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  1. #1941
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    One of the articles says a search team passed within 100 yards of her location. This might as well have been a mile since you can't see far into the woods. By the time that team got in that area she must have already passed on.

    One thing I'm not clear on is how much time passed between the day she became lost and when the search started?
    A "hasty search" was done on Wednesday afternoon by a small group of wardens and some volunteers. They walked the trail between the Spaulding Mountain and Poplar Ridge lean-tos. On Thursday the search was expanded both in scope and in numbers of searchers. False leads caused them to concentrate north of Spaulding Mountain in the first days of the search.

  2. #1942

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    I grew up in the area and have hiked thi section of trail. I offer the following:

    She was an experienced hiker in the trail.

    She had no experience off the trail.

    When you get lost, there is a period of panic. If you don't control panic, it can lead to trouble

  3. #1943

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    Sorry. Trying to edit this post on my phone. If you get off the trail here, every wood cutting looks alike, trails go nowhere, yellow blazes (town lines) can go on for days. Gerry got off the trail. This was not a good scenario for her. Nights were in the 40's. Then 0.60 inches of rain. Hypothermia. I don't think they found her in a tent.

  4. #1944

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    The wardens had a great deal of information that focused their search near Spaulding and further on early on in the search, which is much more treacherous terrain. It made sense to look there first.

  5. #1945
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasBob View Post
    A "hasty search" was done on Wednesday afternoon by a small group of wardens and some volunteers. They walked the trail between the Spaulding Mountain and Poplar Ridge lean-tos. On Thursday the search was expanded both in scope and in numbers of searchers. False leads caused them to concentrate north of Spaulding Mountain in the first days of the search.
    I maybe wrong here, it may have been Thursday that the search began. I have been watching the North Woods Law episode that followed the search and it is not clear whether it was Wednesday or Thursday.

  6. #1946

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    I think the rain hit earlier.

  7. #1947
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    Gerry may have been roaming elsewhere when the search party came thru the area that she was eventually found.

    I wish they would give more details, like whether or not she was with her tent and if they concluded there theories from a goodbye message.

    Early in my hiking experience, I was hanging my food bag far from my tent, when the sun went down. I was without a flashlight and without a jacket and couldn't find my tent. It was November, and It got cold fast.

    It's sad.

  8. #1948
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasBob View Post
    False leads caused them to concentrate north of Spaulding Mountain in the first days of the search.
    I felt that this was a mistake because if she had gotten that far, someone would have seen her during the day, or night. No one passed her after she left the shelter, so whatever happened, I thought it would be closer to where she was last seen.

  9. #1949

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    This is not exactly true. Some hikers thought they passed her near the summit of Lone Mountain. This mis-ID fueled the search to the north.

  10. #1950
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    Search dogs have the ability to pick up scents that are more then 1/4 mile away.

  11. #1951

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSpirits View Post
    Just a thought to keep in mind: news journalists don't always get it right.

    I listened to the press conference (several points at several times in fact, due to buffering problems), and I recall hearing the question asked if she was found with any gear -- and I recall the Lt. explaining that yes, she was found *with* her equipment...and that would all be examined according to standard practice and protocols...but I never heard any mention that she was found *in* her tent. I believe that particular detail would have generated a lot of follow-up questions and explanation, and there was none of that.

    So I think it's entirely possible that the writer of this article may have mis-written that seemingly small fact. It happens. But that has changed the "facts" of the story for everyone who get their 'facts' solely from a news article.

    I may in fact be the one who is wrong here, but I honestly don't recall any mention of her being IN her tent (much less her sleeping bag) and just have been wondering how that conclusion has been drawn.
    Exactly. Unless a warden said it in one of the press conferences, I think we have to assume she was not found in her tent or sleeping bag.
    "To take risks is to live, to be always safe and secure is certain death" - Edward Abbey

  12. #1952
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    Although the official explanation lacks details, I don't find it hard to believe. I saw reports she was found 300 yards and 6000 yards off the AT? Either way, pretty far for a whistle to be effective. A bad slip.and fall could leave you only able to get in your bag and drink the water you have, add some rain and it's over for you. So sad. Peace to her family and friends. ..makes me think twice about getting a plb.

  13. #1953

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
    And yet ... you did?
    OK...I fixed it!
    "Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it."
    - Henry Ford



  14. #1954

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    Quote Originally Posted by onecamper View Post
    Although the official explanation lacks details, I don't find it hard to believe. I saw reports she was found 300 yards and 6000 yards off the AT? Either way, pretty far for a whistle to be effective. A bad slip.and fall could leave you only able to get in your bag and drink the water you have, add some rain and it's over for you. So sad. Peace to her family and friends. ..makes me think twice about getting a plb.
    For what it is worth, I'm an experienced hiker and I passed out on the trail one July. It was the results of how I was eating and drinking, I did not have an appetite and I gorged on water at water sources instead of drinking throughout the last couple of days. When I awoke, I did not trust my GPS, map, or compass. I knew I was lost because I came to a road which should not have been there (I was familiar with the trail). I made a conscientious decision to go the wrong way on the road. After a couple of hundred yards I realized how stupid I had become and decided to put up a tent and try to get my act together. I was near where I should have been but no one would have guessed I would have gone in the direction I did. It all worked out. BUT, medically, I was not that far from having a different outcome. The medical examiner would not have found "stupid" in my remains. He would probably have found me dead of dehydration and exposure. Did this happen to inchworm? I DO NOT KNOW. This is only my real life experience.
    If you faint in the face of adversity then your faith is indeed small--Solomon

  15. #1955
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    Thanks for sharing mtn dog. I had a similar experience while kayaking. There have been a lot of posts here of disbelief that she could have gotten lost and then not been able to survive. Sadly, getting confused/lost happens a fair amount, even amongst the thru hiker ranks. Once off trail we're all one common medical event away from what happen to Gerry. Heck, about a month ago in Maine we had a man get lost for 78 hours after walking off the trail seemingly without all the dehydration/confusion part. He had thru hiked the AT.

  16. #1956

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    This was posted on MASAR's FB page within the last day by Deb Palman of Maine K9 services who has more credentials than you can count.

    "None of the SAR dog teams were closer than 250 feet from the body. At the time, they were tasked on "hasty searches," that is, to search a particular terrain feature, usually the drainage that was east of the campsite. The scent movement (wind or thermal currents) from the site determines whether or not the dog can detect the scent. When the one dog that got near the site in 2013 went by, the weather was foggy, rainy and wind was 0 mph, from the east if it blew at all. So the scent was not being blown to the dog team. In 2014, another team searched the drainage on a day with no wind, and had no indications of scent in the area. Another team later in 2014 had indications in the area and wandered in circles trying to work the scent out, but ran out of time and had to return to the command post by dark. The indications were reported, but not followed up on. Obviously the days teams searched were determined by searcher availability, not ideal scenting conditions. The area of the body was supposed to be searched the last weekend of August, 2015, but SAR resources were diverted to Baxter Park to search for John Lyon for 3 days. The terrain in the area of the body is extremely rugged and hard to negotiate with steep slopes, large boulders and thick softwood cover. The site is a 2-3 hour hike from the closest point you can get a vehicle, making it hard to spend time doing detailed searches. To complicate things, the body was on a knoll, which caused the scent to loft vertically away from the local area and fall some distance away. The prevailing N and NW winds, when they blew, caused a eddy over the Reddington Mountain range that distributed scent all over the valley north of the AT. The first summer dogs indicated all over the valley (as well as several people smelling a body as much as a mile away) due to this lofting and eddy effect, and the areas of these smells and indications were thoroughly searched. The problem was not that the dog teams didn't pick up her scent - we had many indications by dogs in 2013, three in 2014, and a half dozen or so in 2015, but they were all at a distance due to mountain air currents. Dog teams probably would have eventually located her body, but the limited number of qualified human remains dog teams that can work in that type of terrain (three or four volunteer teams and three state teams) make it a long process when most of the search time is being spent by volunteers. We were blessed that no dogs or people were seriously injured during the search. The body was in one of the few areas north of the AT that was not searched thoroughly (i.e. a grid search, not a hasty search). If the area had been grid searched by a dog or human ground search team, the body would have been found during that search. I'm very thankful she was found so the family and the searchers of Maine have closure. I am also thankful I don't have to lay awake at night planning the next search for Gerry."
    AT02, LT 03-04, BMT05, NPT06, Haute Route07, Abol Ridgerunner 07/08, EBC Nepal trek 10

  17. #1957
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    Thanks for posting bluebearee. This is a great chime in from Deb. She has been very active in this whole search and I respect both her and our dear K-9 friends. We've talked a lot about cadaver dogs here already. I want to point out a few things that aren't just my observation, but I interviewed a k-9 scent dog handler and trainer all about this. The site is not a 2-3 hour hike from closest point with vehicle. 1 hour in any commuter car and far closer if accessed from the navy base, as wardens had the permission. The save-face idea that she wasn't found because it was a hard to get to spot is simply wrong, its the opposite. Also, according to Lt. Kevin Adams map there were many many large swaths of land all over this area not grid searched. Also, I've smelled a cadaver up close and personal. I highly doubt (this is my opinion but I could be wrong here) that a human being can't tell the difference at more than a 100 feet away. Decay smells like decay. From a mile away as Deb mentions I highly doubt a human can smell a cadaver at all no matter what conditions. Things die all the time in the woods and an animal was what a person was smelling at that range. Finally, I'm not sure how Deb is defining 'the valley.' If the Orbeton stream area is the valley I could see dogs alerting in that area. Deb mentions her dog alerted on Banjum road. The professional dog handler I interviewed said a 1/4 mile or less was the maximum effective range and it would take "a miracle" for an accurate alert at anything approaching a mile. Banjum road is at least 4 miles to the east. Deb more or less makes this admission near the end. Just trying to keep the facts straight. K-9s are a valuable addition to a search like this, but a search like this isn't a K-9s strong suit.

  18. #1958

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    I hesitated to critique anything she said Starfly, but I just said the same thing to my husband this morning. That area is not a 2-3 hours walk from a vehicle. People were slackpacking this section on my 02 thru, and they were being dropped a mile east on the RR Rd and walking to the AT to head north or south. My impression was that it took about an hour for the hostel owner to drive from Rangeley to get to that point of drop off. And I, like you, have driven in the Barnjum Rd, parked, walked a mile west and hit the AT north of Orbeton and the RR Rd, and while the logging roads to get in there were rough, it was completely doable and the walk on the "trail" part of Barnjum was flat and swift. Her words definitely illustrate the limitations & challenges with using dogs.
    AT02, LT 03-04, BMT05, NPT06, Haute Route07, Abol Ridgerunner 07/08, EBC Nepal trek 10

  19. #1959

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    Thank you Starfly and Bluebearee for the info. I have been confused as to where Wardens are saying she got off trail. They say she crossed Orberton Stream and RR Road and continued on the AT, then left AT? Didn't leave it at RR Road? As to the dogs, I have full respect for the dogs and their handlers and all they do to help people in need. That said, in this case, and not saying anything about Deb's report, but speaking about the findings in general, I may not be a dog, but I can smell a skunk.

  20. #1960

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    If a person is out of water and out of food the body does not have the fuel it needs to stay warm. Tents and sleeping bags don't produce heat. They slow the body's loss of heat to the environment. At some point, if the body is not taking in enough calories, internal reserves will deplete and there won't be enough energy to stay warm.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

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