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Old 09-19-2017, 09:18 PM   #41
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My crew was searching by following the stream while heading north going upstream on the east side of that drainage. There are a number of beautiful cascades of rushing water in a narrow very rocky bed of boulders with steep rocky sides. travel was extremely difficult, especially while making sure we did not miss seeing anything in the stream bed or behind and under numerous downed trees and rock outcrops. We made it just about to the swampy area south of him when the call came in that he was found by a ranger in another crew.
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Old 09-19-2017, 09:20 PM   #42
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My crew was searching by following the stream while heading north going upstream on the east side of that drainage. There are a number of beautiful cascades of rushing water in a narrow very rocky bed of boulders with steep rocky sides. travel was extremely difficult, especially while making sure we did not miss seeing anything in the stream bed or behind and under numerous downed trees and rock outcrops. We made it just about to the swampy area south of him when the call came in that he was found by a ranger in another crew.
I can't imagine how hard it would be to navigate that same area, while malnourished, dehydrated and suffering from pneumonia as Alex did.

Very sad.
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Old 09-19-2017, 09:58 PM   #43
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Not the first life claimed by that area, and won't be the last. Some people come here ill prepared, and problems can escalate quickly for them. His family is lucky his body was at least recovered. Condolences to them, and praise to the SAR teams who found him so the whole ordeal could come to an end in a timely way without anyone else getting hurt or killed.

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Old 09-19-2017, 10:26 PM   #44
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Any guesses on what the "personal item" was?
Justin, since DEC is the law enforcement of the woods it would be 'common practice' for them not to disclose any personal item (be it of value, suspicious, unquestionably belonging to the 'victim') that may become important in an open investigation... It could be used to verify / evaluate leads or other info provided by the public (only people to met him would know if he had say a red bandana...)

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I maintain that whether by direct line or otherwise, he descended. To get from 3700 to 2900 feet you descend.
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I have been through there fairly close to where he was found (how they found him in there I'll never know) 3 times...

It's easy to imagine that with no compass Alex had simply wandered downhill. It sounds like he may have been ill and suffering as well.
Neil, you're truly one of a kind. I'll never know what drives you to put yourself through some of your exploits. (take this as a complement)

However, both of you must realize that since Alex was out there and alive for 2 weeks (according to coroner), he must have been mobile for at least 4 days (if he summited on 2nd day, that's 2+ days worth of movement).
It would be hard to believe that he was only able to traverse the roughly .6 mile from the summit camp to the location he was found at in 2 days. DEC believed him to be in "good health" on the evening of Sept 2, based on info they received and he was not injured when found.
Unfortunately, the conditions would have prevented him from using the sun for direction finding and phone batteries don't last.
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Old 09-19-2017, 11:02 PM   #45
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What kind of terrain is below the spot where he was found?

Neil, Trail Boss,

What kind of terrain is below the spot where he was found?
Is that drainage passable when going downstream?

Logically speaking he was supposed to move downstream.
I am still trying to understand what have stopped him.

I expect that he should have been able to cover at least a mile a day.
Is this a wrong assumption?
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Old 09-19-2017, 11:04 PM   #46
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Yuri, see post #41.
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Old 09-20-2017, 12:26 AM   #47
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...both of you must realize that since Alex was out there and alive for 2 weeks ... he must have been mobile for at least 4 days ... It would be hard to believe that he was only able to traverse the roughly .6 mile from the summit camp to the location he was found at in 2 days.
What did he do and where did he go during those two weeks? The published reports provide no clues to answer that. Unless there's a wealth of information being withheld, I doubt anyone will ever be able to answer that question.

Pure speculation: He might have tried to descend in the rain, discovered it's a miserable energy-sapping activity (especially if he had inadequate clothing), hunkered down for several straight days atop Wallface to wait out the bad weather and the woods to dry, only to move out when he was in a weakened state. Bushwhacking is physically demanding and he was doing it without food for many days. Every passing day diminished his strength and health. He might have explored for days to find a safe descent route only to be thwarted repeatedly. His last location, about a half-mile west and 800 below Wallface's summit, might represent the culmination of all the effort he could muster. No food, no compass for direction, no fire for warmth, and limited experience, all worked against him.

One can speculate in this manner for days, creating many permutations, but it all remains fiction. A true account of his journey is unlikely to ever be known.


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What kind of terrain is below the spot where he was found?
Is that drainage passable when going downstream?
A few posts ago I posted a link to photos of HearTheFootsteps trip to MacNaughton. He ascended the brook draining Wallface Ponds to just past the vly and then turned WNW to MacNaughton. Here's the link again.

Quote:
Logically speaking he was supposed to move downstream.
I am still trying to understand what have stopped him.
What stopped him? Nine days without food, many days of rain, physically demanding terrain, all capped by bronchial pneumonia.

Quote:
I expect that he should have been able to cover at least a mile a day.
Is this a wrong assumption?
I don't think it's possible to state a "minimal mileage" figure for this situation. An experienced individual can visit Wallface in a day (and then some). There's just no way to use that as a benchmark for what an inexperienced person "should" be capable of doing.

Based on his reported level of preparedness, he underestimated the challenge. He arrived with insufficient skills and equipment. He was then subjected to foul weather for several days. Given all those factors ... there's still no way to determine the mileage he "should have been to cover".
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Old 09-20-2017, 09:11 AM   #48
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Checking out Alex's facebook page this morning... 😳
Seems like he was into music, and makes me wonder if we may have crossed paths at a show somewhere down the line. RIP man. Here's a song for you Alex, up there in the eternal dance... https://youtu.be/lLep0P4_w6c
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Old 09-20-2017, 01:54 PM   #49
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"I expect that he should have been able to cover at least a mile a day."

Hmm, if it was me and I was lost/hurt/etc I would hunker down near a known land feature - like a trail, summit, pond, etc and wait for help to arrive. Either a search team or another traveler. After a few days of this I would decide not to 'go gentle into that good night' and would strike out in the direction that made the most sense to my clouded mind.

I sometimes think my IQ drops on cold winter mornings while camping. Simple basic stuff seems to be more challenging. Add hunger and illness and wow, I would be a mess.

What I am learning from this:
1) I may wish to upgrade the rain gear a bit. I have water proof ponchos and water resistant jacket.
2) Need to spend more time teaching land nav to daughter (and learning more myself)
3) Doing fine with filing a hike plan and carrying most appropriate gear into the woods.


For this community
I know it has been discussed in threads many, many times but can we have a sticky in hiking forum that lists essentials for day trips and overnights. We occasionally have people stop in for quick questions - which mountain, which trail. Would be good to put that info at their finger tips (yes, it is already via search but...)
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Old 09-20-2017, 03:15 PM   #50
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For this community
I know it has been discussed in threads many, many times but can we have a sticky in hiking forum that lists essentials for day trips and overnights. We occasionally have people stop in for quick questions - which mountain, which trail. Would be good to put that info at their finger tips (yes, it is already via search but...)
I like this idea but why focus only on gear? I think most people get into trouble due to planning, research and preparation shortcomings. In fact the first principle of LNT is Plan Ahead and Prepare. There is also the way in which one prepares oneself: being trim and fit; ie endurance, strength, balance, mental toughness and readiness, knowing one's limits and so on.

How many 40-50 year old guys with big to huge guts, beet red and pouring sweat have I seen on the trail? Makes me want to stop and offer them a coupon for free a cardiac massage from the nearest clinic.
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Old 09-20-2017, 05:37 PM   #51
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I thought this was an interesting article on the subject. What was social media's role in this tragedy? What can be done about it? http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise...-alex-stevens/
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Old 09-20-2017, 06:51 PM   #52
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This:

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Thereís much thatís wonderful about the digital information thatís now available on the Adirondacks, but it has by now been proven that peopleís reliance on unreliable and/or inadequate internet research ó and, worse, social media ó has led to a surge in under-prepared hikers in the Adirondacks, especially on the Labor Day and Columbus Day long weekends. Forest rangers last year averaged one search-and-rescue per day statewide, which takes them away from the important backcountry patrolling they used to conduct.
It's proven? Like there was a peer-reviewed study of it? Wonderful! Where are the published results?

So what about the people who do use social-media properly and arrive well prepared? Funnily enough, the author omits this demographic.

Look. If you like to jump head-first into new things, with little or no research, that's your character. Books, experts, and the Internet aren't going to change your nature. "I saw the ad, I like the way the car looks, I want it." Off you go, half-cocked and on a wing and a prayer.

On the other hand, if you prefer to do research and ensure you are properly prepared for whatever it is that has captured your imagination, the Internet has a wealth of information and access to (self-styled) subject-matter experts. "I liked that car until I saw it's lousy repair history and worse resale value. Someone directed me to a similar but more reliable car that holds its value." You go out armed to the teeth.

The problem with the Internet is separating the wheat from the chaff. Some questions have no easy answers but easy answers is what you get .. plus lots of half-baked bite-sized wrongness. Prime example is the first comment posted to the article. The person lumps together cell phones and GPS receivers into the same "unreliable in the backcountry" basket. Apples and oranges.
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Old 09-20-2017, 07:05 PM   #53
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What can be done about it?
Whenever a tragedy like this one occurs we all ask this question. And, there is currently a flurry of posts and links across the net asking this very question and offering answers.

However, this incident will blow over just like the preceding ones and we will all move on. I am pretty sure there are more Alex's out there and in spite of education in it's myriad forms, they will be meeting their demise in due course.

An example might be driving licenses and education. In spite of massive efforts at educating the public there are cases, almost every day, of careless or drunken driving leading to death or permanent disability.

As for blaming social media I think that's a dead duck. If blame there is, I would put it on the victim.
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Old 09-20-2017, 07:28 PM   #54
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What can be done about it?
I think that Peter Bauer's recent article in the Adirondack Almanack is a step in the right direction. It would be nice if similar efforts could be expanded to other popular trailheads & destinations through out the Adirondacks.

Also, if we could find some way to make it mandatory to fill out a Backcountry Trip Planner (or similar), and also make it mandatory to send a copy to the DEC, I think it might make a huge differnece in the number of unprepared hikers, lost hikers, illegal camping, campsite abusers, etc. In other words, a self-issued permit system of sorts that will keep a record of who's doing what, where, & when.

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Old 09-20-2017, 08:23 PM   #55
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Also, if we could find some way to make it mandatory to fill out a Backcountry Trip Planner (or similar), and also make it mandatory to send a copy to the DEC, I think it might make a huge differnece in the number of unprepared hikers, lost hikers, illegal camping, campsite abusers, etc. In other words, a self-issued permit system of sorts that will keep a record of who's doing what, where, & when.
We tried that with the "trip tickets". I remember filling mine out and dropping it in the box at the Upper Works. I know that there were some problems with the system and it didn't work, but I don't know why. This was about 15 years ago +-Anyone else remember why?
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Old 09-20-2017, 09:11 PM   #56
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I think, like Trail Boss said, some people are more impulsive or spontaneous or whatever you want to call it and will jump into a situation without much thought or preparation. Others will think they know all they need to know and find out the hard way they don't. Even before the Internet age (dating myself) I tended to spend a lot of time studying maps and reading whatever info I could find before I ventured into the woods or out on the water. But, I enjoyed that part of the process. That's my nature, or personality. If anything with the wealth of info on the net I'm more prepared now than ever. In my youth, the mountains taught me some hard lessons. Luckily, I survived them. I found out there was a lot I didn't know. There's still a lot to learn. My heart goes out to this young man's family and friends for their loss.
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Old 09-20-2017, 09:29 PM   #57
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I think that someone who tends to be prepared, is going to use the internet and social media to help be more prepared. I do think that the gorgeous pictures on social media, inspire others to want to get to places, without having knowledge of how hard it is going to be put themselves in that picture. There's no way to prevent it at this point. The cat is out of the bag with social media. Hopefully, discussions about these bad outcome events may help avert the next one SM can be used for good.
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:01 PM   #58
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What can be done? Nothing, because you can't change human nature. There will always be clueless, impulsive individuals who are more than willing to dive headlong into a new and potentially dangerous endeavor with no knowledge, no planning, and no preparation.
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:32 PM   #59
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That age old question "what can be done?"
For starters, how about insuring adequate staffing levels at DEC so rangers can perform duties other than search and rescue...
Was there a ranger or AFR on patrol at upper works that holiday weekend?
Was the lot patrolled after the weekend? Did they notice Alex's vehicle still sitting there? Did they check the log book for who might still be out there?

Let's be frank, it's not DEC job to babysit every visitor. The onus is on the hiker to insure their safety. However, how many times have ranges noticed and averted incidents in the past?
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:56 PM   #60
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17 people have died this year on 14ers of Colorado so far.
By comparison 4ers of ADK are not that dangerous.
I do not believe that this death would change anything.
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