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Tugger
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Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:34 pm

I know it is a simple, well known and basic rule, but please NEVER leave someone behind alone when on a hike, for any reason! And do not hike alone either (that can't be controlled of course, we have all done it, anyone can do it).

A friend of mine just died.

He was on a hike with a group, it was a strenuous but well known hike and he was an experienced hiker. During the hike he started experiencing shortness of breath and felt the hike was getting to him and he told to group to go on ahead without him and he would just go slower and meet them at the end. He never made it back. His body was found near the trail last night. The cause of death is not yet known.

I know what I think and am sure everyone is guessing: a heart attack took him. But the simple truth is that if someone had stayed with him he very probably would still be alive. Cell coverage is good for the hike and a call to rescue authorities could have saved his life,

He has a wife and kid in college he supported as an independent software and IT systems contractor. He was a normal, healthy, well respected, middle aged man, husband and father.

He violated the number one rule of hiking himself. But the fact remains when others are there, the rule can always by followed.

And this is the second time I have experienced this in my group of friends: 5 years ago another friend, much older, was on an easy, simple hike with a group, he started to feel poorly but chalked it up to age and altitude and excused himself from the group and headed back down. This time however others on the same route found him, unconscious, head bloodied from passing out and falling and hitting his head on a rock, and called for help. He is alive and doing OK today. He is very lucky.

Each time the rest of the group failed to follow the most important rule of hiking: Never hike alone. So I am here at a sad time to offer a cautionary tale and hopefully change something in the future when one of you or one of your friends are on a hike. Do not ever allow someone to go alone, do not just accept that they'll be OK and that it is OK to leave them behind. Never let someone else make the decision to hike alone if you are there with them. Use this story, whatever, stay with someone. Be there with someone.

While you can't stop someone determined to go alone and being together won't always save a life as you can't control or know what is happening, it can make the difference between life and death. Between life returning to normal for everyone after a scare or a family devastated and trying to figure out what they are going to do.

It is a simple rule, it doesn't really add any burden to you or anyone. Be there for someone.

Tugg
I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. - W. Shatner
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TWA772LR
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:48 pm

I'm very sorry to hear that Tugger. My condolences to you and your friends family.

This hit a little close to home for me because I've gone hiking on my own before (nothing hard, but I made it hard by doing things I shouldn't have) and had some close call from slips and scares. It definitely makes me think twice now.
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cledaybuck
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:52 pm

Good reminder. Seeing the Aron Ralston story really drove this home for me.
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DirectPupdog
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:57 pm

While its unfortunate that your friend passed away, hiking alone is generally perfectly safe and not even "a rule" among hikers. This seemed like an unfortunate accident that could have happened anywhere- it has nothing to do with hiking alone.
 
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bgm
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:08 pm

Sorry to hear the sad news about your friend. Condolences to his family. Makes you realize just how precious life is.
 
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Aesma
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:59 pm

DirectPupdog wrote:
While its unfortunate that your friend passed away, hiking alone is generally perfectly safe and not even "a rule" among hikers. This seemed like an unfortunate accident that could have happened anywhere- it has nothing to do with hiking alone.


You could use an app that would dial emergency services if not acknowledged every hour or something like that.
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stl07
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:26 pm

DirectPupdog wrote:
While its unfortunate that your friend passed away, hiking alone is generally perfectly safe and not even "a rule" among hikers. This seemed like an unfortunate accident that could have happened anywhere- it has nothing to do with hiking alone.

Depends on where you are hiking. Here in STL or another city, sure you can do what you want, but when I go to California, Utah, even Southern Missouri or anywhere "real", the rule I always see posted or followed is never hike (float/ski/bike) alone. My Dad's life was saved because of this.
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bagoldex
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:43 pm

stl07 wrote:
DirectPupdog wrote:
While its unfortunate that your friend passed away, hiking alone is generally perfectly safe and not even "a rule" among hikers. This seemed like an unfortunate accident that could have happened anywhere- it has nothing to do with hiking alone.

Depends on where you are hiking. Here in STL or another city, sure you can do what you want, but when I go to California, Utah, even Southern Missouri or anywhere "real", the rule I always see posted or followed is never hike (float/ski/bike) alone. My Dad's life was saved because of this.


There are many potentially dangerous activities people engage in alone. Most accept that there's a greater degree of risk involved so they prepare/train accordingly and go on with their lives.
 
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ER757
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:51 pm

My condolences to you and to your friend's family. I led group hikes for many years, and you are right, rule #1 is never leave a member of the party alone, always have someone stay behind with them if they need to rest etc. The club I was in (The Mountaineers in Seattle) required that the leader not leave the trailhead after the hike until everyone in the group was back and accounted for.
Now, having said all that, I nearly always hike solo these days - did so this morning as a matter of fact. If I didn't, I wouldn't get out much. I like to get out very early in the morning, sometimes before it's even light in which case I use my headlamp. I like to go at my own pace and sometimes change my mind on where I'm going while literally on my way to the hike. Can't really do that with a group. I am aware there are risks and I accept them.
 
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Tugger
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Sun Jan 27, 2019 9:38 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful responses. It is really just kind of an empty feeling day for me right now. Sad and numb.

I certainly do not want any arguing, my thought really was more to the "leave no one alone" part. I know we all do things alone, all the time, including hiking. I myself have done it many times over the years. But the risk is real and so we accept that (I guess, no one actually thinks they will slip and fall and be unable to get help etc.) on our own. No one is there to say: "No, I'll stay with you."

But when there is a group, think about it, it is an easily done action. That was my real hope when posting this.

Tugg
I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. - W. Shatner
There are many kinds of sentences that we think state facts about the world but that are really just expressions of our attitudes. - F. Ramsey
 
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Classa64
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Sun Jan 27, 2019 9:44 pm

Sad, my condolences.
I don't hike but do ATV and Sled, even doing those things I go with someone regardless how I feel. Only started doing that after one time the Sled died left me stranded and I did not have a phone at the time. Was a long cold walk.
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Dutchy
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Sun Jan 27, 2019 10:01 pm

I am sorry for your loss @Tugger.
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notaxonrotax
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 12:57 am

Aesma wrote:

You could use an app that would dial emergency services if not acknowledged every hour or something like that.


The problem with that (good) idea is the phone or 3G / 4G / 5G (?) coverage in remote areas.


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DirectPupdog
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:17 am

notaxonrotax wrote:
Aesma wrote:

You could use an app that would dial emergency services if not acknowledged every hour or something like that.


The problem with that (good) idea is the phone or 3G / 4G / 5G (?) coverage in remote areas.


No Tax On Rotax


Many wilderness hikers and campers often take a SPOT or an InReach. They have messaging, live tracking, and rescue capabilities through satellite. Lots of bush pilots have them too.
 
salttee
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:36 am

Just don't try to pretend that you're not having a heart attack while you're having the early symptoms of a heart attack.

Learn the symptoms.


Or don't.
 
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casinterest
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:52 am

salttee wrote:
Just don't try to pretend that you're not having a heart attack while you're having the early symptoms of a heart attack.

Learn the symptoms.


Or don't.


i wouldn't know if I was having one. I would probably pass it off as something else. Especially if I was an avid hiker and used to hiking great distances.

I currently walk/ hike 4-6 miles a day with dog. I am alone. Most of the time I am in a neighborhood or well traveled trail, but this time of year, some of the wood hikes are rather barren. I would be screwed if I had a heart attack, but i also wouldn't be expecting it.

This is why the never hike or swim alone items are in place. Most of the time you are ok, but when you are not OK, you are screwed if you are alone.
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Jouhou
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:44 am

casinterest wrote:
salttee wrote:
Just don't try to pretend that you're not having a heart attack while you're having the early symptoms of a heart attack.

Learn the symptoms.


Or don't.


i wouldn't know if I was having one. I would probably pass it off as something else. Especially if I was an avid hiker and used to hiking great distances.

I currently walk/ hike 4-6 miles a day with dog. I am alone. Most of the time I am in a neighborhood or well traveled trail, but this time of year, some of the wood hikes are rather barren. I would be screwed if I had a heart attack, but i also wouldn't be expecting it.

This is why the never hike or swim alone items are in place. Most of the time you are ok, but when you are not OK, you are screwed if you are alone.


Yeah what exactly are the symptoms? And would I get it mixed up with the onset of vasovagal syncope which I've experienced suddenly a few times in my life? That slows the heart so I don't lose consciousness immediately but I suddenly feel like I'm suffocating despite breathing, then I notice my lack of a pulse, hear a loud overwhelming tone in my ears and then I'm out.
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seb146
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:29 am

Some accidental deaths happen to teach others. This sucks.

I had some friends who died from asphyxiation by propane on a hunting trip and that taught many of us to get our campers checked out and check for ventilation when using propane. These are good people and should never ever die this way but they also teach us something. The brosband laughs at me for always having my phone with me.

I am sorry for your loss. I will always remember to hike with at least a phone and never leave someone behind.
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notaxonrotax
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:44 am

DirectPupdog wrote:
notaxonrotax wrote:
Aesma wrote:

You could use an app that would dial emergency services if not acknowledged every hour or something like that.


The problem with that (good) idea is the phone or 3G / 4G / 5G (?) coverage in remote areas.


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Many wilderness hikers and campers often take a SPOT or an InReach. They have messaging, live tracking, and rescue capabilities through satellite. Lots of bush pilots have them too.


Fair enough.
I still think that most don`t that type of equipment......so a simple app wouldn`t be much help.
Talk about lessons learned.


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trpmb6
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:54 pm

Sorry for your loss Tugger. Recently lost a coworker who went for a bike ride and never came home. Took them a week to find him, and he was only a couple miles from home. No foul play, no outside influence. Just a freak accident.
 
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CitizenJustin
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:27 pm

trpmb6 wrote:
Sorry for your loss Tugger. Recently lost a coworker who went for a bike ride and never came home. Took them a week to find him, and he was only a couple miles from home. No foul play, no outside influence. Just a freak accident.


That’s terrible. Was he in rugged terrain?
 
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CitizenJustin
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:27 pm

Sorry for your loss Tugger.
 
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:03 pm

There is a safety dynamics difference between a group hike and solo. There are implicit and some explicit responsibilities between the various members of the group. When I was leading/or hiking with people through the Olympics we would never have left anyone alone. They did not have satellite emergency devices, EPIRB, then, I would never go into the wilderness now without one - solo or in a group. And as Tugger so cogently posted, we need to consider not only the risk to ourselves, but the risk our death might impact others.

I follow different safety protocols when I am boating alone than when with a few others. Especially when alone I have backups to backups on my boat - cell, two radios and an EPIRB
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trpmb6
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:03 pm

CitizenJustin wrote:
trpmb6 wrote:
Sorry for your loss Tugger. Recently lost a coworker who went for a bike ride and never came home. Took them a week to find him, and he was only a couple miles from home. No foul play, no outside influence. Just a freak accident.


That’s terrible. Was he in rugged terrain?


No, he had some other health complications and had recently switched medications. We think he became confused and got lost on a route he was very familiar with.
 
mham001
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:33 pm

Only rule I heard of was always tell somebody where you were going.
 
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trpmb6
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Re: Just lost a friend - Never hike alone, never leave a hiker alone

Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:52 pm

mham001 wrote:
Only rule I heard of was always tell somebody where you were going.


I've been hiking by my self a few times. I always inform people of my departure time, arrival time, on trail time (and which routes I'm taking) and what time I should check-in by before they should call authorities. But I also make it a point to hike well known, higher trafficked hikes where I know I'll see other hikers.

I practice the same when I'm hunting. Several individuals all know where I am and I check in at least every 30 minutes with my wife.

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