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A Strong Message Comes From a Tragic Situation

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  • A Strong Message Comes From a Tragic Situation

    http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise...-alex-stevens/

    This article does a good job addressing some of what went wrong during Alex Stevens' trip, as well as what the newest generation of hikers has been doing wrong in general. By relying on social media, not reading the Literature, not properly research trips, making bad decisions while in the woods due to inexperience/poor judgement, and going into the wilderness unprepared, many of today's hikers are creating a reckless environment both for themselves and the folks who end up putting in their own time to go looking for them. Over the past year we've read numerous stories about people making bad decisions in the High Peaks, some have had happy endings, and some have ended horribly for the folks involved.

    As hikers and mountaineers, we all owe it ourselves and the members of any other organizations that we may each be a part of, to help ensure that people are doing the right things before setting off into the woods. Nobody likes to sound like the annoying know-it-all who quizzes his/her friends every time they say they're going hiking, but there are constructive and non-intrusive ways to help convey the message that simply being in the wilderness can turn into a life or death situation very quickly and in the end we're all our own best resource in a survival setting.
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

  • #2
    I think another factor that often comes into play (beyond social media, etc.) in the Adirondacks is people's unfamiliarity with the more challenging conditions. Hikers from other areas may come to the Daks having spent a lot of time outdoors, doing many overnight or multi-day trips with a minimum of gear and knowledge, and not realize that this approach could prove dangerously inadequate in the harsh environment up north; especially in an area as remote and rugged as Wallface.

    Unfortunately, a person doesn't always know what they don't know until a hard lesson is learned. Sometimes people create a good plan and things still go wrong. But I agree that an itinerary and communication plan left in advance with someone (reliable) is one of the most important elements to being well prepared. Heartbreaking tragedies such as this can't always be avoided, but one can greatly improve their chances of survival with a few key steps.
    We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing ~ Satchel Paige

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    • FlyFishingandBeer
      FlyFishingandBeer commented
      Editing a comment
      This. I cannot emphasize this enough when talking with people who are unfamiliar with this type of terrain. Its very, very rugged, the ascent trails are steep, the weather can be erratic, and for small peaks the elevation gains are huge. This all translates into much more challenging trips than many people realize.

  • #3
    Has anyone considered this was his plan? Wasn't he in a bad place before he went?
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    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      Suicide by pneumonia/ hypothermia/ exposure? Seems to me there are easier ways of harming yourself. I believe one of the articles described him as bitter in recent social media posts but I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from that. Plenty of people use Facebook to vent their frustrations but never contemplate suicide. If that was his plan why bring any gear, food, or water? Absence of those items might lead me to believe his intentions were something other than just a backpacking trip but it appears to me that he was just ill-prepared.

    • gebby
      gebby commented
      Editing a comment
      I don't think a suicidal person signs in the trail register. Not saying it wasn't a thought I had at first. For whatever reason, either through inexperience or clouded thought processes, he underestimated the Adirondacks and paid the ultimate price. Very sad.

    • bfinan0
      bfinan0 commented
      Editing a comment
      I don't think necessarily suicide, but I could see a Chris McCandless-like situation playing out in the Adirondacks, someone going out there for almost ascetic purposes, looking for the limit, and taking it too far. In the end the result isn't all that different from being truly lost, but the intentions and intermediate steps might be (for example not actively trying to be found)

  • #4
    We have heard nothing about the man from friends, acquaintances, or relatives. I lived in Hopewell, NJ, for ten years. I searched NJ news and found no obituary, only reports we have seen from Adirondack sources. People know more about Mr. Stevens than we have heard to date.

    We should wait for information from credible sources before jumping to conclusions about his ability, fitness, or motivations.


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    • #5
      Remember David Boomhower? He split with his wife, she married his best friend and then they all lived under the same roof. He took all kinds of gear on the NP, signed in at registers and went off the trail and died and kept a journal while he was dying. The mind under stress is a strange thing.

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      • gebby
        gebby commented
        Editing a comment
        Geraldine Largay sheltered in place and didn't move from her tent on the AT and starved to death. I don't think she had home stresses and had a supportive family at home. Each case is individual and I don't think you can extrapolate from any of them, to interpret motivations of the next person who suffers the next backcountry fatality.

    • #6
      Originally posted by All Downhill From Here View Post
      Has anyone considered this was his plan? Wasn't he in a bad place before he went?
      First thing I said when my wife sent me that article. Not something people want to hear, nor accept but I think this was the case.

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      • #7
        Where's the evidence supporting the theory of suicide? What exactly was said in his Facebook posts that were characterized as being in a "bitter state of mind".

        ​FWIW, "bitter of state of mind" is not exactly uncommon to the human experience and hardly a direct route to suicide. ​If a troubled mind perceives suicide to be the most expedient escape from life's intractable miseries, then his choice of exit was neither expedient or free of misery (it was an outlier for means of suicide). He spent days without food in wretched conditions and ultimately succumbed to the nastiness of bronchial pneumonia. That just sounds like the fate of someone who enters the backcountry unprepared, gets rained on for days, can't find their way back to safety, and isn't reported missing for almost a week.
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        • gebby
          gebby commented
          Editing a comment
          The "bitter state of mind" comes right from the DEC. My first thoughts, before everything else came out, had me thinking he was in there, not wanting to get out. No longer. Unprepared and paid the price. WHY he was unprepared and whether his mental state had anything to do with his poor decisions has not been shared to this point in time, though I think some have inside knowledge of this and it's getting out in dribs and drabs.
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