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Old 08-30-2010, 11:57 PM   #11
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Re: Lost and found in Death Valley

Dave.

I think your right that they were just tourists that followed the GPS.. The problem is that we become so use to technology and trusting of it that we have lost the basics. We have lost math to the calculator, we have lost the art of photography to the point and shoot auto focus and we have lost navigation to the GPS, to name but a few. I was at a birthday party for some six year old girls and we had a game where they had to follow a compass to get clues to the 'treasure'. Heck most of the parents who were 'helping' couldn't hold a compass let a lone take a bearing.

My wife and I were out in Utah on a six week drive-about and marveled about 'being off the grid' for so long. 15 years ago there wasn't a 'grid' to be on. (at least not the communications type). If you get in country on a GPS and it breaks you better have a way to get out.

Now I am not a 2012 believer or think that the magnetic poles will change position next weekend but the reality is that technology fails. And when it does its a BIG accident. Its not just a 'fluke' either, accidents are actually NORMAL. If you don't believe me, read 'Normal Accident Theory - Charles Perrow'.

Many people are getting into situations that are way beyond safe, but think they are OK, because we have the buffer of technology and that isolates us from the reality. Just look at ABS.. GREAT idea but if you don't know how to drive in the snow and ice you shouldn't be out there because when the ABS fails to work right.. its a big accident.

I hope that anybody on the board who goes off tarmac makes sure that they have a map, a compass, a flashlight to read it at night and a reflective mirror. If you can throw in a fire starter kit, a personal water purifier and a good knife, all the better. People have died because they were lost 3 miles from civilization. Having done several survival schools and some actual survival I know all to well how quickly you can die. Yes they were tourists and we probably think they were 'stupid' but lets take the opportunity to learn from the mistake. Thankfully this turned out OK but it had all the trappings of a disaster.

Lets make sure nobody here gets in the news.

Rant over
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Old 08-31-2010, 07:03 AM   #12
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Re: Lost and found in Death Valley

This was an accident.

Somehow, incidents like this always become morality tales about the perils of modern technology and the generally wimpy state of modern society.

I don't get it. There is no doubt, at least in my mind, that improved technology has enabled more people than ever before to safely and responsibly explore the great outdoors. There have always been and will always been knuckleheads that get lost, litter and perhaps end up dead on a remote road in DV. But I'll bet any amount that there were more dumb or tragic incidents like this in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s (relative to the number of visitors and the general population) than over the past decade.
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:23 AM   #13
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Re: Lost and found in Death Valley

Bottom line in my opinion? Death Valley legitimately earned it's name long ago and will continue to do so. It was not a name given to draw in tourists, it is a statement of fact. It is unforgiving to the unprepared, and occasionally even to the prepared that have unforeseen incidents.

I will give the people in question some credit for doing some smart things after they got into their predicament. It at least appears there was no panic which usually directly results in a recovery mission rather than a rescue mission.


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Old 08-31-2010, 10:37 AM   #14
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Re: Lost and found in Death Valley

Reliance on technology (and the expectation that it will save you) is obvious a problem and a growing one. I read about an incident in Grand Canyon last fall where some hikers used their emergency beacon three times during a backpack, calling in helicopters each time:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/scien ... parks.html

But stupidity is not new. Back in 1971, a friend and I were on a week-long backpack in the Lake Italy area of the Sierras and then hiked cross-country over to the Bear Lakes basin. There is a spur trail from the John Muir Trail up toward these lakes (but which ends half way up and deteriorates into a fisherman's trail) and, toward the end of the week, we were hiking down this trail headed back out to our car. Halfway down the trail, we came upon a couple of backpackers coming up the trail. After saying hello, one of them asked us how far it was to Rose Lake. We told them that we weren't aware of any lake by that name in the Bear Lakes basin. It was when they asked about Seldon Pass that we realized that they thought they were on the John Muir Trail....they were over a mile off of the John Muir Trail and we were the only backpackers in the area. I wonder how far they would have hiked before realizing that they were lost....
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Old 08-31-2010, 12:29 PM   #15
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Re: Lost and found in Death Valley

There are several people who donít even know what magnetic declination is when reading a topo map. With my altimeter, compass and topo maps I never got lost but I have seen other packers with the same equipment get way off course. Maybe itís a lack of common sense or knowledge. Only those people know why they did what they did.

I do think these people did well with the X and arrow move, but were a little weak on the point of no return routine. Plus driving through DV at that time of year, why they didnít have some backup supplies especially water is beyond me. I gotta agree with Herb on this one, DV can be like quick sand.
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Old 08-31-2010, 02:52 PM   #16
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Re: Lost and found in Death Valley

Roonie referenced this article:

Quote:
Interesting article however....

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/27/opini ... .html?_r=1

Here's some interesting follow-ups on the opinion about making wilderness safer at National Parks Traveler:

http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/20 ... -safer6480

http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/20 ... -parks6467


We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
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Old 08-31-2010, 03:27 PM   #17
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Re: Lost and found in Death Valley

And I can't resist posting this qoute from the famous desert curmudgeon:

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"A venturesome minority will always be eager to set off on their own, and no obstacles should be placed in their path; let them take risks, for godsake, let them get lost, sunburnt, stranded, drowned, eaten by bears, buried alive under avalanches - that is the right and privilege of any free American."
~Edward Abbey~
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