Rescue on the Skyline Trail - Temperature over 120 degrees

General Palm Springs area.

Re: Rescue on the Skyline Trail - Temperature over 120 degre

Postby guest » Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:22 am

Very sad indeed, my condolences to the family as well. I commend them for attempting to help see this doesn't happen again, but, unfortunately, if history is any indicator, it will. Maybe it's human nature to want to take a pro-active role here, but let's not let the serious lack of either good judgement, lack of research, (sounds like they knew about the trail by taking lots of fluids & starting somewhat early), stubbornness, or whatever, but even the toughest desert rats would steer clear of this climb in those conditions.

Ed makes a couple good points. Maybe the farther was so concerned, he never attempted to try calling as he descended, if he did, reception is usually available. If they were not from the desert, then the heat would get them even earlier. And, it's almost impossible to run down much of lower Skyline, with 2 ft. steps, rocks, slippery sand etc.
So, it may have taken the farther a very long time to reach help.
Be interesting to find out what elev. they reached, (& how long it took the dad to reach help). This might give us an idea of their fitness / progress. If they were only at 4-5k, and started at 3:30am, they were probably cooked, and it was a particularly hot & humid night / day.
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Re: Rescue on the Skyline Trail - Temperature over 120 degre

Postby Ed » Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:17 am

I can't get my head around this. The picture on GoFundMe shows what looks like very intelligent, well-functioning people. I'm not any good at judging ages, but I would guess the age of the boy at 8-10. I did not know that you can die of heat stroke days after you were rescued, another yawning gap in my thin knowledge of medical issues. And why transport her to a Lake Arrowhead hospital? Surely the experts on treating heat stroke are in Coachella Valley hospitals.

I would have guessed that you can make a phone call from most places on Skyline, but my only experience is calling from Flat Rock and the Never Ending Ridge. Much of the material for the article seems to come from a relative. Relatives often refer to the subjects as 'experienced hikers', but that is quite a broad spectrum. Skyline in the summer is for people like bluerail at their peak, who are off the charts, not merely experienced hikers. As for checking conditions, the only condition you had to check was the calendar: it was August.
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Re: Rescue on the Skyline Trail - Temperature over 120 degre

Postby guest » Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:09 am

As mentioned, to have any chance of climbing to the tram in August, you'd have to be a trained, heat acclimated, lean machine, and move at a good pace.
Hat's off to the father, as descending Skyline in any wx is a challenge, he he descending into an inferno, making it very easy to trip, fall, hallucinate, etc.
Plus, with all the secondary trails, he must have been doing everything possible to make it down.

When I helped rescue a horse off the PCT a few summers ago, one of them succumbed to renal failure, (& sepsis from multi injuries). There's probably folks on here who know more about this.
I also remember hearing that kids can have a tougher time staying cool in certain conditions, and who knows how much liquids they were really consuming. I'm about 160lbs. and I can easily go through a gallon+ on this hike, and that's generally completing in 5 or so hours. They would have to carry like 12-15 lbs. of liquids, (if my math is right), just to get through, (& they looked like folks who would have taken 7-9hrs. in my experience).

Not to take away from this tragedy, but this is how trails like this get closed, permitted, etc.
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Re: Rescue on the Skyline Trail - Temperature over 120 degre

Postby cynthia23 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:53 pm

I agree with Ed that the phone situation makes no sense. Cell phones work up to 6k and people like this are not the type to ever be without their phones. My theory as to why the dad did not immediately call for help once he perceived his wife and child to be in trouble, but instead headed back down to 'get help'--I suspect, like a lot of hikers who get in trouble, he didn't want to admit that he was in a rescue situation by calling 911. I'm guessing by 'get help' he intended to get more water or something like that, then part way down, as the heat hit him, he finally acknowledged that the whole situation was a life-threatening emergency and did what he should have done in the first place and called for help. An alternative explanation is that he did call for help, and also headed down to try and quickly get more water, and that the news media just have it confused as they often do.

I also agree with Ed that relatives' view of what constitutes an 'experienced hiker' is likely not what people on this board would name as such. An experienced hiker would never have done something this utterly insane. As guest says, this is a hike for highly acclimated, wilderness savvy people only. I suspect the husband and wife who did this are like some of the people you see doing the Desert Museum in spandex--people who use it as a simple one hour workout. Nothing wrong with that, but it's utterly different from a dangerous all-day wilderness hike for which you need KNOWLEDGE and conditioning.

All the Skyline deaths are tragic, but in my opinion, this is the worst one ever. The only thing that could have made it worse is if the child died. Instead he has to live with the trauma of witnessing his mother die of heat stroke. He did not look more than six or seven to me, btw.
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Re: Rescue on the Skyline Trail - Temperature over 120 degre

Postby cynthia23 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:53 pm

Double posting, sorry.
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Re: Rescue on the Skyline Trail - Temperature over 120 degre

Postby Ellen » Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:55 am

:cry: :cry: :cry:

I am without words.
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Re: Rescue on the Skyline Trail - Temperature over 120 degre

Postby Cy Kaicener » Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:41 pm

From the Hiking Guy with slight adjustment
June to September – The majority of rescues and deaths happen in the summer, when the high’s can be around 110-120F. The park rangers strongly recommend NOT doing your hike during this time.
The best (and maybe the only) way to do Skyline is to start around midnight. , . The idea is that you hike the desert in the cooler nighttime hours, and get to a high (and cool) enough altitude by the time the sun rises. Look at the weather reports and calculate roughly 5F drop in temperature per 1000 feet climbed. Do the math to figure out a rough start time.
If the morning low temperature is near 90 degrees - DONT go
. Please visit my website at www.hiking4health.com for more information especially the Links.
http://cys-hiking-adventures.blogspot.com
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Re: Rescue on the Skyline Trail - Temperature over 120 degre

Postby Ed » Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:08 pm

You have far more experience than I do, Cy, I have only done Skyline 47 times. But I don't think the math is so favorable. The lapse rate tends to be under 4 degrees / 1000 feet, which is consistent with the tram's statement that the temperature difference between the valley and the mountain station is about 30 degrees. And the temperature low for the day tends to be around sunrise, or not long before. And if you don't know the trail you are going to lose time hiking in the dark.

The low and high for that day were 82 and 116. If they had started before the low, e.g., several hours before sunrise, and been able to gain 1000' per hour for 8 hours, hiking in the low 80's, they would have been ok. But that still takes very, very strong hikers well-accustomed to heat, and of course with a great deal of water, I would guess about 6 quarts per person, but perhaps more. And if you can't keep going uphill at 1000' per hour, you are, well, literally cooked.

But although my mind keeps wondering about the details, I have a basic reaction to this tragedy similar to Ellen's. I am speechless at the thought of a family of three thinking this was a reasonable thing to do.
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Re: Rescue on the Skyline Trail - Temperature over 120 degre

Postby Wildhorse » Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:22 pm

This is also the most sad Skyline story I can remember. From what I have read, it sounds like the mother risked and lost her life trying to save the life of her son. That whole area of the mountain is sad to me now.
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Re: Rescue on the Skyline Trail - Temperature over 120 degre

Postby cynthia23 » Sat Aug 17, 2019 9:46 pm

I agree Wildhorse, there's something almost haunting about it.

Ed, I was thinking about your puzzlement over the transfer to Lake Arrowhead some more, and while this is just pure speculation--I think it's possible the reason they transferred this poor woman to Arrowhead Medical Center was because they have an advanced burn care center. That's where everybody from the four counties is transferred if they are burned. If she got sepsis from heat stroke, it perhaps caused circulation to her limbs to shut down, with her extremities losing blood flow. That could cause the same kind of damage to skin and organs that being badly burned does, so that may be why they transferred her there.

But I don't think we'll ever have a good answer to why these two adults chose to do something this crazy. It's just heart-breaking.
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