Spot, Phones and GPS are Threats

General Palm Springs area.

Re: Spot, Phones and GPS are Threats

Postby zippetydude » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:03 pm

I agree Ed, anyone can make a wrong turn in the wilderness. Sally, I think your point about having a Spot to let family know you're okay is pertinent.

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Re: Spot, Phones and GPS are Threats

Postby Ed » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:13 pm

Richard,

As you know, a number of people have fallen down the north side of Baldy in the winter, and their bodies found several days later. Every time it occurs I wonder if they perhaps survived the fall, and could have lived if they had a satellite-based SOS device. The reports are never detailed enough to draw a conclusion.
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Re: Spot, Phones and GPS are Threats

Postby zippetydude » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:14 pm

A local mountain biker crashed off of Skyline Drive over by Corona and definitely survived the crash (he called his wife). It was ultimately concluded that he died of hypothermia overnight when they could not locate him in the darkness. It seems certain that a locating device would have saved his life.

That being said, I don't always take my Spot with me on every outing. I crashed on my mountain bike back in March, broke 4 ribs and was knocked unconscious. When I woke up I was coherent enough to find my way back, although it was difficult at first because the left side of my field of vision was glowing purple spots. First time I've "seen stars". Still, I would not have activated my Spot, even if I had it with me, unless I found myself incapacitated. I think most people who actually have to get rescued are not only doing so legitimately, but they are the exact people that SAR and other rescue organizations exist to serve.

The few rare cases where people inadvertently get stuck due to bad luck or miscalculation shouldn't tarnish the value of locating devices or make everyone who ever needs a rescue to be looked down upon. And if people are taking a few more risks based upon the knowledge that they at least have the potential to be rescued, I have to believe that there must be thousands of cases where it worked out fine compared to the rarity where a rescue was required. For example, I was almost bitten by a rattle snake a few years ago way out in the desert while on a 20 mile trail run. I got a PLB right after that. It was either that or don't go at all, and I don't think not going at all is a reasonable choice. I still haven't needed a rescue, and my adventures continue. I am grateful that there is now technology that simplifies and speeds up the process of taking care of each other when someone is in need. :D

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Re: Spot, Phones and GPS are Threats

Postby Wildhorse » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:17 pm

One of the notes to the wilderness.org article is to a story in the nytimes, and story contains a nuber of interesting quotes, like this one:

“Because of having that electronic device, people have an expectation that they can do something stupid and be rescued,” said Jackie Skaggs, spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming."

The rangers don't appear to argue with the safety benefits of carrying electronic devices, even while explaining the threats they also pose to wilderness.

Their observations jive with my own when volunteering as a ranger, when leading hikes and when listening to the hiking tales and rescue experiences of friends and other acquaintances.

Here is the nytimes link. https://mobile.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/s ... Technology
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Re: Spot, Phones and GPS are Threats

Postby Ed » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:49 pm

zippetydude wrote:I crashed on my mountain bike back in March, broke 4 ribs and was knocked unconscious. When I woke up I was coherent enough to find my way back, although it was difficult at first because the left side of my field of vision was glowing purple spots. First time I've "seen stars".


Ouch!!!
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Re: Spot, Phones and GPS are Threats

Postby Hikin_Jim » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:36 pm

zippetydude wrote:That being said, I don't always take my Spot with me on every outing. I crashed on my mountain bike back in March, broke 4 ribs and was knocked unconscious. When I woke up I was coherent enough to find my way back, although it was difficult at first because the left side of my field of vision was glowing purple spots.
Well, I have noticed that the lucidity of your posts has increased greatly of late. ;) :lol: :lol:

Dang, though, (all kidding aside) that's a big ouch. That's the reason I stopped mtn biking, especially solo. I just felt like my poor old bones might no do so well in a crash. With my reflexes (or lack thereof), a crash is, eventually, inevitable.

zippetydude wrote:A local mountain biker crashed off of Skyline Drive over by Corona and definitely survived the crash (he called his wife). It was ultimately concluded that he died of hypothermia overnight when they could not locate him in the darkness. It seems certain that a locating device would have saved his life.
Oh, wow. Yeah, that was my biggest fear when my dad was missing: That he had gotten injured, was holed up somewhere, and that we might not find him in time.

I had a near miss on "Two Snake Peak" (see: Trip Report) when a rattler let loose right under my feet. There was no way he could have bitten me, given that I jumped 12 feet into the air, farther than a snake can strike, but none the less it was a close call. There was dense brush, and I could see neither my feet nor the snake. Of course it was nice to lose all that extra weight I was carrying, but I typically like to dig a cathole first for that sort of thing. ;)

I, alas, have been the target of three SAR operations. :oops: The first, in 1984, was not my fault! :lol: My dad planned the route and had the map. I'd never let someone get by with that now-a-days. We went out on a day hike and came back after three days. That was as close to death as I have come. :shock:

The second one was my fault, maybe 1998 or slightly earlier. I was climbing some snow bound peaks in Nevada, tweaked my knee, and took far longer to get down than planned. It got dark; I got cliffed out; I was wet; and the wind was blowing. I got a little freaked out and called SAR. They came up in the middle of the night and hiked me out. :oops:

The third was kind of my fault. It was about a decade or so ago. I hadn't been out hiking for a long time because my wife was preggers at the time. After she gave birth, I left her in the care of her mother, and I went out for my first hike in what felt like months. I guess I got a little excited and did more miles than I should have. I missed my check in time. My wife called SAR. It was a completely unnecessary call out; I was merely delayed but had no way to let anyone know. I finally got cell service and told the SAR guys to stand down, but they insisted on sending a truck to meet me at the Idlehour trail junction on the Mt. Wilson Toll Road. I had my head lamp, and they were able to track my progress as I approached them. I apologized profusely, but they were most gracious. They even commended me because I was exactly where I said I'd be. I file a trip plan map (example) with my wife before I go out, and I stick to the plan unless I just absolutely am physically unable to. All that to say that the options that one has with an InReach to truly communicate (rather than just on or off as in a PLB or just on, off, and "OK" on a SPOT) are pretty attractive. Just expensive as heck.

As far as risk taking is concerned, I'm very risk averse. I could have easily died on that trip in 1984, and my dad did die on a trip in 2004 (almost exactly 20 years later, oddly enough). I am very risk averse. I'm typically meticulous in my planning and well prepared in terms of the equipment I carry. My PLB sits in the bottom of my pack every hike, but it influences my planning and execution not at all.

My GPS on the other hand does see a fair amount of use. I typically use it a) as a recorder and b) as a sort of make-shift altimeter. I typically don't use it to actually locate myself although occasionally I will. I like map and compass and do reasonably well with them. I try to stick with those so as not to lose my abilities. I think, particularly for trip planning purposes, that knowing how to read a map is essential. Many a mishap could be prevented by good planning.

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Re: Spot, Phones and GPS are Threats

Postby Ed » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:45 pm

Hikin_Jim wrote:I, alas, have been the target of three SAR operations.


Your life has been entirely too exciting, HJ. Very sorry about your father. I think Sam Page may have mentioned that he lost his father to a mountaineering accident. In his presence, I think. I suspect Ellen is pleased to know that she does not have the maximum number of SAR's here.
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Re: Spot, Phones and GPS are Threats

Postby Hikin_Jim » Tue Jul 18, 2017 5:19 pm

Ed wrote:I suspect Ellen is pleased to know that she does not have the maximum number of SAR's here.
Well, at least I'm keeping them down to less than one per decade. :lol: :roll:

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Re: Spot, Phones and GPS are Threats

Postby zippetydude » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:49 pm

HJ, I really appreciate your candor. There are several people I know personally who have been rescued, and every single one of them has my full respect as a responsible outdoor enthusiast. Including you (now!). I would love to say that I have planned so well that it could never happen to me...but lightning would strike me immediately.

I was once exploring just above South Fork Meadows (aka Slushy Meadows) and I jumped down off of a fallen tree trunk I had been standing on. Something in my ankle made a snapping sound and I had to use a branch as a crutch to hike the 3.4 miles back to the trail head. A little bit louder snap, and I would have been lying a few hundred feet off the trail, unable to move, until I was either discovered or dead. We all have to take chances to be out in the wilderness.

Ellen is one of my favorite outdoorsy friends of all time, and her SAR helicopter flights take nothing away from either my respect nor our friendship. Others on this board have had similar experiences. Even Walt, who was a meticulous planner that warned me that my fast moving ways might one day get me into trouble, was lying on his back just above Flat Rock when I met him in person. Turned out that a fluke incident involving his backpack accidentally tipping over and dumping his remaining water bottles down a steep incline had left him high and dry. I happened to have plenty and we hiked the rest of the way together. It was actually a very bonding experience. After he had filled up on my extra water he assured me that he was fine and wished me well on the rest of my run. We kept hiking together. He expressed the same sentiment a couple more times with the same result. Walt is no fool. He stopped and looked at me.

Walt: "You have no intention of leaving me until we reach Long Valley, do you?"
Me: "No."
Walt: "Well then I'm buying you a beer!"

Friendships are forged in moments of hardship. SAR members don't volunteer grudgingly, and I hope that their actual risk is small. But rescues are almost uniquely a human endeavor, and any time there is a soul adventurous enough to get up off the couch, turn off the (accursed) TV, and go out into the wild, I applaud them. If a PLB or Spot makes them feel safe enough to go try something wonderful, so much the better. I am not against Wildhorse, people need to have some sense of propriety. But, to quote Van Gough, "I would rather die of passion than of boredom."

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Re: Spot, Phones and GPS are Threats

Postby Wildhorse » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:18 pm

Z, I was making no argument against risk taking or calling for rescue in an emergency. The rangers did not either. Their observation had to do with the threats that technology poses to wilderness and to the experience of wilderness, an experience in which risk is essential. In addition, the technology that threatens wilderness includes rescue devices, but is not limited to them.

It may be worth noting too that a concern for wilderness is not a humanist concern. Human interests are not the primary value involved in wilderness designations. The ranger comments in the linked articles reflected their concern for wilderness.
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