Mountain biker OK after cold, wet night lost in woods

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    • #106989
      Russell Abraham was a little embarrassed, but otherwise healthy after spending a cold, wet night lost in the woods in Mount Wells Regional Park.

      The 21-year-old mountain biker got lost while exploring the park trails Saturday afternoon. He was initially able to contact his mom, Debbie, from his cellular phone, but the battery died and he was on his own.

      Metchosin Search and Rescue co-ordinated the hunt from a command centre set up on the shoulders of Sooke Road, near Happy Valley Road.

      More than 20 people used GPS systems, radios and whistles as they searched trails by foot and on quad all-terrain vehicles.

      The search continued throughout the night, with search-and-rescue relief arriving from Saanich and Juan de Fuca in the early morning. About 10 a.m., Abraham stumbled out of a trail near Ragged Mountain and came upon two searchers.

      Abraham’s pant legs were soaked from the knees down. All he had for warmth were a T-shirt and hoodie. And he didn’t want to discuss his ordeal publicly.

      Read more: http://www.timescolonist.com/Mountain+b … z1oLEDUF2z

      Image

      So the kid heads out in the woods on his own, in unfamiliar territory, and all he brings with him for clothing is blue jeans, a t-shirt, and a hoody? Honestly, he [i:1f9fn0ta]should[/i:1f9fn0ta] be pretty embarrassed.

      Mountain biking is serious business, and especially in remote areas you should be prepared to survive in case something serious does happen. I’ve gotten pretty lost while out on the bike before, but if I don’t know where I’m going, I always make sure to carry a map, small emergency compass, food, water (and water purification), extra layers, and a rain jacket.

      I’ve generally told people not to come looking for me if I don’t show up. When riding in a wilderness setting, I carry enough gear to spend the night and walk out in the morning, because do you know how expensive a search and rescue operation is?!

      Oh, and I use the word "kid" loosely. Personally, I was navigating remote wilderness routes in the mountains of Montana solo at the age of 18, and was married at the age of 21, not calling my mommy to come get me because I got turned around in the woods…

      What do you think? Am I being too harsh on this "kid?"

    • #106990

      NO. like clint says, a man has got to know his limatations. 😉 that boy could have lost his life. like an unexspected storm or cold front come thru and die of exposuer. he really is quite lucky.

    • #106991

      I don’t think it is over reacting. There has to be a level of knowing your limitations and knowledge of how to survive in certain situations for that type of riding. It does not appear that he is either used to that type of riding or prepared for regular trail conditions much less overnight. It is a good reminder to be ready to be out there longer than you would expect.

    • #106992

      It took me a second to realize that pic was of the rider. That was not the mental image I had of the guy while reading the story.

      If I got lost, I wouldn’t have called my mom, but my wife. She’s the person that knows where I went and how long I expected to be out. Granted, I would have called her to tell her I’m fine, not broken and bleeding at the bottom of a ravine.

      I went riding in Tuscon over the winter break and while I didn’t carry the map, compass, or rain jacket that Greg mentioned, I [i:r0tmiqx6]always[/i:r0tmiqx6] oriented myself in relation to the mountains. I guess that’s one of the benefits of riding in the desert and not the woods 😃
      Even when I got lost (and I did), I knew which way to start biking/walking.

      I’ll have to start carrying a poncho though, that’s easy enough to fit in the camelbak and would definitely be something I’d want if I needed it. Thanks for the tip, Greg!

    • #106993
      "Jared13" wrote

      It took me a second to realize that pic was of the rider. That was not the mental image I had of the guy while reading the story.

      If I got lost, I wouldn’t have called my mom, but my wife. She’s the person that knows where I went and how long I expected to be out. Granted, I would have called her to tell her I’m fine, not broken and bleeding at the bottom of a ravine.

      I went riding in Tuscon over the winter break and while I didn’t carry the map, compass, or rain jacket that Greg mentioned, I [i:23zmrbt9]always[/i:23zmrbt9] oriented myself in relation to the mountains. I guess that’s one of the benefits of riding in the desert and not the woods 😃
      Even when I got lost (and I did), I knew which way to start biking/walking.

      I’ll have to start carrying a poncho though, that’s easy enough to fit in the camelbak and would definitely be something I’d want if I needed it. Thanks for the tip, Greg!

      In the desert, I can see why you might not need to carry a rain jacket 😉 It boils down to being honest with how well you know the local area and terrain, and how well you DON’T know it. Especially in the mountains and in really remote areas, a simple trail ride can turn into a life-and-death survival situation in a very short amount of time.

      Navigating IS really easy in the desert and in areas with open terrain, almost feels like cheating sometimes, haha! But like I said, it’s all about being honest about the terrain you’re riding and your abilities and skills to cope with it.

      I’m glad you guys agree, too. Keep the thoughts/opinions coming!

    • #106994

      Well, I was on vacation in the desert. I meant I’ll start carrying a poncho/rain gear here in the Midwest ;)

    • #106995
      "Jared13" wrote

      Well, I was on vacation in the desert. I meant I’ll start carrying a poncho/rain gear here in the Midwest ;)

      Ah, gotcha!

    • #106996

      Darwin Awards candidate? I always make sure to take a group when exploring new trails because when it comes down to it, I would eat a friend to survive. 😆

      But seriously, for being 21 years old, that dude has a lot of growing up to do.

    • #106997

      Okay, we’re all piling on this guy and we obviously don’t know everything. I’m sure most of us have gotten in a little over our head at least once in our lives either with the bike or in some endeavor. If you haven’t, you probably had but just didn’t notice it because nothing went wrong along the way. I

      Having said all that, here’s what surprises me. I looked up the riding venue in question and it’s all of 123 hectares (or 303 acres, about a half a square mile) with only one out and back trail of 1.3 kilometers (less than a mile). How does one get lost on that? Even if he wandered out of the park, the map shows you’re never more than a kilometer from a road. At least know the general layout and topography of where you’re going to ride–which I’m assuming this fella did since he appears to be a local (called his mom to come get him). Looking at the topo, all he had to do was go downhill and he would have run into either a road or a lake, probably in less than half a mile.

      Being a local, I’m also assuming he knows that winter weather in the pacific northwest is usually cold, wet and rainy–bet that cotton hoodie was real comfortable in the precip.

    • #106998

      More and more people are heading out into the woods and have no idea how to survive a night alone if they get lost. How many riders have the stiff to spend the night out if needed? i’ll admit for most rides I do not. However my day pack for hiking always has what I need. Granted it won’t be comfortable but……matches, candle, trash bags, emergency food, winter hat, gloves, compass, whistle.

    • #106999
      "skibum" wrote

      I looked up the riding venue in question and it’s all of 123 hectares (or 303 acres, about a half a square mile) with only one out and back trail of 1.3 kilometers (less than a mile).

      I was curious about that. I was picturing some huge expanse of land with miles and mile of backcountry. Sounds like the proverbial "can’t find your way out of a paper bag", but to your point, we may not have the whole story. In the end, I’m glad the kid is okay, and hopefully he learned a valuable life lesson.

    • #107000
      "fleetwood" wrote

      …hopefully he learned a valuable life lesson.

      Like not to ride in jeans… 😆

    • #107001

      I think the thing to keep in mind is that the kid is okay. Having said that, launching a SAR mission throughout the night and involve over 20 people scouring the park is damned expensive, and used up valuable resources for the duration of the mission.

      It’s easy to get turned around in a forest, especially if you’re not keeping track of where you are. Plus, people react differently to certain situations. Maybe the kid panicked and wasn’t thinking straight? Some people become irrational when in that situation, while others take stock of the situation and act accordingly.

      He should’ve had at least some gear with him other than a cell phone (he at least had that). It wouldn’t have been a comfortable night, but certainly might have helped with the psychology of the situation.

      Common sense and experience tells us that he made a series of mistakes, but I don’t think it’s fair to pile on the guy. We’ve all been down similar roads, and we don’t know the whole story.

      Cheers,

      Loaf

    • #107002

      Guess we have had our fun with him. 😀
      He may be one of those people with a poor sense of direction. I have a pretty good sense of direction in the woods and rarely get lost.

      Spin me around 3 times blind folded in a shopping mall and it will take me all day to find my way to the parking lot. Then it will take me another day to find my car. 😆

    • #107003
      "CraigCreekRider" wrote

      Guess we have had our fun with him. 😀
      He may be one of those people with a poor sense of direction. I have a pretty good sense of direction in the woods and rarely get lost.

      Spin me around 3 times blind folded in a shopping mall and it will take me all day to find my way to the parking lot. Then it will take me another day to find my car. 😆

      Well, that settles it. You should stay in the woods and away from malls. That’s an order.

    • #107004
      "fleetwood" wrote

      [quote="CraigCreekRider":73c2d4zf]Guess we have had our fun with him. 😀
      He may be one of those people with a poor sense of direction. I have a pretty good sense of direction in the woods and rarely get lost.

      Spin me around 3 times blind folded in a shopping mall and it will take me all day to find my way to the parking lot. Then it will take me another day to find my car. 😆

      Well, that settles it. You should stay in the woods and away from malls. That’s an order.[/quote:73c2d4zf]

      No more malls for me 😀 Unless someone puts a bike shop there.

    • #107005

      That guy wasn’t prepared for an emergency for sure. And, probably, he learned a valuable lesson. I’m glad he’s Ok except of being embaraced.
      It reminded me a story about woman and her 13 year old son went biking in Lebanon Hills park in Minnesota and lost in woods. The funniest part that one of the police officers being lost there during search because his flashlight and radio batteries died. All three were rescued by park ranger.
      In addition to all gear you guys taking with into the woods I’d say would be wise to have a flashlight or MTB light system with you. Then maybe the one who lost don’t have to wait till morning to get out…

    • #107006
      "stumpyfsr" wrote

      In addition to all gear you guys taking with into the woods I’d say would be wise to have a flashlight or MTB light system with you. Then maybe the one who lost don’t have to wait till morning to get out…

      +1. I always carry a small backpacking headlamp at least. It’s come in handy before!!

    • #107007

      Too mean? Not at all. I’m glad the kid is okay, and I’m glad he learned a lesson and IS embarrassed.

      But let’s be realistic: everything about this screams “rookie.”

      Non-biking clothes, lost in a small area, no gear… I’d bet $5 the kid probably just got a bike and wanted to try it off-road. It didn’t end well for him, but could’ve been worse. We’ve ALL started at some point on a first ride in the woods, without a helmet, no less, and we’ve all learned because of what happens.

      But part of me wants to say “hey, kid, bet ya thought this looked cool on YouTube and you decided you wanted to try it, huh? How’d THAT work for you?” and jab him with a stick. 😄 Maybe it’s the haircut.

    • #107008

      Have you ever noticed that the stores where MTBs are sold rarely, if ever, sell emergency equipment like whistles, compasses, etc. I’ve never once seen a book on outdoor survival or even heard a hint of advice given to any first-time buyer. Stores like REI are the exception to this rule, but most folks shop in bike stores or on-line. I don’t even think the manuals that come with MTBs make mention of the potential dangers in back country travel. It seems to me to be a glaring omission on their part.
      I have several "levels" of emergency gear I take along depending on the remoteness of the particular trail I’m riding. Close to home it’s a patch kit and little else. In the mountains it’s a full emergency survival kit, map and compass, bike repair kit, water filter/pump, waterproof outer layer, fleece jacket, fleece hat, extra food and a first-aid kit.
      I may carry a little extra weight when I go, but I certainly increase the likelihood that I’ll always come back.

    • #107009
      "MarcS" wrote

      I don’t even think the manuals that come with MTBs make mention of the potential dangers in back country travel. It seems to me to be a glaring omission on their part.

      Nobody reads the manuals anyway.

      However, I WILL say that most (if not all) of the MTB guidebooks that I own DO include an appendix about safe travel in the mountains and some of the various supplies that you should carry with you.

      I don’t think it’s the bike companies’ responsibility to prepare users for wilderness travel. That’s like saying that whoever sells a pair of hiking boots should educate the buyer on the ins and outs of backpacking.

      The responsibility for this can’t be pushed off on those producing the products. It’s up to the individual to know what they’re getting in to and to educate themselves about all of the dangers.

      Perhaps to help remedy the situation we could publish more blog posts here on Singletracks about safe wilderness travel. Maybe I’ll get to work on that…

    • #107010

      straight on that mtbgreg1.

    • #107011

      To be old and wise one must first be young and stupid. And as I’m still somewhat stupid I’ve got a long way to go. 😆
      Done a lot of stupid things my self. If he was smart enough to be embarrassed, he probably learned a good lesson.
      Now days if they don’t call out the troops for one missing hiker, and it turns out bad, somebody gets sued.

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