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  1. #1
    Registered User John B's Avatar
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    Default Found after 17 days; how she survived


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    I'd like to ask her directly how she got lost and injured: 1) Twin Falls is a touristy and beaten down trail hike on Maui near Hana that is amply evident to follow IF one stays on one of the trails and makes note of where they are in reference to junctions. Tourons should not be on these trails at night or during sunset hrs as they can be hazardous. ie; slippery, muddy, sharp rocks, lush, etc It's easy enough to hike up to the various fall areas within sound and sometimes within view of the water. There are different paths though so not being alert enough continually to which directions she was traveling factored into how she got lost. It's commonly advised in hiking books, eco Touron hike descriptions offered by many companies, hotels, B&B's, locals, etc to stay on trail and NOT to play around waterfalls. This hike has cautionary signage that some ignore. The hike is located in a deep lush ravine so wandering away from the ravine to "get lost" would be rather difficult for one heeding instructions. Maps and trail descriptions are readily available. I lived near here for two yrs and did this hike regularly. This tells me she went past signage and off trail:"The 35-year-old doctor of physical therapy was at a place where she could no longer go forward because of the terrain!" 2) quite a few get injured around waterfalls in HI because they ignore signage and instructions not to wander especially off trail or around muddy slippery rocks which prevail on most HI waterfall trails. The various fall areas are popular swimming holes with rope swings so getting lost meant she went "exploring" ascending a steep muddy lush rocky ravine off trail by herself.

  3. #3
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    "She walked without her shoes, which had been swept away in a flash flood when she was trying to dry them out."


    Flash flood warnings are/were on cautionary signage on the trails. Doing water fall hikes in rain fall, whether rain was immediately in her vicinity or not, is commonly ill advised and warned against. This story is another example of a cascade(pun intended) of bad AND GOOD decisions. YET, the story says she was smart because she ate guavas which grow in the area as introduced weeds and
    "She drank water only when it was clear enough and looked like it wouldn't make her sicker." Please tell me how you look at water and determine it safe to drink? She never gave up hope. YEAH!!!

  4. #4

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    call my a skeptic, a cynic, whatever you want but how ling until she has done the tv circuit and has a book deal?
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

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    Not a lot of detail .......given the articles catchy title...
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 05-26-2019 at 22:14.

  6. #6

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    And the wild speculation, and criticism, begins.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gpburdelljr View Post
    And the wild speculation, and criticism, begins.

    Meh. The article and her own words give accounts of the experience involving both good and bad decisions. This is not wild speculation and criticism. We make bad choices and good choices with both having consequences. I agree we need to cease the unjustifiable criticism. But, that does not mean, with darn good cause, we should not examine people's decisions inclusive of our own so we do not make the same bad decisions again. This is how we learn. Everything we experience doesn't just fall out of the sky. Our actions determine what we experience.


    Have you done this hike? How many times? Do you live nearby this hike? Is it in your backyard as it was mine? How familiar are you with the hike?

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Meh. The article and her own words give accounts of the experience involving both good and bad decisions. This is not wild speculation and criticism. We make bad choices and good choices with both having consequences. I agree we need to cease the unjustifiable criticism. But, that does not mean, with darn good cause, we should not examine people's decisions inclusive of our own so we do not make the same bad decisions again. This is how we learn. Everything we experience doesn't just fall out of the sky. Our actions determine what we experience.


    Have you done this hike? How many times? Do you live nearby this hike? Is it in your backyard as it was mine? How familiar are you with the hike?
    I've been discussing this on another forum, and limited myself to general safe hiking habits, such as paying attention to direction when you step off the trail to poop/pee. Habits such as leaving your pack (in plain sight) between your rest stop and the trail, that way you can locate your pack, walk right to it, and continue walking in the proper direction. It's fairly easy to mix one rest stop up with another, especially if you stop long enough to meditate/nap, and lose your direction. There's also the escalating mistakes concept, that one doesn't have to be a complete idiot to get lost, just make one small initial mistake.

    The bigger danger then comes when you don't stay in place after that initial mistake. It takes a lot of mental fortitude to stay in place, knowing you'll have to yell, or whistle to get someone else's attention, and rely one someone else to rescue you, knowing you'll be found 100 feet from the trail, and people will judge you hard. I didn't want to conjecture yet, that she might have been under the influence or such things, as it's easy enough to do unwise things. Always a possibility of course, but pointless to conjecture about really (practice safe intoxication.)

    I was hoping you or one of the other "local guides" would chime in on the actual trail and off trail conditions, relative trail traffic, and such. Of course she made mistakes, that's not slamming her. We've all made that initial mistake, and found ourselves slightly off trail. It's more about learning how to recover from the small mistakes, and not compounding your difficulties.

    Edit: word choices.

  9. #9
    Registered User John B's Avatar
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    "Partway through her hike, Eller, who had experience walking this trail before, went off the path to take a brief rest. She then got lost while trying to find her way back to her car, but eventually set her sights on finding water instead once that search reached its third day—around the time cops and firefighters began looking for her. It was then that her situation grew dire as she fractured her leg and tore her meniscus after falling off a steep cliff. A flash flood then swept away her shoes.
    Eller proceeded to survive off of various insects, plants and fruits she recognized. She used various flora for warmth and eventually had to settle on crawling instead of walking where she needed to go. Meanwhile, rescuers searched everywhere, including the intestines of wild boars, for any sign of her. A boar even attacked a volunteer searching for Eller, according to the New York Times.
    The hiker was finally found on the 17th day as she was foraging for food a whole four miles away from where her car was parked. Eller was reportedly found dirty, sunburned and smiling. Her father told reportersthat she was airlifted to a hospital and that the location where Eller was found was so treacherous, that even her rescuers needed an airlift.
    In a video posted to Facebook from her hospital bed, she expressed her appreciation to everyone who showed support during her search in the form of prayers and action.
    [New York Times]

  10. #10
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    "...the location where Eller was found was so treacherous, that even her rescuers needed an airlift.


    From her friend on Facebook: "..she was found far far above Twin Falls"...where there is no real trail because she might have had to search for yet another waterfall as those who get lost, injured, or die around waterfalls and waterfalls streams with known potential for flash flooding in HI sometimes behave by ignoring the TH and trail signage to stay on trail and beware of flash floods. BTW even though it's called Twin Falls there are more than two falls. She THEN tried to get to her car from an unknown off trail position to her unknown car location(through thick jungle steep ravine conditions). This sounds familiar to what may have happened around Clingmans Dome with the mom found off trail possibly trying to short cut to where she mistakenly assumed her vehicle was located BUT not knowing where she currently was in fading daylight while being alone on a day hike with no plans to stay out overnight when she purposely separated herself from the rest of her party. Eller then gets injured and...and... Ohh, she was alone doing this alone. ..a compounding of questionable decisions....followed by some good outcome decisions over the 17 days.


    Here's Alohastoked showing the obvious paths.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQagsv6hUZU He has hiked Twin Falls multiple times. Note, he says it's a cherished experience, viewing from a distance while staying on trail, the extent of the flow and water depth with falls in their full powerful glory at high water stage. Someone who is said to have been familiar with the area(Eller) could be expected to also note the power and depth and steepness of the water and ravine at flash flood time. Note the introduced non endemic flora near the trail compared to the general forest. Noting that one can use it to reacquire the trail or 'road.' This is lush steeply ravined forest not wise to wander off into unprepared! This makes chasing waterfalls in HI strenuous and dangerous! Rock in HI is crumbly around waterfalls too. Some get injured loitering underneath waterfalls as rocks and debris flow over the apex. Note the rubble at the base of a waterfall next time. Climbing waterfalls one can bring rock down on themselves. The waterfall sights and sounds and the ravine itself is the navigational rail. She ascended the ravine and water course. She could have reversed descending down stream, as is often advised, but not by always sticking, which you cant anyway, immediately to the stream.

    Every yr in HI people die needlessly, and many more get injured, around waterfalls and on treacherous beaches. Most are adventurist tourists that don't heed warnings. This is obviously compounded by ignoring signage, use of maps, and going off trail into treacherous STEEP heavily foliated areas alone. This is the wet lush side of Maui with thick jungle. She is a physical therapist in what seems good fitness... possibly a consequence of one accustomed to pushing beyond their comfort zones willing to ignore heeded warnings because "rules" or advice don't apply to themselves?


    I know one of the rescuers in the pic.

    Glad to see a happy ending.

  11. #11

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    Partway through her hike, Eller, who had experience walking this trail before, went off the path to take a brief rest. She then got lost while trying to find her way back to her car,
    Which I'm guessing is code for "took a potty break". She steps off the trail a discreate distance, does her business and then can't remember how she got there. And then, of course, wanders off in some random direction, which obviously wasn't the correct way to go. Then continued to do so for the next 2 weeks. Very strange.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Which I'm guessing is code for "took a potty break". She steps off the trail a discreate distance, does her business and then can't remember how she got there. And then, of course, wanders off in some random direction, which obviously wasn't the correct way to go. Then continued to do so for the next 2 weeks. Very strange.
    The article linked in post #1 said:

    “....had gone for a 3-mile walk May 8 on a different path than usual when she stopped to meditate then nap and then when she woke up couldn't figure out how to get back to her car....”

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    Quote Originally Posted by gpburdelljr View Post
    The article linked in post #1 said:

    “....had gone for a 3-mile walk May 8 on a different path than usual when she stopped to meditate then nap and then when she woke up couldn't figure out how to get back to her car....”

    Perhaps "meditate" is code for something else .

    Everyone naps in middle of 1.5 hr walks, right? Just go off trail into rough jungle like terrain, and lay down in moist dirt/leaves/bugs.

    Good she is ok.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 05-27-2019 at 22:16.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Puddlefish View Post
    I've been discussing this on another forum, and limited myself to general safe hiking habits, such as paying attention to direction when you step off the trail to poop/pee. Habits such as leaving your pack (in plain sight) between your rest stop and the trail, that way you can locate your pack, walk right to it, and continue walking in the proper direction... There's also the escalating mistakes concept, that one doesn't have to be a complete idiot to get lost, just make one small initial mistake.
    One GAMEr on a NORTH BOUND thru in Maine got lost taking a bathroom break by not being alert to what side of the AT they were stepping off. Any NOBOer with any sense of where in the world on what trail they are on should be able to recall the AT generally runs north and in New England North/Northeast. Stepping off to the right means generally easterly. Stepping off to the left means westerly. The rising and setting of the sun confirms this. On the AT in the U.S. mainland the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Grade school children know this. This is not conjecture. This is basic understanding. My 9 yr old niece and 8 yr old nephew can tell me this. Spending one or two nights off the trail lost but still being able to recall whether one steps off to the left or right and the direction the AT is routed would see the where the sun rises and sets and get a general bearing able to retrace their way easterly or westerly back to generally where the AT is located. It's not difficult if we don't give up hope which Eller didn't and think about what we know and have access to assist self rescue. Eller did that. Without getting injured AND IF she was clearly thinking she should have been able to get herself unlost by simply heading downstream even if it meant going over headlands around steeply walled stream side areas.

    We should go over these accounts so we learn from them. It's not about pointing fingers.

    From what I'm aware with my associations with Hawaii Forest & Trail and Na Ala Hele Trails Trail Guides don't typically do guided tours of Twin Falls. Maybe, someone at a resort does though.

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    When I hike alone, and I often do, I'm always amazed how disorienting the woods can be. Not much different from a diver who thinks he goes up towards the surface but in reality he dives down.

  16. #16
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    The search crew that found Amanda Eller is now opening up a new search for another hiker who has been missing since May 20.
    Hopefully lightening will strike twice and they will find him, too.

    https://www.mauinews.com/news/local-...ku-seeks-help/

  17. #17

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    Dogwood, just to be clear, she didn't begin her walk/jog at Twin Falls, she started in the Makawao Forest Reserve, just outside of Makawao town, and was found some 5-7 miles as a crow flies from her car, roughly mauka (up the mtn) of Twin Falls. That 5-7miles is through some extremely dense jungle in steep terrain filled with gnarly deep gulches, and little roads or trails. It's a watershed area, conservation lands, and private property, and is very difficult to access in general.

    Makawao Forest Reserve has a number of well maintained and marked trails that are heavily used by hikers, mountain bikers, and dog walkers. Most of those trails are in one portion of the FR, by design, as pig hunters use the rest of the FR, and we wanted to reduce user conflicts. As a result, the area she chose to go walking in sees less trail users, and the paths are not marked or maintained compared to the Loop Trail. I've hiked, biked, and hunted in that side, and it's easy to get turned around. Family and friends say she ran the trails regularly, but I don't know if they meant the Loop Trail or that she ran on the "quieter" paths on the other side of the forest. I would assume she usually ran the Loop, as that's where 99% of the trail users go. When she got turned around, she walked roughly South East away from her car, and deeper into the forest.

    Her family said she "had spent her whole life preparing for something like this." She visited that Makawao Forest Reserve frequently. She says she woke up from a nap feeling disoriented, and headed off in the wrong direction. At some point she tried to follow a stream downhill. I know in many survival classes in the mainland, they teach you to follow a stream downhill/downstream, and you'll find civilization. Unfortunately that doesn't work in Hawaii. The streams carve deep gulches. If you try to follow the stream bed, you'll quickly find yourself surrounded by cliffs and run into waterfalls that will by difficult to descend. Out here, it's much better to follow the ridgeline downhill.... Much easier travel. I suspect (speculate) that she tried to follow the stream where she was found downhill, and found herself cliffed out and stuck between two waterfalls. Of course, hiking with a broken tibia, means she was not moving fast or far. All in all, she is lucky to have been found alive.
    Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt, and the forest and field in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul.--Fred Bear

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    Exclamation What choice to make

    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Please tell me how you look at water and determine it safe to drink?
    You don't.
    Instead, you make a choice:
    (1) You can allow yourself to become dehydrated to the point of delirium after two days, at which point your chances of surviving become almost zero, because your brain ceases to process adequately, and death will follow in a couple more days.
    (2) You can drink water that, even if infected with giardia, will not cause you any harm for about a week.

    So which do you choose: 100% chance of death in a few days, or survival for at least a week, and possibly even longer?
    https://static.boredpanda.com/blog/w...0e766__700.jpg

    I agree that clear, flowing water is not guaranteed to be free of harmful organisms -- which is why I filter everything I drink, including spring water. However, clear, flowing water is LESS LIKELY to contain them. Which is why you choose that kind of water when you make the choice to survive for more than a few days.
    Last edited by GoldenBear; 05-28-2019 at 18:05.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldenBear View Post
    . . . you make a choice:
    (1) You can allow yourself to become dehydrated to the point of delirium after two days, at which point your chances of surviving become almost zero, because your brain ceases to process adequately, and death will follow in a couple more days.
    (2) You can drink water that, even if infected with giardia, will not cause you any harm for about a week. . .
    And, with reasonable caution, your likely hood of getting any water born disease, although real, is exceedingly small. So, not a hard choice, especially in an area that is maintained as a watershed.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

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    @MR Thx. Not extremely familiar with Makawao Forest Reserve as it's not a routine stomping ground. I've only been hiking through there maybe 8 or so times. I do know it's a hunting area.

    @GB and NS I was expecting someone to note your valid pts. Let's remember them next time a Giardia or water borne protozoa scare thread occurs.

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