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#276138 - 08/08/15 07:34 PM Re: It's that time of year again... [Re: hikermor]
frediver Offline

Registered: 05/17/04
Posts: 213
Loc: N.Cal.
Locals should know better but I can give tourists a pass even tho it might kill them.
Many tourists have no concept of what adverse local conditions can actually be or what they mean! They often have no conditions at home
that are anywhere near what they might face here. The real question should be how can they realistically be informed in a cost effective way. If they choose to disregard the warnings at least the effort has been made.

Locals should know better but IMO very basic survival necessities and skills should be taught in schools, perhaps in P.E. class. I'm talking simple stuff like carry water, shelter (adequate clothing for conditions, etc) what to do if you are caught out. etc. real basic no cost simple skills.

For tourists who have no idea/concept of local conditions what can be done that is cost effective. By cost effective I mean what would a rental car company or resort hotel be willing to offer at no cost to guests?
Perhaps a .10c pamphlet listing basic supplies for off of the paved road, put it in there hand, area cell coverage and how to check your provider cell map? Info. on real water needs, how and where to shelter if you get stuck, what to do if out of cell coverage, etc. If tourists are cruising a local area and plan to return perhaps a desk check log book for day plans. If the day book is used and the hotel has luggage in the room but no car in the lot overnite a simple call to the S.O., they check with the rental car Co. to see where the Car GPS is located might save a life and a lot of search expense.
Heck in modern rental cars should they have a panic button attached to the built in GPS System, should all cars that have GPS transponders have that feature?

Edited by frediver (08/08/15 07:39 PM)

#276140 - 08/08/15 10:01 PM Re: It's that time of year again... [Re: Bingley]
Montanero Offline

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1404
Loc: North Carolina
I carry an emergency blanket at a minimum: SOL Emergency Blanket

Sometimes a more substantial Space Blanket: Heavy Duty Emergency Blanket

Usually I also have a heavy contractor bag. These items ore really not that bulky.

These things work very well for a desert shelter and for signaling. You also have to understand that I am not trying to travel light with only a carry on. My trips are usually 2 weeks long at least and involve a mix of outdoor activities and meetings in more civilized surroundings. I am usually checking two large bags regardless. My carry on is usually some reading material, electronics and my basic essentials for a surprise night out. They come in handy for layovers in airports also.

#276141 - 08/08/15 10:33 PM Re: It's that time of year again... [Re: frediver]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6581
Loc: southern Cal
With respect to providing information to non-local visitors, bear in mind that in both these cases the fatalities occurred in areas administered by the National Park Service which does indeed provide safety information with various warning signs, brochures, and personal contacts, among other means. This is what is posted on the White Sands website with respect to the Alkali Flats Trail, which is less than a five mile round trip -

"There is no shade or water along the trail, and summer temperatures can exceed 100 degrees F (38 ° C). Heat-related illness is common in warm weather and can be fatal. Hike during cool times"

I would bet that there were warning sign posted, which is not to say that they were heeded. A more detailed discussion of these incidents would doubtless be very instructive.
Geezer in Chief

#276145 - 08/09/15 04:18 AM Re: It's that time of year again... [Re: hikermor]
JeffMc Offline

Registered: 05/10/15
Posts: 129
Loc: Northwest Florida
Originally Posted By: hikermor

I would bet that there were warning sign posted, which is not to say that they were heeded. ...

Perhaps, in this particular case, this French family didn't read English?

It's hard for me to personally relate to something like this. I mean, I do plenty of stupid things and have doubtless survived my own stupidity many times without ever even realizing how stupid I was. But surely the concept of a desert in high Summer, complete with sand dunes, ought not be so unfamiliar as to make the hazards anything other than glaringly obvious.

As for rental cars, I plead guilty to knowing of some nice camping sites that I jokingly say are accessible only by 4WD OR rental car, meaning that your car is at greater risk of getting beat up or stuck, but can probably make it. But none are so bad, remote or hazardous that you couldn't walk out in a few hours or have a buddy with a pick-up pull you out of a rough bit easily enough.

Edited by JeffMc (08/09/15 04:21 AM)

#276149 - 08/09/15 05:55 AM Re: It's that time of year again... [Re: hikermor]
Mark_R Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 05/29/10
Posts: 849
Loc: Southern California
Update from CNN. It wasn't a stuck rental car. The car got them to the trailhead just fine. It was attempting a 4.6 mile, no shade, deep sand hike in 101F (38C) with only 40 oz of water for three people that killed them.


The Inquisitr has a picture of the couple. They don't appear to be out of shape. They just badly underestimated the affects of the desert sun and the dunes.


I've gone out in late season desert hikes with (4) 1.5 L bottles (>200 oz), and come back to the car 4 hours later with less then a liter remaining. It's incredibly easy to underestimate water needs in the open desert.
Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane

#276155 - 08/09/15 07:40 PM Re: It's that time of year again... [Re: Mark_R]
JeffMc Offline

Registered: 05/10/15
Posts: 129
Loc: Northwest Florida
It's been a very long time since I've done any desert hiking, but I'm thinking a lot about travelling out West to do some again, probably just day-hiking or a short overnight mixed with car camping at most.

In doing a bit of unrelated research for my niece who's taken up backpacking in the often rainy Pacific Northwest, I came across umbrellas that clip to pack straps for hands-free use. Some of them appear to silver and/or reflective. Would this actually prove a useful item for desert hiking?

Back in the day, I also used to carry a cheapo, lightweight foam ground pad to lie on for protection from stickers, rocks and such, and to provide a little insulation from the heat of the ground. An afternoon nap is just about my favorite wilderness activity, so I thought it was pretty useful to have along.

I've also taken up using two hiking poles when backpacking with heavier loads, but I've never used them in really sandy, loose conditions. I have the smallish snow baskets for them, but would they work well enough in the sand, or would they just be a useless frustration?

I was thinking that I could use them to rig a sunshade with a Heetsheet, and I guess I'd need to bring along a few stuff sacks or something to use as sand anchors. But if hiking poles are a bother, I could substitute a few even lighter tent pole sections instead. Does anybody have field experience rigging up this sort of sunshade in the desert and know what works best, doesn't work well, or isn't worth the bother, either for a routine trial rest or for emergency? Any advice welcome. Thanks.

#276156 - 08/09/15 08:14 PM Re: It's that time of year again... [Re: Mark_R]
JeffMc Offline

Registered: 05/10/15
Posts: 129
Loc: Northwest Florida
I think the stuck rental car fatalities and the desert hiking fatalities were two separate incidents.

"With little water for the family-of-three, the parents decided to give their young son two sips of water for each of their one, this would end up saving the child’s life as the two adults perished from heat-related causes in the desert sun.

KVIA reports that David and Ornella Steiner were hiking in the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico with their 9-year-old son Enzo in mid-day heat when Ornella fell down a dune and hurt her leg. Otero County Sheriff Benny House says that it appears the father and son left the marked trail to find help for the injured woman, leaving her behind to wait for help to arrive."

I cannot reconcile my own habit of taking long, difficult, or off-trail backpacking trips alone with the standard advice of "never go alone." But it appears the French family also broke two other pieces of the standard canon of backcountry advice in leaving an injured person alone and in leaving the trail to seek help, a.k.a., the deadly shortcut. However, I presume that impaired cognition due to hyperthermia and dehydration was the major causative factor.

Not that any of us wise and prepared types would ever allow ourselves to be put in such a situation whistle, but lets pretend. Assuming your brain was still in gear, what would be the best course of action if conditions were extreme, your spouse was injured, water was minimal, and you knew the marked trail led to help, at most, about 2 1/2 miles away?

1. Leave the child and the injured spouse with the remaining water and go for help?

2. Take the child and the water and go for help?

3. Leave the child, take the water and go for help?

4. Ration the water until sundown, then go for help?

5. Stay together and try to assist the injured spouse to hike out?

6. Something else?

#276158 - 08/09/15 08:37 PM Re: It's that time of year again... [Re: JeffMc]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4914
The list of good options is very short. The child survived; given their circumstance I'm not sure any other choice would have led to a better outcome. If you start with much more water you have better options on that list.

#276159 - 08/09/15 09:24 PM Re: It's that time of year again... [Re: hikermor]
Montanero Offline

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1404
Loc: North Carolina
You can carry the tent poles of a freestanding tent. You can use these with a military poncho to make a shelter because the poncho has grommets already.

For a hot desert (not all deserts are hot!) you really need two layers for your shade shelter to drop the temperature significantly. If you have tow layers with a good space between them which allows the air to move freely the temperature under the shelter will be much lower than just one layer. I would use the heat sheet, silver side up, on top.

Even one layer is good, especially something as reflective as a heat sheet, if it is high enough over your head. A low shelter will build up hit quickly.

A space blanket with grommets will be easier to set up than a heat sheet. Having the hiking poles will help, but you do need a bit of cordage and either stakes or rocks to anchor it.

If you are going to a place that is flat you will need a freestanding shelter. I actually do like umbrellas for these areas. You can carry your shade with you and they are airy.

#276160 - 08/09/15 09:25 PM Re: It's that time of year again... [Re: hikermor]
Montanero Offline

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1404
Loc: North Carolina
They should have stayed together.

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