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Any hiker deaths in BIBE?

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Offline dkerr24

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Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« on: July 29, 2009, 01:42:44 PM »
I've read about the unfortunate death of a 20 year old hiker at the Grand Canyon last week.  Eagle Scout, full ride college scholarship, apparently a bright young man with some outdoor skills.  Comments on the Grand Canyon forums range from condolences to the family to Murphy's law have been discussed.

He did make several key mistakes...

1) Didn't apply for a required backcountry permit.
2) Hiked solo.
3) Didn't leave a route or itinerary with any family members or friends.  Noone reported him missing until the day after he failed to return to Flagstaff.
4) Area he was found is one of the toughest and most remote areas of the canyon.
5) Possibly unfamiliar with backcountry of the North Rim along with unfamiliar with extreme heat of the inner canyon (just speculation).

My question is... has a hiker ever died in BIBE?  I recall the unfortunate tales of illegal immigrants not making it across the desert, but do not recall any hiker deaths.

The Grand Canyon has had over 200 recorded deaths since records were being kept around the late 1800's.  Surprisingly low considering the sheer numbers of visitors that see that park each year.

RichardM:  If this topic has been covered before, please feel free to delete.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 01:51:45 PM by dkerr24 »

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Offline Roy

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2009, 02:05:23 PM »
Yeah, there's been a number, over the years.  There has been discussion on several threads in the past, maybe someone can link them here.

One thing that seems to be a constant is that their freinds/family invariably describe them as "experienced hiker/backpacker/outdoorsman", etc..  It only takes getting sloppy one time and you're in big trouble.

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Offline badknees

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2009, 02:58:51 PM »
Oct 2006

Rangers began a search for 71-year-old Carl Springer of Conroe, Texas, on the afternoon of Sunday, October 22nd, when a routine check of solo hiker forms revealed that he was 24 hours overdue from a four-day hike. His vehicle was quickly located and it was determined that he had not checked out of his motel room. The park’s ranger/pilot began an aerial reconnaissance of Springer’s proposed route – the Outer Mountain Loop Trail, an arduous mountain and desert hike around the southern half of the Chisos Mountains. On Monday morning, ground teams began a search of the entire 28-mile route with the assistance of the park aircraft and a Customs and Border Protection OH-6 helicopter. Springer was spotted from the airplane around 3:30 p.m. The CBP helicopter ferried a SAR team member to his location, which was in a rugged drainage over a mile from the trail. Springer was alert and oriented but too weak to stand. He said that he’d run out of water four days before being found. Attempts were made to re-hydrate Springer and move him to the helicopter, but his condition deteriorated. A park medic was flown to the scene and IV therapy was begun. Other searchers climbed to his location and helped move him to the small, two-seat helicopter. Springer was flown to the helipad at Panther Junction, then transferred to the park’s ambulance. Care was provided by park medics and a physician who was in the park to instruct an EMT-I refresher course. Despite their efforts, Springer was pronounced dead while en route to a rendezvous with a life flight helicopter. From the NPS daily report for October 25.

Not all those who wander are lost.
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Offline Robert

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2009, 03:00:36 PM »
http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/national-park-news/hiker-dies-after-four-days-without-water-t2157.0.html

This one sticks out in my mind for a couple of reasons and I think about it often. First off, Mr. Springer was an experienced hiker and member of the Woodlands Hiking Club and second, I have a close friend who mentioned this to me as he worked for the same company that Mr. Springer retired from and knew that I went backpacking in the park. Lastly, he was doing a hike that I have done many times and I wonder if something like this could ever happen to me.

It is hard for me to comprehend how he could be out of water and 1 mile from the trail with no loss in his mental faculties as he left individual goodbye notes to his family. He had been out of water for 4 days before being found alive yet died soon afterward.

As others had mentioned it should have been somewhat "easy" to drop his pack and get over to Fresno to get water but instead he went off trail. I'm pretty sure we don't know the complete story but his death seems preventable and my heart goes out to his family.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 03:04:53 PM by Robert »

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2009, 03:17:29 PM »
Yes, I do recall reading that report about Mr. Springer.  I wonder if he had gone without water for 4 days, or the delirium from thirst clouded his memory?

With the exception of Cattail Canyon, BIBE does seem to be a bit less dangerous than the Grand Canyon.  Sheer cliffs and drops are everywhere at the GC.  But then again, I've only been to BIBE twice and only hiked the South Rim, Emory, and the OML.  I'm sure the backcountry/off trail stuff is a completely different story at BIBE.

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Offline badknees

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2009, 03:37:36 PM »
There was also a 14 yr old high school student from Dallas, on a school sponsored adventure trip that apparently fell to his death while trying to descend the Emory Peak summit in 96(?)
Not all those who wander are lost.
– J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
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Offline Roy

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2009, 03:38:16 PM »
It's not so much the off-trail stuff that's the problem; it's just people not taking the place seriously;  maybe because they've been to places like the Tetons or Grand Canyon and think they know it all.
I remember a relatively young guy dying on the Marufo Vega trail a few years ago.  Had most of a canteen of water with him and didn't drink it.  Another guy, an outdoor/sports writer, went for a quick hike on the Grapevine Hills trail, no water, no hat; got confused from the heat/glare and couldn't find his way back.  They found his body somewhere north of the trail, if I remember right.  And, probably the most "mysterious" one, a guy (Peter something-or-other) disappeared on the Mule Ears trail.  They found his car, no note, no permit, etc.  People were even speculating that he'd faked his own death for some reason.  Took them about 2 years to find what was left of him, some of it in a cave up on the slope of Mule Ears.  

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Offline badknees

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2009, 03:46:08 PM »
Big Bend, Texas - October 12 2002, Christopher Sheets, 29, died on a rugged 14 mile section of Marufo Vega trail in the Dead Horse Mountains, apparently died of dehydration.

Big Bend, Texas - June 21st 2003, Joseph H. Gottschalk, 52, fell 100 feet to his death while hiking to the south rim.

Big Bend National Park (TX)
Hiker Dies on Grapevine Hills Trail
On Thursday, May 20th,(2004) park searchers, aided by a Border Patrol helicopter, found the body of a 42-year-old New York man who became lost on a day hike the previous day. Another hiker reported seeing the man around 11 a.m. on Wednesday on the Grapevine Hills trail. When the hiker returned to his car at 4 p.m., he noted that the other hiker’s vehicle was still at the trailhead. He reported this fact to rangers, noting that the man had no pack, water or hat on a day when temperatures hovered near 100 degrees. Several hasty teams aided by a Border Patrol tracker searched until dark, following an intermittent track. Terrain and darkness halted their efforts, which resumed the next morning. Searchers picked up tracks near the last known point shortly after sunup. An observer in the helicopter spotted the body of the hiker as the helicopter flew ahead of searchers who were on the track trail. It appears that dehydration and heat were the cause of death. Ranger Kathy Hambly was IC.[Submitted by Mark Spier, Chief Ranger]
Not all those who wander are lost.
– J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2009, 03:55:11 PM »
Big Bend, Texas - June 21st 2003, Joseph H. Gottschalk, 52, fell 100 feet to his death while hiking to the south rim.
Speculation on that one was that it was a suicide, as I recall. San Antonio residents may remember him as the Thong Man

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2009, 03:59:42 PM »
Since the South Rim of BIBE is such a long hike from the basin, a person definitely would have plenty of time to rethink his demise after making a long, tiring walk to a suicide jump compared to hopping out of your car and maybe walking 10ft from the rim drive at Grand Canyon.  About a week before the 20 year old died, someone drove their car off the South Rim near all the hotels ala 'Thelma & Louise'.

Most likely, the percentage of fatalities to number of visitors may not be all that different from BIBE to a more popular national park.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 04:03:40 PM by dkerr24 »

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Offline Roy

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2009, 04:03:59 PM »
badkness sure is quick on the search engine :icon_smile:
(so's Richard)

Gottschalk had mental problems and his death was ruled a suicide.

Couldn't find the other case I described, but I did find a post from the old board;  BigBendHiker and The Wild West Guy were talking about it.  And Picacho had a post on this board, but noone had the name.  Maybe one of them will be here later and can fill in details.

The only death/serious injury I've seen personally was a motorcylce rider who lost control on that curve where Ross Maxwell meets the main road.  He and his buddies were riding side by side, he was on the outside, hit a rock on the shoulder and flipped headfirst into that little wash.  I got there just as the EMTs arrived but there was nothing they could do, he'd broken his neck.  Most deaths in the park are from accidents on the road, just like in the big city.  
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 04:06:05 PM by Roy »

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Offline trtlrock

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2009, 04:07:03 PM »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Pappas

I believe this was on the MV trail, although I can't find a working NPS link for the details.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 04:14:50 PM by trtlrock »
John & Tess

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Offline Robert

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2009, 04:12:16 PM »
Quote
With the exception of Cattail Canyon, BIBE does seem to be a bit less dangerous than the Grand Canyon. I'm sure the backcountry/off trail stuff is a completely different story at BIBE.

I hiked to Phantom Ranch from the South Rim and to the river via Thunder River on the north. The Thunder River hike was much more difficult and dangerous than any of the BB off trail stuff I've done. Also the park is a lot larger and has more remote areas for people to get lost in. There are many narrow canyons that drain into the Colorado for people get stuck in when they run out of water and try to reach the river. I would also add that with the sheer number of people who visit the park in the summer (versus BB summer visitation) there are far more opportunities for less experienced hikers to get in over their head.

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Offline Roy

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2009, 04:30:06 PM »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Pappas

I believe this was on the MV trail, although I can't find a working NPS link for the details.
This was the guy on the Grapevine Hills trail.  The one on Marufa Vega was in his twenties and was with a friend.

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Offline aggiemom

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Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2009, 04:33:39 PM »
I'm wondering if anyone has gone "through The Window"?  I have read that book about Grand Canyon deaths and think about it often.   
The desert looks like water when you're trying to get clean.............. ..

 


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