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getting lost in the woods

I share this article, following with my comments.


California couple who vanished for nearly a week found alive

from commanderzero.com

You know, stereotypes are not always accurate…but…they save time and the exist for a reason. Part of me wants to say that this is a case of ‘academics’ who know their way around a college campus but have a total disconnect from the real world and it’s real world consequences.

INVERNESS, Calif. (AP) — An academic couple who got lost during a Valentine’s Day hike in the woods of Northern California was found Saturday by rescuers who spent almost a week looking for them and had given up hopes of finding them alive.

Carol Kiparsky, 77, and Ian Irwin, 72, were found in a densely forested area near Tomales Bay, a narrow inlet about 30 miles north of San Francisco, and were airlifted to a hospital for treatment of hypothermia, Marin County Sheriff’s Sgt. Brenton Schneider said at a news conference.

“This is a miracle,” he said.

They were unprepared for a long hike or the cold weather, when night temperatures dipped into the 30’s, and survived by drinking from a puddle, he said.

If you’re going to go for a ‘walk in the woods’, take a moment and think about how in the span of an eyeblink you can get a broken ankle, weather change, crazed transient, medical emergency, or other sudden unexpected event that turns your walk in the woods into a scene from The Revenant. The stuff that would make a huge difference in these situations fits in a tiny daypack and between your ears.


I grew up about 35 miles from where they got lost, two doors down from The Woods. My woods was much like theirs in that you couldn’t go much more than ten miles in ANY ONE DIRECTION without running into populated areas … ya’know, with houses, people, telephones, automobiles and such. My neighborhood had a significant number of baby boomer kids, but I was the one out of twenty who regularly wandered the woods.

My parents didn’t seem much curious about my days as long as I was home before dinner time. The sun moved in a predictable pattern while my home remained stationary. I never gave a moment’s thought to not getting home, carried no survival gear beyond a pocketknife, was normally accompanied by our mutt Fluffy, and as far as I can recall, drank nothing until returning home to our convenient garden hoses.

I gave no thought to people who didn’t have a compass in their heads until I was 19 or 20. My Utah co-workers gave their pet GI an opportunity to learn deer hunting in the Rocky Mountains. Four of us left two pickups parked to hike rugged cliffs, ridges and ravines. My Air Force field jacket pockets comfortably held six watery Utah beers. I carried a borrowed .270 rifle I had never shot. We fanned out and met back up without communicating for an hour or more at a time.

Much older and wiser, I now recognize just how bad my teachers were.

I climbed over a boulder along a high cliff startling a condor who took off right in front of the equally startled me. Other than that, we scared up nothing. With beer and daylight running out we decided to head home. The three of them set off in one direction while the California city boy said, “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m heading back to the pickup trucks”.

Today I wonder why they turned around and went with me straight to the trucks. I also am fascinated that I went out with them again, also with other local teachers, and never once heard of compasses, water, daypacks, walkie-talkies, hunter-orange vests, hats, whistles, first aid kits, fire starters, ponchos, plans …