May 12, 2006

"We definitely knew that we were looking at somebody's grave."

"The thought was, 'Is this going to be our grave?' "

Lost campers think they've finally found someone, but what they've found is the campsite of a man who had become lost a year earlier.

14 comments:

Senescent Wasp said...

I know this part of the PCT and it is rugged and inhospitable country. Experienced trail hikers have gotten lost in these mountains and died. You cannot be over prepared.

Even on a day hike from the top of the tram, I take two days of food, a survival bag, a full Camelbak, my GPS and cell phone. It is steep and has many dead end canyons that end in precipitous cliffs.

For those of you in the Midwest and the East, if you have Google Earth, go to the top of the Palm Springs Tram, zoom in, tilt your view and you'll get some idea of just how tough the terrain is.

The young couple got real lucky.

Goesh said...

- eaten by bears, coyotes and possums, what a eulogy

SippicanCottage said...

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson: "Nature always looks best on TV."

Senescent Wasp said...

goesh

Truth to tell I'd rather get re-cycled that way than in a box in the ground. There is a very small and remote cemetary in the Sierras and the sexton is a big time camper and hiker. He has "laid out" more than one person consigned to his graveyard as well as having scattered a lot of ashes.

Mike said...

Day and Allen are idiots. Whenever you go into the woods in a remote area, you plan on surviving even if you get lost. I won't go 5 minutes from my gear without matches and a few other necessities that would allow me to survive. Never.

What happened to Donovan I don't get. He had gear. Sure, he was out of food, but it takes weeks to starve to death.

Goesh said...

- it'll be the flames for the old goesh when he goes, but I see nothing wrong with giving over grandma to the possums if she is so inclined. I think it is in Tibet in some places where Monks toss 'em to the vultures. There is something somehow more respectful it seems to laying out someone on the ground in a remote area amidst the fresh air and scenes of pristine nature V consigning them to cold,mold, mildew and worms in a box.

Ann Althouse said...

"it takes weeks to starve to death."

And wouldn't a trained hiker have some good ideas about eating plants and animals? What's with only three crackers left?

Seven Machos said...

Isn't it likely the guy got eaten or fell down a ravine or something?

Goesh said...

Mike, maybe he wanted to go out in that way - sort of go off and just blend in and return to earth, naturally expire without tubes protruding from his body, being poked and prodded, eating hospital jello then croaking amidst a bunch of diseased, suffering people who are coughing and hacking and groaning and morbid family members hanging around in despair. I would have gnawed alot of bark and green fodder and died by the ashes of a fire - the found matches to me are a clue he wanted to die.

RogerA said...

There apparently is more to this story than meets the eye: Donovan had matches and Day and Allen used those matches to light a signal fire; the starving to death scenario has already been identified--Could this have been an elaborate suicide? too many details don't seem to fit.

Mike said...

When I first read the article I got the impression that his notes indicated a preminition that he was going to die unwillingly, so suicide or falling down a cliff didn't fit. On rereading the article, it's pretty vague on what he wrote, so these might be plausible explanations.

Ann, knowing how to not die in the woods doesn't require any specialized knowledge. Mainly just common sense and a little preparation. Knowing how to forage for food is a whole different level and is pretty specific to particular regions.

Senescent Wasp said...

Day and Allen were from Dallas, city folk. Notice, they were following a stream, probably down stream, good practice where they are from; bad practice in the San Jacinto's. They started in the relic forest on the mountain top and probably just were following their noses and got into the front face of the range which is steeply pitched.

I suspect that Donovan got caught in the storm, lost track of where he was and may have become incapacitated in some way.

I've done a lot of S&R in California and down in the San Jacinto's is not the way you want to go. If you can't go up to the ridgeline and keep going up in a northerly direction, eventually getting back to the mountain top and the tram you're pretty much toast.

J said...

I agree with Mike and Roger - the story as reported just doesn't add up. To throw in some speculation, while I don't see somebody who is prepared (and it appears he was)getting trapped in a spring snow in that area long enough to starve, it's probably possible for somebody in that situation and unfamiliar with the area to give up. Who knows, but there's more to this than the WP is telling.

BrianOfAtlanta said...

I, also, was struck by the fact that an experienced hiker with matches, shelter, warm clothing and water had just decided that he was doomed beyond all hope of rescue. Makes absolutely no sense. No rational person with his experience would just give up with all those resources still at his disposal. Perhaps he had a bout of severe clinical depression or something else to make him suddenly irrational?