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#227486 - 07/08/11 08:11 PM Staying or leaving? Decision, decision...
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
I didn't want to hijack Teslinhiker's thread.

I am curious as to where you draw the line between self-rescue and waiting for someone to do it for you.

Some are fairly obvious: lost or injured comes first to mind. Putting yourself in a worse situation by leaving a vehicle shelter and known conditions for unknown conditions seems kind of dumb and often slows rescue.

But when you know where you are and how to get out, such as with Teslinhiker's scenario, what is your thinking?

Keeping it simple, here's a scenario:

You're up in the mountains on a forest service/logging road, about 60 miles from the nearest services. A fairly large dead tree (mostly trunk) came down right across the hood of your car. The hood is crushed, the front axle is on the ground, the windshield is broken. No injuries, but you're really PO'd.

You're out of cell tower range, and no one knows you even left home. This was just going to be a day trip/hike.

The weather is decent, nothing serious in the weather forecast. Sixty-degree days, forty-degree nights.

Terrain is gradual downhill, steeper in some places. You plan on just following the roads you came in on. Snow is melting in the higher country, lots of little streams.

You and your SO are in decent shape, but nothing special. You don't weight 350 lbs, you have no known health issues.

Both of you always carry some survival gear in a pack:
* Shelter: You each have a tarp, a 3-season jacket and a hat;
* Water: you have one 12-pack of 16-oz bottles of water;
* Fire: Bic lighter, matches, cotton & Vasoline; lots of deadfall all over.
* Knives: 2 fixed-blades, 2 Leatherman;
* Food: You have some trail mix, granola bars, some apples, a few tea bags and those salty seasoning packets from Ramen Soup.
* First aid: simple basics;
* Signaling: mirror, surveyors tape, reflective mylar emerg blanket. You'll take the cell phones and keep trying them, maybe you can get a friend to pick you up, or to call a tow truck.
* Misc stuff like cord, small fishing kit, etc.

So, do you grab your gear and head out, or start a smokey signal fire and wait for rescue, possibly diverting aid to yourselves from others who might really need it?

What would you consider the primary dangers?

Sue

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#227491 - 07/08/11 09:01 PM Re: Staying or leaving? Decision, decision... [Re: Susan]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1408
Loc: Cranbrook BC (Finally)
Interesting scenario of which many here could easily find themselves in and also have the kit listed on hand.

If you decide to stay put, starting a fire is one option, however depending on time of year and area, large smokey campfires etc are not all that uncommon and may be ignored. If you were over a major flight path, your fire may draw some attention...again depending on area.

Considering that no one knows we we went, and with no means of modern comms, both SO and I are in very good physical condition and have many years of wilderness experience that based on this particular scenario, it would be a fairly easy decision to gear up and move out with all the gear listed as it will easily fit in pockets or small pack.

As for primary dangers if you decided to walk out.

- Getting lost which depends on how well you don't know the area. Many times, forestry roads look much different when walking then driving where you were not paying that much attention. Taking a left fork and not taking right fork on the road without realizing for a few hours can lead to other mistakes.

- Foot/leg or other debilitating injury. One twist or roll of the ankle after you walked 20 miles from the relative safety shelter of the truck can put not only you but your SO into a real survival situation where some difficult and critical decisions would have to be made. Taking your time as well as making well thought out and methodical decisions is key to reducing the injury risk.

- Weather to a certain degree. Good example was this past weekend. We seen lows of just above freezing with rain and sleet to sunny 85F weather to 50 mile per hour wind gusts to almost torrential rain all within a 48 hour period. With little food which = low energy for the 60 mile walk, it is certainly within reason to not think that potential hypothermia could play a factor.

I am sure other here will have more thoughts, but one thing that I drill into people when we are out hiking, camping etc is that getting lost, hurt and dying is not caused by any one mistake or event. It has been proven that people when they do get lost, hurt or die out in the wilderness, it is the grand result of many unseen or unrecognized mistakes that lead up to the final event. This can certainly also apply to this scenario and also the scenario I posted about a few days ago in another thread.
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#227492 - 07/08/11 09:03 PM Re: Staying or leaving? Decision, decision... [Re: Susan]
Lono Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 1013
Loc: Pacific NW, USA
time of year? Does it snow, or are you in a more arid area?
elevation?
do you have a map? what is the terrain between you and the nearest habitable location? e.g. if you start a smoke / signal fire, do you have any chance of being seen?
you drove this ~60 miles on the FS road, is it often travelled, or only traveled once or twice a year?
are you in grizzly territory?
what is the terrain like between you and civilization - are there forests, or is it scrubland?

shame on you for not leaving an itinerary with anyone who will send rescue. if that's really the situation, I recommend you talk to your SO, and make a plan to walk out. then sleep on it, and decide if the plan is still feasible for one or both of you. splitting up is a risky proposition - one person alone has to take most of your supplies and hope to get to help before the other person runs out of theirs. two walking together may not move as swiftly as one.

It all depends - but since you didn't alert anyone you may be missing, you don't give yourself many options. all the alternatives depend on how you answer these factors.

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#227493 - 07/08/11 09:15 PM Re: Staying or leaving? Decision, decision... [Re: Susan]
dweste Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Underestimating your situation may be the primary danger.

STOP.

While you probably could hike the 60 miles to the nearest services, it will take several days to do so. I assume you will not camp or sleep on or near the road to avoid the potential for inadvertently being run down. I assume foraging for water will also take you off-road. You may be tempted to go off-road to cut across winding loops to cut walking time and distance.

During all those times, on- and off-road you are exposing yourselves to whatever unknown hazards you may encounter, including but not limited to injury and illness for which you are not equipped to deal. If they occur off-road, then you are that much harder to find.

Yes, it might work out that responding to your smoky fire might divert responders from some other need. But light the fire right away anyway. You know you need help, don't try to overthink the situation. It sounds as though there is also a road that needs clearing; it may well be a road critical to other fire and rescue operations - and responders do not even know that yet.

Give responders a short, easy, boring job. Let yourself feel a little embaressed if you need to. Light the fire right away. For all you know there may be someone nearby who can respond.

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#227495 - 07/08/11 09:38 PM Re: Staying or leaving? Decision, decision... [Re: dweste]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1408
Loc: Cranbrook BC (Finally)
Originally Posted By: dweste
Underestimating your situation may be the primary danger.

Give responders a short, easy, boring job. Let yourself feel a little embaressed if you need to. Light the fire right away. For all you know there may be someone nearby who can respond.


Ok Dweste. Now what do you do?

Two days have passed since you made your decisoon to stay put. No one has seen your fire. The litle bit of food you had, is now all but gone. You are tired and stressed after spending 2 very restless nights sleeping in your cramped truck wihout the beneift and warmth of sleeping bag or blankets and the windshield is now covered with one of the tarps.

Had you left 2 days ago, and considering this scenario that Sue layed out where you both are in decent physical condition, you would now either be home or very close to it..

To rephrase one of your statements above:

Overestimating your situation and making the decision to stay has put you in more imminent danger.

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#227499 - 07/08/11 10:32 PM Re: Staying or leaving? Decision, decision... [Re: Teslinhiker]
Crowe Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 12/03/07
Posts: 88
Originally Posted By: Teslinhiker
Originally Posted By: dweste
Underestimating your situation may be the primary danger.

Give responders a short, easy, boring job. Let yourself feel a little embaressed if you need to. Light the fire right away. For all you know there may be someone nearby who can respond.


Ok Dweste. Now what do you do?

Two days have passed since you made your decisoon to stay put. No one has seen your fire. The litle bit of food you had, is now all but gone. You are tired and stressed after spending 2 very restless nights sleeping in your cramped truck wihout the beneift and warmth of sleeping bag or blankets and the windshield is now covered with one of the tarps.

Had you left 2 days ago, and considering this scenario that Sue layed out where you both are in decent physical condition, you would now either be home or very close to it..

To rephrase one of your statements above:

Overestimating your situation and making the decision to stay has put you in more imminent danger.


There is no right or wrong to this, staying could result in a rescue almost immediately, or it could result 4 weeks of waiting and starving to death. Conversely, walking out could result in you rolling into a ravine with a broken neck while a search party stands puzzled over the remains of your truck, an hour after you left...You takes your chances and you places your bets as best you can. If I felt there was no reasonable chance I would be discovered, I would leave a note indicating my path, and burn my truck tires, and attempt the walk out. If I felt there was a good chance of discovery, I would stay put. Keep it mind a PLB, and leaving a third party action plan alleviate all of this, and you can stay put, which is the least risky (but not always most fruitful) option.

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#227500 - 07/08/11 10:36 PM Re: Staying or leaving? Decision, decision... [Re: Susan]
chaosmagnet Online   content
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3360
Loc: USA
There are several factors that have to feed into the decision of staying versus going.

* Weighing dangers of staying versus going

* Communications

* Injuries

* Members of party and their ability to trek long distances

* Chances that someone will look for us

* Chances that someone will see signaling

* Likely distance to rescue

* Navigation

It's vanishingly unlikely that I'd be in this situation because my car kit is much better, and also because I'd have left a trip plan with someone.

In the situation Susan describes, I'd first set up a signal fire and make ourselves as visible as feasible, including from the air. Next we'd look for water, do what we could to get comfortable, and perhaps spend some time looking for food. If a day or two of that didn't pan out, I'd start to think about leaving.

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#227506 - 07/09/11 12:17 AM Re: Staying or leaving? Decision, decision... [Re: Crowe]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1408
Loc: Cranbrook BC (Finally)
Originally Posted By: Crowe

There is no right or wrong to this, staying could result in a rescue almost immediately, or it could result 4 weeks of waiting and starving to death. Conversely, walking out could result in you rolling into a ravine with a broken neck while a search party stands puzzled over the remains of your truck, an hour after you left...You takes your chances and you places your bets as best you can.


Yes that is correct, there is no right or wrong answer here . Either option has it's risks and is just a matter of each person evaluating each proposed option based on their experience of the outdoors and their physical conditioning.

If this scneario did not present itself with "You plan on just following the roads you came in on" and 60 miles cross country was required, then yes perhaps the more prudent and safer option would be to stay with the vehicle for a few days and hope that rescue would be forthcoming. However in sticking with Sue's envisioned scenario of road travel out the way you came in, then I would choose to walk out right from day one.
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#227507 - 07/09/11 02:30 AM Re: Staying or leaving? Decision, decision... [Re: Susan]
LesSnyder Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1612
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
scenarios as Susan provided offer an opportunity to evaluate your responses to a varying continuum of threats... and those in the middle "grey" area are probably the most challenging...there is an old adage in political science when dealing with deteorating conditions.... if you place a frog in a pot of hot water he will jump out... but if you place the frog in a pan of cool water and slowly increase the heat over several days , he will boil to death as he does not perceive the gradual day to day change as as threat...I would offer that those of you living in locations with documented safety concerns have a definite go-stay plan in place... if it is wild fire threat, when the fire line crosses a certain highway... for me living in hurricane country, I'll stay through a CAT 3 and evacuate for a 4 or 5...bring on the scenarios..

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#227510 - 07/09/11 03:40 AM Re: Staying or leaving? Decision, decision... [Re: Teslinhiker]
dweste Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Originally Posted By: Teslinhiker
Originally Posted By: dweste
Underestimating your situation may be the primary danger.

Give responders a short, easy, boring job. Let yourself feel a little embaressed if you need to. Light the fire right away. For all you know there may be someone nearby who can respond.


Ok Dweste. Now what do you do?

Two days have passed since you made your decisoon to stay put. No one has seen your fire.


Three bigger, smokier fires.

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