Sep 22, 2007 at 3:55 am #1225142
@davidlewisLocale: Nova Scotia, Canada
So I've read a couple of stories about Mary Wingfield… a day hiker who got lost last weekend near Diablo, Washington. The thing I didn't understand was… she left a note when she got lost saying she had no water. The note was found beside a stream?! Yesterday she was found and recused, tired, hungry and dehydrated… near the base of a waterfall! I couldn't figure out how she could possibly have been dehydrated, but the article goes on to say that she chose not to drink the water because she left on a day hike and didn't take a filter with her. She was missing for almost a week!!! Almost a week without drinking water… hiking down a stream.
So the question is… do you think she did the right thing? I can't imagine not drinking the water. If it was as remote an area as they say, I would say the risk of dying from dehydration after a week is a heck of a lot higher than the risk of dying from something in the water. Heck… I know friends who routinely go backpacking and don't even both to treat their water… on purpose (depending on the area).
Anyway… the lesson learned is… (altho' I'm sure it's not a lesson for most of is here)… even on a day hike… you should always carry a small ditty bag with a few essentials… fire starter… aqua mira… first aid… etc. Those are things I always have on me… even if I'm just doing an afternoon hike on a well marked trail. It's not like it weighs anything. I don't blame her for not carrying one of those ridiculous, huge pump filters tho'. Who takes that on a day hike?! But I always carry aqua mira.
Oh… and if you're gonna go off trail… know what you're doing and bring a map and compass. It sounds like where she was hiking was well travelled… so I assume she got lost by going off trail. She had no map.
Anyway… all's well that ends well. I was just kind of surprised about the water thing. I would have been drinking that water on day one I think… LOL :PSep 22, 2007 at 4:23 am #1403087
She was unprepared to be solo in the outdoors…lucky she lived…sheer ignorance on the water thing.Sep 22, 2007 at 4:37 am #1403088
@tomcat1066Locale: Southwest GA
I'd have been drinking the untreated water too. While I understand the concerns she had, there comes a point where you have to weigh your options, and drinking would have won every time, especially for that long. If a human can't go longer that 72 hours without water, then at 48 I'd be doing some long, hard thinking…if I waited that long!
TomSep 22, 2007 at 4:52 am #1403090
@maynard76Locale: New England
Seems like the result of the FS, backpacking mags, and filter ads trying to scare people away from drinking backcountry water to protect themselves from liability and to sell filters.
She could could have easily died for nothing.Sep 22, 2007 at 5:52 am #1403093
@jasonklassLocale: Parker, CO
I agree that she was unprepared. I would definitely have drunk the water. I look at it this way:
If you don't drink the water, you WILL get dehydrated. If you do drink the water, you MIGHT get sick. Seems like pretty simple logic to me. I think she's really luck she made it a week!Sep 22, 2007 at 8:11 am #1403100
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
Here is an interview with her. It looks like she was actually drinking river water and eating berries. She also had matches and had a fire going for part of the time until the matches ran out.
Maybe she resisted drinking water at first thinking she might be found in a day or two but then as the days went by she figured out the risk of dehydration was higher than the risk of catching a bug?Sep 22, 2007 at 9:32 am #1403123
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Very glad to read she's okay. I'd been following this story in the Seattle Times all week. Each article noted she was considered very experienced. I'm thinking, maybe not so much.
What she is, is very lucky.Sep 22, 2007 at 10:08 am #1403126
@bjamesdLocale: South Coast of BC
"Experienced" doesn't necessarily mean "knowledgeable."Sep 22, 2007 at 10:31 am #1403129
@jasonklassLocale: Parker, CO
Ah, I probably would have held out as long as I could too then. I guess you never know if you're going to be lost for a day or 2 weeks.Sep 22, 2007 at 11:33 am #1403133
She HAD to have drunk water at some point, or she would have died. At best, sitting in a cool place, with basically no activity, a human will only live about 3 days without water. She didn't make it 6 without drinking some water.
But I buy the idea that she unnecessarily went a while without drinking due to all of the fear engendered by companies pushing water purification products. They're everywhere. But a survival situation is just that – and survival says the poor decisions made by dehydration (not to mention eventual death) are a much biger risk than the small chance of a waterborne illness in 7-10 days.
Of course if she were really thinking, she would have carried some sort of waterpurification even for the dayhike. I suspect most of us here do so.Sep 22, 2007 at 11:52 am #1403136
@bjamesdLocale: South Coast of BC
As we all know, gear makers would have you believe that every single drop of backcountry water is "contaminated" and it's up to us to "make" water that's fit for human consumption using special equipment.
Here's a case where that BS marketing line almost killed someone.
EDIT: Shawn you beat me to itSep 22, 2007 at 12:27 pm #1403139
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
This hiker seemed to be bereft of any common sense. Maybe, just maybe, she'll carry some Aquira Mira or chlorine dioxide tabs as a PERMENANT part of her "10 Essentials".
Then, again, maybe she'll drop hiking and take up something that requires no common sense, like politics.
EricSep 22, 2007 at 4:38 pm #1403156
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
I wouldn't blame her reluctance to drink the water entirely on BIG BUSINESS, although they definitely get their 2 cents' worth in. I know a lot of backcountry people up here in the PNW, both experienced and knowledgable, who are very careful about drinking untreated water. I suspect it's a result of aforementioned BIG BUSINESS hype and a few actual cases of the runs striking fear in the community at large over the years, to the point where it verges on conventional wisdom that you treat your water. I myself tend to error on the side of caution, having contracted both amoebic and bacillary dysentery in the past, but I can tell you for sure that I would have been doing some hard drinkin' long before I got down to hard thinkin', had I somehow found myself in her situation. She definitely lucked out this time. Let's hope that she is on a path where experience, knowledge and judgment converge, both for her own sake and that of the guys and gals who have to go out and bring her back-dead or alive.Sep 22, 2007 at 4:40 pm #1403157
@markhurdLocale: South Texas
I think she did have some common sense and therefore would not be fit for politics.
On the plus side she left notes, DID drink the water, and ate some berries. She had matches. She did follow the stream down which is generally a good policy if you're going to move.
On the minus side she did not stay put or she would have been found earlier at the location of her 1st note. She ran out of matches? She did not build a nice smoky fire to attract attention.
It is unclear if she made a good cup of tea: (See the following URL "Survival is all about a good cup of tea.")
-MarkSep 22, 2007 at 6:17 pm #1403165
Thanks for sharingSep 22, 2007 at 6:46 pm #1403169
As the old saying goes, "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst."
I follow that motto like it's my job. Of course, "prepare for the worst" does not mean "bring the kitchen sink". But we all know what needs to be done to have a safe journey into the wilderness. Whether it's for 2 hours or 2 months, you should be prepared for the worst case scenario.Sep 22, 2007 at 7:31 pm #1403175
Those that don't treat suggest that a tested immune system is a stronger immune system.
Those that do treat may have gotten sick once in the past and they talk about Giardia like it was a demonic possession.
I'm a treater. Even on a day hike I have the means to treat at least 4 liters of water. I used to drink from high altitude streams untreated, I DO still drink from springs sans treatment.
My dog got a super case of Giardia last year. Required some serious treatment and his immune system is nothing if not tested.
Re: a survival situation…drink! Dehydration is a right now problem whereas possible bugs getting to you is a few days away.Sep 22, 2007 at 7:41 pm #1403177
Take a look at the trail she was. Some might say "it was only a 3 mile trail!". As most of us Washingtonians well know, last November's major storm blew out many trails here. That trail was shredded that she was on.
If you saw the King 5 interview they got of her at the TH she had a decent sized daypack with pack cover on. She wasn't unprepared, just under prepared.
From the interview and other articles it appears she got turned around on the "trail" (what was left of it that is!) and ended up going the wrong direction, deeper into a ravaged area.
Btw, during the day she dried her clothes off on rocks in the sun. That takes thinking!
Pointing fingers won't help. She is very lucky they found her, and she won't forget it.
Instead of yamming on about her, think instead about how scared she must have been when the trail suddenly couldn't be found-and knowing that no one knew where she was! She did the best she could! Until you have been in her shoes, and gone through what she did, you shouldn't judge her. That is called armchair quarterbacking, you louts!
I have hiked solo in the North Cascades often, and I can picture the terrain she was lost in quite easily.Sep 22, 2007 at 8:06 pm #1403181
You're right, it's much easier to sit here and talk about it. But these discussions are important because they function as an educational tool for everyone who is fortunate enough to have not been lost. One day when I'm scrambling around in the New Zealand bush trying to find my way back, I'll think back to this thread and say, "Crap, I should drink the water instead of drying up."Sep 22, 2007 at 8:46 pm #1403184
True, it never hurts to talk about it..but here is a discussion a friend of mine had with me this summer. She is a newbie hiker, and got frustrated seeing so many dayhikers with nothing more than a water bottle on a trail that entered the wilderness. She said she wished she could talk to them, teach them. My reply to her was that was their comfort level. They had never suffered, so why need more? After all, it was "just" a dayhike.
Thing is, she carries a daypack like me: with everything but a sleeping bag and tent (and in winter one in the group always has a tarp). But…..and this is a BIG but…nothing in that pack will save you if you don't use the #1 survival item:
This is what I told my friend will do you more good than anything else.
Her drying her clothes out saved her from hypothermia most likely – since it was raining at night. That took thinking. She left notes. Another idea that took thought.
Last winter a lady became separated and lost from her group while snowshoeing in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness here. Like this lady she beat the odds and was found alive. But what she did was against what you are taught: she kept moving. And that kept her alive. It kept her warm. She never quit moving! She got lucky and found a pair of massively oversized rain pants that were bright-which the helicopter found her waving.
She to lost her way due to a trail that didn't make sense (a tricky trail junction).
In the end, while I might carry a ton of gear on dayhikes, it doesn't mean I would make the right decisions or survive. None of us can say that!Sep 22, 2007 at 10:58 pm #1403192
I’m very glad she is alive. I understand she did not have a map, I do not know if she had a compass. With the two, especially a compass, she could have easily established a baseline back to a forest service road or trail head prior to starting her hike which is a common sense approach in new areas and would not have gotten lost.Sep 23, 2007 at 6:46 am #1403212
Scott, if you had read the story involving her, you would have noted that she wasn't on a FS road.
Just having a compass and map doesn't mean you are ok. Many who carry those items have no idea how to properly use them! It gives a false sense of safety to many. They carry it due to being told they should.Sep 23, 2007 at 6:55 am #1403213
@naturephoto1Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
That is one of the important things to be able to read and orient a map (preferably a topo sheet). Using the map properly oriented with a compass (preferably declination adjustable; or know how to work without this feature) you would then try to triangulate your position by back shooting bearings of reference points with the compass.
RichSep 23, 2007 at 7:23 am #1403220
No map, no compass.
Utter faith in their electronic device. Expect to read reports in the future about these people.Sep 23, 2007 at 8:32 am #1403224
@arichardson6Locale: North East
I don't think it is true that she would have HAD to have drank some water to survive that long..
According to "Physiology of Man in the Desert" by E.F Adolph as found in The Complete Walker IV, if she were walking at night until exhausted and resting thereafter and the maximum daily temperature (f) in the shade was 70 she could have lived for 7.5 days without water. The amount of time only increases as the temp drops. The table is interesting and I can repost it in another post if people want to talk about it..
That three day water rule is more a myth than a truth. Of course it depends on so many factors such as size, health, ambient temperature, wind, available shade, and I think mostly on the state of mind… Mind is very powerful when it comes to survival. I would recommend everyone reading Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales. It's an interesting book about the psychology of survival..
I myself would have drank some water! Simply from the fact that I don't have the willpower not to drink if I was walking next to a stream! I can only imagine the temptation.. I wonder if she was able to not pee the whole time too!
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