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#223220 - 05/09/11 09:46 AM Re: Stranded for 49 days [Re: dougwalkabout]
stargazer Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 03/05/02
Posts: 224
Loc: Idaho, USA
This is indeed a tragedy.

The area they found Mrs. Chretien in is extremely remote and very inhospitable, brutal even. Going into this area requires extra food, extra water, clothing, shelter, a way to maintain a vehicle (gas), etc. and that is on a good day in the middle of summer. I have been in this area several times and can honestly say it is either 4-wheeler or 4x4 area at times. Horseback helps too. Though described as a logging road, the road is best traveled without difficulty from mid-May (sometimes early June) to when the first snow flies usually in in late September, or mid-October. The elevation is between 5,000' and 7,000' (1524m to 2132m)

Rowland is not really a town, it is a ghost town and a summer ranch area. The nearest town from where they were found according to the GPS is 16.2 miles away (Mountain City, NV along State Route 225) and following any kind of roads would take you over 2 hours to get there. The nearest clinic is in Owyhee, NV and no doubt would have to transfer her to more definitive in Boise, ID or Elko, NV. (She was flown to Twin Falls because it's closer in air miles) Overnight lows is probably going to be in the teens and may reach the forties in the daytime. Add rain, snow and wind and your chances of survival is very low. Obviously she survived, which is good, but not saying what he will be like. Let's not forget wolves (possible) coyotes, mountain lions, etc.

I agree if the road gets rough then turn around.
I doubt a signal fire would have done any good (literally no one to see it dense forest, terrain, etc.), but a fire for warmth would depend on dry material and an ability to gather it.
The rescuers drove for 9 miles to get a cell phone signal. In this area this is not uncommon usually it's more. A PLB, HAM Radio, or Satellite phone would have made the difference.
Know and understand your GPS and its limitations.
Sue is right to not take shortcuts. You'll become lost very easily.
Walking back to the highway (pavement)would take considerable time. NV State Route 225 is the only paved road in the area and walking means going through harsh terrain, streams, gully's, canyons and you get the picture (use mapper.acme.com - topo feature)(usual disclaimer) and you'll see what I am talking about.

This is a very pretty area to visit and inside of an hour you can literally go from Canyon-lands to high desert plateau and into forested mountains. The whole area has been designated wilderness and what isn't wilderness is National Forest and even the Elko County badlands. But traveling here means taking some responsibility.

Take care,

Stargazer




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#223235 - 05/09/11 02:17 PM Re: Stranded for 49 days [Re: dougwalkabout]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2645
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Another update:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/nati...article2014245/

The search for Mr. Chretien is still considered a rescue not a recovery operation, though sadly the odds are not in favour.

The physician treating Ms. Chretien makes some interesting comments about her physical condition and the psychological/spiritual component of her survival.

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#223244 - 05/09/11 04:59 PM Re: Stranded for 49 days [Re: dougwalkabout]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2079
Loc: Great Plains
I wonder what the basis is for considering it a rescue? obviously I hope he staggers into a gas station, ragged and unkempt but otherwise none the worse for wear- but how likely it that at this point? He seems to have left the food, and probably had little useful gear (eg. fire, shelter, water). She survived because she was near water, had minimal food and had the van for shelter as well as a suitcase full of clothes. He has been exposed to the elements for a month and a half.

Again, I hope he's found alive but stories like this really do serve as a wake up call. It's shocking how unprepared people sometimes are. But then again, I've taken winter trips on well traveled routes with probably much less safety gear than I should have. I'm definitely gonna have to go thru my truck bag again and see what I need to add or replace.
_________________________
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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#223245 - 05/09/11 06:46 PM Re: Stranded for 49 days [Re: Phaedrus]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
> "...I've taken winter trips on well traveled routes with probably much less safety gear than I should have."

Of course, everyone has! The difference between an interesting trip and big trouble is the decisions you make along the way.

The thought processes of some people is often totally beyond my understanding.

I have traveled (with just a dog) from California to Maine, and zigzagged back and forth across the Continental Divide from Mexico to Canada, and gone to many isolated ghost towns. The only time I really got into real trouble was on a well-used, two-lane state highway in Utah, when I was run off the road by an oncoming car that was passing a pickup/trailer on a curve, and I nearly rolled, blowing a tire and breaking a shock absorber.

Sometimes I've been on a road so rough (with definite signs to my destination) that I've stopped the vehicle and walked ahead to check on the further conditions. Sometimes I gave up and just turned around and returned to the highway. Sometimes I continued at the speed of a slow walk. But I never got stuck and never damaged the car.

I've walked trails with the dog and had the dog stop me a couple of times, her ears back and tail tucked. We turned around and headed back to camp, awareness on max, head swiveling constantly. Never saw the danger (large predator, I'm assuming), but knew for certain that it was there, somewhere.

I've driven on gravel roads and gotten onto the wrong side road because a sign was down. When the side road was good, I went a good long way before I realized my mistake. Then I turned around and went back.

NEVER, in all my travels, have I tried to take a shortcut when I was lost, on foot or driving. NOT EVER! That is just begging for trouble, esp when no one even knew what state I was in.

Roads and trails are always the easiest paths, and for a good reason! You can make far better time on a winding gravel/dirt road than you can by attempting to go across country, wearing yourself out by climbing down and up, setting yourself up for hypothermia by crossing streams, taking the chance of injuring yourself in rough country.

As has been said here before, most personal disasters are preceded by people making repeated stupid decisions.

Stay alive. Try thinking.

Sue

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#223247 - 05/09/11 07:15 PM Re: Stranded for 49 days [Re: Phaedrus]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6228
Loc: southern Cal
SAR people are incredibly optimistic, at least in public.
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#223252 - 05/09/11 07:57 PM Re: Stranded for 49 days [Re: Susan]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2877
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Susan
NEVER, in all my travels, have I tried to take a shortcut when I was lost, on foot or driving. NOT EVER! That is just begging for trouble, esp when no one even knew what state I was in.


This concept ought to be on the written test for a driver's license in every state.

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#223293 - 05/10/11 03:14 AM Re: Stranded for 49 days [Re: hikermor]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2645
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: hikermor
SAR people are incredibly optimistic, at least in public.


That's a fair comment. From what I've read, they are leaving open the possibility that he found natural shelter or a hunting cabin. Outside of that, it's grim business.

I am somewhat taken aback by a few of the harsh comments in other posts. Smart people can make mistakes, and lack of experience combined with worry and fatigue can lead them to compound those mistakes with disastrous results. It can happen to us too, which is why we plan to mitigate the effects of unexpected events and try to learn from others' experiences. Anyone who hasn't been "out of their element" a time or two raise your hand.

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#223296 - 05/10/11 03:45 AM Re: Stranded for 49 days [Re: dougwalkabout]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2079
Loc: Great Plains
Hopefully I didn't come across as harsh. I hope to heck he's alive. And yeah, I guess he could've happened upon a hunting cabin or something. But at this point no one has seen him in a month and a half.

I've been contemplating it for a few months but this particular story has galvanized my resolve to get a McMurdo Fast Find 210. I'll have to start setting aside a few bucks each payday for one. From what I've been able to find in the online literature it's a solid unit. If the couple had had a PLB, by now they'd just have a mildly embarrassing story to tell their friends and family.
_________________________
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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#223297 - 05/10/11 03:47 AM Re: Stranded for 49 days [Re: dougwalkabout]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
Death is a harsh business. I would like to put mine off as long as possible.

There's an important trick to being 'out of your element', and that's being smart enough to recognize it once you're there.

Different people handle it different ways. Some stop and reconsider all the possibilities and their options. Some freeze and their brain shifts into neutral. Some don't seem to recognize real trouble, not only when they enter it, but even when they're well into it. And there are always, the 'nothing will happen to me' folks who have apparently watched too much TV and barely have a nodding acquaintance with reality.

Doug, what do you think when you see a young man racing down a crowded highway at over 100 mph (161 kph)? Do you think he's an idiot, and hope he doesn't kill someone? Are you being harsh, or are you being realistic?

This couple made so many poor decisions that it occurred to me that one/both of them were considering suicide or murder. It wasn't JUST that they went sightseeing in iffy weather, and it wasn't JUST that they did it with no thought to being prepared if something went wrong, and it wasn't JUST that when the road deteriorated that they continued instead of turning back, and it wasn't JUST that he decided to walk away, and it wasn't JUST that he probably headed cross-country. It was a combination of a bunch of bad decisions. If Al C. had not done just ONE of those things, it could have been a happy ending. ONE THING!

If my friends who know me well read in the paper that I had done all those things, they would have all agreed that I had apparently lost my mind!

What's really discouraging is that we all know people who would have done all those same things!

Sue

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#223307 - 05/10/11 09:42 AM Re: Stranded for 49 days [Re: Susan]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6228
Loc: southern Cal
A string of five or six really bad decisions is quite typical of many search and rescue scenarios. People who manage to get about a third of their choices right usually avoid the clutches of SAR, or at least trigger operations that are less than epic and do not generate headlines.

To some extent I base this statement on personal experience, where I made some really world class dumb moves, but managed to stay under the radar and reach home safely by making offsetting good calls (like carrying most of the Ten Essentials, and putting a shovel in the car). Dumb luck also plays a part..
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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