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#232255 - 09/15/11 11:42 PM An interesting NPS Incident
hikermor Offline
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Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7290
Loc: southern Cal
Canyonlands National Park (UT)
Rangers Find Injured Man Crawling Across Desert

On Friday, September 9th, rangers in the Island in the Sky District began looking into circumstances surrounding a campsite at the Willow Flat campground, which appeared to be abandoned and unoccupied. The investigation led to a search for Amos Richards, a 64-year-old visitor from North Carolina. Details led staff to believe that he may have been in or around the park's Maze District. A search was begun for Richards two days later. He was spotted from a helicopter around 2 p.m. in the area of Little Blue John Canyon, just outside the park's boundary, and was flown to Moab Regional Hospital, where he was treated for leg fractures, internal injuries, trauma, and dehydration. Further investigation revealed that Richards attempted to hike in and out of Lower Blue John Canyon via the entry/exit route between West and Little Blue John Canyons. He fell approximately 10 feet trying to gain the wash bottom, suffering extensive leg trauma in the process. Richards couldn't bear weight on his right leg, so spend the next four days and three nights crawling across the desert in an attempt to get back to his car. He had no overnight gear, warm clothes or a map, but did have five liters of water and two power bars with him. No one knew where he was or what his plans were. It rained on him several times as he crawled across the desert. Richards is expected to fully recover. Matt Jenkins was IC for the search.
[Submitted by Denny Ziemann, Chief Ranger]
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#232267 - 09/16/11 02:40 AM Re: An interesting NPS Incident [Re: hikermor]
Susan Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
*sigh*

Sue

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#232279 - 09/16/11 11:05 AM Re: An interesting NPS Incident [Re: hikermor]
7point82 Offline
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Registered: 11/24/05
Posts: 478
Loc: Oklahoma
I wonder precisely how technical the route was and whether or not this gentleman knew what he was getting into.

Canyoneering is a sport that does not suffer fools. It's very easy to put yourself in a position where you can not climb back up the way you came down & you may not be able to set proper anchors to rap out even if you have the right equipment.

I have little hesitation about undertaking a number of activities solo but canyoneering is not one of them. I'm >20 years this mans junior and in very good physical condition to boot. eek

I hope he makes a full and speedy recovery and I hope someone learns from this incident.
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"There is not a man of us who does not at times need a helping hand to be stretched out to him, and then shame upon him who will not stretch out the helping hand to his brother." -Theodore Roosevelt

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#232309 - 09/16/11 06:23 PM Re: An interesting NPS Incident [Re: hikermor]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
I stopped at Canyonlands NP one time, just passing through. I wasn't prepared for that kind of country or the heat, so I just looked around the area immediate to the campground. Even in my 20s, I recognized a dangerous place when I saw it.

But I grew up in the desert. The guy in the OP was from NC, about as far from desert country as you can get. People just don't realize how dangerous it can be. They don't understand how tiring it can get slogging through deep sand, or how canyons run (or don't), or flash flooding from upcountry when there isn't a cloud in the sky where they are, or sometimes the number of trails that can cause confusion, or the wide temperature swings that can occur in 24 hrs.

But at least he took a fair amount of water with him, which is more than many people do.

Sue

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#232315 - 09/16/11 07:36 PM Re: An interesting NPS Incident [Re: Susan]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1179
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: Susan
..... I recognized a dangerous place when I saw it. But I grew up in the desert. The guy in the OP was from NC, about as far from desert country as you can get.....
You raise a good point. I don't know anything about this guys background. However, as outdoors people, we sometimes assume that because we have experience in one area and think we know how to take care of ourselves there, that we can then automatically take care of ourselves in some different environment. While previous experience elsewhere is useful, it also pays to take your time and be conservative until you have some experience in a new environment.

Outdoors people often move to Anchorage from down south, and think that it is pretty much the same up here, and that they know what they are doing. After awhile they learn that it is the same....but then again it isn't. I was the same way when I came up here 25 years ago. I grew up hiking and climbing in the Pacific NW, and then lived in the Rocky Mtn states for awhile. I thought I was a hot shot outdoorsman. After I seriously froze my youknowwhat off a few times, got blown off some trips, and got truely scared more than a few times, I realized that I really didn't know so much as I thought. While we do get some nice weather, it can quickly get really bad, and stay that way for a long long time. The country is vast, and rugged. What are shown on maps and guidebooks as trails are often really just glorified cross country routes. If you aren't careful, it is very easy to get into serious trouble.

I love the desert, when I get a chance to get down there. However, I also recognize that I'm really just a neophyte in that environment. When you go to a new place, it's best to take baby steps until you really know what you are doing. And really knowing what you are doing can take longer than you think.
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#232764 - 09/26/11 04:42 PM Re: An interesting NPS Incident [Re: hikermor]
Denis Offline
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Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 631
Loc: Calgary, AB
Interestingly, Mr. Richards was inspired to undertake this trip after seeing 127 Hours; apparently this incident took place in the same canyon as Aron Ralston's ordeal.

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

A North Carolina man who crawled four days across the Utah desert after breaking his leg on a solo hike said he was inspired by a movie about a man who cut off his own arm to save himself after being trapped by a boulder in the same canyon.

Amos Wayne Richards, 64, of Concord, N.C., is now recovering at home. He said he was inspired to hike Little Blue John Canyon after he saw the Oscar-nominated movie "127 Hours," but he fell 10 feet during his trek on Sept. 8.


As the story relates, it looks like he also repeated Mr. Ralston's critical mistake:

Ziemann [the chief ranger] said the result could have been much worse for Richards because he went hiking alone and without telling anybody his plans.

No one knew what he was doing and he apparently he had no way to call for help.
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Victory awaits him who has everything in order luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck. Roald Amundsen

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#232768 - 09/26/11 05:07 PM Re: An interesting NPS Incident [Re: Denis]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 860
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: Denis
Interestingly, Mr. Richards was inspired to undertake this trip after seeing 127 Hours; apparently this incident took place in the same canyon as Aron Ralston's ordeal.



Inspired but apparently not educated by the story.

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#232769 - 09/26/11 05:07 PM Re: An interesting NPS Incident [Re: Denis]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7290
Loc: southern Cal
I wonder if one of the tributary arms of Little Blue John Canyon could be named "Ralston Canyon" to commemorate these events. Perhaps there are alternative names that would be even more appropriate....
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#232770 - 09/26/11 05:17 PM Re: An interesting NPS Incident [Re: Denis]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1179
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: Denis
Interestingly, Mr. Richards was inspired to undertake this trip after seeing 127 Hours; apparently this incident took place in the same canyon as Aron Ralston's ordeal.

Much the same thing seems to be happening around the magic bus featured in Krakaur's "Into the Wild" book and movie about same. Every season there has been a couple of SARs to retrieve people making a pilgrimage to the bus. A couple of the pilgrims have died in the attempt. The locals in Healy are getting rather tired of it.
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"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

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#232779 - 09/26/11 05:59 PM Re: An interesting NPS Incident [Re: hikermor]
TeacherRO Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2429
A simple stop at the ranger station oran email to a friend...Help SAR. Even just where and expected return help so much.

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