June 20, 2017

"For ten seconds I said the ‘F’ word as loud as I could as many times as I could then I started making my plans for survival."

A story of survival at mile 960 of a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.
“You can look at a pass and know what it is, but a river, you don’t have control. You’re at the mercy of the river and how much force is going to be on your body... When I got to the stream, I had already done streams similar to it,” [said Marcus Mazzaferri ]. “I though it would be the same thing.... I remember getting in twice up to my waist and chickening out... It was just on the threshold of my comfort. I couldn’t decide if it was too strong. I let my gung-ho hiker get ahold of me and decided to just go for it, but that was a mistake. The whole reason I share this story is because I made some mistakes that got me in a hazardous situation, but then I made good decisions to survive.... I got through a quarter of it and it was getting pretty strong, so I faced upstream and used my trekking poles... I go to take another step and I put my weight on the rock and it felt fine, but once I shifted all my weight over and took my next step, the rock slipped and came out, and just that little shift let the current take me away."
He got free of his heavy backpack and swam to shore, but the pack was lost — over the waterfall — so he had none of his supplies, and the nighttime temperatures would go below zero.

58 comments:

St. George said...

The worst damage from floods, the loss of life and homes, is caused primarily by the sheer force of flowing water. In a flood, two feet (61 cm) of water can move with enough force to wash a car away, and 6 inches (15 cm) of water can knock you off your feet.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/natural-disasters/flood4.htm

David Begley said...

Rivers flooding. Lakes full. Too bad CA doesn't have more dams.

traditionalguy said...

It is striking how the younger hearts are yearning to vicariously experience survival contests. It is like a yearning to be a traditional man with tested courage.

Maybe they should join the USMC and reenact The Chosin Reservoir Retreat or the Tarawa landing.

khesanh0802 said...

@traditionalguy Given his courage and resourcefulness there's a chance this kid would make a good Marine.

Original Mike said...

Best backcountry backpacking trip I've ever had was in the Canadian Rockies. My buddy and I were in for 16 days and saw only one other person that whole time. We couldn't understand why there was no one else because on some of it we were following established trails between horse camps. When we got out we learned they had closed the trails because the rivers were too high for the horses! (We had checked in at the beginning of the trip; why we weren't warned is a mystery). River fording was certainly pucker time; we knew the potential consequences. The one person we did see was jusr after a major ford and he was soaking wet; He had taken a dunk.

Absolutely the best mountain backpacking trip I ever did!

Nonapod said...

It took time and energy and I was really hungry, hadn’t slept. I was pretty well aware that I would probably not make it through another night. It takes a couple days to starve to death but I think with sleep deprivation, my mind would have started going, I wouldn’t have been sharp and strong.

Well, it takes a bit more than a "couple days" to starve to death. Even if you're burning lots of calories you should be able to last a while. The more immediate problem is hypothermia.

Mountain Maven said...

Stone cold stupid. It's a sign of the times that he'd publicize the most foolish and reckless thing he's ever done.

mockturtle said...

When crossing a stream, even a shallow one, you take off your backpack and carry it. If possible, toss it to the other side.

Original Mike said...

"When crossing a stream, even a shallow one, you take off your backpack. If possible, toss it to the other side."

What? You can't throw your backpack across all but the smallest streams.

Basil Duke said...

I store fire-making material (tinder, newspaper, wooden matches, lighter AND steel match), food (tootsie rolls, beef jerky, chicken stock cubes, and home-made hardtack), first-aid supplies (triple-strength anti-biotic ointment, various bandages, tape, etc.), a small vial of bleach (water purifying agent) and a knife in my survival pants - everything sealed in ziplock baggies. I also keep a metal cup tethered to these pants at all times. This sort of stuff is very helpful if your backpack hurdles over a water-fall.

Bob Ellison said...

Below zero, in June in Yosemite? Fahrenheit, or Celsius? Or Journolist?

CJinPA said...

I love survival stories. But our ancestors would find it strange that, having pretty much conquered the elements, we have to go out of our way to create danger.

Original Mike said...

@Basil Duke - Yep. You do have a survival kit secured such that it stays dry and you won't lose it.

mockturtle said...

I have crossed many streams narrow enough to throw my pack across. The main point is that you never wear your backpack when crossing any stream.

Original Mike said...

@mockturtle - Apologizes, I missed the part about carrying your pack, but that's not practical. The only way you get across a waist high river with your 50+ lb. backpack is with the pack on your back. Carrying it across almost assures you're going in.

Michael said...

In my youth as a crazed fly fisherman I put myself in many stupid situations. With waders with felt soles and studs I have been in currents that moved me a half dozen feet. I carried a wading staff for a while but found it was in the way more than it was a help. A nine foot fly rod can be a huge help in keeping balance, the whole rod in the water creates a stability like that of an oar in a scull. I no longer feel obliged to catch the bigger fish who reside, always, on the opposite bank.

mockturtle said...

Original Mike, I would never cross a waist-high river. Period. YMMV.

Original Mike said...

If it's in the way and going back is a week of hiking, you do what you have to do.

mockturtle said...

The only way you get across a waist high river with your 50+ lb. backpack is with the pack on your back. Carrying it across almost assures you're going in.

And having it strapped to your back almost assures you are going under if you slip.

Original Mike said...

Like I said. Pucker time. But carrying completely destroys your balance.

Rusty said...

MT @ 11:08
That's why you carry rope.
Cross the river and then drag your gear across.
Outward Bound taught me a lot and that was one of them.
Also. A stout walking stick can come in very handy. Or a canoe paddle.

Original Mike said...

Walking stick is mandatory.

rhhardin said...

Add nuclear war and it could be a movie.

Original Mike said...

@Rusty - Dragging your pack is an interesting idea. I'd worry about the pack snagging on the bottom. Also soaking your sleeping bag and coat (waterproof packing method essential I guess). But an interesting idea that hadn't occurred to me.

urbane legend said...

Mountain Maven said...
Stone cold stupid. It's a sign of the times that he'd publicize the most foolish and reckless thing he's ever done.

Who ever got rich and famous and all the hot chicks publicizing the thoughtful and risk-averse things he has done?

Mountain Maven said...

Btw he was in Yosemite Nat park at 8000' elevation, upsteam from hetch hetchy dam. No need for flood control in the wilderness. Caveat Emptor.

Earnest Prole said...

Below zero, in June in Yosemite? Fahrenheit, or Celsius? Or Journolist?

A storm dumped a load of snow there just last week, so yes, below freezing in June. The snow still blocks the main road through the park -- good aerial video at the bottom of this page.

Earnest Prole said...

Last month a kid swimming in the American River north of Yosemite was swept away and drowned. There’s video of him jumping in, which I ordinarily wouldn’t share except that it might cause someone somewhere to realize how powerful and dangerous these Sierra rivers are.

n.n said...

It's a crude, rude method but it helps to overcome anxiety. You could also scream Noooooooooooooooo, but it may not produce an equal psychosomatic effect.

John Lynch said...

Eh... I no longer find survival stories gripping when the protaganist has put themselves in danger for no good reason. You courted the danger for some personal reason, now deal with it and leave me alone.

Real survival stories are people who don't have a choice, or better yet are there for some bigger reason than their own ego.

Can I say that? Does it make me an awful person? The wild is inherently dangerous, and you go at your own risk. I've gotten lost, had accidents, and fucked up. I don't bore anyone but my friends with the details.

Oso Negro said...

And then he signed up for the Young Pioneer Tour to North Korea!

Expat(ish) said...

@Original - I used to carry a large dry bag that fit the inside of my old Kelty. First things first I made sure my stuff was gonna be dry.

But that was NC where the weather was pretty mild, even in the Apps.

-XC

PS - No, not light, but a dry sleeping bag weighs a lot less than a wet one.

Fernandinande said...

Floods.
In river valleys the thaws of early spring may bring ruin and destruction. When a sudden warm spell melts the snow in upstream mountains and sends the water foaming down, rivers often rise above their normal banks.

Most of the time there's plenty of warning before real danger comes. You can be of service to the authorities by helping people move out of their homes and directing them to high ground.

Achilles said...

Blogger Expat(ish) said...
"@Original - I used to carry a large dry bag that fit the inside of my old Kelty. First things first I made sure my stuff was gonna be dry."

Close. I assume it was a waterproof bag you had. You put everything you want to keep dry inside the waterproof bag seal it and put it in your pack. If done properly your pack will float and you can use it to help you swim across a deep river. Your pack should help you and you really should not lose it.

You will never be carrying your pack on your shoulders in situations like this.

Some people above said this guy would make a good marine. We in the Army would say he would make a good marine too. *snicker*

Etienne said...

Rule 16: If there are no savages on your side of the river. Stay on your side.
Rule 17: There is nothing on the other side of a river, that isn't on your side of the river.
Rule 18: There may be savages on the other side of the river.
Rule 19: Crossing a river without a boat is never a good plan. Always cross a creek.
Rule 20: Do not cross a river that is ended by a waterfall.
Rule 21: Waterfalls will kill you, and the fish will peck your eyes out for food, and then lay eggs and shoot sperm into your eye socket.

Fernandinande said...

Etienne said...
Rule 18: There may be savages on the other side of the river.


A blonde is out hiking and she comes to a river and sees another blonde on the opposite bank.

"Hey there!" she yells, "How can I get to the other side?"

The other blonde yells back, "You're already on the other side!"

rhhardin said...

River punchline:

Do you think she'd come across for two bucks?

Barry Jacobs said...

Wet and without shelter with a cold night coming on, but no rain, you burrow, especially if you've got some leaf cover or other vegetable matter to do it in.

urbane legend said...

Fernandinande said...

rhhardin said..

You guys are good! Are you appearing anywhere in the South?

Bob said...

Basil Duke has the correct idea - - a small survival kit should be carried on the body, separate from the backpack. My own belt survival kit includes a Swiss Army Knife, butane lighter, button compass, whistle, and firestarters made from Vaseline-impregnated cotton sealed into drinking straws, and fits into a plastic traveler's soap box. Add a Mylar Space Blanket in a pocket and you needn't worry about immediate survival if your backpack goes astray.

Rusty said...

Original Mike said...
"@Rusty - Dragging your pack is an interesting idea. I'd worry about the pack snagging on the bottom. Also soaking your sleeping bag and coat (waterproof packing method essential I guess). But an interesting idea that hadn't occurred to me."

Beats the hell out of wearing it, slipping on a rock and getting washed down stream to drown.Yeah. and as far as getting your gear soaked goes-contractor grade garbage bags.

Paul said...

Gang... I do hikes. When I go yes I have a pack BUT I also have a vest on. The vest has pockets with zippers and snaps. In these pockets are SURVIVAL SUPPLIES!! Just in case I lose the pack. Simple stuff. Fire starter, knife, med-kit, few bags of distilled water (bought online.. just enough for a drink or two), a poncho/ground cloth in the back. And yes.. my GUN. S&W airweight .38.

If I lose my pack with the real gear I should be able to get out of my trouble. I also have a nice hiking staff I got at an estate sale for $2. Best two bucks I ever spent.

Original Mike said...

@Rusty - When you did this did your pack float?

Paul said...

Etienne,

Where did you get these rules. Love to see them all!

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"a small vial of bleach (water purifying agent)"

Why not iodine tabs?

Bad Lieutenant said...

What does anybody think of these lifestraws that I'm seeing advertised all over?

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

Bad L,

Very popular. That's what the gals call my cock.

Etienne said...

Paul said...Where did you get these rules. Love to see them all!

They were found at the bottom of a Gallo wine bottle.

Hee...

The Drill SGT said...

"To Build a Fire"

- Jack London

Bad Lieutenant said...

PBJ, you fooled me. From your remark about iodine tablets I thought you would be serious and real on this, presumably because the topic genuinely interested you. My bad.

I can, then, only respond that I would be concerned if girls could mistake my schvantz for a straw. More like a kielbasa or a salami. But since you are so rich, giggle snort, I guess you can get away with having a pencil dick. You're probably better off. You've never had a girl tell you it was too big. That really hurts! [snif]

Rusty said...

Blogger 3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...
"a small vial of bleach (water purifying agent)"

Why not iodine tabs?

Bleach is easier to obtain.

@Rusty - When you did this did your pack float?

Mostly. I use contractor grade garbage bags there's enough trapped air to keep things boyant. I wouldn't use it as a flotation device, but as long as it floats on its own it's OK.
Full disclosure. My territory has been Upper Michigan , Wisconsin and southern Ontario and Manitoba so no mountains unless tourist trails count.
I'm looking forward to doing more now that i have a new hip.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"I use contractor grade garbage bags"

FTR, these KA things:

https://www.kayakacademy.com/collections/dry-bags

are, for dry bags, really light. And surprisingly durable, imho.


Options.

Fen said...

You guys are overthinking the river crossing. I just teleport, it's short range too. Or I have Jean TK me over.

Amatuers.

Bad Lieutenant said...

I don't use my psychic powers for small stuff, it would help THEM find me.

I take the middle way:

DRONES! [clap clap] Pick up this stuff and carry it across the river for me!

mockturtle said...

Beats the hell out of wearing it, slipping on a rock and getting washed down stream to drown.Yeah. and as far as getting your gear soaked goes-contractor grade garbage bags.

I like that idea, Rusty. And yes I always have my sleeping bag in a trash-compacter bag. Cheaper than a dry bag and very sturdy. In the Pac NW, everything that can get wet will get wet. And chances of getting it dry again are very remote.

mockturtle said...

Because I've done more kayak camping than backpacking I got used to keeping everything waterproof.

Bad Lieutenant said...

How do you waterseal a trash bag? Just with a twist tie? Wouldn't think that could be trusted.

Ima anon said...

My friend who worked in the National Outdoor Leadership organization and lead trips in Africa said that the locals had a word for the westerners that hiked in their area that roughly translated to "People with luggage looking for trouble "