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Thread: Lost Hiker on Isolation - Not a nice night to be out

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    Lost Hiker on Isolation - Not a nice night to be out

    https://nhfishgame.com/2021/11/01/lost-hiker/

    My guess is he missed the turn off of the Davis path?.

    It was a soaking wet but somewhat warm night to be out. That stretch west of the last crossing of the Rocky Branch in the drainage must have been interesting to try to navigate. The Rocky Branch crossings also would have been significant as all the streams were cranked up by Sunday morning.

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    Senior Member JustJoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    https://nhfishgame.com/2021/11/01/lost-hiker/

    My guess is he missed the turn off of the Davis path?.

    It was a soaking wet but somewhat warm night to be out. That stretch west of the last crossing of the Rocky Branch in the drainage must have been interesting to try to navigate. The Rocky Branch crossings also would have been significant as all the streams were cranked up by Sunday morning.
    Saw that story. Definitely not enough info. Like, where was "short of summit? His friends are getting bashed on FB but if it was at the spur, why head down by himself? Makes no sense.
    Joe

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustJoe View Post
    Saw that story. Definitely not enough info. Like, where was "short of summit? His friends are getting bashed on FB but if it was at the spur, why head down by himself? Makes no sense.
    Best thing I ever did, was quit every 4k group on FB. I'm going to be kind here, there are very few really qualified hikers on FB that open their mouths and actually have intelligent coherent words come out. There all a bunch of weekend warriors, who spend more time on social media then in the backcountry. I don't have any details to the story, but unlike others, I have no problem with a group splitting up, if something comes up and a member decides to go on his own, that in some cases makes a lot of sense. How is that different then soloing? People think as soon as a group splits up, they are dooming their member to certain death, that there is no way one person could conceivably survive on their own, I mean it's just impossible. It makes much more sense to keep the group together, so when things go bad, you can gather in a circle, hold hands and sing kumbaya. The dude spent the night out, then made it out, big freaking deal, if you haven't ever done that in your hiking career, you don't really push yourself very hard at all. There is only one thing that matters after a hike, you lived. Just my 2 cents, ok, maybe a quarter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    Best thing I ever did, was quit every 4k group on FB. I'm going to be kind here, there are very few really qualified hikers on FB that open their mouths and actually have intelligent coherent words come out. There all a bunch of weekend warriors, who spend more time on social media then in the backcountry. I don't have any details to the story, but unlike others, I have no problem with a group splitting up, if something comes up and a member decides to go on his own, that in some cases makes a lot of sense. How is that different then soloing? People think as soon as a group splits up, they are dooming their member to certain death, that there is no way one person could conceivably survive on their own, I mean it's just impossible. It makes much more sense to keep the group together, so when things go bad, you can gather in a circle, hold hands and sing kumbaya. The dude spent the night out, then made it out, big freaking deal, if you haven't ever done that in your hiking career, you don't really push yourself very hard at all. There is only one thing that matters after a hike, you lived. Just my 2 cents, ok, maybe a quarter.
    I was kindly removed from the 4k groups for posting the Killington snowliage photo every year and captioning it as Washington.

    I'm with you on groups. When we go out as a group it's a group of solo hikers. Each person is fully capable and equipped to be out there on their own and is free to make their own decisions.

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    I was kindly removed from the 4k groups for posting the Killington snowliage photo every year and captioning it as Washington.

    I'm with you on groups. When we go out as a group it's a group of solo hikers. Each person is fully capable and equipped to be out there on their own and is free to make their own decisions.
    Haha, I remember that photo. Hey, you did hook a pretty good amount of believers, kind of makes my point. I thought it was funny by the way, nobody has a sense of humor anymore.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    I was kindly removed from the 4k groups for posting the Killington snowliage photo every year and captioning it as Washington.

    I'm with you on groups. When we go out as a group it's a group of solo hikers. Each person is fully capable and equipped to be out there on their own and is free to make their own decisions.
    That is ####### awesome! That photo has found it's way onto Instagram as well recently, which gave me a "what the hell" moment the other day (I also no longer belong to any Facebook hiking groups).

    I agree on the "group" as well. Everyone should be individually capable of handling themselves, having the gear, knowing how to navigate, etc. Whenever I read these stories though I get curious about why a person is left behind and if their judgement is compromised for some reason, i.e. hypothermia, developing medical problem, injury, etc., and whether or not they are capable of good decision making at the time they split up. Seems like in a lot of these cases someone in the group is getting into trouble and summit fever motivates the split up decision and clouds the decision. Once the group is going to split up, the communication and expectations really need to be clear to everyone regardless of whether or not everyone is self sufficient. Otherwise things can really get off the rails fast.
    ďAn emerald shines even if it's worth is not spoken of" - Marcus Aurelius

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    I dont agree fully on your approach to groups. If I am a group leader on an organized hike, I feel that I have moral responsibility rather than a legal responsibility that everyone who started with the group ends with the group. If someone in the group decides at some point that they do not want to be part of the group I have no problem letting them go where they will as long as its voluntary choice on that individuals part. I one day got vilified by another leader of the same group for allowing two individuals to leave a group hike. I let them know that what they planned to do was not advisable but they were adults and they could do what they want. In that case if they did get in trouble I would still be concerned but I wouldn't lose sleep over it.

    An example where I was concerned, I was leading a group up Lafayette one day in late fall early winter conditions and we were nearing treeline. One member of the group had borderline experience. Conditions degraded and I made the call to turn around. I had someone who I thought could be trusted at the end of the group. When I caught up with her she informed me that the inexperienced member had headed down earlier. That member really was in over her head and didnt have great navigation skills. I spent the entire hike heading down checking every side track all the way to the parking lot hoping that she had not taken a wrong turn onto something like the Greenleaf trail. Luckily when I got to the lot she was still there in her car. She could have just have as well had headed out and I would not have known if she made it down. There was no money exchanged and a voluntary group so I had no legal liability but I still would have felt responsible if she was lost in the woods on a subfreezing night

    Ancient history on VFTT was that there were several forums including a hard core climbing forum. I never participated in it but some of the early members did participate on both this forum and the other one. There were some individuals who met on the other forum that went on one or two hardcore trips and some didnt make it back alive. Darren the moderator was not legally liable but ended up shutting that forum down for good as he felt at least to some extent responsible for those individuals getting together.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 11-01-2021 at 04:35 PM.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I dont agree fully on your approach to groups.
    I'm not sure if you're addressing me or JoshandBaron on this. If it is me I don't think we are talking about the same scenario as I intended. Any situation where someone organizes an outing, paid or free, where it is known that the ability level of all involved is not equivalent or sufficient for the planned route then yes I absolutely think there is a responsibility to take responsibility for everyone and keep the group together, provide the necessary guidance, make appropriate decisions, etc. I meant, and I think JoshandBaron meant, that if a group of friends just meet up for a hike then everyone is free to do what they choose based on their experience and comfort level.

    And to your example, communication and clear expectations is very important, regardless of the structure. Being aware that the hiker who felt overwhelmed had turned back alone is a critical change in the plan and everyone should know about it. And to use the example from the news article, if the guy who was left alone said he'd wait for everyone to catch up after the summit than that is what he should have done. Deciding to go ahead and head down instead crates a whole other series of problems and uncertainty.

    As someone who almost always hikes alone, I think hiking in groups creates all sorts of problems that get much worse than they have to because of this dynamic. The idea that you are "safer" if you are not alone I find to be a very suspicious argument. It seems to happen quite often that many in groups (not necessarily AMC or other professionally guided scenarios but more informal events) rely on somebody else and are unprepared, untrained or unfamiliar with what is going on and when things happen bad decisions get made. Bad communication and failure to properly assess a situation seem to be at the root of most of these stories.

    And it is not cut and dry all or nothing decision either. The context of the split up is very relevant, to me at least. If I'm out hiking with a very capable and competent friend and they say they're gonna head back because their knee has been acting up and they're going to skip the summit I'm probably going to go ahead and go back with them even though in all likelihood they are just fine. It is enough of a "red flag" for me to prefer staying together . But if we're cruising along and they say they're feeling bad about blowing off beers in town with a friend so they're going to skip the summit and head back I probably wouldn't think twice about splitting up. One of us could get into trouble either way but I would make a different decision based on the situation.
    Last edited by DayTrip; 11-01-2021 at 05:25 PM. Reason: spelling, added clarification
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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I dont agree fully on your approach to groups. If I am a group leader on an organized hike, I feel that I have moral responsibility rather than a legal responsibility that everyone who started with the group ends with the group. If someone in the group decides at some point that they do not want to be part of the group I have no problem letting them go where they will as long as its voluntary choice on that individuals part. I one day got vilified by another leader of the same group for allowing two individuals to leave a group hike. I let them know that what they planned to do was not advisable but they were adults and they could do what they want. In that case if they did get in trouble I would still be concerned but I wouldn't lose sleep over it.

    An example where I was concerned, I was leading a group up Lafayette one day in late fall early winter conditions and we were nearing treeline. One member of the group had borderline experience. Conditions degraded and I made the call to turn around. I had someone who I thought could be trusted at the end of the group. When I caught up with her she informed me that the inexperienced member had headed down earlier. That member really was in over her head and didnt have great navigation skills. I spent the entire hike heading down checking every side track all the way to the parking lot hoping that she had not taken a wrong turn onto something like the Greenleaf trail. Luckily when I got to the lot she was still there in her car. She could have just have as well had headed out and I would not have known if she made it down. There was no money exchanged and a voluntary group so I had no legal liability but I still would have felt responsible if she was lost in the woods on a subfreezing night

    Ancient history on VFTT was that there were several forums including a hard core climbing forum. I never participated in it but some of the early members did participate on both this forum and the other one. There were some individuals who met on the other forum that went on one or two hardcore trips and some didnt make it back alive. Darren the moderator was not legally liable but ended up shutting that forum down for good as he felt at least to some extent responsible for those individuals getting together.
    Some of us are talking about different scenarios for sure. I was strictly referring to a group of friends with an intimate knowledge of each others skillset. One day found me and two of my friends at the base of Pinnacle Gully in Huntington Ravine for a technical ascent of Pinnacle gully. We had spent the night in the Harvard cabin. I had a strong suspicion after hearing the weather report from Pinkham Notch camp, that it was a questionable day at best to head up. I felt the pressure of my friends and off we went. It was the coldest day, I have ever experienced in the mountains. By memory, it was around 35 below with winds around 30 mph in the ravine, much higher winds above the ravine. At the base of the gully we stopped, I had double plastic Koflach boots ( boots of the era for everyone). I could feel the cold invading every seem of my clothes, my boots as well. I said guys, this is ridiculous, we will be lucky not to get frostbite, God forbid we have an accident, we would freeze to death in hours. They were pissed and tried to talk me into staying, no way, I turned and left. Luckily, about 30 minutes later they caught up, while roping up they basically started to freeze, lol. This is what I was referring to. An organized group of non close friends, unknown or very mixed skillsets, I would not let the group splinter. Remember that kid from Dartmouth college on the Moose a few years ago? He left on his own on the Gorge Brook trail, most of us would say its impossible to lose that trail, well he did, he even lost his boots in the process.

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    Senior Member Rhody Seth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    Haha, I remember that photo. Hey, you did hook a pretty good amount of believers, kind of makes my point. I thought it was funny by the way, nobody has a sense of humor anymore.
    I'm not sure what is funny about repeatedly posting the same picture and intentionally mislabeling it. So you can dupe novices and laugh at them? Seems to me that's exactly the kind of behavior which makes those groups unworkable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhody Seth View Post
    I'm not sure what is funny about repeatedly posting the same picture and intentionally mislabeling it. So you can dupe novices and laugh at them? Seems to me that's exactly the kind of behavior which makes those groups unworkable.

    Obviously, you're not a golfer.

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    Senior Member Rhody Seth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    Obviously, you're not a golfer.
    This is not 'nam Smokey, there are rules here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhody Seth View Post
    This is not 'nam Smokey, there are rules here.
    You know dude, I myself dabbled in pacifism at one point. Not in Nam, of course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhody Seth View Post
    This is not 'nam Smokey, there are rules here.
    Well, in general, the Interwebs don't have many rules. VFTT, however, does.
    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose. -- Dr. Seuss

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Metsky View Post
    Well, in general, the Interwebs don't have many rules. VFTT, however, does.
    I deleted my response to Seth for this very reason. I think age is softening my temperament.

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