Hiker traps himself in canyon

Posted by: Susan

Hiker traps himself in canyon - 05/16/10 04:55 PM

Another case of making all the wrong decisions and depending on praying and luck for survival: Trapped in Big Bend Canyon

"He says he's a much wiser, more cautious hiker now, with a stronger respect for the wilderness and its power. He advises other hikers to always bring more equipment and supplies than they think they'll need."

He's supposedly another one of those 'experienced' hikers, so he knew all that before he left home this time.


Posted by: Dagny

Re: Hiker traps himself in canyon - 05/16/10 05:39 PM

Gripping article, thanks for the link. What a miserable, terrifying experience.

"Earlier this month in Big Bend, an inexperienced hiker had to be rescued after just a couple of hours because she didn't drink enough water. As dehydration worsens, the body's tissues begin to dry out and cells shrivel and malfunction. Muscles become spastic, skin wrinkles, vision dims, and delirium sets in. Once the body loses about 15 percent of its water, death often follows."

That is unforgiving country. He started out with a little more than one gallon of water (4.5 liters). I drink that much (50-50 water and Gatorade) in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park on a hot and muggy day hiking 10 miles (2400-foot down and up).

Thank goodness his wife worried when he wasn't home by evening. And once in trouble he seemed to act with a level-head. He did have a lighter to make signal fires.

It's a well-written article that hopefully will save someone else's life.
Posted by: roberttheiii

Re: Hiker traps himself in canyon - 05/16/10 05:41 PM

Pretty interesting
Posted by: BigToe

Re: Hiker traps himself in canyon - 05/16/10 05:45 PM

Great instructive story. I just read "Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon" by Michael P. Ghiglieri, Thomas M. Myers. This hiker's experience is right out of there. Going off the trail and taking a shortcut is one of the top ways to die in Grand Canyon as well. The take home message to me is that it's better to backtrack with the assurance that you know the way. Oh yeah, and leave the correct plan with the ranger and bring enough water. Thanks for the link!
Posted by: MostlyHarmless

Re: Hiker traps himself in canyon - 05/16/10 06:03 PM

Experience does not guarantee immunity to exercising bad judgment, temporary geographical confused or becoming totally lost. That being said, the words "experienced hiker" does not mean much when used by your average journalist.

This could very easily be me - I have very much in common with this guy. I have also made some pretty rash decisions to salvage situations of minor inconveniences (mild geographical confusion, being slightly overdue and so on). This guy jumped into the ravine to get to the river to find water and the way home - only to become land locked. I've done similar things and the only reason I wasn't stuck in similar ways was luck: I could extract myself. He couldn't.

Once stuck, his story seems like a prime example of what characterizes a true survivor in Gonzale's book: True Survival. In my judgment, he did everything right from that point. Read the article. See the video in the article. Read Gonzale's book.

I hope I never have case to find out if I share not only his love of the outdoor, but also his survivor attitude...
Posted by: roberttheiii

Re: Hiker traps himself in canyon - 05/16/10 11:14 PM

So I thought some more about this while just now watching "The Professionals" great movie, but that aside, I never really considered serious rope as something to carry. That said, if this guy had some and the fore site to secure it before he went down it might have come in handy. Hmm, if I'm ever in canyon land perhaps I'll carry some rope.
Posted by: nurit

Re: Hiker traps himself in canyon - 05/17/10 12:32 AM

"He began collecting the cactus pads. First he shaved off the thorns with his shovel, and then he rubbed them down as best he could with a cloth. He broke them in half [...]"

I know nothing about cactus pads, but it seems to me an experienced hiker would have had a knife or some sort of blade with him?
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Hiker traps himself in canyon - 05/17/10 12:54 AM

I know more than I ever wanted to know about prickly pear (Opuntia) pads. Processing them is a sticky business. There are two kinds of spines. One is large and prominent, fairly easy to shave off with a knife or shove. A shovel would actually be quite good, because you don't want to get too close to them. Around the base of the clusters of these spines are smaller, very sharp and very numerous "type two" spines. These are the worst. They get everywhere and are very difficult to detect, even after they have punctured your tender body parts. The best way to process the pads is to singe off both varieties over a fire.

Evidently, he did not encounter any cactus fruit. They are sweet and quite tasty. When I lived in Arizona, I made cactus jelly jam and syrup quite easily. Yes, the fruit carries spines as well.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Hiker traps himself in canyon - 05/17/10 12:58 AM

Carrying rope in that kind of terrain is often a pretty good idea. Just be sure you can select a good anchor and you have the means to ascent and descend (not hand over hand). Even better is to have an eye for the terrain and pick out a route that does not require jumping. They are almost always there, but are overlooked, often with worse consequences than this gentleman's.
Posted by: nurit

Re: Hiker traps himself in canyon - 05/17/10 01:03 AM

Thanks for explaining it, hikermor!
Posted by: Lono

Re: Hiker traps himself in canyon - 05/17/10 01:42 AM

PLB. 8 (or 16) ounces of peace of mind.
Posted by: roberttheiii

Re: Hiker traps himself in canyon - 05/17/10 11:50 AM

Lono - Yes!