Big Bend Chat

Big Bend National Park Q&A => General Questions and Answers => Topic started by: dkerr24 on July 29, 2009, 01:42:44 PM

Title: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: dkerr24 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.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Roy 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.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: badknees 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.

Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Robert 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 (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.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: dkerr24 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.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: badknees 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(?)
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Roy 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.  
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: badknees 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]
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: RichardM 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 (http://www.ksat.com/news/2288151/detail.html)
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: dkerr24 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.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Roy 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.  
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: trtlrock on July 29, 2009, 04:07:03 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Pappas (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.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Robert 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.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Roy on July 29, 2009, 04:30:06 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Pappas (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.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: aggiemom 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.   
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Roy on July 29, 2009, 05:55:32 PM
Peter Bastien was the name of the hiker that disappeared on Mule Ears.

http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/hiking-the-desert/mule-ears-peak-hike-t2758.30.html (http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/hiking-the-desert/mule-ears-peak-hike-t2758.30.html)

Look at Richard's post a little way down the page;  the link he posted is no longer active, but he's got the text.

I was in the park about a month after he disappered;  went for a hike to Mule Ears Spring.  I noticed a white sedan was there when I left and when I got back, also there the next day.  I reported it to the Rangers but they already knew about it and were really upset that they might have lost another person out there.  Fortunately, the driver showed up soon after. 
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: BigBendHiker on July 29, 2009, 06:08:33 PM
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.  


The one TWWG and I were talking about was the one that involved a a teenager who fell from Emory Peak back in 1996 or 1997.  Here is the link to the Dallas Morning News story.  Very sad story when you read it...

http://www.dallasobserver.com/1999-12-16/news/after-the-fall/ (http://www.dallasobserver.com/1999-12-16/news/after-the-fall/)
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Casa Grande on July 29, 2009, 06:09:38 PM
my, how quickly a thread moves.....

I think most deaths in the park are either intentional or a shear lack of respect for the desert, aka dehydration.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: lparent on July 29, 2009, 06:43:07 PM
The deaths at the park are most commonly due to errors, often minor errors that compound.  The single most common cause of death at the park is motor vehicle accidents, just like anywhere.  Other causes are heat stroke, dehydration, hypothermia, drowning (with the river so low, it's much less common in recent years), murder, lightning, suicide, and falls.  Nobody has fallen through the Window, amazingly.  Overall, considering that a quarter million people/year visit the park, the death rate is probably lower than at your average Wal-Mart.  So, I'd save my worrying energy for things like the national debt and what really happened to Michael Jackson.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: dkerr24 on July 29, 2009, 06:44:38 PM
I know to some it may seem macabre, but stories about hikers meeting their end does make you think about the little details and how you can personally avoid making the mistakes others have.  Well, the suicides make you wonder what was so bad in those peoples' lives.

I've probably relayed this story here before, but the most dangerous/stupid thing I've done was hike from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the Colo River and back out in the same day... in August.  It was 110F+ at Phantom Ranch at the bottom when I began to hike back out.   I took the South Kaibab trail down to the river, then hiked back up the longer Bright Angel trail to get out.  It was 50F at the beginning of the hike at dawn, and I thought it would be a piece of cake.  It took me over 14 hours to finish, it was dark when I finally crawled out.  Was so dehydrated and weak I was sick for a few days afterwards.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Casa Grande on July 29, 2009, 09:24:47 PM
So, I'd save my worrying energy for things like the national debt and what really happened to Michael Jackson.

here here
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: RikD on July 29, 2009, 09:51:45 PM
One interesting point that I've observed is the rarity of deaths caused by snakes.  Of course any snakebite would be bad, but the ones caused by a mojave or rock rattler if you directly stepped on one or reached into their place, could be fatal.

The other area of potential death would be from a mountain lion, but I understand that these are very rare - and not sure if their are any recorded deaths from lions in the park.

-Rik
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: RikD on July 29, 2009, 10:14:01 PM
And speaking of mojave rattlers, here is Steve Irwin (RIP) handling one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qnrk7QRs4U&NR=1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qnrk7QRs4U&NR=1)
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: SHANEA on July 30, 2009, 12:21:28 AM
Nobody has fallen through the Window, amazingly.

Ah, They must remove the plexiglass and physical barriers when you visit...   :icon_wink:

Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Casa Grande on July 30, 2009, 12:25:35 AM

The other area of potential death would be from a mountain lion, but I understand that these are very rare - and not sure if their are any recorded deaths from lions in the park.

-Rik

I believe the last Panther related death was in the 80's.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: SHANEA on July 30, 2009, 12:30:45 AM
Statistically speaking, I'd have to conclude that Big Bend is a very safe place.

How many people died in Big Bend National Park in 2007?  I don't know the answer, but let's say 1000. (way overstated I know)

There were at least 367,023 visitors to the park in 2007.   http://www.nps.gov/bibe/parkmgmt/visit_stats.htm (http://www.nps.gov/bibe/parkmgmt/visit_stats.htm)

So, out of 367,023 visitors, 1000 didn't make it home, but 366,023 did.  Odds are that unless you are planning on committing hari kari, you are going to make it home alive.

Now, realistically, there were probably less than 5-10 deaths in 2007.  Granted, any death is too much, but it's call risk, medigating risk, and avoiding risk (risk avoidance).  If you drive the roads in Houston, Dallas, go to any "Stop and Rob" stores, etc - there is risk involved.  

My late great stats professor put it this way "I've got a gun with a million chambers and one bullet in a chamber", you spin the chamber and if it doesn't land on a bullet, you can travel anywhere you want to in the world instantly - would you accept the risk?

He went on to say, the elevators in the new math building have fallen five times this week and it's only Wednesday, would you ride the elevator?  

Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: TexasAggieHiker on July 30, 2009, 11:23:41 AM
It's really informative to read how these people have died.

And Irwin is nuts to messing around with a Mojave.  Those are some bad mofo's if you get tagged by one.  Way worse than a diamond back or black-tailed.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: lparent on July 30, 2009, 12:01:50 PM
I don't believe there have been any mountain lion deaths in the park, although there were a few attacks some years ago.  There have been deaths caused by mountain lions in other areas of the West, though.  I also don't believe that there have been any snake-bite deaths in the park, and snake bites in general at Big Bend are surprisingly rare.  I expect that the biggest risk in coming to Big Bend is the drive to the park.

Stories of how others have died in the outdoors are interesting, if for no other reason than the lessons that you can learn about what to do or not do in the outdoors.  I've made a few stupid mistakes over the years.  One of the worst was a Grand Canyon hike right after graduating from high school.  I was young and stupid.  Fortunately we were both cross country runners and very fit.  A friend and I decided to celebrate the end of high school and hike from the North to South Rim in 24 hours or less.  On a late May morning his parents dropped us off at the North Rim and down the Kaibab Trail we went.  By afternoon we were slogging up the Bright Angel trail in 100+ degree heat.  We both started getting heat exhaustion--nausea, dizziness, etc.--so we stumbled into an old mine tunnel mouth and sat for an hour drinking about a liter of water each.  We recovered and continued on up the trail, stopping again at Indian Gardens.  Well, a front blew in, the temperature plummeted, and the rain came down.  We didn't have any rain gear, so we quickly got cold and wet.  We persevered and made it to the rim where the temperature was 44 degrees.  My parents weren't there yet, so we holed uip in a restaurant and ate, drank hot liquids, and dried out.  So, heat exhaustion and hypothermia all in one day.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: SHANEA on July 30, 2009, 03:18:57 PM

And Irwin is nuts to messing around with a

stingray  :icon_frown:
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Undertaker on July 30, 2009, 03:25:25 PM
Win, lose or draw, I can guarantee you will not survive the autopsy.  :nailbitting:
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Quatro on July 31, 2009, 12:18:52 AM
Yep, I also like trying to learn from both fatal and non-fatal accidents.  I often check the hikerhell website.  The web author is backing off from the sometimes condesceding cause analysis, but sometimes lacks much analysis at all.

14ers.com has good threads about accidents, but all too often it drops to a slam-fest against the victim. I haven't seen that happen here thankfully.

The frequency of accidents reported on that site (14ers) easily dwarfs those reported on this site, causing me to believe that maybe Texans aren't quite so dumb as reported in Colorado.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Al on July 31, 2009, 12:36:14 AM
Yep, I also like trying to learn from both fatal and non-fatal accidents.  I often check the hikerhell website.  The web author is backing off from the sometimes condesceding cause analysis, but sometimes lacks much analysis at all.

14ers.com has good threads about accidents, but all too often it drops to a slam-fest against the victim. I haven't seen that happen here thankfully.

The frequency of accidents reported on that site (14ers) easily dwarfs those reported on this site, causing me to believe that maybe Texans aren't quite so dumb as reported in Colorado.

That's because when you are driving up that mountain road in the Rocky's and there is a long line of cars slowly ascending the mountain, there is a Texan in the front of the line saying to his fellow Texans trapped with him in the car, "Hol@ S@#$! - it ain't flat!!! . . . right before the beer can is thrown out the window (support local recycling)!"

Al
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: TheWildWestGuy on July 31, 2009, 08:03:52 AM
Rumor Is....
- the guy that died in the cave at Mule Ears was "due in court" and had "some problems" so I thought for a couple years that this was staged but then they found his "disarticulated remains" so I guess it wasn't after all.   Some cross country backpackers were circling the ears off-trail and found his backpack (daypack?) and were smart enough to recognize it as a problem and give it to the rangers who went back out there and searched upstream.
- the retired Dr from Conroe was reportedly in a arroyo between Dodson Spring and the Juniper Canyon Trailhead south of the OML Trail.   It's too bad they couldn't save him since they seemed to have gotten to him while he was still alive, maybe he had some medical problem that compounded the dehydration/sunstroke.
- the 3 illegal aliens were from Boquillas and had apparently travelled up the backside of Alto Relex to near the TC1 Campsite then split up.  It is rumored that one tried to make it to McKinney Springs,  another sought help on the Old Ore Road, and the third tried to make it back to the River.  None of them made it.  The locals in Boquillas said they were going to visit some relative having a baby in Alpine (on foot?) but I don't buy that story.   I think they were probably planning to meet a driver at the TC1 campsite and that person never showed up.  They probably waited and waited until all their water was gone and it was too late.  The closest water to TC1 is probably the springs below Roys Peak Vista campsite.    TWWG
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: lparent on July 31, 2009, 10:30:41 AM
It's not surprising that there are far more accidents on fourteeners in CO than at Big Bend.  There are far more hikers on fourteeners than there are hikers doing difficult routes at Big Bend.  Try hiking up Longs Peak on a summer weekend.  If you don't show up by 6AM, you can't even get a parking spot (and it's a large parking lot).  Weather is such a killer (pun intended) at 14,000 feet.  Lightning storms come up out of nowhere, snow can fall in July.  Cliffs, loose rock, and exposure are endemic on several of them and the air is thin.  Every time I climb one, at some point I wonder what the heck I'm doing up there.

I, too, am glad that people on this site aren't bashing the victims.  I've talked to some of the victims' family members.  It's not a happy thing.  Yes, the victim sometimes made mistakes, but their family is still out there and they don't need to be hammered on it.  The victim has already paid the ultimate price.  Discussing the mistakes is good.  It can help prevent similar incidents in the future, but a little tact goes a long way. 
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: mountaindocdanny on July 31, 2009, 11:17:39 AM
I think I made mention of it in a post several years ago about coming across a fully loaded Dana Designs external frame pack deep in Telephone Canyon. It was eery to come across as it contained full water bottles, the guys glasses, a nice film SLR with no film in it and no shot rolls of film in the pack (but several unshot) and some other pieces of decent quality gear. I was solo and tentless and spent the next several nights off trail imagining every rustling bush or falling rock was from some narcotrafficante getting set to eliminate yet another potential witness to his drug smuggling route. I did report the find with an approximate location and pictures to the NPS, but never did hear anything back.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Alpine Montessori School on July 31, 2009, 03:52:40 PM
It's not surprising that there are far more accidents on fourteeners in CO than at Big Bend.  There are far more hikers on fourteeners than there are hikers doing difficult routes at Big Bend.  Try hiking up Longs Peak on a summer weekend.  If you don't show up by 6AM, you can't even get a parking spot (and it's a large parking lot).  Weather is such a killer (pun intended) at 14,000 feet.  Lightning storms come up out of nowhere, snow can fall in July.  Cliffs, loose rock, and exposure are endemic on several of them and the air is thin.  Every time I climb one, at some point I wonder what the heck I'm doing up there.

(snip)

There is a great book called "Deep Survival". He discusses the whole who lives/who dies thing and goes into detail about the accident/death rates at popular wild areas (parks, ski slopes, etc). There is a tendency for people to be more complacent in these popular areas, figuring it must be "easy". Most nature freaks (I include myself, not a derogatory term) tend to slip up sometimes, most of us just get real lucky and don't die. I got lost for three hours on a half hour walk from the car in the Gila Wilderness (with no water  :icon_rolleyes:). There is also a lack of mental preparedness in regards to how to react to a situation in the wild vs. how you would react to a situation in "civilization".  Even if you mess up, you can often recover if you can adapt to your dilemma.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: dkerr24 on July 31, 2009, 09:28:55 PM
I think I made mention of it in a post several years ago about coming across a fully loaded Dana Designs external frame pack deep in Telephone Canyon. It was eery to come across as it contained full water bottles, the guys glasses, a nice film SLR with no film in it and no shot rolls of film in the pack (but several unshot) and some other pieces of decent quality gear. I was solo and tentless and spent the next several nights off trail imagining every rustling bush or falling rock was from some narcotrafficante getting set to eliminate yet another potential witness to his drug smuggling route. I did report the find with an approximate location and pictures to the NPS, but never did hear anything back.

That must have been spooky to come across that pack in such a remote area.  Especially when hiking solo.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: TheWildWestGuy on August 02, 2009, 10:37:07 PM
Hey MtnDocDaddy any idea how long the pack had been there or who it belonged too?  

I came across a loaded REI pack about 1/2 mile above Upper Juniper Springs on the OML a few years ago, it was about 20' off the trail but clearly visible when hiking uphill (which is not the normal route).  The pack had a couple cobwebs on the zipper so I knew it had been there awhile but it was still creepy especially since I was solo.  I searched around the area, called out, then dug into the pack for clues, no ID, no cell phone, no wallet, but about 10 empty 12 OZ water bottles in a Wal-Mart bag, womens clothing with Houston logos, and (believe it or not) a portable propane heater (the kind you would use for car camping).  Also in the pack was a lime green inflatable air mattress (like a kids pool toy), lots of freeze dried food (I should have eaten the ice cream), and no maps, water filter, or stove.   I reported it to the rangers and LE's and they went out and got it with a horse a day or two later.  They said nobody had reported it and it was fairly common for people to get overwhelmed with backpacking on the OML and just leave their gear and never come back or tell the rangers about it.   Hopefully that's the story of all abandonded backpacks but who knows?   TWWG
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Undertaker on August 03, 2009, 10:20:33 AM
I wonder if it is leave it and never come back or leave in and never be found. I found several over the years in Pima County SAR in the 60's (yes the 60's) and sometimes the remains would never be found or found several years later, longest I personally remember was two years after one search a hunter found the remains miles from the pack location, pack was fully stocked except water, always wondered if dehydration had clouded the mind and he wondered off and passed away, very sad, at least the family had some closure. Many folks visit and feel in this day and age they are safe anywhere, guess this comes form the government will protect you everywhere, your best survival kit is your mind, become informed, ask questions and be safe, BiBe is a desert winter or summer, water, water, water, map compass (know how to use them), gps (can and does fail when you need it worst), knowledge of local area, have and leave trip plan, in car, at home (where are you going, when do you expect to return), let people know, it does not hurt to leave more than one. Rangers for the most park enjoy their parks and meeting the folks, they and SAR folks do not enjoy finding or carrying remains out for the family.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: mountaindocdanny on August 03, 2009, 11:05:38 AM
The pack I found had been there for several months at least. There was some mild sunbleaching to the fabric and cobwebs in the zipper. Once again there were no identifying documents. The concerning thing to me was that it was probably 6-8 miles from the trailhead and still had water in the pack. I went poking around for a body but didn't spend more than ten minutes doing so as evening was approaching and I wanted at least a few miles between me and the pack before I went to sleep. It kind of gave me the "heeby-jeebies".
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: TexasAggieHiker on August 03, 2009, 11:28:11 AM
Quote
10 empty 12 OZ water bottles in a Wal-Mart bag, womens clothing with Houston logos, and (believe it or not) a portable propane heater (the kind you would use for car camping).  Also in the pack was a lime green inflatable air mattress (like a kids pool toy), lots of freeze dried food (I should have eaten the ice cream), and no maps, water filter, or stove.   

I fear for people that pack like this.  They head out with no clue about the struggles they will face or the equipment they need.  Hopefully who ever owned that pack got tired and said "F it".  Tossed the pack down the hill, turned around and walked out safely.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Undertaker on August 03, 2009, 11:43:25 AM
Sad very sad, with all the information available as well as experience, we found a girl that walked around a couple of days after her boyfriend fell and broke a leg, took her a day or so to be able to give information on his location, she did not even remember where car was located. When she did we found car at trail head and began search, with next to no other information, did find the body, his fall had broken the femur and blood loss had killed him. Being prepared is no joke he was experienced hiker, she was not, they had not left trip plan, not sure that would have helped with the bad break, but had he fallen and she had at least known how to return to car, he might be alive today. The wild does not forgive poor planning, accidents or lack of skills very often.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: Peach on August 03, 2009, 01:22:46 PM
I know to some it may seem macabre, but stories about hikers meeting their end does make you think about the little details and how you can personally avoid making the mistakes others have.  

This is very true.  I have been known to do stupid, stupid things in my early days of hiking/camping.  But reading stories like what are on this thread has made me wiser in my choices.  Thanks for posting all of these everyone.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: dkerr24 on August 03, 2009, 02:05:14 PM
I made plenty of trips in the backwoods without the proper equipment and in retrospect, I was damn lucky I didn't turn up hurt or dead. 

In the days before the internet, some folks didn't bother going to the local library to read up on backpacking in the wilderness and came out there woefully unprepared.  I definitely would have been in that group.

It's hardly an excuse today since a simple internet search will yield a ton of information, including detailed packing lists, instructions on how to read a map/compass, etc.
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: cjacob on August 13, 2009, 12:56:29 AM
I will be honest, on my last trip in March I got lost in Crotton Springs Trail.  I had a topo map, GPS, and hand held radio.  I had no water and it was the end of the day.  I was bound not to leave with out finding the RB.  I found the item I was looking for spotted parking marked the points in my GPS.  On the way out I overshot the trail became lost could not figure out which way I should be walking.  I had to use the radio to call buddy to start looking for me.  I had sat down to figure out where I was on the map and plan a course to get out.  Before my buddy could find me I had figured out where I missed the trail.  It quickly scared me since the outcome could have not been so nice.   
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: mediopelo on August 13, 2009, 01:51:28 AM
Rumor Is....
- the guy that died in the cave at Mule Ears was "due in court" and had "some problems" so I thought for a couple years that this was staged but then they found his "disarticulated remains" so I guess it wasn't after all.   Some cross country backpackers were circling the ears off-trail and found his backpack (daypack?) and were smart enough to recognize it as a problem and give it to the rangers who went back out there and searched upstream.
- the retired Dr from Conroe was reportedly in a arroyo between Dodson Spring and the Juniper Canyon Trailhead south of the OML Trail.   It's too bad they couldn't save him since they seemed to have gotten to him while he was still alive, maybe he had some medical problem that compounded the dehydration/sunstroke.
- the 3 illegal aliens were from Boquillas and had apparently travelled up the backside of Alto Relex to near the TC1 Campsite then split up.  It is rumored that one tried to make it to McKinney Springs,  another sought help on the Old Ore Road, and the third tried to make it back to the River.  None of them made it.  The locals in Boquillas said they were going to visit some relative having a baby in Alpine (on foot?) but I don't buy that story.   I think they were probably planning to meet a driver at the TC1 campsite and that person never showed up.  They probably waited and waited until all their water was gone and it was too late.  The closest water to TC1 is probably the springs below Roys Peak Vista campsite.    TWWG
Were the three illegal aliens actually positively identified as residents of Boquillas or had they simply crossed there? Do you happen to know their names? I had figured they were from the interior of Mexico or possibly Central America and had made the mistake of crossing through Boquillas without a local guide because of heightened border enforcement elsewhere. Nearly any male resident of Boquillas would be familiar with the area where these people died and it beggars belief that three would have gotten into such trouble so near the crossing point. 
Title: Re: Any hiker deaths in BIBE?
Post by: TheWildWestGuy on August 14, 2009, 06:47:37 PM
The rumor I heard was that they were from Boquillas and someone in Boquillas told the NPS that there were 3 of them (at that point they had only found the first body on the Old Ore Road) and that they were going to visit some relative having a baby in some hospital in Alpine.  Then the rangers went back and found the other 2 bodies (probably with the NPS airplane to help).  It does seem shocking that locals from Boquillas would make such rookie mistakes which leads me to believe they planned to meeting some driver (with water) at the TC1 Campsite.  That driver (apparently) never showed up and they were stuck in a bad spot with no water and no shade.

Always prepare for "plan B" in the desert because you never know when trouble will find you.  Especially if you are relying on someone else to leave water, meet you somewhere, or pick you up.  Sometimes things happen - vehicles break down, people get lost or delayed, or just don't do what they said they were going to do for a multitude of reasons.   If you find out any more details I would love to know them, if nothing else to learn from the mistakes those guys made... TWWG