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Thread: Self Rescue on Downe's Brook

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    If you are going to survive the night, there is no reason to have SAR folks out potentially getting injured wasting time trying to find you in the dark.
    How about if you're really injured and might not survive the night? I have no problem with the guy telling his wife to call SAR at 9pm, but he had better be back when he says or be willing to suffer the consequences (which are not as severe as the alternative scenario).

  2. #17
    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    How about if you're really injured and might not survive the night? .
    "SOS" button on Garmin InReach.

    And in reference to the earlier day, there are only a few injuries that will kill you overnight. Old story: A guy was on a 3-4 day solo ski trip in the Pharaoh Lakes wilderness (ADK). This was in the 80's. He left a route map with his wife. On like day 2 he took some kind of fall and broke his leg, so no motion. He managed to set up his tent, get in, and survive until he missed his return time. Wife called the Rangers, they followed the map, he was exactly where he was supposed to be, got rescued, lived.

    In my book, this guy is a super hero role model.

    Maybe DougPaul will share a different opinion. His injury was very severe; I do not know if he would have survived the night.

    He is an admirably analytical thinker, and may shed more light on this thread.

    I go with what works for me.

  3. #18
    Senior Member Barkingcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    I've never hiked the Downes Brook trail, so the first thing I would have done is read the trail description in the AMC Guide. Hmmm, it says there's 10 brook crossings that may be difficult or impossible at high water. Second thing would be to read a report from someone who's been there recently. https://www.newenglandtrailcondition...?entryid=47319. Next, I would have planned an out-and-back hike rather than a loop that returns down the trail. I would have established a conservative turn-around time and would be prepared to return early if the brook crossings were too scary. But, because of the stay-at-home thing, I never would have been there to begin with.
    Agreed. And from personal experience, as soon as I read that he was on the Downes Brook Trail at this time of year, I didn't need to read the article much further to know that the water crossings were probably an issue.

  4. #19
    Senior Member JustJoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    I've never hiked the Downes Brook trail, so the first thing I would have done is read the trail description in the AMC Guide. Hmmm, it says there's 10 brook crossings that may be difficult or impossible at high water. Second thing would be to read a report from someone who's been there recently. https://www.newenglandtrailcondition...?entryid=47319. Next, I would have planned an out-and-back hike rather than a loop that returns down the trail. I would have established a conservative turn-around time and would be prepared to return early if the brook crossings were too scary. But, because of the stay-at-home thing, I never would have been there to begin with.
    Nothing in the story suggests he didn't know the trail. Just that he didn't want to do the crossings in the dark, which was a very good choice. Maybe is should have added more time to be considered overdo but I think his was correct. No he didn't need a rescue but that's only because he wasn't injured. What confuses me is, it doses seem like he planned an out and back since that's where his car was. The whole loop route thing is an unknown. Maybe he parked his car at Downes then walked the Kanc. to Sabbaday. What may have happened timing wise is no snowshoes, so the hike took twice as long do to major post-holing. Not knowing what he had for a phone or plan, can't really know what else he may have tried. But remember the guy on Lafayette that triggered a rescue by using FB? I have noticed on several occasions you can somehow post something on FB when you can't text or call.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts.
    Joe

  5. #20
    Senior Member HockeyPuck's Avatar
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    He made enough good decisions to survive the night and I'm glad to hear the story had a positive ending.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    He saw rescue personal twice but they could not hear him over the water. Why didn't he signal them with his headlamp? Why is there no headlamp mentioned? I'm guessing he didn't have one.
    The article states he spent the night "just off the trail". If rescuers passed him twice why didn't he make more effort to be found. Don't most cell phones have a flashlight feature? I assume his had a charge because he unsuccessfully tried to call and text. Did he carry a whistle?

    If I was spending the night in the woods and spotted rescuers (twice). I would make every effort possible to be found.

  6. #21
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    I would say that other than expecting to be able to make a phone call, and asking his family to call SAR at 9 p.m., he did well. We can't expect that every hike will go as planned. He seems to have planned well for such a situation. Rather than fining him, he should be held up as an example of what to do, while noting what he could have done better.

    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The net result is the hiker gets a bill for F&G overtime unless he has hike safe card. The bill is paid and hopefully someone learns something by publicizing it.
    Making a couple errors does not equal negligence. As I understand it, even if you're not carrying a "Hike Safe" card, you still have to be found negligent to be fined. We don't know the whole story, but based on the Union Leader article, I don't see negligent behavior.


    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    >I ALWAYS emphasized that the time to call SAR was the next morning, not in the evening.

    If you are going to survive the night, there is no reason to have SAR folks out potentially getting injured wasting time trying to find you in the dark. In fact, in those days, many SAR groups would wait until morning to start searching, if it was summer and there was no indication of an emergent situation. So no point in calling out the cavalry at 9PM.
    If it's supposed to be a day hike, I tell my wife to waiting until noon the next day before calling for help, so that I can be benighted and have time to get out the next morning. I also carry a PLB and tell her that if she hasn't been contacted by SAR, either I'm OK, but running late, or I've fallen off a cliff. (Yes, my PLB might also not be able to connect with the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    It reminds me of the Eagle Scout SAR in the Presidentials, in I believe 2009. The Scout injured his leg a little bit & should have turned around but pressed on for a while & then on a very warm April Day, descended into the GG and was trapped by highwater due to snowmelt. After a couple of days of the water not receding, he went back up onto the ridge and was walking back to Washington when they found him. While he did many things right, not knowing enough about his escape routes and what he might find on a real warm April with all that snow should have been planned for.
    Mike, the Eagle Scout actually reviewed bailout options with an AMC employee at Pinkham Notch prior to starting, and either the employee suggested the Six Husbands Trail as a bailout or approved of the Scout's selection of it. Not surprisingly he did not think that he could get back up the Six Husbands Trail, and so he hiked upstream to try to find a place to cross. Finding none, he ascended the Sphinx Trail where he was meant by SAR. Like Moher, the Scout should have been held up as an example of someone who was well prepared and made good decisions once his hike went awry.
    Last edited by TEO; 05-18-2020 at 12:37 PM.

  7. #22
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HockeyPuck View Post
    The article states he spent the night "just off the trail". If rescuers passed him twice why didn't he make more effort to be found. Don't most cell phones have a flashlight feature? I assume his had a charge because he unsuccessfully tried to call and text. Did he carry a whistle?

    If I was spending the night in the woods and spotted rescuers (twice). I would make every effort possible to be found.
    I would be surprised if you could hear a whistle of a rushing stream. Last week I saw someone panning for gold in a stream, next to the road I was walking along back to my car after a bushwhack. From about 10 yards away, I had to shout just about as loud as I could for him to hear me when I said hello.

    It's also a bit presumptuous to assume that he didn't make every possible effort to be found.

  8. #23
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    How about if you're really injured and might not survive the night? I have no problem with the guy telling his wife to call SAR at 9pm, but he had better be back when he says or be willing to suffer the consequences (which are not as severe as the alternative scenario).
    Such a call time will result in lots of false call-outs to SAR and is also no guarantee of quick help. One is often back to the TH later than planned and IMO one should allow extra time when setting up a call time. If one is concerned about an injury with a short survival time, one should carry some form of satellite communicator.

    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    "SOS" button on Garmin InReach.

    And in reference to the earlier day, there are only a few injuries that will kill you overnight. Old story: A guy was on a 3-4 day solo ski trip in the Pharaoh Lakes wilderness (ADK). This was in the 80's. He left a route map with his wife. On like day 2 he took some kind of fall and broke his leg, so no motion. He managed to set up his tent, get in, and survive until he missed his return time. Wife called the Rangers, they followed the map, he was exactly where he was supposed to be, got rescued, lived.

    In my book, this guy is a super hero role model.

    Maybe DougPaul will share a different opinion. His injury was very severe; I do not know if he would have survived the night..
    Given the technology of the 80's, his instructions to his wife were reasonable.

    My injury was a broken femur. However, there were no signs of shock or externally visible swelling and I had bivy gear (a pad, a down jacket and a bivy sack, IIRC) so I probably would have survived the night. I was also "smart" enough to have my accident on a popular trail so I was easy to find. Another skier arrived shortly after the accident and he could have skied out and summoned help, but my cellphone worked. Even with the cellphone, it was probably ~3 hours from the accident to being loaded into an ambulance at the TH. (The TH was part of a commercial XC skiing area which probably minimized the response time.)

    The info for this incident is pretty sparse, but given what we know:
    <in my opinion>:
    * His call time was too soon. The next morning or day would have been a better choice.
    * An out-and-back would have been wiser--it gives one the option of a turn-around via a known route. Once you are past the half-way point in a loop turning around becomes poorer and poorer option. In the worst case, it can almost double the distance.
    * Streams are at their highest in the evening and lowest in the early morning--perhaps he had to wait for the stream to go down. (One should also take this into account when planning a route.)
    * There is no indication in the report that he had a decent light. A good light might have enabled the stream crossings and might have enabled signaling the SAR personnel (any light would have been highly visible).
    * If possible he should have bivied on or right next to the trail so he would be found by any rescuers or any other hikers passing by.
    * Except for the early call time, he didn't do too badly--after deciding to wait to attempt the stream crossings, he did appear to survive the night without harm and made it out on his own.
    </in my opinion>

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 05-18-2020 at 01:23 PM.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by 206-26-bb
    Any person determined by the department to have acted negligently in requiring a search and rescue response by the department shall be liable to the department for the reasonable cost of the department's expenses for such search and rescue response, unless the person shows proof of possessing a current version of any of the following:
    (a) A hunting or fishing license issued by this state under title XVIII.
    (b) An OHRV registration under RSA 215-A, a snowmobile registration under RSA 215-C, or a vessel registration under RSA 270-E.
    (c) A voluntary hike safe card.
    http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/.../206-26-bb.htm

    Remember - it is not a fine, but reimbursement for costs incurred.

    Tim
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  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul View Post
    One is often back to the TH later than planned and IMO one should allow extra time when setting up a call time.
    We don't know when he planned to be back at the trailhead. I assume that the 9pm call time included a couple hours for unforeseen delays.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul View Post
    * His call time was too soon. The next morning or day would have been a better choice.
    Is there a penalty for calling SAR at 9pm and informing them that your spouse is overdue?

  12. #27
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    While no one is screaming he's negligent, I am doubtful that he had a light. Especially if he was just off the trail and noticed rescuers and he tried calling out to them.

    As someone else mentioned, given the snow they have received late in season and description of the trail in the WMG and that it faces generally north and gets very little sun, it's a poor choice unless you planned on lots of rotten snow and difficult crossings.

    Both he and the scout did not consider the extra snow melt filling the stream bed. The Eagle Scout sustained an injury while ascending Washington but pressed on. He was fit enough otherwise that he likely could have done his planned hike & returned on the AT which (it's been over 20 years since I've been on that section between Madison & PNVC) if I recall has bridges where the crossings are.

    I didn't bring it up but the scouts continuing uphill reminded me of Dr. Dahl's misadventure. He had knew surgery sometime before his hike in the fall, tweaked his knee but kept going up with the idea the road would be a better surface for descending. (It is, I've used in when only a couple of inches of snow made the rocks treacherous & icy, not filled in like true winter.) While the road is smoother, it's a very exposed, long walk & it shouldn't be considered in bad weather.

    I am curious in this day in age, what people do for research before doing a hike. How many of the people leading Facebook Group hikes use the WMG & how many just use Alltrails, online trail condition reports, and Instagram?
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    While no one is screaming he's negligent, I am doubtful that he had a light. Especially if he was just off the trail and noticed rescuers and he tried calling out to them.
    I wonder if he tried to avoid some of the brook crossings by bushwhacking along the opposite side of the brook from the trail. The SAR folks would have been moving quickly and looking down at their feet, not looking for dim lights on the other side.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    I didn't bring it up but the scouts continuing uphill reminded me of Dr. Dahl's misadventure. He had knew surgery sometime before his hike in the fall, tweaked his knee but kept going up with the idea the road would be a better surface for descending.
    You mean Dr. Ball? https://archive.org/details/threeday...ge/n6/mode/2up

  15. #30
    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post

    No, he means Dr Dahl...a much more recent misadventure

    https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs...082-story.html
    Last edited by maineguy; 05-18-2020 at 05:22 PM.

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