WA WA - Laura Macke, Hiking Alone @ Enchanted Valley, Camping at Pyrites Creek, 30. Oct 2022

Skigirl

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Ha @Skigirl You're an expert in something I'd like to know ALOT more about.
Now that I think about it, too, your field would have great insights into "lost person behavior".
Thanks! I am dying to get a look at the app. The one screenshot I saw about people with dementia had a lot of things I would have guessed, and also a lot of things I would not have ("likely to cross roads") :)
 

RickshawFan

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Thanks! I am dying to get a look at the app. The one screenshot I saw about people with dementia had a lot of things I would have guessed, and also a lot of things I would not have ("likely to cross roads") :)
Yes, that's odd to me, too, that dementia patients would aim straight for a road.

I think the app is available free?

The father of the discipline is Dr. Koester. Here he is interviewed by British Columbia's Public Recreational Service (not sure exactly what they call it):
 

RickshawFan

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My quick summary of my main point in this case. You can't proficiently hit a baseball with a stick. You need a baseball bat. Thinking you can do it with a stick would be an error in judgment, not a sign of experience. The baseball bat doesn’t need to be expensive or fancy. It would be heavier to hold than a stick and your wrist might not like it for long, but you need a baseball bat to hit the ball effectively. There’s still risk—you have to be extra careful that your now efficient swing doesn’t send the ball through your neighbor’s window—but your new bat will aim more predictably, and you’re learning quickly what it will do and what it won’t. That’s how you get baseball experience. Maybe you’ll even become an expert one day.
PS You also have to notice your neighbor’s house has windows and concern yourself with that fact. And you’re not a victim of the neighbor’s window if you misfire: it is what it is.

That’s my parable.
 
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cj327

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I have spent a lot of time in the Quinault area, backpacking and hiking as well as for work. I was actually working in the woods in that area for a couple of days early this past week. I have backpacked on a number of trails in the area, as well as off-trail hikes, though one of the few trails I have not hiked is EV. (The reason is that it is extremely popular in decent weather and therefore it's not as much of a wilderness experience.) I have backpacked all the way up the other branch of the same river (the North Fork of the Quinault). Anyway, here are my thoughts on topics:

- Unlike many other trails in the Olympics, it would be hard to get very lost hiking up this valley. I'll post a good map later when I have time. The reason is that the trail follows the river the whole way, and the valley slopes become steeper and steeper as you go. If you got off the trail it would become very obvious because you'd quickly start going up the steep slope of the valley.

- This year we had an exceptionally dry fall, until late October when the seasonal rains started. The timing of LM's trip was very unfortunate in this regard. When it is dry, or even relatively dry, this trail is very popular. But when you get weather as bad as we had during LM's trip, I doubt there were many other people out there hiking. This is based on my experience hiking in the fall and winter in the Olympics. Basically, heavy rain is the only weather that stops people from going. So, the chance of her encountering other people who could potentially have helped her in any difficulties is low IMHO.

- Because they did not find a tent set up, it seems unlikely that LM made it to her intended first campsite.

- The only animal that would be a concern in that area is cougars, but attacks are extremely rare in the Pacific Northwest, considering the number of people out in the woods.

- In my opinion, the two biggest natural hazards when hiking in the wilderness of the Olympics are falling off a cliff or steep slope and falling into a river or flooded stream during a crossing. I am not aware of any cliffs near the trail because it is at the bottom of a valley. I am very concerned though about stream crossings. After heavy rain, even a small stream that you could normally easily cross on a log or stepping stones can become a raging torrent for a day or so. They can be deceptively powerful and it may be difficult or impossible to find solid footing if you are trying to wade through a rapidly flowing, flooded stream. I think it is likely that there were streams like this that the trail crossed, though I can't say for certain.
 

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I thought I'd extend my baseball parable with reference to another hiker in the EV, who was found alive after several days in September 2021 and was in great shape.

The baseball bat....

Supposing you're a kid, and you've hit balls with your baseball bat a million times in your yard. You go out there in easy weather. Who wants to go sloshing around picking up balls in the mud, anyway? You pay attention to the fact of the neighbor's windows. Some other kid hit a ball through a neighbor's window one street over, and how could you forget?
So, you're playing out there, and you're really good at it. But your hand slips and wheeeeee! there goes the ball, sailing through your neighbor's window.
Oopsie! The kid might have to rake some leaves to make enough money to fix the window, but the neighbors might even find some leaves for him to rake for a buck or two. Maybe there's a woman who has experience in glass installation, and she'll do the fix for free if they young man pays for the pane.
This kind of thing happens. The human physique can go wild on us sometimes. Generally, everyone knows this and has scope for it.
No harm, no foul. The neighborhood might even enjoy how everyone came together and feel comforted that their own children are growing up in a caring place. Everyone gets on with life.
This is SAR at its best.

So, a year ago a young man went missing on a solo trip in the Quinault area that included the Enchanted Valley. His name was Jerren Fisher.

Initial story in Peninsula News, cited on Missing NPF. Note the terrible conditions. Jerren Fisher

Follow up in the New Tribune, cited on Missing NPF:

JF was found 4 days after the search began. He was in a ravine he couldn't get out of. He had all the experience, gear, and food to manage those 4 days, even though the weather turned VERY bad, as it often does in the Olympics. At least he had picked a usually safe time of year (September). SAR/NPS explicitly commended his preparation.
A helicopter had to get him out, but scratches and bruises. No harm, no foul. No trauma for survivors, or woulda coulda shoulda. So readily does life go on that there's VERY little media coverage.

I think everyone can agree that this is an excellent application for SAR resources. A human oopsie happened, because human oopsies happen. The young man otherwise was very together. The community rallied, and made a life/death difference. The helicopter pilot gets to be a hero (big risk here, too), and everyone goes home happy.


I hope this counterpoint adds perspective to the LM case.
 

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I’m guessing a satellite ping - the military would have access to satellite technology.
MOO
But she'd have to have a satellite receiver on her phone to receive that message...and if she had one of those she'd be able to make satellite calls, so probably wouldn't be stranded as she's be able to communicate without cell service.
 

ItalyReader

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But she'd have to have a satellite receiver on her phone to receive that message...and if she had one of those she'd be able to make satellite calls, so probably wouldn't be stranded as she's be able to communicate without cell service.
I’m definitely inexpert and unsure as to what military technology this was, but it was some way of sending a message to her phone without the use of cell towers.
I can’t rule out satellite because they may have a way of reaching devices without satellite receivers.
But let’s say it wasn’t satellite technology -
And let’s say it didn’t involve cellular tower signals -
What other options remain?
It could be a technology that is not publicly understood. Or?
 

Skigirl

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My quick summary of my main point in this case. You can't proficiently hit a baseball with a stick. You need a baseball bat. Thinking you can do it with a stick would be an error in judgment, not a sign of experience. The baseball bat doesn’t need to be expensive or fancy. It would be heavier to hold than a stick and your wrist might not like it for long, but you need a baseball bat to hit the ball effectively. There’s still risk—you have to be extra careful that your now efficient swing doesn’t send the ball through your neighbor’s window—but your new bat will aim more predictably, and you’re learning quickly what it will do and what it won’t. That’s how you get baseball experience. Maybe you’ll even become an expert one day.
PS You also have to notice your neighbor’s house has windows and concern yourself with that fact. And you’re not a victim of the neighbor’s window if you misfire: it is what it is.

That’s my parable.
Having made one nearly life-ending mistake while hiking once (and plenty of others not hiking), and having lucked out by having a whistle --not specifically packed for that particular hike -- tucked into my backpack, I feel sorry when others pay for their mistakes with their lives.

I've learned a lot from this thread. I hope she is found so that her loved ones have closure.
 

RickshawFan

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But she'd have to have a satellite receiver on her phone to receive that message...and if she had one of those she'd be able to make satellite calls, so probably wouldn't be stranded as she's be able to communicate without cell service.
There's a way to do it without cell service. Actually many ways. The one I can think of right off the bat is to have a wifi router on a helicopter. I'm guessing it would be a repeater that can magnify a signal.) I believe these can be mounted on drones, balloons, etc., and are used during emergencies. This is not rare technology. Ukraine might actually be using this now in bombed-out areas.
I have no doubt the military has other methods. They have to be able to pluck up downed pilots.....

And yes, if LM had an inReach or zoleo she could have called out for rescue. The iphone 14 has a satellite sender/receiver as well. But alas, she didn't have any of it.

I had thought you could even carry an Apple tag in your pack, and a bluetooth drone could come close enough to find you. But I'm still trying to figure this out. Since you can valuably attach one to your doggie, I think it has potential!

One other system that also works (but LM didn't have anything with this on it) is a RECCO tag. You will see this on many ski jackets. It is used to locate people in avalanches. You are starting to see it in other back country gear. WA probably has a RECCO seeker somewhere (maybe Rainier?) that they can attach to a helicopter. It can read all the way through deep snow, and the helicopter can cover a huge area very fast.
 

RickshawFan

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Having made one nearly life-ending mistake while hiking once (and plenty of others not hiking), and having lucked out by having a whistle --not specifically packed for that particular hike -- tucked into my backpack, I feel sorry when others pay for their mistakes with their lives.

I've learned a lot from this thread. I hope she is found so that her loved ones have closure.
Let me say something about whistles to keep everyone safe.

Check your pack. Look at the sternum (chest) strap. Look very closely at the buckle. It's very possible it has an integrated whistle. If you have an accident, it will be practically at your chin.

It looks like this:

IMG_3513 (1).jpeg
 

cj327

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A couple other comments.
I know there is pretty good cell reception near Lake Quinault (Verizon), but once you get back up into the mountains, like where Graves Creek Trailhead is, I think you are out of range. Reception in the valleys is definitely worse than when you are up on a ridge or mountain. I know of at least one situation where someone was stranded on the side of a mountain in this part of the Olympics and was saved by getting a faint cell signal to where he could call 911 to initiate a rescue.

This rain is no joke when it comes to rain gear. I have been known to bring multiple rain coats and even multiple rain pants for work. I'll wear one set one day, and put on a dry set the next day. Most backpacking rain gear, even Goretex, has a hard time keeping you dry after a day of solid rain. And when you are camping in a downpour there is almost no way to dry anything out, including boots, because the humidity in your tent is 100%.

ETA: Here is a map showing Pyrites Creek camp. You can zoom and scroll around to see the whole trail going from the trailhead (to the southwest of the camp) up to EV (up the valley northeast).
 

Skigirl

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Let me say something about whistles to keep everyone safe.

Check your pack. Look at the sternum (chest) strap. Look very closely at the buckle. It's very possible it has an integrated whistle. If you have an accident, it will be practically at your chin.

It looks like this:

View attachment 379207
Oh WOW. I do have a pack with that, and I've never noticed it before! That would have been especially good for me to know during the incident in question, because it involved sliding down a granite rockface and finding myself lodged between rock and a small pine tree growing out of a crack, with nothing but rock below. I wouldn't have had to get the pack off my back and rifle through it.
 

RickshawFan

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Oh WOW. I do have a pack with that, and I've never noticed it before! That would have been especially good for me to know during the incident in question, because it involved sliding down a granite rockface and finding myself lodged between rock and a small pine tree growing out of a crack, with nothing but rock below. I wouldn't have had to get the pack off my back and rifle through it.
That doesn't sound like fun, but I guess you survived. Hope you didn't hurt yourself twisting to get the pack off your back.
 

Skigirl

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That doesn't sound like fun, but I guess you survived. Hope you didn't hurt yourself twisting to get the pack off your back.
Tree held (with golden retriever oddly also wrapped around my shoulders -- don't know how that happened, exactly). No permanent injuries, losts of road rash, terrified golden retriever, most excellent SNR response. Was fortunate to have a cell signal, biggest challenge was finding us, whistle saved our assets.
 

RickshawFan

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A couple other comments.
I know there is pretty good cell reception near Lake Quinault (Verizon), but once you get back up into the mountains, like where Graves Creek Trailhead is, I think you are out of range. Reception in the valleys is definitely worse than when you are up on a ridge or mountain. I know of at least one situation where someone was stranded on the side of a mountain in this part of the Olympics and was saved by getting a faint cell signal to where he could call 911 to initiate a rescue.

This rain is no joke when it comes to rain gear. I have been known to bring multiple rain coats and even multiple rain pants for work. I'll wear one set one day, and put on a dry set the next day. Most backpacking rain gear, even Goretex, has a hard time keeping you dry after a day of solid rain. And when you are camping in a downpour there is almost no way to dry anything out, including boots, because the humidity in your tent is 100%.

ETA: Here is a map showing Pyrites Creek camp. You can zoom and scroll around to see the whole trail going from the trailhead (to the southwest of the camp) up to EV (up the valley northeast).
I'm looking at that great topo and thinking Pyrites Creek might have been impassable by evening. If there was a few hours of rain between the trailhead and this creek, it would have been a very likely place for an accident if you were hell bent on camping at the Pyrites Creek campground.

Also, there are places where the trail is at the same level as the river, and there are multiple creek crossings before you get to Pyrites.

All along, I've thought an accident happened between the trailhead and Pyrites Camp on October 30, because of the conditions, and because SAR never found a pitched tent. This topo quite supports my speculation.

Looking at this map, too.... I noticed how many times on this trail nature would have indicated to turn back. Every time you were crossing one of those creeks would have been a red flag. Every time the trail came down to river level, you'd be in water and looking at water coming at you from upriver.

I don't believe there are any posters on this thread who would not have turned around within a quarter of a mile of the trailhead no matter how long they'd been planning the trip, no matter how well equipped they were.
 
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RickshawFan

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FWIW, no tent expert here, while some people like how lightweight this Nemo is, there are complaints about it in rain and complaints about durability. (sorry this link is so long)

Yes, a) the fly is not a full fly that you can tighten down: rain will bounce off the ground and right into the tent; b) every time you unzip that flap to crawl in, deluge will pour right into the sleeping area. I had a design with this feature, the only night I'd ever slept in a tent where I got wet. Pools of water! I wasn't in the PNW, either; I was in VT, exactly where LM says she had "experience". The rain is peanuts in VT compared to WA, well, except right this minute when Hurricane Nichole is doing her thing.
I had to experience the design problem before I registered how poorly it functioned in the rain. I sent it back to the manufacturer (Marmot) immediately. They discontinued the design right after.
 
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RickshawFan

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If you are experiencing Hurricane Nichole right now, that would be normal rain on the PNW coast this time of year. That's about how wet the Quinault trailhead would be on October 30. Would you follow through on a plan to step out of your car and into the woods on a trail along a river, hike 9 miles, and camp next to a creek?
 
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acutename

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If you are experiencing Hurricane Nichole right now, that would be normal rain on the PNW coast this time of year. That's about how wet the Quinault trailhead would be on October 30. Would you step out of your car and into the woods on a trail along a river, hike 9 miles, and camp next to a creek?
I would have stayed in my car, but I'm old and a lot of times I now know that I really do not like bad weather- after reading this, I have thought about what it is like for most people who plan trips with limited vacation time and money so they cannot afford the absolute best equipment and they have only X vacation days, and they have to get air fare in advance.

It took me two or three times(!) to climb Mt. Katahdin because of a partner's equipment failure (grr) - and we turned back- and it is not local- but I am alive, so I guess there is that. Another time with a group, we were supposed to climb Mt. Washington on a given day and it was miserably rainy, so we did a part of it for exercise and turned back because it would have been miserable on top anyway. I would mostly only hike in pouring rain now it it was for a limited time and I knew I was going back to a warm (indoor!) place shortly afterward. You cannot see a lot in pouring rain anyway. (Did LM wear glasses? Just hard to see.) Though I like xc skiing in snow, I must admit, and maybe that will be my downfall.
 
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