Article -Student stranded for 5 days near Grand Canyon grew desperate

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A Texas college student stranded for five days near the Grand Canyon says she was making farewell videos for her family as she grew desperate for help.

Arizona authorities say 24-year-old Amber VanHecke was well-equipped and did everything right after getting lost in a remote area during a solo road trip.

VanHecke said in a Facebook post that she was heading to a hiking trail but was led astray by her maps app and wound up in the middle of nowhere with an empty gas tank.

How ‘well-equpped’ are you if you’re relying on apps to figure out where you are and where you’re going?

It seems like more and more of these stories reference people placing their faith in their technology to guide them. Look, I love me some GPS as much as the next guy…but I always look at a real map beofre dumping myself into unfamiliar terrain. And I take a compass and a copy of that map with me. And I establish baselines to keep me within certain areas.

I’m also a little unclear…if she tried to chase down a truck, that means she knew where a traveled road was, right? So youldn’t you just head to the traveled road and walk it until more traffic came along? Clearly the road must have been within walking distance since she was able to see the truck on it. Lotsa details here are missing, but I’d be interested in more.

This is another of the very few cases of didn‘t stay with the car and things turned out well. However, the article seems to imply rescuers found the car first and then the girl.

Article – Lehigh Valley woman ate twigs, drank urine to survive

The Northampton Community College professor who survived more than a day exposed to Grand Canyon snow and freezing temperatures made it in part by eating pine tree twigs and drinking her urine, her twin sister said Sunday.


Karen Klein, who will turn 47 on New Year’s Eve, was in stable condition in an intensive care unit at a Utah hospital, her sibling, Kristen Haase, said Sunday.

Haase, who lives in Narberth, Montgomery County, and also teaches at Northampton, said her sister has taken wilderness survival training. But all the preparation undoubtedly couldn’t have prepared Klein, her husband Eric, 47, and their 10-year-old son Isaac for the rigors of a vacation out West that turned nearly deadly. The Palmer Township family’s rescue took place in a remote area of the Grand Canyon’s north rim, near the Utah-Arizona border.

Hiked 30 miles in the snow, got lucky, and stumbled across a cabin. Note that she’s in intensive care but the people who stayed in the car were treated and released. On the other hand, you might argue that the folks in the car would have suffered worse if rescuers didnt know where to find them without the womans input.

But, the takeaways: Gear in the vehicle and Stay with the vehicle.


Article – ‘When you find my body, please call my husband,’ missing hiker wrote

Well, thats just depressing.

The haunting note, dated Aug. 6, 2013, was written on a torn-out page from a journal.

“When you find my body, please call my husband George and my daughter Kerry. It will be the greatest kindness for them to know that I am dead and where you found me — no matter how many years from now. Please find it in your heart to mail the contents of this bag to one of them.”

The bag included a cellphone and the journal.

Geraldine Largay wrote the plaintive message to her family nearly two weeks after she went missing while hiking the Appalachian Trail in Western Maine, according to the official file on her disappearance released Wednesday by the Maine Warden Service.

It appears that Largay, who was 66 and lived in Tennessee, survived for nearly four weeks after she was reported missing and three weeks after authorities had given up the search, which was one of the largest in Maine Warden Service history.

It sounds like, other than a bad sense of direction, that this chick had a pretty good head on her shoulders. I’ve no idea of what her gear list comprised, but the article almost makes it sound like she was unable to build a fire. Rough story. When I’m off in the boonies I always take a couple handflares along. Great for signalling, sure, but also an awesome way to get a fire going. Then again, I also take compass and map along as well and try to establish some baselines in case I do decide to step off the trail.

Sad story. Tough to lose your wife, tougher to lose her in such an anguishing way.

Followup – Wife stranded in desert was prepared to die next to husband

A followup to this post/article about a couple that got stranded in California.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A woman stranded in her car for two weeks in the Southern California desert in May said she forgave her husband for making a wrong turn and was prepared to die with him.

“I told him, ‘Honey, we all make mistakes. We all make wrong choices.’ That’s all that was,” Dianna Bedwell said Friday after the memorial service for Cecil “Paul” Knutson, who died a week into the ordeal. “We had 29 wonderful years together. If we make it out, fine. If we don’t make it out, fine.”

Touching. Eight pounds of oranges must last a while, but I can’t imagine being diabetic and having nothing to eat but oranges and pie….thats like having a choice to either starve or eat radioactive cheeseburgers.

There’s a couple lessons in this story, and they’re really the same as in most of the other ones: let people know where you’re goin, your route, and pack some supplies.

Article – Texas family of 10 rescued in West Pioneers

BUTTE – Search-and-rescue teams rescued a family of 10 from Lefors, Texas, after they got lost during a hike in the rugged mountains of southwestern Montana.

Beaverhead County Sheriff Franklin Kluesner said two boys, ages 13 and 14, hiked several miles for help June 19, two days after the family got lost in the mountains near Wisdom. The family was out of food and water by the 18th and resorted to drinking stream water.

The boys and a 41-year-old man caught frogs, cooked and ate them on morning of the 19th, and then headed for help. The man collapsed along the way, but the boys continued on.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around a family of ten….let alone the hiking part. Ten people isnt a hike…it’s a patrol. Who wrangles eight kids along a trail?? At least the Irish twins were old enough to go out and bushwhack their way to help.

Anyway…I’ve been down that way and, like much of backcountry Montana, its awfully pretty but, as Blaine famously said, “You lose it here, you’re in a world of hurt.”

Note the detail about everyone being sick from the water. You’ve got no idea whats upstream….dead animals, various fecal adventures, a Bronx zoo of bacteria and pathogens, etc, etc. Twenty bucks gets you a LifeStraw that will let you drink from a Calcutta sewer. I keep one in all my outdoor packs. Bad enough getting lost in the woods, who needs to compound that problem with a bad case of the runs?

Also, note that not only were the trusting GPS, they were trusting phone GPS, which is even more sketchy. Map and compass, man. Even if they’d just found a couple baselines (like a river or road) to establish they probably coulda saved themselves some grief.

As we taught the kids in hunter safety, you gotta have some respect for mom nature ’cause she sure doesn’t respect you.

Article – Couple missing for 2 weeks found in California wilderness

WARNER SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) — A couple missing for two weeks were found Sunday in a remote part of San Diego County with the elderly husband dead and his wife severely dehydrated, after surviving on just rain water and some food, authorities said.

Cecil Knutson, 79, Dianna Bedwell, 68, were found near a Boy Scouts camp on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation near Warner Springs, sheriff’s Lt. Ken Nelson said.

Knutson’s body was near a white car and Bedwell was inside the vehicle, he said.


That last sentence is curious. So the white car was not the same one that the woman was in? Did the woman stay with the vehicle and the husband went off for help and found another car?

Perhaps staying with the vehicle isn’t so great an option when the clock is ticking on your need for insulin. Bad story all around. Be interesting to follow this and get more details.

Article – Missing sisters survive 2 weeks in woods on Girl Scout Cookies, cheese puffs

LUCE COUNTY, MI — Two sisters who were missing for nearly two weeks in a remote area of the Upper Peninsula survived on Girl Scout Cookies and cheese puffs.

Lee Wright, 56, and Leslie Roy, 52, were weak but otherwise seemed to be in good condition when a state police helicopter rescued them Friday from a two-track road in northern Luce County where their Ford Explorer became stuck in deep snow on April 11. The women stayed with the vehicle, which had died earlier this week.

Stayed with the vehicle and survived. This is almost, but not always, the case.  However, it is the outcome often enough that staying with the vehicle should be the preferred choice.

Link – SC man missing 66 days found in boat off NC coast

Interestingly, I as just re-reading In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex when this was brought to my attention.


A South Carolina man missing for more than two months was found alive Thursday off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

According to the Coast Guard, a German ship spotted Louis Jordan and his sailboat about 200 miles off the coast around 1:30 p.m. They took him aboard and notified the Coast Guard.

The 37-year-old was reported missing by his family on January 29. He was last seen in Conway, South Carolina on January 23.

As I was reading, an interesting subject came up…what was the longest that someone has been adrift at sea and survived? According to the book, a Chinese crew on boat transporting rice was adrift for over a year. During that time they lived off the cargo of rice until they were rescued.

In preparedness forums there are always folks who advocate for a ‘retreat at sea’, living on boats and roaming the world, going ashore at rare intervals, and living off what you catch in the oceans. Interesting thought but even if you discount the food and fresh water issues, maintaining a boat is a lot of work. Unless, of course, the boat is question is the Baychimo. Short version: the Baychimo was abandoned in 1931 when it became trapped in ice up near the Arctic Circle. After it was seen, boarded, and lost, reappeared, and generally wandered the ocean for the next 40 years. Built ’em tough, back then.

Back to this guy in North Carolina, I look foward to hearing his story. Especailly how in modern times a guy can remain lost off the coast of one of the most technologically advanced countries on the planet, and in one of the most heavily trafficked parts of the sea.

Folks you meet at CrossFit..or..How To Survive In The Woods

More CrossFit. Behold, a sweat angel:

20150109_184915This is what happens when after the workout you flop down on your back on the floor to try and get your breath back. This is also what it looks like, I would imagine, after the paramedics peel you off the floor and ship your carcass to the hospital.

But, more interestingly, the fella instructing the class had his own ‘lost in the woods’ survival experience that I was curious about. He got turned around while out hunting and wound up having to spend the night in the sticks as it dumped 13″ of snow on his position and the temperature clocked in around 0 degrees. He survived with no apparent injuries and was helicoptered out the next day. I asked him what happened:

Him and his hunting buddy drove up a forest service road way back into the boonies, they then parked and rode their mountain bikes further in, they then parked the bikes and hiked in on foot. They then split up, one guy heading up one ridge and one guy heading up the other. After a while he broke for lunch and as he was eating he spied a mule deer out of the corner of his eye. He chased after it and by the time he came up for air he realized he had gotten turned around. He wandered for a while, back tracking, climbing up and down the hills, before realizing he was well and thoroughly turned around.

The weather was starting to change and daylight was fading fast. He built himself a big fire , broke out his mylar blanket, and settled in for the night. He would alternate between getting wood for the fire and sitting on heated rocks to stay warm. His cellphone was dead and had minimal signal. At one point he tried it and it had just enough charge for him to get a GPS coord and to text those coords to his wife. But…he would have to make it through the night before help could get to him. The next morning he tried wandering towards what he thought was a road and as he did so the rescue ‘copter flew right over him on its way to the coords of his campsite. He was sure he’d screwed the pooch but they circled around again and he waved ’em down with his space blanket. The recovered him and got him to safety.

1383305_10203834820924062_7193706435147102802_nI asked if he had carried any special survival gear and he said it was just the mylar, nalgene bottle, celphone, firestarter, and the usual hunting gear….no extra clothes. He said he normally would have carried a spare cellphone charger with him but it was in his truck and they had taken his buddys rig to go hunting. What he did do, which made all the difference in the world, was once he realized he was well and truly lost he made camp while there was still light to see what he was doing and got a big fire going. He did mention that he will make sure to take his GPS along next time. (I’d go with map-n-compass as a backup, but Im not going to armchair quarterback this guy to his face.)

As you know, even when cell reception is too spotty for voice, text messages can often get through. In his case it made all the difference.

It was an interesting conversation, mostly because this is the first time I’ve actually gotten to talk to someone who had one of these experiences and it was quite interesting to hear the first-hand account. He also says, by the way, his subsequent hunting trips have not been as deep into the sticks as that one. His wife keeps him ‘on a short leash’, as he says.

My own experiences hunting and getting caught in bad weather tell me that while it is very easy to go overboard and encumber yourself with too much gear, there’s definitely a possibility of undergearing yourself as well. Its a tough balancing act to keep things light enough for tromping up and down mountains all day and having the gear you need when things go sideways. Something to think about.


Article – Dad, Sons Lost for 10 Days in Wilderness Found Alive

From Australia:

The trio was able to survive in the hot, muggy wilderness thanks to several factors. Lonkhuyzen carefully rationed their four-day food supply—they were down to their last bread slices when Wagner found them, the Guardian reports—and caught rainwater to drink in a plastic container. Lonkhuyzen also kept the family next to the car, set up eye-catching items around the vehicle in case search parties came by, and made the boys stick to a daily routine.

Another case of staying with the vehicle and everything turning out reasonably well.