MISSING HIKER DAY 3, COLD NIGHTS IN THE LOW ‘TEENS. HIKER DRESSED ONLY IN TEE-SHIRT, SHORTS, NO HAT, NO WATER.
This is a headline you want absolutely no part of. And here we are again, another missing hiker narrowly cheating death. And these scenarios do NOT always end happily.
Safety Rule #1 trumps all other safety rules, is paramount in my opinion:
What does that mean? The Point position is basically the leader of the group. It is her or his responsibility to 1) lead you in the right direction, should be familiar with the route and region 2) to safety-check for trail protrusions, living creatures, “speed bumps”etc. 3) maintain a reasonable pace that will not tire the group or cause unnecessary & unsafe rushing (it’s a hike not a race) 4) double check with Sweep time-to-time to see if the group needs to or has paused for any reason. (Such as readjusting boots, someone needs a comfort break, adding or removing layer clothing, a photo op etc).
The Sweep position does just that, sweeps-up the group. Their basic responsiblity is to maintain the same number of folks who began the hike finish the hike. This is vital to a fun, safe, and cherished trek. In the case of this last missing hiker, no one noticed that he was no longer with the group! This really blows my mind and I certainly would not want to hike with a group as careless as this. Sweep will communicate with Point should the group need to pause for someone who has gone off trail, safely, or for a comfort break or other needs. Point makes sure the group leaves no one behind! Go semper fi!
Both Point & Sweep should wear a whistle or have an electronic device for communication such as a high-power, wide-range walkie talkie. A cel phone will not do since the terrain often does not accommodate cel reception. Both Point & Sweep should be trained in basic first aid. Both Point & Sweep should carry the Ten Essentials. (See Fight or Flight Parts 1 & 2)It is so gorgeous while on trail, it’s easy to forget that there’s any care in the world, but there are. We REALLY need to be watchful, aware and in the present while hiking the wilderness. Even casual, spur-of-the-moment runs to the canyon, “Lets check out the waterfall, I hear there’s a big one at the end of the road!” should be carrying extra layers and water and assigning Point & Sweep. At bare minimum! There’s safety in numbers, but only when we’re aware of one another.
Happy Trails (be sure it stays a happy trail) & be blessed and kind to one another.
That hiker was located and is now safe, 3 days later. He slipped & fell at the waterfall & was unconscious in a ravine. Suffering from hypothermia and a cut to the head. Please, let this be a lesson learned that you do NOT have to personally experience.
I invite your comments. Does anyone else consider this situation, a group you’re hiking with, who doesn’t notice that you have not returned with them, criminal behavior? That hiker may have been better off hiking with his enemies. This truly saddens me. Post your comments at the end of this post, it just might help the next person reading & learning. Thank you!