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Thread: Mt Washinton Rescue - Presi Traverse No Map or Compass

  1. #1
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    Mt Washinton Rescue - Presi Traverse No Map or Compass

    I expect it will pop up on the Fish and Game Site later today. WMUR had a short clip that a man from Texas took a wrong turn on a Presi Traverse and got off trail, spent the night off trail and then called for help. It will be interesting to see which wrong turn he took. F&G wants to charge him due to lack of adequate equipment (no map or compass).

    Of course for many a compass is pretty useless if the hiker is clueless on how to use it

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    F&G report https://nhfishgame.com/2021/08/05/hi...gulf-headwall/

    My guess is he went wrong on a popular spot to miss a turn just south of the suspension bridge. Not far from the suspension bridge the Old Jackson road (the AT south) runs straight into the Great Gulf Trail along along a distinct path that slabs the side of a slope. The AT turn off the obvious footpath down slope at a distinctly steep acute angle. There is signage but this area is in a Wilderness area so it has the standard USFS non contrasting unpainted signage. Someone not paying attention can easily miss this junction as the easy path of travel is straight onto the Great Gulf trail. Even if the hiker had successfully followed the rather confusing trail junctions down in this area, this was a very optimistic day hike. Instead of paying for rescue my guess is he may still have run out of daylight somewhere around Jefferson. At a minimum he would arrived at the summit after the Autoroad was closed and would have paid the overtime rate for someone to go out and drive him down.

    As it was it sounds like he was heading up Sphinx trail and got off trail, not a user friendly place to bushwhack.

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    Senior Member Barkingcat's Avatar
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    But the guy had a PLB?

    Anyway, according to the rescued gentleman’s Twitter feed:

    “The press release grossly misrepresented the facts on the ground. I carried a sophisticated electronic mapping system that included GPS coordinates. The problem occurred because the trail was not marked to adequately navigate a predetermined path.”

    Also, it appears that he’s hiked at least a portion of the Appalachian Trail; he wrote a book about it a few years back.
    Last edited by Barkingcat; 08-06-2021 at 06:45 AM.

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    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    The report says he meant to turn off onto the Osgood Trail. I was there 2 years ago and the signage was fine. You would really have to not be paying attention and/or not have a map and actually know the names of the trails you were going to use.

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    Last edited by maineguy; 08-06-2021 at 07:30 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barkingcat View Post
    But the guy had a PLB?

    Anyway, according to the rescued gentleman’s Twitter feed:

    “The press release grossly misrepresented the facts on the ground. I carried a sophisticated electronic mapping system that included GPS coordinates. The problem occurred because the trail was not marked to adequately navigate a predetermined path.”

    Also, it appears that he’s hiked at least a portion of the Appalachian Trail; he wrote a book about it a few years back.
    You can read part of the book on that website. I couldn't help but laugh at the first couple paragraphs given the above quote. I also couldn't make myself read any farther.

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    Senior Member Barkingcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    You can read part of the book on that website.
    I know — but it made me wonder what part of the AT he had been on previously, and if he had made it to NH and been on the Osgood Trail before, in particular the section that is the AT and that runs on the edge of the wilderness. I've been on that trail many, many a time and it's not only well-marked, but the corridor is very obvious at this time of year.

    Sounds like he got lost and wasn't as prepared as necessary to navigate out of that situation, and had to rely on the PLB.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maineguy View Post
    The report says he meant to turn off onto the Osgood Trail. I was there 2 years ago and the signage was fine. You would really have to not be paying attention and/or not have a map and actually know the names of the trails you were going to use.

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    Sorry I confused the issue with respect to where I think he went wrong. I didnt have my map out as there is quite a few trails intersecting in this area. I do not think your photos are of the intersection I was referring to.I think yours are slightly east of the suspension bridge.

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ID:	6691 The hiker had apparently got on the AT southbound at the Auto Road which is the Madison Gulf Trail. The AT Southbound is confusing in this area as despite it begin southbound its actually heading north. This trail is mostly wobbling along slabbing a contour before taking a gradual curve left while slabbing a slope uphill. Its wide and easy walking so its easy to let ones guards down for route finding. The 1st AT junction west of the bridge is shown as "T" on some maps but the above snip from the USGS map show it more accurately as a downslope acute right turn. Human nature is to follow the path of least resistance and at this junction its going to lead them forward onto the Great Gulf trail westerly section missing the AT turn. This is wilderness area so there is no blazing which would have shifted from white to blue once on the Great Gulf trail west. It it quite clearly signed but someone looking at their feet or up the trail in the path of their intended direction can walk right by signs. To someone with map skills they will be looking for the intersection but to someone in hurry or overly reliant on technology they may miss the turn. Add in that the hiker probably was in rush to get a start on what would be long day and my guess is he missed the turn and continued some distance before he realized that he missed it.

    This particular junction has come up in the past where southbound AT thru hikers have missed the turn down off the trail and ended up on the Great Gulf trail subsequently having to turn around and come back to the junction. I was with another experienced long term hiker on a hike up Great Gulf about 3 or 4 years ago after another such incident and we spent some time looking at this intersection and confirmed that despite being signed appropriately the terrain and trail features makes it that someone can miss the turn. This is not unusual, in many locations in the whites, the trail has been relocated off an old logging road or railroad and despite piles of brush and rocks trying to block the old route, people still try to continue on and in some cases getting lost. I have done it myself in the past and the temptation to follow a trail that does not exist is easy to do. AT hikers get bad habits along much of the trail where the AT is the main route and if in doubt its the path of least resistance. Its also blazed in white on a fairly frequent basis but that is not done in a wilderness area and up on the ridgeline it may be blazed in yellow. They also are not used to the local trail names and in the past the AT in the whites was not always marked on signs. There has been a long term effort to correct this and in most cases the AT is indicated on signage along with the local trail name.

    I generally would discount the twitter feed of someone who got lost in a high profile incident who is now facing a charge for rescue. I think its doubtful he owns a hike safe card and will be charged. Some folks just admit their mistakes but far more would rather fight out of sense of pride.

    At least he apparently left Buddy home
    Last edited by peakbagger; 08-06-2021 at 10:50 AM.

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    Senior Member Nessmuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barkingcat View Post
    But the guy had a PLB?

    Anyway, according to the rescued gentleman’s Twitter feed:

    “The press release grossly misrepresented the facts on the ground. I carried a sophisticated electronic mapping system that included GPS coordinates. The problem occurred because the trail was not marked to adequately navigate a predetermined path.”

    Also, it appears that he’s hiked at least a portion of the Appalachian Trail; he wrote a book about it a few years back.
    But if you don't know how to use it or have never practiced with it, no amount of sophisticated electronics will help you get out of so much as a mud puddle. Reminds me of a Colorado ranger report from a few years ago where a couple called for help because they were "lost", they explained that they had just purchased a GPS unit on the way to the trailhead, but it was still in the box. "Could you help me understand how to turn it on and gete me out of here?" They inquired. I wonder if they even bothered getting batteries.
    "She's all my fancy painted her, she's lovely, she is light. She waltzes on the waves by day and rests with me at night." - Nessmuk, Forest and Stream, July 21, 1880 [of the Wood Drake Canoe built for him by Rushton]

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barkingcat View Post
    But the guy had a PLB?


    “The press release grossly misrepresented the facts on the ground. I carried a sophisticated electronic mapping system that included GPS coordinates. The problem occurred because the trail was not marked to adequately navigate a predetermined path.”
    .
    This feels like maybe the absolute dumbest thing I've heard someone say in any of these rescues. Talk about denial of your own incompetence. "I had state of the art advanced capabilities but unfortunately there weren't any billboards to follow". These recent Presidential rescues seem to be ushering in a new era of extreme cluelessness. It is quite fortunate this is Summer. I hope this trend does not continue into the colder weather. I think the outcomes will be very different.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Even if the intersection in question might be difficult to navigate for some it’s interesting he landed up so far off course even after unintentionally making a wrong turn. If one has done their homework the terrain on the wrong course which he took would or should be evident you are in the wrong place from your intended route. If he had been on the right course the steep climbing would have started much sooner. To wander all the way up to the Headwall area and not pick up on you are in the wrong place I find baffling.Not to mention a reasonable distance following and crossing The Peabody should be another alert you are in the wrong place. Also if your electronics were that robust then it should have given you some indication you were well off course. IMO a potentially prime example of sole reliance on digital information where some good ‘ole analog education would have gotten the task done. In other words learn how to use the handrails that nature provides you. Also to have a PLB and an app with no light source solidifies the case for negligence for this Luddite.
    Last edited by skiguy; 08-06-2021 at 03:44 PM.
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    Senior Member Mac's Avatar
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    I'm old school. Don't own a PLB (or a mobile phone). Fortunately, I learned how to use a map and compass in my youth (scouts), and regularly update my maps. I've been on many hikes in the Whites, and have had no problems with signage, including the area in question. Doesn't mean I never get lost, but when it happens (not infrequently), I've been able to backtrack successfully.

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    My speculation is he missed the junction and may not have figured out he had missed Osgood until the Chandler Brook trail. (1st trail junction on the GGT past the missed turn). At that point the reality of being able to day hike the Northern Presidentials has possibly set in that he is not going to make it. The next logical way out is via Sphinx or the Great Gulf Headwall. My guess is he gets up to the Sphinx and then runs into early sunset that occurs in the Great Gulf and then the lack of flashlight leads him off the trail?

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    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    "No light source."

    It's like a broken record. How many times is that the biggest problem, and at the same time the easiest, lightest and least expensive problem to address?

    This should be a priority issue for enforcement, as I have advocated repeatedly in the past.

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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    "No light source."

    It's like a broken record. How many times is that the biggest problem, and at the same time the easiest, lightest and least expensive problem to address?

    This should be a priority issue for enforcement, as I have advocated repeatedly in the past.
    Sounds like he might have been over using those sophisticated electronics and ended up "GPS-ing:" (Watching a screen while you walk off a cliff.)

    Wonder if he carried a headlamp on the AT?

    The court finds you GUILTY of hiking like a clown. Pay the bailiff $5k on your way out.
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    Senior Member Nessmuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    "No light source."

    It's like a broken record. How many times is that the biggest problem, and at the same time the easiest, lightest and least expensive problem to address?

    This should be a priority issue for enforcement, as I have advocated repeatedly in the past.
    i can't tell you how many NYSDEC Ranger reports I have seen where the subject claims "But I had a flashlight on my cell phone". Of course neither the cell phone signal nor the light works for very long when both are on well after dark and panic sets in.
    "She's all my fancy painted her, she's lovely, she is light. She waltzes on the waves by day and rests with me at night." - Nessmuk, Forest and Stream, July 21, 1880 [of the Wood Drake Canoe built for him by Rushton]

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