, calmly sat down on a warm night and waited for daylight a mere 7 hours away.

Anyway, all's well that ends well!

TCD
07-10-2014, 07:36 AM
I'm also glad they were OK. Baxter's approach to this seems reasonable to me. In general, we have moved away from "reasonableness" in lot of areas like this. Previous lengthy threads about SAR have discussed a lot of this.

IMO:

First, the party made a very poor choice. The article in the paper twists and turns to try to create a sympathy angle here, but as I view it, their choice can be depicted in one of three ways (from most charitable to least charitable): The grandfather chose to hike solo knowing he could not complete the hike because of his slow pace...or...they were in fact hiking as a group but decided to separate (a leading cause of lost person incidents)...or...having bagged the summit, the selfish kids were so eager to go fishing that they ran off and abandonded granddad.

Second: Lights, please. Many things can occur that immobilize a hiker: injuries, bad weather, taking a wrong turn, etc. None of these can be predicted. But the one thing that immobilizes hikers very often, and is ABSOLUTELY PREDICTABLE, is darkness. With headlamps and flashlights as cheap and light as they are today, there's just no excuse not to have several.

Thankfully no one was hurt. But amid this comedy of errors, it astounds me that anyone would consider trying to tarnish the work of the Rangers with any of this.

peakbagger
07-10-2014, 07:44 AM
Unlike the whites, there is limited local alternative rescue resources. There is no local volunteer S&R group to call upon. The ranger does have the legal right to compel any able body person to assist in a rescue but in a non emergency situation, I don't think they would use that "trump card". The ranger in question is responsible for the campground which is one of the busiest campgrounds in Baxter. The campground is most busy in the early evening as campers arrive so his leaving the campground would impact the operation of the campground. If there was a need for a response for an injury I expect the results would have been different. As during the busy summer season, there are numerous folks on the trail down at night, the ranger would most likely be out of the trail looking for lost/ill equipped hikers every night of the week.

Neil
07-10-2014, 07:58 AM
Thankfully no one was hurt. But amid this comedy of errors, it astounds me that anyone would consider trying to tarnish the work of the Rangers with any of this.Based on the language of the reporter one can ask if he/she asked a few leading questions or established a certain tone to the interview. Angry Mom talking to the reporter probably has no idea of the information in peakbagger's post.

We could go on about carrying a light (or two, or three even!) for a few posts.
The ten essentials? :D

jniehof
07-10-2014, 11:40 AM
"I was just especially disappointed in the park service to learn that they wouldn’t help" *headdesk*

And then piles of people in the comments talking about the NPS.

Maybe rename it to "Baxter not-a-National-Park"?

DayTrip
07-12-2014, 05:08 PM
There is a big difference between "an uncomfortable situation" and a legitimate emergency or rescue scenario. There was no evidence to suggest that grandfather was hurt or in a dangerous situation. He just ran out of time and it got dark. Why are the rangers "required" to go and save him from a night of discomfort for his ignorance? And as far as the kids go they did the summit with him and probably know how to tell time. I assume it would have been pretty easy for them to realize that based on how long grandpa took summitting he was likely not going to get out of the woods by dark. And they chose to bail out on him an go fishing.

Rangers can't go running off on wild goose chases for every little thing that pops up as a result of hikers unwilling to properly prepare for their activities. What if the rangers all freaked out and ran off looking for grandpa and five minutes later an injured hiker showed up to advise of a fellow hiker who fell and was in legitimate trouble?

Hiking is an activity with inherent risk. Blaming rangers for everything that goes wrong is pretty stupid in my opinion. They're there to help but they shouldn't be counted on.

Breeze
07-12-2014, 07:08 PM
I've read the piece, commented on the piece, and I'm still shocked that Aislinn wrote the piece at all.

Good grief, I thought, New Hampshire could save a boatload of money if NH F&G had the same policy. " Don't call us unless someone is injured. Late doesn't count. Figure it out yourselves. "

Callous would be a proper adjective for me right now, along with Cranky and Crazed.

Breeze