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  1. #61
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    i think-----as the picture shows above------that what is there is sufficient....

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    Quote Originally Posted by scope View Post
    What is sufficient? I don't know what they look like up there, but no, not flashing neon. I'm sure what she passed would be obvious to most of us, but it wasn't to her apparently. There have been more intrusive things done to prevent deaths like this.
    As the quote goes... "You can't fix stupid".

    I don't say that implying the victim was "stupid". There are plenty of very smart people who are directionally challenged.

    After all, Inchworm's death was caused, in no small part, because she was directionally challenged, and I never one hear anyone call her stupid.


    But I do say it I say it to point out the Park Service can't account for every decision people are going to make.

    And in this case, the victim seemed to have made all the wrong decisions. I intentionally do NOT use the words "bad" decisions, because each decision on it's own was not necessarily a "bad" decision. But if any of these decisions had been made differently, she likely would have survived:

    1. Decided to hike without the 10 essentials. Something common for day-hikers, especially in this area.
    2. Decided to split up. Generally, GSMNP is not particularly dangerous for hiking alone.
    3. Missed the signs. EXTREAMLY hard thing to do, but apparently she must have been focusing on the ground at just the wrong moment.
    4. Turned Left on the AT. The sign pointing right would have said the tower, but she didn't want to go to the tower.
    5. Turned off the trail. Perhaps she saw a light and though that would lead to the road or parking lot. Had she turned right instead of left at the AT, that would have been the case (she would have been less than 1,000' from the road at the time she turned off the trail).
    Last edited by HooKooDooKu; 10-09-2018 at 14:01.

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    As the quote goes... "You can't fix stupid".

    I don't say that implying the victim was "stupid". There are plenty of very smart people who are directionally challenged.

    After all, Inchworm's death was caused, in no small part, because she was directionally challenged, and I never one hear anyone call her stupid.


    But I do say it I say it to point out the Park Service can't account for every thing that people do (or fail to do).

    And in this case, the victim seemed to have made all the wrong decisions. I intentionally do NOT use the words "bad" decisions, because each decision on it's own was not necessarily a "bad" decision. But if any of these decisions had been made differently, she likely would have survived:

    1. Decided to hike without the 10 essentials. Something common for day-hikers, especially in this area.
    2. Decided to split up. Generally, GSMNP is not particularly dangerous for hiking alone.
    3. Missed the signs. EXTREAMLY hard thing to do, but apparently she must have been focusing on the ground at just the wrong moment.
    4. Turned Left on the AT. The sign pointing right would have said the tower, but she didn't want to go to the tower.
    5. Turned off the trail. Perhaps she saw a light and though that would lead to the road or parking lot. Had she turned right instead of left at the AT, that would have been the case (she would have been less than 1,000' from the road at the time she turned off the trail).
    i would add an apparent unwillingness to backtrack after it became obvious she turned down a wrong trail.

    if you start at point A, hike to point B and then upon trying to return to point A end up at point C, going back to point B is a reliable, if not the shortest, way to find your way back.

    some people, myself included i'm sorry to say, seem hardwired to never see turning around and going back as the best solution. i might have opted to cut through the woods also at times, which is usually a bad idea.

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    i would add an apparent unwillingness to backtrack after it became obvious she turned down a wrong trail.

    if you start at point A, hike to point B and then upon trying to return to point A end up at point C, going back to point B is a reliable, if not the shortest, way to find your way back.

    some people, myself included i'm sorry to say, seem hardwired to never see turning around and going back as the best solution. i might have opted to cut through the woods also at times, which is usually a bad idea.
    Generally speaking, your logic holds. But put yourself in this hikers shoes when she reached the AT:
    You don't know the general area. You just spent about 1-1/2 hours hiking from point A to point B and it's 6:30pm. You don't have time to hike back to point B before the sun sets. You also know that the trail to the parking lot is not between point A and point B... you would have seen that. (Of course this is wrong in this instance... but just like so many people couldn't believe she missed the trail, she obviously would be thinking the same thing). The trail to the right leads to the tower, and that's not where you're trying to go. It's getting late, what should you do?

  5. #65
    Registered User scope's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    There is no substitute for knowing where you are going, and paying attention.

    The truth has to be..she didnt have a clue. Or visibility was poor.

    I walk by many trail signs, limited field of vision on one side.
    Agreed on all accounts. Might be both clueless and partial visibility.

    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    i think-----as the picture shows above------that what is there is sufficient....
    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    As the quote goes... "You can't fix stupid".
    I don't say that implying the victim was "stupid". There are plenty of very smart people who are directionally challenged.
    My point is a minor one, so I don't want to stir up too much here, but again, what is sufficient? Clearly there is a reason signage is there and for whatever reason, that solution to a previous problem didn't work in this case. Of course, its 99% on the poor lady who made the chain of errors, but if it prevents another death, or just the effort of finding a lost hiker, then it seems like something to consider to me.

    Ever watch the air disaster shows? Its always a chain of events that exaggerates the last 1 or 2 errors made. The NTSB usually attempts to provide solutions for each of the errors in the chain to prevent them from happening again, but often the solutions didn't work and they have to reevaluate why they didn't work and provide enhanced directive on them to give them a better chance of succeeding in preventing an accident.

    I agree, the signage there should be sufficient, but again, for whatever reason it wasn't. I'm just wondering out loud if the type of signage at certain locations should be made more obvious, rather than having to fit in with what we typically see on the trail. That perhaps would be an unfortunate consequence to a lot of us, but seems like if there is a "solution" here, its perhaps the least intrusive one I can think of. No, you can't fix/prevent individual error, you can only hope to contain it.
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
    - Kate Chopin

  6. #66
    Registered User scope's Avatar
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    p.s. signage that falls somewhere between a wooden sign with carved lettering and flashing neon; and perhaps more attention to clear cutting around current signage and using bright paint and reflectors to be able to see them from a distance - after all, it wasn't just the signs for the parking that she missed, apparently she was very close to signs that would've directed her to a shelter where she likely would've survived the night and probably receive assistance. I don't think we know how close she was to that after starting downhill. My guess is by that point, she would not have missed the signage had she come upon it, but who knows.
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
    - Kate Chopin

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Generally speaking, your logic holds. But put yourself in this hikers shoes when she reached the AT:
    You don't know the general area. You just spent about 1-1/2 hours hiking from point A to point B and it's 6:30pm. You don't have time to hike back to point B before the sun sets. You also know that the trail to the parking lot is not between point A and point B... you would have seen that. (Of course this is wrong in this instance... but just like so many people couldn't believe she missed the trail, she obviously would be thinking the same thing). The trail to the right leads to the tower, and that's not where you're trying to go. It's getting late, what should you do?
    of course panic is a problem.

    but that aside, there is no other possible explanation other than you missed a turn. none. zero. to insist you couldn't possibly have... you hiked a trail from point A to point B. theres a trail that goes from point B to point A. you hiked it once already. you have already hiked too far in the direction you are going to have not missed something.

    not realizing that is, to use your words, stupid. again, panic makes people not think clearly and this is not to imply a person who makes such a decision is generally a stupid person.


    i'll also add that if the speculation that she thought CD road was just downhill from her is true, that suggests she must have concluded she missed a turn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scope View Post
    My point is a minor one, so I don't want to stir up too much here, but again, what is sufficient? Clearly there is a reason signage is there and for whatever reason, that solution to a previous problem didn't work in this case. Of course, its 99% on the poor lady who made the chain of errors, but if it prevents another death, or just the effort of finding a lost hiker, then it seems like something to consider to me.
    disagree. one tragic incident out of how many countless other hikers have passed that sign without a problem is not a call to action.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scope View Post
    p.s. signage that falls somewhere between a wooden sign with carved lettering and flashing neon; and perhaps more attention to clear cutting around current signage and using bright paint and reflectors to be able to see them from a distance - after all, it wasn't just the signs for the parking that she missed, apparently she was very close to signs that would've directed her to a shelter where she likely would've survived the night and probably receive assistance. I don't think we know how close she was to that after starting downhill. My guess is by that point, she would not have missed the signage had she come upon it, but who knows.
    in all this discussion everyone seems to have discounted one possible thing-

    she could have seen the sign indicating the shelter and thought "oh crap, thats NOT where i want to go."

    the idea that assistance may be found there may never have occurred to her.

  10. #70
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    disagree. one tragic incident out of how many countless other hikers have passed that sign without a problem is not a call to action.



    that was my thinking as well........

  11. #71
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    If I'm the one driving, I pay attention to the signs. If you're the one at the wheel, and I'm just a passenger, maybe I will look at the scenery, work on my sudoku puzzle, or take a nap. Years ago, our family was traveling to central Oklahoma from east Tennessee (straight shot on I-40). An hour or so into the trip, I glanced up at a 2-digit mile marker and asked where we were (should have been 3-digits in the high 300s). The driver had taken I-75 toward Chattanooga. Of four adults in the car, all of us were "lost." The driver sorta knew where we were, but not how to get to Oklahoma.

    Similarly, if the daughter was leading this hike and mom is just walking with her, perhaps chatting nonstop with little notice of surroundings, mom may have felt no need to pay attention, reasoning that she'll just follow her daughter back to the car. Later, after they separate, mom wouldn't have adequate memory of how many intersections, which side they were on, or even general orientation with respect to the parking lot. She might not even remember much about up/down and how steep, because if you're going downhill, it's easy so you don't think about it.

    So now she's alone, going uphill. I don't remember that rock. Why don't I remember this branch laying across the trail? Was it here earlier? Climbing these steps is so hard, surely I would remember them. Disorientation, confusion, anxiety, intensifying to fear, panic, terror. From a situational awareness perspective, it could be said that many of us are "lost" most of the time.

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    in all this discussion everyone seems to have discounted one possible thing-

    she could have seen the sign indicating the shelter and thought "oh crap, thats NOT where i want to go."

    the idea that assistance may be found there may never have occurred to her.
    I don't want to say it's been "discounted"... after all, what you're talking about one of my theories at to why she turned left on the AT rather than right... that she saw the sign post at the AT intersection, and it said the tower that she didn't want to go to was to the right, so she went to the left.
    Here's an image I found of that sign.


    As you can see from the sign... it does say that the shelter is in the other direction. But it should have been about 6:30pm or later when she reached this sign. Too late to make it the 2.3 miles to the shelter.

    I also had not noticed before that this sign tells you the parking lot is 0.6 miles from the direction she just came. I can only assume that if she read this sign, that too was ignored because she wanted the "parking lot" not the road.

    The other thing I'm not sure at all is what were the weather conditions (fog in this case) at the time.



    In any case, it's been pointed out in the Hike the Smokies Facebook page that the National Park service always reviews these situations to determine if anything needs to be changed.

  13. #73
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    In any case, it's been pointed out in the Hike the Smokies Facebook page that the National Park service always reviews these situations to determine if anything needs to be changed.


    and i doubt (just a guess) that they wont change signs due to this incident.....

    i'm guessing it suggestions that they will put out will side on education and being prepared......

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    I don't intend to express my true feelings here but I definitely agree with Illabelle.I do not know anything about Mrs. Clements but I doubt she had much equipment or experience or local knowledge of the area.What happened should have never happened but it did and it was a tragedy for the victim and the family.If anyone wants to start a thread on their own personal experiences with hypothermia I would like to hear their stories.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    I don't want to say it's been "discounted"... after all, what you're talking about one of my theories at to why she turned left on the AT rather than right... that she saw the sign post at the AT intersection, and it said the tower that she didn't want to go to was to the right, so she went to the left.
    Here's an image I found of that sign.


    As you can see from the sign... it does say that the shelter is in the other direction. But it should have been about 6:30pm or later when she reached this sign. Too late to make it the 2.3 miles to the shelter.

    .
    i was thinking of another sign mentioned in this thread (perhaps no longer relevant) indicating that the shelter was .6 miles away.

    on one hand, to us, that sign says "you're nearly to someplace safe. likely with people who can help."

    to someone less experienced it might say "you're nearly to a strange place thats not where you want to be."

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    i was thinking of another sign mentioned in this thread (perhaps no longer relevant) indicating that the shelter was .6 miles away.

    on one hand, to us, that sign says "you're nearly to someplace safe. likely with people who can help."

    to someone less experienced it might say "you're nearly to a strange place thats not where you want to be."
    You're talking about the sign at the intersection with Goshen Prong.

    I don't think she made it that far.
    If she did, it would have already been after sunset and would have likely needed some sort of light source to read the sign or even continue much farther down the trail.
    If she had any light source, it likely would have been a cell phone, but if she had a cell phone, she should have been trying to use it to place a call... it's possible to get a signal from some providers at various locations along the ridge.

    But based on the combination of where she was found, an estimation on how fast she likely hiked, and sunset time... I think she went off trail somewhere between 1/2 mile and 1 mile before that intersection.

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    Physical limitations may have been exceeded for the day, hence the desire to head back to the parking lot. Add mental fatigue, ( foggy brain as I call it ) and a dash of unpreparedness , inexperience and a poor decision to go off trail , it all adds up to a recipe for a lousy outcome.
    Once the timeline of events have been constructed and the autopsy findings conclusive, we will then have a more precise barometer on what actually happened and when all went wrong.

    Condolences go out to her family for their loss , and too for what they have been through , hoping against all odds for a miracle.
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnybgood View Post
    Physical limitations may have been exceeded for the day, hence the desire to head back to the parking lot.
    Based on the daughter's report, we already know her goal was to return to the parking lot.

    It's speculation WHY she apparently missed or misunderstood the various signs she should have seen.

    Of course we don't even KNOW she ever walked passed the first sign to the parking lot... but based on where and when she started, where she was found, and what the terrain is like around there... the theory she walked the Forney Ridge/Bypass trails to the AT, turned left onto the AT, and then left the AT trail to descend the Huggins Creek drainage is the simplest solution of HOW she got to where she was found.

  19. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    This is the current signage:
    Attachment 43761
    There's two signs because at this intersection, the trail that continues strait (shown in the distance) becomes the Bypass trail (Forney Ridge turns right to the parking lot)...
    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    I don't want to say it's been "discounted"... after all, what you're talking about one of my theories at to why she turned left on the AT rather than right... that she saw the sign post at the AT intersection, and it said the tower that she didn't want to go to was to the right, so she went to the left.
    Here's an image I found of that sign.


    ...I also had not noticed before that this sign tells you the parking lot is 0.6 miles from the direction she just came. I can only assume that if she read this sign, that too was ignored because she wanted the "parking lot" not the road.

    The other thing I'm not sure at all is what were the weather conditions (fog in this case) at the time.

    In any case, it's been pointed out in the Hike the Smokies Facebook page that the National Park service always reviews these situations to determine if anything needs to be changed.
    I agree with HKDK on his assessment of what path she took. Offering another perspective on why...

    Perhaps she didn't want to go to the parking lot, but out of concern for her daughter, thought she better go ahead a hike up to the tower. There isn't a sign - not that I saw in these pics - at that first intersection that says how to get to the tower, but I presume she thought it was straight ahead and deliberately chose not to go right to parking. Upon reaching the next intersection - and notably, after walking uphill to the first intersection and then again to the second - she reads the sign that says 0.3 to the tower, but unfortunately reads it as going the same direction as the shelter and Goshen Prong. I know that doesn't seem to make sense given the descent after that intersection, but perhaps she understood that there would eventually be an "up" to the tower? After hiking too long to get to that point, and not wanting to hike back up where she came from due to exhaustion - and maybe from some form of dementia, temporary or otherwise - she decided to hike down no matter that there was no trail. Perhaps it was a last ditch effort to get off the ridge to a more sheltered area. And perhaps she was alive for days as a result of being in a sheltered area, though I know mountains are prone to having a cold side. Not sure what is the case in that area.

    Regarding my stance on signage, while I think the signage there ought to be sufficient, perhaps its worth the thought of putting up more visual-oriented signs with an overview of the intersection and where each trail leads? I think the fateful last misread at the second intersection might be due to how and where the arrows are placed, as well as the fact that they are carved in wood and a little difficult to discern sometimes. Seems it would be easy to have read that the tower was 0.3 in the same direction as the shelter and Goshen Prong. Visually speaking, I would immediately expect an arrow in the same location as the other arrows are located and could totally see myself making that error if I wasn't pausing to clarify (I always pause). The absence of the tower arrow in that same location might have been enough for her to make that error, a fateful decision that might've been due to rushing in the waning light? We don't know that it happened that way, might never know. But clearly something happened at both of the intersections where I think its more likely that choices were made based on signage rather than signs not seen.
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
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    It is always amazes me how easily it is to get disoriented in the wood. One can be 50 yards from a road, and they will never know it....

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