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Old 10-26-2017, 04:52 PM   #81
Trail Boss
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... based on the simple trend of increasing hiker #'s alone, rescues are more common now than they were in years past. That said I'm sure there is a site or document for NY that would demonstrate those statistics. ...
I'd like to see that site or document.

A survey done many years ago (90's) reported more than 125K visitors to the High Peaks region. However then, allegedly, there was a decline. Nowadays, I'm not sure how they count visitors.

For discussion's sake, let's just say > 100K visitors.

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How rare is "rare?"
Check the eleventh post. I tallied the number of rescues from Jan-Nov 2015 and there were 190 for the entire ADK Park. 64 were in the High Peaks region.

64 incidents out of 100K visitors is vanishingly small.

This year's tally is north of 350 incidents for the whole park. That's still a tiny fraction of the whole. However, it has nearly doubled since 2015 so, definitely a concerning trend. Ranger staff has not increased commensurately in the last 2 years.

If nothing is done to proactively decrease incidents, and ranger staffing remains at current levels, things may get dicey in 2 years.
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Old 10-26-2017, 05:33 PM   #82
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It's not just the Adirondacks. There is currently a large SAR effort happening in Leicester NY, (near Rochester) with many rangers and DEC trained team volunteers (plus many untrained concerned local citizens) expending resources from all over the state.

Anyone can receive relevant news and press release items from the DEC (including past SAR activity, although general and archival in nature, not really up to the minute) by signing up through:
http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/65855.html
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Old 10-26-2017, 07:56 PM   #83
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Off topic? This search not even related to someone entering woods unprepared.
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Old 10-26-2017, 08:11 PM   #84
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Definitely luck of the draw! I passed by August 13 and September 13 and no one was present. Maybe there's a thing with number 13?

I still think anyone attempting to call DEC dispatch from there will be SOL.
Same for me. Once for sure. It was a high water day a very high water day and we needed to use the suspension bridge. The rangers were happy to hear we'd been across at Chicken Coop and there were no campers to check on.

Passing by the Interior Outpost is rare too. Most often I go upstream after arriving from the Garden.
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Old 10-27-2017, 12:56 AM   #85
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Off topic? This search not even related to someone entering woods unprepared.
No, my point has to do with occupying the limited time and resources of DEC rangers and SAR in the state both in and outside of the adirondacks, where they might otherwise be available to assist those entering the woods (of the Adirondacks or elsewhere) unprepared. It is not just the unprepared who require SAR and ranger assistance.

Every incident in the state counts toward the statement that:"roughly one SAR operation a day last year and keeping an even busier pace this year."That statistic applies to the entire state and the available resources that are occupied or consumed.
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Old 10-27-2017, 01:47 PM   #86
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Gotcha, thought of that point after I had posted and agree.
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Old 10-27-2017, 04:10 PM   #87
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I'd like to see that site or document.

A survey done many years ago (90's) reported more than 125K visitors to the High Peaks region. However then, allegedly, there was a decline. Nowadays, I'm not sure how they count visitors.

For discussion's sake, let's just say > 100K visitors.
I don't have a site or document, I was wondering out loud if one existed. Saying that the visitor #'s are the same as they were 10-15 years ago is an assumption, and I'd argue it is a faulty one at that.

You yourself acknowledge that rescue #'s have doubled since 2015:
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This year's tally is north of 350 incidents for the whole park. That's still a tiny fraction of the whole. However, it has nearly doubled since 2015 so, definitely a concerning trend.
And the article referenced earlier seems to indicate a similar trend: http://www.npr.org/2017/10/25/559987...d-for-the-wild

So there are indications that rescue incidents are on the rise as visitor #'s increase. They may represent a tiny fraction of the total # of visitors to the ADK's (whatever that total # is), but they certainly do consume a disproportionate amount of focus and resources from the state and local agencies.


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Ranger staff has not increased commensurately in the last 2 years.

If nothing is done to proactively decrease incidents, and ranger staffing remains at current levels, things may get dicey in 2 years.
You might be right that Rangers are understaffed. But increasing the Ranger force is a response to an ongoing problem, not a solution to it.
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Old 10-27-2017, 04:53 PM   #88
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I don't have a site or document, I was wondering out loud. Saying that the visitor #'s are the same as they were 10-15 years ago is an assumption, and I'd argue it is a faulty one at that.
I see. So you were "wondering out loud" about imaginary documents whereas I was making a "faulty assumption" about imaginary visitor trends. I guess we're in the same boat!


I'll have to do some digging to find the articles where I read the number of annual visitors passing through just ADK Loj last year was on the order of ~50K.

Even if it were only 50K visitors for the whole park, 350 incidents out of 50K is still statistically insignificant. Odds are it's considerably more than 100K visitors thereby truly dwarfing the number of SAR incidents. Basically 99.999% of visitors are incident-free.


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They may represent a tiny fraction of the total # of visitors to the ADK's (whatever that total # is), but they certainly do consume a disproportionate amount of focus and resources from the state and local agencies.
I agree. When there's a search, rangers are fully occupied with the task. However, I don't understand the use of the word "disproportionate". Not all incidents require the vast resources employed for the (for example) Alex Stevens case. If you peruse the DEC's incident reports, most cases are resolved in a matter of hours by the responding ranger (or rangers).

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.. increasing the Ranger force is a response to an ongoing problem, not a solution to it.
I agree. However, I think it'll have to be tackled on several fronts: more rangers, more visitor education, plus charges for rescue services when incidents are determined to be due to negligence or recklessness. That's a balanced mix of carrot and stick.
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Old 10-27-2017, 05:31 PM   #89
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I strongly believe that in days past (as touched on in the NCPR article), a minor leg injury or a bit of confusion at a trail junction was resolved by a short rest while munching on a snack, some determined thought while studying the map, picking up a stick to use as crutch, and ended as a "self rescue".

Recently, IMO, people say to themselves: "hey, I've got a cell phone, and the rangers are there to help me, so I 'll just make the 911 call and they will get me out of here." The easy way out. I can't help but think that way due in part to the high number of incidents being resolved within a couple of hours by a ranger or two.
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Old 10-27-2017, 08:19 PM   #90
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Lots of conjecture in this thread.

I think there's agreement on a couple of things.
  1. If the primary function of a ranger is SAR then that's an issue. There needs to be enough funding so that rangers can engage in proactive as well as reactive activities.
  2. If incidents have indeed doubled in the past couple of years then that's a worrying trend.

My gut feeling (FWIW) is to agree with Wldrns. I suspect the increase may be due to smartphone proliferation and increased signal coverage. Not necessarily a higher percentage of unprepared hikers.

But I suppose one could argue that the sense of comfort provided by a smart phone would encourage more people to enter the woods without doing due diligence.

TB, 350 out of 100,000 is 0.35%. Clearly SAR will always be necessary. But is 1 out of every 285 people insignificant? Not sure what an "acceptable" level would be.
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Old 10-27-2017, 08:27 PM   #91
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I don't doubt cell phones make it an easier decision between "Call for the cavalry." or "Spend an unplanned night out."

Apologies Wldrns but I'm about to say things you already know; it's intended for the benefit of others who don't. Cell phones are one of those double-edged sword deals. They definitely make it easier to avoid self-rescue, but they also help rangers find people faster. Some incidents are either resolved or simplified through 2-way communications. It's like many technological improvements; not all bad but not all good either.

Having said that, I'm on the same page as you on this issue. Some incidents seem so obviously avoidable and rescue requested so quickly that, if I were a ranger, I'd be at risk of spending way too much time at the local bar, trying to forget my day.


@avalanchePass
"Acceptable" is whatever society deems it to be. Let's not overlook that more people die of other causes (like when boating, swimming, riding an ATV or snowmobile) than from hiking. A lost hiker who dies gets a lot of press and much online debate. Drownings and off-road vehicular accidents disappear from the news cycle quickly. Society seems oddly tilted that way.
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Old 10-27-2017, 08:52 PM   #92
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TB.... the same may be said about the not-so recent-introduction of cheap hand held GPS units and the attitude and perception that therefore there is no need to learn map and compass skills (or to even carry them). I have seen reports such as when a woman made a call to tell rangers that she was tired after a long hike in, "please send a helicopter to come get me", and another (from out west, not the Adirondacks) where a pair of hikers called to ask how to use their GPS that was sill in the box, having just purchased it on the way to the trailhead.

Now that "everyone" carries a smart phone (I personally do not own one, don't plan to) to use as a GPS, the problem does not get any better. One need only look no farther than Carl Skalak to extend that to PLB devices. (I have been to the place where he left his canoe - you can easily hike out in the woods on a hunter's trail from there, even in deep snow)
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Old 10-30-2017, 10:47 PM   #93
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I see. So you were "wondering out loud" about imaginary documents whereas I was making a "faulty assumption" about imaginary visitor trends. I guess we're in the same boat!


I'll have to do some digging to find the articles where I read the number of annual visitors passing through just ADK Loj last year was on the order of ~50K.

Even if it were only 50K visitors for the whole park, 350 incidents out of 50K is still statistically insignificant. Odds are it's considerably more than 100K visitors thereby truly dwarfing the number of SAR incidents. Basically 99.999% of visitors are incident-free.



I agree. When there's a search, rangers are fully occupied with the task. However, I don't understand the use of the word "disproportionate". Not all incidents require the vast resources employed for the (for example) Alex Stevens case. If you peruse the DEC's incident reports, most cases are resolved in a matter of hours by the responding ranger (or rangers).
All I'm saying is that rescue incidents have risen in recent years. Your comments and other articles referenced on this thread seem to validate that, so I'm not sure what there is to argue about. Those #'s may be statistically irrelevant to the average hiker visiting the ADK's, but they're certainly not irrelevant to the Rangers and local law enforcement who have to respond to these calls.

My use of the word 'disproportionate' is warranted; even if only a few Rangers respond to the call, that's still taking up manpower from their normal education and enforcement duties. I believe you even stated earlier in this thread that the Rangers are spread thin as it is. So if that's the case, any rescue call is cutting into a Ranger force that is already being over worked.

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I agree. However, I think it'll have to be tackled on several fronts: more rangers, more visitor education, plus charges for rescue services when incidents are determined to be due to negligence or recklessness. That's a balanced mix of carrot and stick.
Education isn't going to keep visitors from doing stupid things in the ADK's, but if you want to have more of our tax dollars spent on that aspect because you're an optimist, go ahead and advocate for that. Charges/fines/legal punishment of some sort is needed to discourage negligent behavior in the wilderness....that is something you and I agree on.
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Old 10-31-2017, 10:12 AM   #94
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I see technology causing a huge step backward in terms of backcountry survival. I can't cite a particular instance but I guarantee there are plenty of inexperienced young hikers who encounter everyday events in nature and are immediately on their phone googling for answers. "How to get dry in the woods?" "What to do when my feet hurt." "How do I know where west is?"

It's false bravado. People think they can do anything they want anywhere, including the backcountry, as long as they have their digital appendage. Ask anyone younger than 35. Their smartphone has the answer to everything. Bring my smartphone and I am good to go, thank you.

Given how they are used, with limited exception I think smartphones are a danger, not a benefit, in the backcountry.
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Old 10-31-2017, 10:22 AM   #95
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I see technology causing a huge step backward in terms of backcountry survival. I can't cite a particular instance but I guarantee there are plenty of inexperienced young hikers who encounter everyday events in nature and are immediately on their phone googling for answers. "How to get dry in the woods?" "What to do when my feet hurt." "How do I know where west is?"

It's false bravado. People think they can do anything they want anywhere, including the backcountry, as long as they have their digital appendage. Ask anyone younger than 35. Their smartphone has the answer to everything. Bring my smartphone and I am good to go, thank you.

Given how they are used, with limited exception I think smartphones are a danger, not a benefit, in the backcountry.
I kind of agree, even though I do use mine as a gps sometimes. Interestingly, I read an article recently about how immediate access to information can actually change the way your brain processes it. It affects your memory. Essentially what happens is your brain becomes accustomed to having access to any information at any time, it treats it as transitory, and you have a harder time incorporating it into your long term memory.

http://academicearth.org/electives/i...ng-your-brain/
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Old 10-31-2017, 10:38 AM   #96
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I kind of agree, even though I do use mine as a gps sometimes. Interestingly, I read an article recently about how immediate access to information can actually change the way your brain processes it. It affects your memory. Essentially what happens is your brain becomes accustomed to having access to any information at any time, it treats it as transitory, and you have a harder time incorporating it into your long term memory.

http://academicearth.org/electives/i...ng-your-brain/
True!
Just the other day I was driving to a customer's house that lives about 40 minutes away and I couldn't remember how to get there. The year prior I had used the Google Maps app on my phone and it directed me right to the location, without me really paying a lot of attention to where I exactly was along the way. In years past, I would look up the street in the "Capital District Street Atlas" and plan my own route, forcing me to pay more attention enroute to the destination, and thus easier to remember how to get there.
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Old 10-31-2017, 11:21 AM   #97
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I kind of agree, even though I do use mine as a gps sometimes. Interestingly, I read an article recently about how immediate access to information can actually change the way your brain processes it. It affects your memory. Essentially what happens is your brain becomes accustomed to having access to any information at any time, it treats it as transitory, and you have a harder time incorporating it into your long term memory.

http://academicearth.org/electives/i...ng-your-brain/
My son was a late reader. Phenomenal, other worldly, off the charts memory pre-literacy. Post-literacy it has noticeably faded.
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Old 10-31-2017, 12:05 PM   #98
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I see technology causing a huge step backward in terms of backcountry survival. I can't cite a particular instance but I guarantee there are plenty of inexperienced young hikers who encounter everyday events in nature and are immediately on their phone googling for answers. "How to get dry in the woods?" "What to do when my feet hurt." "How do I know where west is?"
You can't cite an instance but you guarantee what you say is correct? So not even anecdotal evidence? That's quite a pile of soft sand you've chosen to build upon!

Not just sand but quicksand; there's little to no cell service in the backcountry. Googling requires a data connection. There goes your theory that "inexperienced hikers" are getting instant survival answers from Google (or Siri or any other cloud-based service).

Of course, if they plan ahead, they can download first-aid and survival manuals onto their phone. However, that only makes their phone more useful and not a "huge step backwards".

Quote:
Ask anyone younger than 35. Their smartphone has the answer to everything. Bring my smartphone and I am good to go, thank you.
I don't know who you've been talking to but the people I've spoken to aren't ignorant of their phone's limitations. Constant daily use makes one more, not less, familiar with its strength and weaknesses.

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Given how they are used, with limited exception I think smartphones are a danger, not a benefit, in the backcountry.
"Given how they are used" is based on how you think they are used and it's off the mark.
  • The majority of people I've met on the trail use their phones to take photos.
  • They may text someone (or call) if and when they get a signal (like on a summit).
  • They may transmit the photo(s) they took.
  • Sometimes they have a photo of a map that they use for reference.
  • Some have backcountry navigation apps that show their position, they record their journey, and display detailed maps.
  • They've used their phones to call for help. In several instances, the phone allowed DEC rangers to either determine the individual's location or provide the caller with instructions for self-rescue.

The misconceptions about how smartphones are used is the "danger". It serves as fodder for alarmists.
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Old 10-31-2017, 12:33 PM   #99
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Originally Posted by wiiawiwb View Post
I see technology causing a huge step backward in terms of backcountry survival. I can't cite a particular instance but I guarantee there are plenty of inexperienced young hikers who encounter everyday events in nature and are immediately on their phone googling for answers. "How to get dry in the woods?" "What to do when my feet hurt." "How do I know where west is?"

It's false bravado. People think they can do anything they want anywhere, including the backcountry, as long as they have their digital appendage. Ask anyone younger than 35. Their smartphone has the answer to everything. Bring my smartphone and I am good to go, thank you.

Given how they are used, with limited exception I think smartphones are a danger, not a benefit, in the backcountry.

technology has its pros and cons,
but using tech as you mentioned is no different than someone bringing a field guide with them into the back country
phone and access to information that comes with phones are a valueable tool, all a matter of how its used
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Old 10-31-2017, 01:16 PM   #100
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Much of our focus seems to be on the unprepared hikers that require rescue, which occupies a small percentage of the hordes of people who have descended upon the Adirondacks, but ignore the fact that the real issue is the failure of the state to support the mission of the DEC and increase the number of rangers. That is a bigger part of the problem IMO.
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