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  • Is St. Regis mountain so dangerous?

    http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise...form=hootsuite
    A missing 40-year-old soldier from Fort Drum was found alive and conscious early Monday morning by forest rangers in a state police helicopter.
    ...
    Guinan’s wife reported him missing around 8 p.m. Saturday, and state Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers soon began searching in earnest for him, with a small crew Saturday night and a larger one Sunday and even larger Monday.
    ...
    ... forest ranger Capt. John Streiff said Guinan was located early Monday by rangers flying in the state police chopper.
    “He was spotted from the helicopter, so it’s great he made himself visible,” Streiff said. “We’ve located the subject in one of the drainages off the side of St. Regis Mountain.”

  • #2
    http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise...in-good-shape/
    “Richard was not prepared the way we would like people to be prepared,” Friederich said. “He didn’t have a map, he didn’t have a compass, he didn’t have an extra layer to put on.

    Comment


    • #3
      I wonder where he was found?
      It didn't seem at all difficult to follow the trail.
      Don

      Comment


      • Makwa
        Makwa commented
        Editing a comment
        They said he was in one of the drainages off the side of the mountain. If I were to guess I'd say east of the summit. The trail goes southeast off the summit for a bit then back to the northeast. At the bend where it changes direction is a drainage heading east. Looks like there are some open areas through there were you could be seen from the air.

      • Makwa
        Makwa commented
        Editing a comment
        After reading Trail Boss' post (#5) I see I was only off by a mile and a half in the entirely wrong direction. So much for guesses.

    • #4
      I'm glad he's safe and had the skills to build a shelter and make himself visible for rescue. A big thanks goes out to the SAR team(s) and volunteers as well.

      That being said, its a little disappointing that an active duty troop from the 10th Mountain Division, of all units, put himself in this position due to lack of judgement. Our troops used to be trained to avoid this type of situation both on and off the battlefield. I don't know if this particular instance was caused by hubris or inexperience.

      This reminds me of an evening trip I made up Phelps a few years ago. I noticed a driver following me on the Loj road and up to S. Meadows. Not simply going where I was going, but actively following me as if lost and hoping I would lead him somewhere. I hesitantly pulled over at my normal spot near the truck trail TH and got out to wait for him to approach me. He was short, stocky, maybe in his late 20’s; not exactly out of shape per se’ but certainly not a trail runner. He asked if this was where people park to hike. "Well, this is where I park to hike depending on where I'm hiking to. Where are you headed?" He responded a little uncertainly and mentioned that he wanted to climb the highest peak in NYS "That's Marcy? Right?" After chatting for a few minutes I learned that he was stationed at Ft. Drum and wasn't even remotely familiar with the ADK, much less the High Peaks region. Seeing his attire, jeans, basketball shoes, a cotton t-shirt, I asked if he was prepared for a long hike where he would definitely be losing daylight before reaching the summit and he shrugged my concerns off and remarked that his iPhone had a light on it. While pretending to still get ready I watched him take a small Jansport backpack, the kind that parents give first graders to keep their pencils and maybe a book or two in, and pack his supplies. A vending machine sized bag of Doritos, a Mountain Dew, and a flat-brimmed Yankees hat (sticker still on it). Nothing else. As I passed him to get to the gate I mentioned that there's a lot to see in the area and offered a couple of suggestions that might fit his "equipment's" limitations a little better. Again, he shrugged me off and said "I move fast."

      Upon getting to Marcy dam I encountered a young Ranger and explained the encounter to him. I felt weird doing this, like a snitch, but at the same time the soldier had left me with strong concerns. The Ranger grabbed his pack and immediately headed off up the trail, not towards where the soldier was hiking in from, but towards the lean-to (did he climb on the roof to make a sat-phone call?). After about 5 minutes he returned and said that he had just been in contact with a DEC officer who was up higher towards Marcy’s summit, descending with the Steward and they’d turn him around if he got that far. I made my miles and returned to the dam after taking my sweet time. I bumped into some people I knew who were setting up a base camp and hung out with them for a while. After eventually making it back to my car, pretty late at night, I found that the soldier’s car hadn’t moved. I never read anything about him in the SAR reports, but I’ve always wondered how his hike went. This got me thinking about the attitude of some troops and vets vs. the expectation of their abilities by those who encounter them. Should there actually be higher expectations for their ability to make good decisions in terms of hiking and mountaineering? As a veteran, I’m going with no. Not as a static rule anyway. After a decade of frequently bumping into troops and vets along the trails, I’ve reluctantly come to realize that they - we - are just as capable of making the same (lack of) judgment calls as anyone else. Mr. Guinan probably caught one hell of an @ss chewing from his commander upon returning to post, and rightfully so.
      “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” - Ed Viesturs

      Comment


      • #5
        Originally posted by Hear the Footsteps View Post
        I wonder where he was found?
        According to the article in the AdirondackDailyEnterprise:

        A forest ranger crew chief on the helicopter spotted Guinan on the edge of a swamp adjacent to St. Regis Pond at 9:06 Monday morning.
        USGS Topo shows a swampy area at the western end of St. Regis Pond (where the St. Regis River flows out of the pond). That might fit the article's description. FWIW, that's 1.8 miles south of St. Regis mountain (and in the opposite direction of the trailhead).

        http://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=44.38...31373&z=14&b=t


        ​I can't believe how many times I've read the same scenario. Why is it just about every lost hiker's phone runs dead right when they need it most? They eke out one final call and then ... it's a brick. Statistically anomalous!

        ​But seriously, the phone's battery probably starts out with as much charge as their pack contains essentials for a day-hike. The whole endeavor is "undercharged".
        Looking for Views!

        Comment


        • FlyFishingandBeer
          FlyFishingandBeer commented
          Editing a comment
          Its because they aren't carrying a map and are draining their phone's battery by using it's cell-assisted GPS. They don't make the call for help until they realize that they don't have enough juice to let their phone guide them out.

        • Trail Boss
          Trail Boss commented
          Editing a comment
          ... and Hi! right back at Howard!

        • Hear the Footsteps
          Hear the Footsteps commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks TB. 1.8 miles. That's a sizable distance. I find it hard to come to grips that something in the wrong direction looked at all similar to the beaten down trail. I also have thought what I would do if I got off trail. And the answer has been climb back to the top and start over. Starting at 11 am I'd have plenty of time to get it right.

          Don

      • #6
        I went out to Bennies on Saturday, during the long holiday weekend, and the majority of the hikers I met at trail junctions were staring at their phones without any idea of where they were.

        The first couple I met (at the Southside Trail jct) asked which way was it was to Gothics. I asked them if they had a map. They said they did not. I told them they should and them gave them the information they requested.

        If the people I met didn't initiate conversation, I would say to them, "I know where I am, do you know where you are?" One couple was at the Great Range trail/Jaws jct and looking up from his phone, replied that he did not know. He wanted to know where the Wedge Brook trail was. I told him which direction it was in and he replied that the sign that said "Lower Wolf Jaw summit with an arrow" was wrong. I said it was not and that there was a second intersection where he would find the trail he was looking for. What made the encounter memorable to me was that if he taken five minutes to realize that the sun was clearly in the west and the trail he wanted headed east, he could have answered his own question. But then, he didn't have a map and wouldn't be familiar with the area.

        One guy even got disoriented on LWJ summit and thought the trail heading north was the way back to the Jaws col, from whence he came with his wife. I corrected him and he wasn't too happy about being wrong.

        If I am hiking someplace new, I always familiarize myself with the map and my route. I always carry a map and compass, even if I don't think I need them. This just seems like common sense to me. I don't want to end up on an SAR report for something preventable and I certainly have every intent of making it home.

        This is where social media doesn't help, I think. People see photos of summits and they think, I can go do that, without considering the preparation involved. And maybe their hapless friends did it in converse sneakers with a phone and a bottle of gatorade. I don't know how to solve this problem. I can only keep mentoring others into positive hiking practices.
        #8335W, Solo 46W
        Four Season 31/46
        46 Grid 256/552
        NE 111 113/115


        One list may be done, but the journey is far from over...
        Half Dome, 2009

        Comment


        • Hear the Footsteps
          Hear the Footsteps commented
          Editing a comment
          Thinking similar. When I go someplace new I get a map of the area and study it. Also during the actual trip I stop at junctions, pull out the map, and figure out where I am. Often there is good signage. I check the map anyway. Now its just a habit. It is good for a quick break. I didn't grow up with smart phones. Maybe that's part of it.

          It's good you bring things to peoples attention too.

          Don

      • #7
        I think that one of the biggest issues connected to hikers getting lost is that most people don't want to pay for a map anymore, let alone actually learn how to use it. I can think of many, many times on trails all over the northeast where I've been asked "what trail is this?" or something similar because people were using a website such as Google Maps, AllTrails, or other free sites that provide maps and routes. Unfortunately, these maps or route logs aren't always accurate, often don't include important details such as contour lines, etc., and rarely include a detailed description. And they seem to provide a false sense of security to users who rely on them, and then find themselves without a reliable resource (battery died, or map not accurate, etc.) or the knowledge to properly follow their intended route and get out safely.
        We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing ~ Satchel Paige

        Comment


        • FlyFishingandBeer
          FlyFishingandBeer commented
          Editing a comment
          This drives me insane. Folks will drop hundreds and hundreds on shoes, a new pack, trekking poles and any other form of "I do stuff" gear in a single sitting at the Mountaineer or LP EMS, but won't shell out $9.95 for a trail map. I'm not sure if employees from either store try to sell maps to customers who buy all their gear at the same time or seem completely out of their element while asking the usual questions, "So where do we go to get to Marcy?" It might help.

        • debmonster
          debmonster commented
          Editing a comment
          Maps are paper and paper is totally archaic and uncool.

      • #8
        HtF - exactly what I do! Carry map and compass, its really embedded into the brain from the prep, but pull out map and check at junctions, and usually reconcile with my party of three "in case I die, remember this turn" Phone is off, 100% charged, in pack and pulled out either in emergencies or to use "peakfinder" at the top. All manual.
        Taking this one step further, now about to complete the 46, no longer carry a GPS. Really only used it to track distances but was really not accurate.
        Found that a GPS running watch, even with GPS disabled, does a much better estimate of distance (think the approach from Coreys to Seymour herd path distance estimation for curiousity only, not planning, tracking, or following). Also, third most important tool is altimeter. Really allows you to dial in on the map to current position, assuming drastic change in weather not occurring.

        Comment


        • FlyFishingandBeer
          FlyFishingandBeer commented
          Editing a comment
          Same boat. I've been hiking with a couple who are working on their first round and have limited knowledge of land navigation. Before each hike I email them a PDF contour map of the area we'll be in with our trail highlighted. Its up to them to decide if they want to print it out and bring it (I always have my own map, compass, and protractor). Along the hike I periodically do map checks for the sake of explaining where we are, and then using my GPS I give them our elevation every hundred meters or so. The only other time I use my GPS is so I can set it to navigate back to the car so when we're returning from the hike I can answer their occasional "how much further?" question with "Its 4.6 miles, straight line distance, and we're at 823 meters. The car is parked at 467 meters." Most of this is in case I were to have some catastrophic accident, they can seek out the next interior outpost or the car to get help if there's no phone signal. My cell phone stays on airplane mode with locations services off throughout the hike.

      • #9
        This was a really interesting thread. I was just thinking about my own topo map on Monday while on the Indian Pass/Cold Brook trail to Marshall and thinking that I need to buy an updated version. I draw on my map, make notes, add distances...it's a very dynamic tool that is with me every hike. I don't put my full trust in tech or most things that are battery dependent on a hike (save my headlamp). Even my watch half died this weekend...the stopwatch functioned properly but the clocked ceased at 7:17.34am. I like to calculate a sunlight buffer on my hikes.

        I currently use the AMC map that came in the back pocket of the 1992 Guide to Adirondack Trails High Peaks edition. I bring the book, too. I guess it can serve as extra TP or fire-starter if ever needed. But, trails change and I consulted the map more than usual this weekend given the ruggedness of the IP/CB trail. Which made me realize that map is 25 years old. Time for a new one. Any suggestions?

        PS: Thanks Trail Boss for introducing me to openstreemap. I like to consult the site the night before a hike.

        Comment


        • debmonster
          debmonster commented
          Editing a comment
          Highly recommend the ADK High Peaks Map (and guidebook), which was just updated in 2015, now shows the minimally maintained trails (herd paths) to the 46, along with designated tent sites, and is edited by our very own tgoodwin. One important note is that the trail distances are shown in miles, but the contour lines are metric. This had to do with the availability (or lack thereof) of digital base map versions at a usable scale. No digital map with 20 ft. contour lines was available so the next closest thing was 10 meter contour lines (others will hopefully correct me if I got this wrong). The conversion isn't too bad; you can multiply the meters x3 to get a fairly close estimate. ADK members get a discount, IIRC.
          See: https://www.adk.org/product/trails-o...igh-peaks-map/

        • CatskillKev
          CatskillKev commented
          Editing a comment
          It is so easy to convert meters to feet. Just multiply by 3.28084. What could be easier? Maps are overrated. Especially maps with meters.

          Acme mapper changes to meters in the middle of the top end of The Great Sacandaga Lake. I think that must be where Canada starts.

        • Trail Boss
          Trail Boss commented
          Editing a comment
          First-order approximation is to multiply meters by 3 to get feet. In other words, simply treat meters like yards.

          Second-order approximation (the one I use) is multiply by 3 then add 10%. For example, 400 meters x 3 = 1200 + 120 = 1320 feet.

          Actual conversion of 400 meters to feet is 1312.3 feet. For hiking purposes, a 2nd-order approximation is "good enough".

      • #10
        I have met a share of completely unprepared people on the trails over the years (especially in the Catskills), but the encounter on Monday on UWJ really takes the cake! There was a group of young guys (perhaps early 20s) who had planned to camp somewhere, yet had no map (no phone apps either), no canister and most importantly, had no water. They did have a filter. The 3 of them were completely out by the time they got to UWJ (they had skipped the LWJ) and were asking where they could find a water source (that's when we found out that they had no map). Lucky for them, UWJ was our last summit of the day, so we were able to give them a liter of water... which they thought would be enough to get them to Gothics and then down to JBL. We eventually convinced them that it would be a good idea to at least photograph our maps for reference, and that they should consider hiking out and camping somewhere close to civilization and that they can try for Gothics the next day. They really had no clue that maps could give an idea with regards to water... and each one of them had thought that the other would bring some water. But we never saw them once we left (they were supposed to be leaving right after us) and I wonder what happened to them. They shockingly seemed to be unfazed by their level of unpreparedness and I bet they had thought that we should mind our own business. One of them had climbed Sawteeth "with no gear" in the past and wanted to take his buddies along the LGR.
        46/46 as of August 1st, 2014!

        Comment


        • Trail Boss
          Trail Boss commented
          Editing a comment
          Reminds me of my favorite exchange from "Way of the Gun":

          Joe Sarno: So, you the brains of this outfit, or is he?

          Longbaugh: Tell ya the truth, I don't think this is a brains kind of operation.

      • #11
        Originally posted by Jonathan Markowicz View Post
        Any suggestions?
        Trails of the Adirondack High Peaks, published by ADK. Also probably worth getting an updated guidebook, High Peaks Trails also by ADK.

        Both were done by Tony Goodwin, who posts on here. They're excellent. (Except for the contour lines in metric. )
        ADK 46/46W, Grid 232/552
        Photos & Stuff

        Comment


        • #12
          Originally posted by YanaLG View Post
          I have met a share of completely unprepared people on the trails over the years ...
          My last time up Gothics. One the way back, we were descending the Weld trail towards Pyramid, and allowed a young man to pass us. A little bit forward, he waited for us and asked us what peak was in front of us. (My nephew happily told him it was Pyramid, and the views are great.) He thinks a bit and says "no, I'm heading down the other way." And he tromps off. [For those who don't know, there is no other way. The Weld trail heads from Gothics straight over Pyramid.]

          So we catch up to him ascending Pyramid, and he's obviously confused. He asks us how to get back to his car. Okay....where did you park?? "In the valley." Okaaaay...I proceeded to let him know that he was heading towards the Ausable Valley. If he parked at the Garden, that was Keene Valley and was the other way. (I'm 95% sure it was Keene Valley he was looking for.) He says thanks and heads off towards Pyramid. We didn't run into him again, so I assume that he hitched a ride from St. Huberts to Keene Valley.

          Same hike, we are descending below the Sawteeth junction on the Weld trail. We run into a couple with overnight gear. "Where are you headed?" "Gothics." "Oh? Are you staying on the Ore Bed side?" "No." They then proceed to claim that they are heading to Armstrong and will be camping on the way down...

          SAME HIKE, next couple, also carrying overnight gear. They at least ask if there are any designated camp sites on the way to Gothics. (No.) I tell them that they are at about 3,000' and there is no camping at all above 3,500', or about the Sawteeth junction. They were friendly, but like the previous couple I'm pretty sure they camped atop Gothics.


          That was all in one hike. Quite a day.
          ADK 46/46W, Grid 232/552
          Photos & Stuff

          Comment


          • Trail Boss
            Trail Boss commented
            Editing a comment
            I think when campers become obviously cagey when asked about where they intend to camp (meaning they lie through their teeth), we should respond in the same spirit. Warn them about the "night patrols". With a fine of $250/person, the patrols have proven to be worth the effort. Plus there's no place to hide because the patrols know every square inch of terrain suitable for illegal camping, and then some.

            Could be worth it just to see the change of expression on their lying faces.

          • Hear the Footsteps
            Hear the Footsteps commented
            Editing a comment
            I suspect these days that there is a lot of camping that occurs in non approved places.

            An example. Descending McKenzie through the steepest part late in the afternoon we passed a couple with overnight packs heading there. My partner talks with them and they tell her they are doing an out and back and plan to camp somewhere near Haystack. I tell my partner later they 'told us what they think we should hear.' No proof, yes. Suspicion, yes.

            In addition I see a number of paths into the woods on high elevation trails leading to areas that look like tents have been set up.

            In Maine on the trail between Sugarloaf and Spaulding near an overlook just off the trail. We passed a tent and a camper preparing breakfast on a stove. I'm not sure if the rules in Maine are the same as in NY. Just relaying an observation. People see things and they copy them.

        • #13
          +1 Excellent paper map.

          I've used the ADK Mtn Club's map since the late 70's (and their detailed guidebook).

          Only thing is its scale. At 1:62500, it's on the order of a road map. It's a compromise because the more detailed scale of 1:24000 (used in USGS 7.5' Topo) would produce a High Peaks map the size of a blanket.

          Your other option is to print your own maps. Caltopo.com has a very good print function and you can choose from several maps (including OSM) or combine 2 or more maps. I use it for off-trail travel and can print maps at whatever scale I want.
          Looking for Views!

          Comment


          • Hear the Footsteps
            Hear the Footsteps commented
            Editing a comment
            I use Caltopo a lot. And have printed maps with Map Builder Topo but haven't seen OSM as a specific option. Explain?
            Thanks,
            Don

          • Makwa
            Makwa commented
            Editing a comment
            I believe the default for caltopo is USGS 7.5' which you will see in the upper right hand corner. If you mouse over that a menu pops up. The options are a "base layer" drop down menu and a bunch of boxes to check for additional map layers, overlays, and other assorted options. Use the drop down menu to select any base layer you desire. OSM is near the bottom of that menu.

        • #14
          Jonathan Markowicz and anyone who draws on their maps: To avoid ruining your maps there's a couple of options. The first and easiest of them is to use OpenStreet, CalTopo or something similar and either screenshot and open it in Paint to highlight your route, or create an overlay in the software and highlight routes as needed. These can then be printed and brought along. For a slightly "greener" option, consider getting a map case and using either alcohol pens or grease pencils on the clear portion of the case as an overlay. I prefer a combo of the two. I'll plan and measure my trips on one of those excellent digital tools and bring along a detailed topo printout, but I also make trip notes on my map case for quick reference. These notes often include distance and direction for turns (in case of low vis on a bald summit or other factors), cairn locations, POI's, etc. Obviously, each method is going to vary depending on the complexity of the hike. I tend to hike at night a lot so I usually make notes based on how I'll be seeing things via headlamp.
          “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” - Ed Viesturs

          Comment


          • #15
            Originally posted by FlyFishingandBeer View Post
            This reminds me of an evening trip I made up Phelps a few years ago...
            This reminds me how I met a young athletic guy at the Loj parking lot.
            We struck up a conversation about our hiking plans.
            He told me that he planned to bushwhack Mt. Marcy from Avalanche Pass and asked my opinion on feasibility of such route.
            I frankly told him that this route was definitely beyond my own abilities, but should be doable for a fit person (having Neil or Trail Boss in mind).
            This guy even has shown me a map on his smartphone.

            It was a long day of hiking for me and when I returned back to a trailhead there were only a few vehicles including an SUV of this guy.
            I was not sure whether to share this information with rangers. After a long consideration I decided that he would survive an extra night in the woods (it was a warm summer day with a pretty good weather forecast).
            Next couple of days I monitored for potential SAR operations, but nothing happened.

            I am still not sure whether this guy was able to accomplish his planned hike.

            Neil, Trail Boss, what is your opinion on feasibility of such bushwhack?

            Comment


            • FlyFishingandBeer
              FlyFishingandBeer commented
              Editing a comment
              That doesn't make any sense. I would have told him he needs a new map.
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