Big Bend Chat

Big Bend in the News => National Park News => Topic started by: SHANEA on October 24, 2006, 11:39:10 PM

Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: SHANEA on October 24, 2006, 11:39:10 PM
THERE IS A MORAL AND A LESSON TO BE LEARNED FROM THIS TRAGIC EVENT.  This mans death will not be in vain if this never ever happens again because you cached and carried MORE than enough water than you think you might possibily need and if you run low on water, abort the hike and head em home to do it another day.    I encourage everyone to change their profile and put in a signature line of "Cache and Carry Water".  Lynn coined this term on the board and it sure is fitting.  Maybe that should be the slogan used on the t-shirts from the contest.  There is absolutely no reason to ever run out of water on the trail.   Plan your hike and work your plan.  Mark your last container of water as your emergency supply with a piece of tape and label it or buy a red/orange container to alert you.  Once you tap into your emergency supply, then it's time to head to a water source.  

Quote
Cache and Carry
Caching water at one or two locations along the loop, in addition to packing all you can carry before setting out on your hike is the key to sucess on the Outer Mountain Loop. from http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/bc_outermountainloop.htm


http://home.nps.gov/applications/digest/headline.cfm?type=Incidents&id=2948&urlarea=incidents

Quote
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK
Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water

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.

Contact Information
Name: Mark Spier, Chief Park Ranger


http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/bc_outermountainloop.htm

It was rather warm during the last few days at BIBE, not the 100+ heat that you experience during the true summer of the region, but hot enough to be a concern - highs close to 90 F and lows in the upper 40's F - 50 F degree swing.
(http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c222/kz5bw5/temprange.jpg)

(http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c222/kz5bw5/water1.jpg)

(http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c222/kz5bw5/water2.jpg)

CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
CACHE AND CARRY WATER!
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Undertaker on October 25, 2006, 08:31:27 AM
Fact is BB is a desert, winter and summer, when the weather is mild you do not feel like you need the water, YOU DO. Question, why didn't the park service helocopter just fly the man to hospital rather than extend trip time by calling for ground transport, or meet dust off at PJ? Hopefully as you said, this will be a lesson, BB is a DESERT all year long. Leave trip plan, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. :cry:  :cry:
Title: I Imagine...
Post by: SHANEA on October 25, 2006, 09:02:14 AM
Quote from: "Undertaker"
Question, why didn't the park service helocopter just fly the man to hospital rather than extend trip time by calling for ground transport, or meet dust off at PJ?


I imagine it was because the man was in such bad shape and the helo was only a 2 seater - no room for EMS.
Title: Second guessing
Post by: okiehiker on October 25, 2006, 09:53:39 AM
It is always easy to second guess a SAR operation.  

I can speak from experience that it is better to avoid the need to be rescued in the first place.  

SHANEA is right... have enough water with you to get you to your next water source.  On my Grand Canyon trip in August we started with 25 gallons of water, caching 10 gallons on the Esplanade a day and a half in.  

It was overkill.  We left five gallons that we didn't need.  Someone who is there later will need it.

What has not been discussed too much is how the hiker got lost.  A GPS is great, but a thorough knowledge of using a map and compass cannot be replaced.  Know where you are, where you are going, and be aware of how long it will take you get from point A to point B.   Allow AT LEAST a gallon of water per person per day in average conditions. MORE if it is hot.
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Undertaker on October 25, 2006, 01:18:04 PM
Having been involved with SAR and also Paramedic, I never second guess anyones choice who is physically on site. I may have missed point that chopper was only two seat. Just noted it would have been quicker. Still sad that even with the expert advice on this site as well as when you check with rangers, folks still don't plan.  In 4 years in Arizona, also a desert, it amazed me how many folks don't leave a trip plan and carry or stash enough water even with warnings. Failing to plan, and simple mistakes get you hurt or dead.  On almost every SAR we went on there was NO TRIP PLAN to be found, most of the ones we found had inadequate water supplies even for a day trip, typically the most prepaired were the climbers, almost all with experience and all still alive at time of rescue, still accidents do happen.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate, Plan, Plan, Plan, Leave notice where and when you will return. 8)
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Bull on October 25, 2006, 06:37:57 PM
Hello all, just registered and so very sad that first post would be on such tragic news. The NPS and folks like you all here are such great sources of safety information and common sense guidance. I guess you cannot save some people from themselves. I also have met many hikers alone and in groups on the trails without any water or provisions. How do you explain the possible errors of their ways?
I was priviledged to be one-half of the crew to install the bear box in the picture and others in the backcountry and 100 in RGV last year at this time.
We did have plenty of help from some Park Rangers and our Biologist to get that box in the picture to it's location. Living and working in Big Bend was truly a life changing experience!
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Casa Grande on October 25, 2006, 09:13:00 PM
I suppose this reply can be duplicated over on the Solo Hiker (http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/index.php?topic=2161.0&highlight=) thread, but it never ceases to amaze me how many times I've seen people without water.  I'll stop and say, hey, where's your water and they scoff at me and look at me like, who are you, my daddy?

It's especially upsetting when I see them hauling their waterless kids with them. I usually report the sighting to the station, hopefully that helps.

Moderator note:  The Children in the wild (http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/index.php?topic=2171.0) topic was split off from this topic.... and apparently has disappeared or been renamed so I can't find it.
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Picacho on October 26, 2006, 09:04:37 AM
Another reason I like to hike and climb in Big Bend in the winter.
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: PyramidBlaster on October 26, 2006, 02:20:55 PM
It's a tragedy that today's society continues to divide us from the nature we all evolved from. Similarly, I find simple common sense to be increasingly out the window or over the shoulder. No traveler through the west 100 years ago would have made such a preventable, simple error. It's almost comonplace anymore. It's a wonder how we will survive as a species.

Seriously, I read through the BBNP news regularly, expecting to see 'Hiker dies from dehydration; one empty Pepsi bottle found alongside' style reports on every visit.....LET'S ALL JUST USE THE LUMP ABOVE OUR NECKS, HUH...?

Enough rant.... :shock:
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: presidio on October 26, 2006, 02:48:45 PM
Quote from: "PyramidBlaster"
I find simple common sense to be increasingly out the window or over the shoulder. No traveler through the west 100 years ago would have made such a preventable, simple error. It's almost comonplace anymore. It's a wonder how we will survive as a species.


As I have previously noted, most people do not have to live by their wits because technology carries them along in a cocoon of safety. When you don't have to use your survival smarts, you tend to lose them, like losing muscle mass without exercise. When technology fails, people who haven't exercised their common sense typically do not do well in solving the problem.

Rudin's Law says: 'In a crisis that forces a choice to be made among alternative courses of action, people tend to choose the worst possible course'.

However, Teddy Roosevelt  was also correct that: 'In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing you can do is the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing'.

The moral is: Do the best you can with what you have and, above all, don't ever give up.
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Casa Grande on October 26, 2006, 03:18:42 PM
Quote from: "presidio"

However, Teddy Roosevelt  was also correct that: 'In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing you can do is the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing'.


gotta love that Teddy  :D
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: PyramidBlaster on October 26, 2006, 03:22:17 PM
I agree...We would be so lucky to have more of his kind around today.

I once threatened to dress as TR for Halloween, but There's no way I could ever really pull it off...I hang my head in shame.....
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Undertaker on October 26, 2006, 04:20:38 PM
Bully :lol:  :lol:  8)
Title: Re: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: presidio on October 26, 2006, 10:13:56 PM
Quote from: "SHANEA"
Maybe that should be the slogan used on the t-shirts from the contest.


Well, now that you mention it, when will the contest resume so that the 3- or 4-way deadlock can be solved?
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: jeffblaylock on October 27, 2006, 10:20:19 AM
Here is the obituary for Mr. Springer in today's Houston Chronicle:

http://www.legacy.com/houstonchronicle/DeathNotices.asp?Page=Lifestory&PersonId=19731891
Title: Re: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Casa Grande on October 27, 2006, 10:27:24 AM
Quote from: "presidio"
Quote from: "SHANEA"
Maybe that should be the slogan used on the t-shirts from the contest.


Well, now that you mention it, when will the contest resume so that the 3- or 4-way deadlock can be solved?


as soon as the passion returns  :oops:
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Undertaker on October 27, 2006, 12:06:40 PM
Thanks for posting the online obituary Jeff, seems to have been very experienced backpacker, sad very sad.
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: jeffblaylock on October 27, 2006, 01:09:34 PM
Quote from: "Undertaker"
Thanks for posting the online obituary Jeff, seems to have been very experienced backpacker, sad very sad.


Yes -- doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would run out of water at all. I wonder what prevented him from heading back to Fresno Creek, which surely had water, or on to the Blue Creek trailhead.
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Undertaker on October 27, 2006, 03:11:47 PM
Most likely we will never know, as you dehydrate it affects you thinking and judgement, maybe he felt like he did not need the water and became dehydrated enough to affect thought process. Again very sad ending to what should have been a beautiful trip to a beautiful place :cry:  :cry:
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Casa Grande on October 27, 2006, 09:02:36 PM
this is depressing.....i think i've gotta leave now. :(  Yall, take care out there, please?  I don't know how I'd react if I find out any one of you guys met the same fate.
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Al on October 27, 2006, 09:20:39 PM
I can't help but wonder if it might have be intentional, at least at some level, given his experience and age.  

There are worse ways to die, so I hear.

Al
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Al on October 27, 2006, 10:00:29 PM
Sorry for stating the obvious.  

He was an exceptional man as best I can tell and it's hard to think otherwise.

Al
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: RichardM on October 27, 2006, 10:04:33 PM
Quote from: "Al"
Sorry for stating the obvious.  

Wasn't at all obvious to me.  Had he fallen off the South Rim, maybe, but I can't imagine what circumstances would lead someone to choose to die of thirst.  There's always a worse way to die, but dying of thirst has got to be pretty high up on the list.
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Al on October 27, 2006, 10:06:35 PM
Wait 20 or 30 years.  I don't want to die of thirst but I can't help but think of the movie Grumpy Old Men.

Al
Title: We'll probably never know
Post by: okiehiker on October 27, 2006, 10:08:41 PM
I think it is more likely that he found himself debilitated somehow by some degree of stroke or heart problem.  A small, even short-term impairment in physical or mental ability can lead to disaster.  

There certainly are cultures where people go off into the wilderness to die when they are towards the end of life.  In this case it seems more likely that an experienced hiker encountered some unanticipated problem.

Several years ago I had a participant develop congestive heart failure the second day out on an eight day outing.  We did not know what it was until he got home to Delaware.  It made things very difficult for him.  

The older we get (...he said speaking from experience...) the more these things happen.
Title: Re: We'll probably never know
Post by: Al on October 27, 2006, 10:16:20 PM
Quote from: "okiehiker"
I think it is more likely that he found himself debilitated somehow by some degree of stroke or heart problem.  A small, even short-term impairment in physical or mental ability can lead to disaster.  

There certainly are cultures where people go off into the wilderness to die when they are towards the end of life.  In this case it seems more likely that an experienced hiker encountered some unanticipated problem.

Several years ago I had a participant develop congestive heart failure the second day out on an eight day outing.  We did not know what it was until he got home to Delaware.  It made things very difficult for him.  

The older we get (...he said speaking from experience...) the more these things happen.


That is more likely than my suggestion.

Al
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Bluetex on October 28, 2006, 03:21:52 PM
Its horrible to hear about things like this. It sounds like he encounterd some unforeseen problem during the hike. He looks like he was an experienced hiker, maybe he only planned for a day hike and then got lost..... who knows. God bless his family.
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: TexasGirl on October 28, 2006, 10:23:45 PM
There was just a piece on the 10:00 news about Carl Springer.  His funeral was today.  

Mr. Springer wrote notes to his wife, 2 children, son-in-law and 4 grandchildren.  The notes made it plain that he took responsibility for his situation and the outcome he expected.  

He was portrayed as a happy, healthy man for his age, with a wife of 45 years, and much to live for.  They showed pics of him with his young grandchildren in many settings, one in front of the Bibe sign.  There was one funny photo of him with pack, and labels:  '6-month-old knee installed by experts'; '70-year-old man'; '52-lb pack'.  My comment:  priceless.  

No explanation was given as to why he ran out of water.  His wife did say, 'everyone, please, take enough water.'
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Al on October 28, 2006, 11:31:23 PM
Quote
Mr. Springer wrote notes to his wife, 2 children, son-in-law and 4 grandchildren. The notes made it plain that he took responsibility for his situation and the outcome he expected.


TG, Was there more on what this meant?

Al
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Hayduke on October 29, 2006, 04:39:16 PM
The KHOU article may be found here:

http://www.khou.com/news/local/montgomery/stories/khou061029_ac_conroehiker.874e3ba4.html
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: presidio on October 29, 2006, 05:19:24 PM
Quote from: "Hayduke"
The KHOU article


I am left with a nagging feeling there is something to this story that isn't being revealed...and that this wasn't an unfortunate turn of events.
Title: Unless
Post by: SHANEA on October 29, 2006, 06:10:09 PM
Unless he was in the habit of leaving notes to everyone before he ventured off into the wilderness, I think this speaks volumes....

Quote
Most people don't get to say goodbye before they die, but Springer did. He left an individual note for every member of his immediate family, from his wife and two children, his four grandchildren and even his son-in-law.
Title: Re: Unless
Post by: presidio on October 29, 2006, 06:15:53 PM
Quote
Most people don't get to say goodbye before they die, but Springer did. He left an individual note for every member of his immediate family, from his wife and two children, his four grandchildren and even his son-in-law.


He would have to have done this before dehydration advanced very far. He would not have had presence of mind to do it later.
Title: OK.
Post by: SHANEA on October 29, 2006, 06:32:56 PM
Quote
"He had a little notebook out there that he wrote in," the Rev. Stephen Springer said. "He admitted and said this is my fault. He didn't wantus to blame ourselves or the park service."


Ok, I "disconnected" this from leaving the notes behind to others - thinking, probably in error, that he left the notes behind before he went off on this trek.
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: TexasGirl on October 30, 2006, 08:59:32 AM
No, Presidio, there wasn't any more than that. Obviously my local news picked up the KHOU story.  There's obviously a lot we don't know and may never:  how much water did he take?  why was he off the trail (wasn't he off the trail?)?  no compass to get back to the trail?  no map?  unable to walk--why?  The curiosity may kill _us_.  I can imagine, having found myself in a serious pickle, sitting down and writing a note to my son while I could.  Soldiers do it all the time.

Trying to put myself in the family's collective shoes.... I just can't imagine doing the publicity if there were some idea in my mind that this was other than 'accident'.  They're Methodists, for goodness sake!  :)
Title: Don't Know
Post by: SHANEA on October 30, 2006, 06:20:59 PM
Don't know if this differs much from the other reports.

Quote
Hiker dies after four days without water
BBNP - Rangers began a search for 71-year-old Carl Springer of Conroe, Texas, on the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 22, 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.
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: BigBendHiker on October 30, 2006, 06:28:45 PM
Since he was off the trail, but in a drainage, I wonder if he was looking for water?


BBH
Title: Reconstructing.
Post by: SHANEA on October 30, 2006, 06:47:36 PM
The article said he was overdue from a 4 day hike.    Here is the timeline that I have come up with.  I worked backwards from the day he was discovered and treated that as the 4th day w/o water.   24 Hours overdue from a 4 day hike.  How does my timeline fit?

Wed Oct 18th - day 1 of hike

Thr Oct 19th - day 2 of hike
 
Fri Oct 20th - day 3 of hike out of water-1

Sat Oct 21st - day 4 of hike out of water-2

Sun Oct 22nd - day 5 of hike out of water-3 - discovered to be 24 hours overdue.  Meaning, he should have checked in on Saturday Oct 21st.

Mon Oct 23rd - day 6 of hike out of water-4. Was discovered and said he had been out of water for 4 days.  That takes us back to Friday Oct 20th when he ran out of water.

It's not morbid curosisity mind you, just trying to learn what went so wrong so I/We/You can avoid the same mistake.  It's like when the NTSB investigates a plane crash - what caused it to fall out of the sky.
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: Al on October 30, 2006, 06:47:41 PM
If he still had his pack on or with him I don't understand why he hadn't dropped it and gone for water.  If he wrote notes I'm assuming he was still at his pack.

Al
Title: Hiker Dies After Four Days Without Water
Post by: TheWildWestGuy on October 30, 2006, 07:50:54 PM
I don't think this adds up either.  According to Windchime he was closer to the Juniper Trailhead so (assuming he came down Juniper) how could he have made so few miles in so many days?   Maybe he went down Blue Creek and was planning to go up Juniper?  That means he should have watered up at Fresno Creek ~3-5 miles from where he was found.   As an experienced backpacker with many trips to the Bend he would have known how much water to carry and where to find it.   My guess is he had a stroke, heart attack, knee problems, or something else that kept him from moving very far.   But I would like to know more facts if anyone can post them.  I do a lot of solo backpacking myself so maybe I can learn what to watch out for and plan a course of action if the same thing happens to me... TWWG