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  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedbump View Post
    BTW, have you ever hiked this section ? You cannot judge unless you were there.
    i have hiked this section.

    you cross an old gravel road and then head up hill.

    she stepped off the trail uphill from the gravel road.

    the common assumption is she forgot in which direction she stepped off of the trail in.

    but whether or not she stepped off the trail to the right of the trail or the left of the trail, to anyone with a clear head and the ability to think things through rationally, downhill was the way back to the gravel road. once back on the gravel road finding the AT would have been easy, or if at that point youve decided you didnt want to deal with hiking anymore and risk getting lost again, the funny thing about gravel roads is they have to lead to civilization.

    but she went uphill to look for a cell signal.

    and after 1 or 2 days, it never occurs to her to go back down to the gravel road.

    in a round about kind of way one can read this as dependency on her cell phone to save her actually contributed to her death.

  2. #82
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    in a round about kind of way one can read this as dependency on her cell phone to save her actually contributed to her death.[/QUOTE]say it ain't so? happens all the time.

  3. #83
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    My heart goes out to her husband. I met him at one point while he was waiting at a trailhead for her. He was passing out hand-carved tokens. I still have the one he gave me....

  4. #84
    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    ...once back on the gravel road finding the AT would have been easy...funny thing about gravel roads is they have to lead to civilization...
    If a gravel road leads to civilization, then it also leads away. So even if she had returned to the gravel road, nothing says she would have gone the right way to get back to the AT.


    So it makes sense that a person with a poor sense of direction could easily get lost. It makes sense that if you want to try to use your phone to call for help, try to go to higher ground. It makes sense that once you know you're lost, don't keep wandering about, sit tight and wait for help to come to you.

    The only thing that's not obvious is how searches came so close without Inchworm responding to them. Someone has already put forth something I'd call a "deer in the headlights" kind of theory. I guess it's also possible she was in a deep sleep, even in the middle of he day, anytime searchers were near by. This is perhaps the one part of the puzzle we might never know.

    However, one thing I'll mention that not many may realize, but in the woods, a whistle sound doesn't carry very well. I had been told that years ago by an experienced relative. I've since tried putting that to the test while out in the woods. I've found that if someone isn't line of sight to you, it's difficult to hear a whistle from them. Dense trees and hill sides between you and them do a good job of muting the sound.

  5. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedbump View Post
    Harsh CNeill. I got lost only a few miles from where she got lost. I stepped off the trail and the trail disappeared, that fast. I now carry bright pink ribbon to tie on a tree where I step off and do not loose sight of it. I was lucky, after an hour or so, I found the trail again. This can happen to anyone. Glad to hear you are perfect, with extensive back country skills. Inchworm did nothing wrong. Don't bash her. BTW, have you ever hiked this section ? You cannot judge unless you were there.
    I had a similar experience when camping just off the trail one time, but out of site of the tail. Surprisingly it was very hard to see the trail at that point the next morning. I went back and forth a couple times before I found a point where I actually could see I was on trail.

  6. #86
    Registered User Suzzz's Avatar
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    Blaming Inchworm's lack of this or lack of that is pointless, and in my humble opinion, a lack of respect. Who are we to judge her? Regardless of whether she should or should not have been out there by herself, that she may or may not have made a lot of mistakes, that she lacked the experience and knowledge necessary to get back on track or to find a way to make herself easier to find, that poor woman went through hell. Imagine sitting in your tent and coming to the realization that you'll soon be out of food and that no one is coming. And then, once you are out of food, you have days of being scared, alone, and hungry before you actually die. That's a horrible death.

    Instead of criticizing her mistakes or the search and rescue team's efforts, who no doubt worked their butts off to find her, we should learn from all this and strive to be safer on the trail. I always cringe when I read advice given to novice hikers on Whiteblaze about not needing a map or a compass because of the trail being so well marked or even worse, to save a few ounces in the name of the UL Gods. Nobody gets lost ''ON'' the trail. People get lost when they step ''OFF''. That's when you need your map and compass. All two ounces of them. I know, because I weighed them. Electronics are cool and everything (I love my Guthook's by the way), but they weigh a lot more and batteries die. Your map and compass will ALWAYS work. We should all make a point of learning how to use them. How many ounces is your life worth?

    Even though her diary provides some clues, we'll never know for sure what really happened out there, why she made the decisions she made, why the search party was unable to locate her and why some things may not add up to some people. Seems to me it was just a perfect storm. After being lost once myself for a few hours, I quickly realized that no matter how much experience, maps and gear you have, once panic sets in, things can rapidly take a turn for the worst and that might be what happened in Inchworm's case... or maybe not. We'll never really know. It's all very sad.

    Since my incident, I never set foot on a trail without a paper map and a compass and I get familiar with the map before heading out just to get a general idea of the area. Also, in addition to the Guthook's App, I carry a Spot. It may not keep me from getting lost but I'd like to think that I'm doing everything I can to be safe out there.

  7. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by D2maine View Post
    you wont use all that(lensatic compass, Ipad) for the AT, maybe if you got way off trail you would use the compass but the trail itself is basically a hiking superhighway marked with a blaze every 500- 1000 feet through the woods and signs at virtually every road and trail intersection.

    also most of the AT is so heavily covered with trees that there is almost no place to shoot good bearings making a lensatic compass virtually useless. just use a basic compass something like Suunto M-3D
    Well, i've worked in National Parks that have trails and areas that make the AT blazes and such seem positively primitive by comparison and sure enough, people would get lost on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure that one could easily make their way without problems but why take a chance? No matter where i'm going i will not head out without a map of the area at the very least.

  8. #88
    Registered User cneill13's Avatar
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    Everyone keeps harping on her directional skills which were quite poor.

    But no one mentions the obvious, she couldn't even start a fire. And she had two lighters.

    She didn't belong in the forest and she paid the ultimate price for her ignorance.

  9. #89

  10. #90

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    Quote Originally Posted by El JP View Post
    Well, i've worked in National Parks that have trails and areas that make the AT blazes and such seem positively primitive by comparison and sure enough, people would get lost on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure that one could easily make their way without problems but why take a chance? No matter where i'm going i will not head out without a map of the area at the very least.
    never said to not use a map or even recommended a compass so not sure of the argument, just letting you know its not nearly as bad out there as this thread makes it seem.

  11. #91

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    If a gravel road leads to civilization, then it also leads away. So even if she had returned to the gravel road, nothing says she would have gone the right way to get back to the AT.


    *snip*
    rule of thumb with logging roads in Maine...the intersections almost always point the way out. by that i mean rarely are intersections on the main logging roads at a 90 degree like a street, they are almost always are a y and the y points in the direction of town (easier passage for logging trucks is the reason).

  12. #92

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    Quote Originally Posted by cneill13 View Post
    Everyone keeps harping on her directional skills which were quite poor.

    But no one mentions the obvious, she couldn't even start a fire. And she had two lighters.

    She didn't belong in the forest and she paid the ultimate price for her ignorance.
    people do funny things when they are lost it induces panic and confusion even in experienced woodsmen. Often people who are lost make irrational decisions because of this so let her memory be a guide to help you clear away the panic and confusion if you are ever unfortunate enough to find yourself in a similar situation.

  13. #93

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    There is no single answer in navigation. I've had compasses fail: one literally pointed south after years of pointing north (a magnet had reversed its polarity), one or two others broke. I've found compasses people have lost. I had a set of maps blow away in a windstorm, others were damaged by water. I've ended up walking off my maps for one reason or another. Sometimes maps are wrong. Smart people make mistakes reading maps. I had a GPS freeze up permanently once, too. Can't recall ever running completely out of battery power, but it can happen.

    Maps, GPS, compass: they are all just tools, and all are useless if not used properly.

  14. #94

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    Quote Originally Posted by cneill13 View Post
    Everyone keeps harping on her directional skills which were quite poor.

    But no one mentions the obvious, she couldn't even start a fire. And she had two lighters.

    She didn't belong in the forest and she paid the ultimate price for her ignorance.
    I never build campfires when I'm out on my trips---neither in the winter or the summer---except rarely in Pisgah NF when the summer midges are so bad I need the smoke to keep them away. A fire is vastly overrated. Plus, I don't believe it was the lack of a fire which caused her death---more like starvation.

    See this report with this quote---(from Medical Examiner Report)---

    "The cause of death was “inanition” — exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment."

    https://appalachiantrail.com/2016020...aminer-report/


    Quote Originally Posted by D2maine View Post
    people do funny things when they are lost it induces panic and confusion even in experienced woodsmen. Often people who are lost make irrational decisions because of this so let her memory be a guide to help you clear away the panic and confusion if you are ever unfortunate enough to find yourself in a similar situation.
    So true. Reminds me of the time I hiked up a TN creek (Chickasaw Creek) which after a couple miles pours into Tellico River. I followed the creek to the River and stood on a little cleared bluff above the river. I turned around to go back and got into some rivercane---a jungle---and worked my way over to Chickasaw Creek and after about one hard hour ended up on that little Bluff right next to Tellico River! I went in a big circle but was convinced I was going in a straight line. Not nice to fool Uncle Fungus.

  15. #95
    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    I don't believe it was the lack of a fire which caused her death---more like starvation.
    I was thinking along the same lines when comments were made about her inability to start a fire. Then I realized that I think the point that was being made was she was unable to start a SIGNAL fire to let S&R locate her.

  16. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by cneill13 View Post
    Everyone keeps harping on her directional skills which were quite poor.

    But no one mentions the obvious, she couldn't even start a fire. And she had two lighters.

    She didn't belong in the forest and she paid the ultimate price for her ignorance.
    So, now at each trail-head, we are going to have Park Rangers giving tests on wilderness skills BEFORE anyone is allowed into the woods?
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  17. #97
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    Just read about the complete report somebody linked above.
    Obviousely she was very well equipped and had every piece of survival/emergency stuff one would carry on a hike.
    Three fire ignitors, whistle, spaceblanket, map and compass, flashlight, mobile, tent, sleepingbag. Water.
    She didn't mention any major injury in her diaries.

    Why she stayed lost and died will remain a mystery.

  18. #98
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    Just to hijack the thread a bit:

    Wasn't there a Boy Scout bashing thread a while back (years?) where pretty much everything, anyone has said in the above threads about how to get out of the woods was debunked as false? Such as:

    1. Follow a stream downhill to civilization.
    2. Follow any road out.
    3. Carry maps and compass - (forest may be too thick to see the features around you).
    4. Rub 2 Cub Scouts together to start a fire.

    Etc. etc. etc.
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  19. #99

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    There were 2679 posts in the original thread, and I doubt there is anything new to say or learn.

    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthr...light=Inchworm

    Let her rest in peace.
    Last edited by gpburdelljr; 11-23-2017 at 15:16.

  20. #100

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    In hindsight, it does seem odd that one gets on a trail to hike thousands of miles, gets lost, and then stops. Why not just start hiking in the woods. Eventually you hit something, right? In that area how far could it have been to a major road? Was it really that far?

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