GPS Astray: Lost in Death Valley

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jacknv7
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GPS Astray: Lost in Death Valley

Post by jacknv7 » Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:45 am

ABC News video.

Part 1: Three women's Death Valley day trip soured after their GPS led them to the edge of survival.

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/gps-as ... y-18743019

Part 2: Hoping for Rescue

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/gps-as ... e-18743061

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MojaveGeek
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Post by MojaveGeek » Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:16 pm

Nice find, Jack, thanks for posting!

Good appearance by Ranger Charlie too. I gather that he has had varied success in dealing with the map companies about "roads" that no longer exist or are closed due to wilderness.

I always gets me where there is this undercurrent accusatory tone of "blame it on the GPS". Are we such lemmings?

What did these folks do? Drive up the Racetrack Valley road in a sedan mid afternoon in summer. OK, I've done that - but not in summer :) Hopefully anybody here who did that would be hauling at least 3 gallons of water per person.

So they drove to Teakettle Junction. If the little map graphic is correct, they drove most of the way to the Racetrack, turned around, and took the right fork at Teakettle - though the sign clearly shows which way to the Grapevine ranger station. Perhaps they didn't recall the intersection correctly because they had been distracted by the teakettles? Perhaps "Grapevine" means nothing to them. But they did not appear to have a map. Uh oh.

Sigh. This is why the road is marked 4WD HC and why the staff at the VC will try to keep folks without better vehicles (which may imply more experience) off the back country roads.

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Post by blackturtle » Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:45 pm

There's also a copy of this report posted on the ABCNEWS channel on YouTube:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1ISZq0R1-I

The Pahrump Valley Times also wrote about this 20/20 episode:
http://pvtimes.com/news/abcs-2020-recou ... ey-ordeal/

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Post by gedstrom » Sat Mar 16, 2013 6:26 pm

Unfortunately, I personally know someone who would take the directions of a GPS over common sense. I have seen so many crazy things on my GPS I wonder why anyone would put so much faith in them. I have DeLorme Street Atlas USA 2008 on my desktop. If I tell it to plot me the fasest route to Mesquite Springs from the Los Angeles area, It wants to route me and my 29' motorhome over Saline Valley Road, Hunter Mountain Road, and Racetrack Road, coming out at Ubehebe Crater. I can just imagine this person taking its instructions seriously.

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Post by Older Fossil » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:09 am

A saying that I feel is all too true:
"Common sense isn't common."

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Post by gedstrom » Sun Mar 17, 2013 4:07 pm

OK, maybe it represents prejudice on my part, but just viewing the beginning of the video, without knowing what time of year it was or what equipment they had with them, I thought that here were some people completely clueless about desert travel.

This past Monday through Wednesday nights I was camping at Mesquite Springs. A person walked up to my campsite and wondered how far it was to the nearest gas station. I told him about 40 miles to Stovepipe Wells. He didn't think he had enough to make it that far. He apparently got some gas from another person in the campground. How in the world do you travel into these areas without planning out your gas usage???

Even my own sister! Back in '95 we planned to join up for a houseboat trip on Lake Powell. We planned on meeting at Hall's Crossing. She would be traveling along Utah Hwy 261 through Moki Dugway. I warned her multiple times about the scarcity of gas stations...That the last gas before Hall's Crossing would be at Mexican Hat. Did she listen? Of course not! She arrived virtually running on fumes. Her tank was rated at 24.5 gallons, and that is exactly how much it took!

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Post by MojaveGeek » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:04 pm

The article which Blackturtle cites above, from the Pahrump newspaper (implying they were from Pahrump??) says that in an interview they claimed to be well prepared with all sorts of stuff including a map. It's hard to tell much from the video, as it's a re-enactment (silly how much publicity was given to folks who did a stupid thing). Seems to me if you were "prepared" for off pavement travel in summer desert weather you'd have had a trunk full of water!

Fuel is another good point. They drove to the Racetrack. From there, they appear to have taken the Hunter Mountain road and over South Pass into the Saline. In overall miles, that's not really much further than it would have taken them to get back to the nearest gas from the Racetrack - SPW probably? (It's been years since there was gas at Scotty's, right?). So that was a big risk.

The re-enactment makes it sound like the GPS was giving them crazy directions - U-turns and stuff. I'm dubious about that. But look, it doesn't take a lot of brains to figure out that if your nav system tells you to do a u-turn, unless you've just driven by an intersection, it's broke! So pull out the map and figure out what to do.

Blindly following "the GPS" means you don't know where you are. And if your map doesn't show back roads, you're really SOL at that point.

It's just frustrating that people do this. They could have died (the newspaper story said they broke into the trailers, though) and they did waste a lot of taxpayer resources to get rescued.

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Post by alluvialfan » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:52 pm

When I was reading the PVT articles, I noticed a blogger mentioned that those 'lost women' suffered from the Dunning-Kruger effect, a psychological condition (a bias involving overestimating & underestimating your ability). First I'd heard of the term; been reading on the Internet about it (still reading); interesting, at least for me. A name and research put to a condition, that you've probably noticed by studying friends, relatives during your lifetime. From what little I know about it, those women sure seemed to fit the bill of the condition.

I had a Aunt that seemed to fit the bill on the incompetent side of that condition too - blindly overestimated her ability and failed to listen to reason (and paid dearly for it throughout her life, especially in her later years).

Perhaps I'm suffering the other end of that condition (underestimating my ability), when I refuse to drive a rental economy car on backcountry roads because of the knowledge of what could happen (flat tire, get stuck, etc), even though I read about folks doing it. Oh well, this isn't a psychology site.

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Post by blackturtle » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:56 pm

MojaveGeek wrote: It's just frustrating that people do this. They could have died (the newspaper story said they broke into the trailers, though) and they did waste a lot of taxpayer resources to get rescued.
IMHO, they should be required to pay the full cost of the search and rescue operation, plus they should fully reimburse the trailer owners for any damage done. I assume that they have at least reimbursed the trailer owners, but I don't know that for a fact. Sometimes people make honest mistakes and in those case I can see waving the search and rescue costs, but in this case these people should have known better!

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Post by Gowergulch42 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:21 am

in this case these people should have known better!
And it's because of their "malfunctioning" GPS. If the roads were paved it would have been a logical route. They are at their own fault and definitely financially responsible.
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Post by ETAV8R » Mon Mar 25, 2013 7:28 pm

Just watched the 20/20 clips. Too bad they didn't mention the vandalism. These people should have paid for the search and rescue along with the cost of vandalism.

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Post by Dezdan » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:26 pm

I remember when this happened and I'm not sure I buy their story 100%. If I remember correctly, either one of the woman, or her best friend was a newspaper reporter in Pahrump. I wonder how much 20/20 paid them...

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Post by gedstrom » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:28 pm

Dezdan wrote:I remember when this happened and I'm not sure I buy their story 100%. If I remember correctly, either one of the woman, or her best friend was a newspaper reporter in Pahrump. I wonder how much 20/20 paid them...
If 20/20 paid them for the story, those funds should be applied to the rescue effort.

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Post by MojaveGeek » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:46 am

Yes, as I think on it, the "malfunctioning GPS" excuse does seem rather thin, doesn't it? It would be a strange failure mode indeed. If they were not using the GPS and then turned it after driving on their own for some time, I could see that it might not figure the same route back, as they might have driven over a road not in its database. If it were failing to get a true fix from the GPS system, then it would be wildly off, and its directions would not be consistent with the state of the world they saw outside their windows, and they should have just back tracked.

I also hope that 20/20 paid the CHP time and expenses for that silly "reunion" bit at the end.

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