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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    Yesterday we hiked the Hemphill Bald loop in the Smokies, on the edge of the park near Balsam Mountain/Cataloochee area. The bald is a popular destination, with a few benches and a nice rock under a tree in a fenced area overlooking the adjoining community of Maggie Valley. Several people had hiked there from a nearby resort, while others arrived by hiking the 13-mile loop.
    While eating our lunch and enjoying the view, along comes this guy jogging and wearing nothing but some skimpy shorts, shoes, a fanny pack, and a bushy beard. He shared that he was doing the loop. I asked what he was doing for water. "Oh, I just camel up before hand. I do 3-hr runs all the time, so I'm used to it." Granted, the Smokies are tame compared to the Whites, but still. I don't know what was in his fanny pack - maybe phone and keys - but it wasn't big enough for a shirt or rain jacket, much less warm clothing.
    He told us he'd made an attempt at the SCAR (Smokies Challenge Adventure Run - Fontana to Davenport in 24 hours), so he's no novice. And who am I to judge? Plenty of times I've gone on a familiar​ trail with nothing more than keys and phone.
    Its tough telling someone what they should or shouldn't have. And the "ten essentials" list is kinda lame.

    However... every trailhead in the whites. Well pretty much every one has a pictured diagram on the info boards of what you "should" have for a day hike.

    And people just blatantly ignore it.

    The thing is.. if you get hurt. Im going to help you. Ive been part of 3 SAR missions..as a bystander hiker. Ive had 3 incidents where I volunteered to help someone injured that I came across while out on a hike myself. Two of these incidents i was the one who found the victim. Guess I bring the bad luck. But..If Im going to be out till 3 am in the white mtns..even in summer..chances are im going to need somethings myself. And im not giving you my rain jacket if I need it. Im not going to get hypothermic myself trying to save you because you didn't bring one. Sorry.

    In one of these incidents, it was a cold afternoon. I got the puppy dog eyes from a hiker stuck on the side of the mtn with a busted ankle. I had the pleasure of coming across them first. Knowing how cold it was and them being static. They needed a layer. I offered my rain jacket up. They didnt even hesitate to take it cause they were getting cold. I froze my ass off all night getting that person off the mtn. What would have been a night where I was in bed by 9 turned out to be a 4am party on the mtn.

    Hikers help hikers. But because Im not gonna let someone die on the side of a mtn.. i have to put myself at risk. Thats not fair.

    If it was raining. I wouldnt have given up my rain jacket. I would figured something else out but...

    What do people expect? If something happens everyone is just suppose to come to their rescue?

    Odd time we live in.

    Now that I reflect on it. I prob bring more stuff on a day hike with me now because of my experiences helping other people who were not prepared themselves.

    The whole no jacket thing just blows my mind. Especially in the whites. Where there is typically a pretty strong wind chill...

    Common sense?












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  2. #22
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    Yes, but as others mentioned... who leaves an 80-something year old father/grandfather behind in these conditions to summit...? That does not make sense!

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by shelb View Post
    Yes, but as others mentioned... who leaves an 80-something year old father/grandfather behind in these conditions to summit...? That does not make sense!
    Most likely it was a "wait here and we'll see if we can find help" situation. If you don't have a cell phone or it doesn't work and your not capable of helping the old guy move yourself, that's about the only option. It's that or you all die. They got caught in a sudden shift in the weather for which they were not prepared for. Classic.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Most likely it was a "wait here and we'll see if we can find help" situation. If you don't have a cell phone or it doesn't work and your not capable of helping the old guy move yourself, that's about the only option. It's that or you all die. They got caught in a sudden shift in the weather for which they were not prepared for. Classic.
    They’re talking about criminal charges for the family. Seems like that would just make a bad situation for the family worse. What could their motive be??

    https://www.unionleader.com/news/saf...97e01ebf8.html

  5. #25
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    The volume of hikers heading up Mt Washington on a good day or even a marginal day is something that most hikers not familiar with the area probably would have a rough time wrapping their head around. There is parking for hundreds of cars at Pinkham Notch and on a good day the trail is constant stream of hikers, literally no gaps, a constant line from top to bottom.

    The level of preparedness and ability varies significantly. Pinkham Notch and the Base Station road both cut out a lot of a typical approach trail so the trails are quite steep and relatively short but have a lot of elevation gain. Many folks think in horizontal values and dont understand vertical so in their mind the 4.2 miles is an easy hike from Pinkham to the summit is a quick hike as they do not account for the 4300 feet of vertical and very rocky trail with a typical 15 degree temperature drop and 20 to 30 MPH increase in wind speed. Add in frequent afternoon clouds covering the summit which yields a wet drizzle and hypothermia is also a year round contributing issue. There is no one entity responsible for the trailheads and no reliable source of funding to pay for permanent staff to monitor and educate hikers heading up. The WMNF staffs tents with volunteers at some trailheads but all they can is offer to educate hikers and many folks just walk right by. Its actually quite surprising that more folks get into trouble given the volume of hikers and the rapid changes in weather that occur. The authorities publicize the most severe incidents and put up the yellow warning signs at trailheads and at treeline but the folks who should be heeding the advice are the most likely clueless to ignore it. The reality is the local and state economy make survive on tourist dollars so they dont want to scare away tourists. Even if they publicize the danger it tends to attract clueless folks.

    Another aspect is the the state Fish and Game officers have had ATV enforcement forced upon them with little increase in resources as the majority of ATV license fees are dedicated to trail acquisition and signage. With the exponential growth of ATV use due to Ride the Wilds https://ridethewilds.nhgrand.com/, the few fish and game officers who are responsible for coordinating rescues are out close to 24/7 dealing with daily sometimes hourly ATV accidents.

    Barring some very expensive and aggressive efforts to turn clueless folks around at the trailheads I dont see anything changing. Note the charge for rescue policy does not seem to have made a dent. The minority of folsk who buy the hikers passes are skilled folks who do not get into trouble. I am aware of only one rescue of a pass holder and think it was a well equipped hiker that sprained an ankle.

  6. #26

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    This would certainly be a good example of where NH would be justified in seeking restitution in accordance with the statute. If they don't seek restitution of some measure the precedent would gut the statute to the point no one charged with rescue costs would need to pay.

    Without knowing how grandpa came to be alone during the hike, there may not be any charges to file. Did grandpa tell family to keep going and he would follow at a slower pace? Did grandpa tell family he was turning back, insisting they go on to summit and he would meet them at the trailhead? Was there a recent will change that sparked a conversation about an "unfortunate accident"? Breaking hiking etiquette is not criminal, nor is it etched in stone for everyone. Overall, this probably won't amount to criminal charges, especially if grandpa encouraged abandonment somehow and refuses to press charges.

  7. #27

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    Yes, lots more info is needed before rendering a verdict on this!

    However, if the kids were charged I don't think Gramps needs to press charges since the complainant would be county/state/agency whatever.... no?

    But in reality it usually comes down to inexperience and panicking and deciding to do the wrong thing. And since tourism represents a huge slice of the local economy they don't want to take draconian steps that would scare off all those folks who trudge up and down the mountain back to their B&Bs and local businesses and restaurants.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    .... Breaking hiking etiquette is not criminal, nor is it etched in stone for everyone. Overall, this probably won't amount to criminal charges, especially if grandpa encouraged abandonment somehow and refuses to press charges.
    Leaving an 80 year old behind on a mountain in bad weather is negligent no matter how you cut it. It doesn't matter if Gramps says "It's OK, go ahead and leave me behind" anymore than it would be OK for parents to leave a young child alone at the mall because the kid said "It's OK, go ahead I know where the car is and I will meet you there later".
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasBob View Post
    Leaving an 80 year old behind on a mountain in bad weather is negligent no matter how you cut it. It doesn't matter if Gramps says "It's OK, go ahead and leave me behind" anymore than it would be OK for parents to leave a young child alone at the mall because the kid said "It's OK, go ahead I know where the car is and I will meet you there later".
    Elder Neglect would be the only thing I can fathom. This is where Adult Protective services may get involved. I didn't read the article.

  10. #30
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    Mt Washington is a weird place.

    You would think that the probability of an accident increases since the number if hikers is greater sure.

    But as someone pointed out. There are literally lines of people in a single file line going up Tuckerman's on a good day.

    To be left alone to perish is mind boggling to me.

    There's so many people.

    Everyone says the AT is crowded and they cant wait to get to the whites. In all honesty the AT thru NH is probably one if of the most crowded areas on the trail in a good day.

    The presedentials? Franconia Ridge.

    Its stop and go traffic regularly.

    NOONE should ever be stranded on one of those mtns.

    Unless intentional...

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  11. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    They’re talking about criminal charges for the family. Seems like that would just make a bad situation for the family worse. What could their motive be??

    https://www.unionleader.com/news/saf...97e01ebf8.html
    Holding people accountable for criminal acts often makes bad situations worse. What would you do?
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  12. #32
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    In a situation like this I think NHF&G tries to file charges for the publicity as much as the actually wishing the charges are fully prosecuted. Unless its a totally dysfunctional family I expect they figured out pretty quickly that they screwed up big time.

    Note that the first symptom of hypothermia is poor thinking, given the weather that day, the group may already have been partially hypothermic and therefore they were not thinking clearly to allow this to happen.

    I happen to know folks in their eighties that value their independence enough that they would insist on being able to make their own decisions to the point that even if its bad one they want the right to make it rather than having someone else take those rights away.

  13. #33
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Turns out the old man sent his 18 and 14 year old grandsons ahead without him. We know what poor decision makers teenagers are and probably not willing to argue with Grandpa.

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    Turns out the old man sent his 18 and 14 year old grandsons ahead without him. We know what poor decision makers teenagers are and probably not willing to argue with Grandpa.
    Interesting situation.

    Send the 14 year old alone to get help? Not good.

    Leave the child behind with grandpa, exposing the minor to greater risk? Not good.

    Stay and wait for help that may not come? Not good.

    Putting aside how the three got into a very bad situation to begin with, I am not sure that leaving Grandpa behind was the wrong decision.

    I have note read up on the details, so I could be missing something. When they left him, did they go directly to reach help?

  15. #35
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    Nope, they summited and went down a different trail expecting Gramps to be waiting for them. The only right answer was all three of them to turn around.

  16. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    Nope, they summited and went down a different trail expecting Gramps to be waiting for them. The only right answer was all three of them to turn around.
    Given the new information, a poor decision was made, possibly a hypothermia decision where Gramps wasn't thinking clearly due to early symptoms. The initial mistake of course was attempting Washington without the proper gear and advance planning/fallback decisions. So maybe Gramps didn't even require the hypothermia to start making bad decisions. Not a good situation when the one with the age/trail experience is making the poor decisions, and the other two lack the age/trail experience to realize it was a bad decision.

    Clearly, we're all guessing, and law enforcement will have much more information that we do, and can make the best decision for everyone. I suspect they'll get it right.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    Nope, they summited and went down a different trail expecting Gramps to be waiting for them. The only right answer was all three of them to turn around.
    When I first read the article I thought is was a misprint that the 2 who summited went down a different trail. This is incomprehensible to me. Even young hikers. Maybe this was a first trip? Agreed, the only sensible solution was for all three to return when one couldn’t make it.

    Maybe those teenagers got drilled with “respect your elders and “no back talk” a few too many times so that they were wired to obey grandpa’s directions. If grandpa was the experienced hiker perhaps they figured he knew best. But if grandpa was an experienced hiker, all would have been better prepared, equipped, clothed and understood the importance of staying together and recognized signs of hypothermia.

    If there was malicious intent of course charges should be filed. How do you distinguish between malice and ignorance though. We used to call this type of situation a cluster *****. I’m glad everyone made it home alive. Thank you a thousand times to the rescuers. I hope and plan to never need them, but I’m grateful they are there.

  18. #38

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    It's possible that the kids took off before the old man was in actual trouble. That could have happened a little later when the weather suddenly changed.

    The white mountain trail maze could have been the problem. The kids could have started down towards lions head, but missed the junction and end up going down Boot Spur, which is about the only other way down. It's also a popular way to go.

    We don't know the timing of events, which is important. All we know is he was found at about 1:30 am, in the alpine garden area. We don't know when he got there.

    It's another one of these we'll never know stories. Even those involved are probably a little fuzzy on the details.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  19. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    It's possible that the kids took off before the old man was in actual trouble. That could have happened a little later when the weather suddenly changed.

    The white mountain trail maze could have been the problem. The kids could have started down towards lions head, but missed the junction and end up going down Boot Spur, which is about the only other way down. It's also a popular way to go.

    We don't know the timing of events, which is important. All we know is he was found at about 1:30 am, in the alpine garden area. We don't know when he got there.

    It's another one of these we'll never know stories. Even those involved are probably a little fuzzy on the details.
    Slo-go'en - Thanks for your comments. I bet your are right about going down boot Spur.

    Just to clarify, the party split "shortly after starting the hike" according to the Fish and Game press release. So the 80 year old must have hike up Lion's Head himself. Impressive, but to me this also indicates that he bears responsibility for not turning around when he hit the 60 mph winds above Lion' Head.

    Also 1:30 am is when the carry out started. He was found by the AMC Hermit Lake Shelter caretaker much earlier, who along with 2 Conservation officers that were conducting the initial search administered first aid. Those guys saved his life. If they did not have the training and gear to warm him up, it would have been the second fatality on Washington on June 13.

  20. #40

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    Given the new information regarding how the party was separated (presuming it is accurate) I don't see criminal intent that would warrant a criminal charge for the children.

    Since it was apparently Grandpa who told the children to go ahead, there is the possibility of child endangerment charges being considered for Grandpa (especially if the 18 year old wasn't quite 18). Prosecution of an 80 year old with questionable mental acuity would probably not be high on the State's list of "Things We Did This Summer" and the costs will be waived, which would present its own precedence issues for the next similar circumstance.

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