Couple dies on route to popular rock formation

Share your interests, have a laugh or discuss anything not related to Death Valley
Post Reply
User avatar
gedstrom
Grubstaker
Posts: 321
Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:43 pm
Location: Glendale, California
Contact:

Couple dies on route to popular rock formation

Post by gedstrom » Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:57 am

http://news.yahoo.com/couple-dies-route ... 30468.html

I made this beautiful hike on May 30, 2009, while it was still early in the season. The weather was mild that day and I was in good physical shape. The hike was only half the length of other hikes I had done on the same trip, and it contained only a third of the elevation gain of one of my other hikes. Yet this particular trip was the most exhausting hike of all. I can't imagine even starting out on a hike like this on a HOT day! One thing that made the hike difficult was the soft sand that you have to hike through. The trip also lacks much of any marked trail. The BLM supplies photo maps to pick out landmarks. It is also an good idea to carry a GPS (and know how to use it), as it would be VERY easy to get lost in the area.

User avatar
MojaveGeek
Death Valley Resident
Posts: 2044
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2008 5:22 pm
Location: Boston

Post by MojaveGeek » Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:24 am

I've never won the lottery to the Wave. I've been through Wirepass, which uses the same trailhead, and sure have been tempted to permit-poach, but I have not. I've walked in to South Coyote Buttes, that's really sandy and no way my 2WD could get up there. Did that trip at this time of year - but I was walking around the same time the sun came over the horizon, and out well before noon.

This time of year, it's easy to screw up and suffer heatstroke. You need a real early start. You need to over estimate how much water you need. You need to have whatever navigation aids you use. And you need to start real early (worth saying that a second time).

Who knows what mistake these hikers made, maybe we will get more detail but with no survivor, maybe we'll never know how early they started, etc. A sad story.
Last edited by MojaveGeek on Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
ETAV8R
Grubstaker
Posts: 211
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2010 1:25 am

Post by ETAV8R » Sun Jul 07, 2013 1:22 pm

Very sad.
I have driven through the area but not hiked to The Wave yet.

User avatar
Morrie
Grubstaker
Posts: 356
Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 12:04 am
Location: Hopkinton, Mass.

Post by Morrie » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:11 am

They didn't say whether the couple had enough water.

This leads me to a question: has there ever been a case of people who died in the desert from heat, even though they were drinking a lot of water and had plenty left? I'm curious whether having sufficient water alone is a guarantee of survival (barring other things of course like injuries, starvation, sunstroke). I wonder what is the maximum temperature the average person can tolerate just by drinking enough?

User avatar
gedstrom
Grubstaker
Posts: 321
Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:43 pm
Location: Glendale, California
Contact:

Post by gedstrom » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:11 am

Morrie wrote:They didn't say whether the couple had enough water.

This leads me to a question: has there ever been a case of people who died in the desert from heat, even though they were drinking a lot of water and had plenty left? I'm curious whether having sufficient water alone is a guarantee of survival (barring other things of course like injuries, starvation, sunstroke). I wonder what is the maximum temperature the average person can tolerate just by drinking enough?
It is MORE than just having enough water...You need to drink it! In extreme heat, you can become dehydrated BEFORE you become thirsty. You need to force yourself to drink more water than you think you need.

User avatar
Morrie
Grubstaker
Posts: 356
Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 12:04 am
Location: Hopkinton, Mass.

Post by Morrie » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:29 am

gedstrom wrote: It is MORE than just having enough water...You need to drink it! In extreme heat, you can become dehydrated BEFORE you become thirsty. You need to force yourself to drink more water than you think you need.
Sure, I'm well aware of that. My question is whether drinking enough (and getting whatever electrolytes you might need) is sufficient to avoid hyperthermia, or there are temperatures that are just so hot, your body can't keep you cool enough regardless of what you do.

For example, with temps up to 129 in the valley recently, can anyone survive that for a whole day, just by drinking, eating, wearing a hat, etc?
Last edited by Morrie on Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Morrie
Grubstaker
Posts: 356
Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 12:04 am
Location: Hopkinton, Mass.

Post by Morrie » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:48 am

I found this chart that indicates people can survive at 120 for a day at 10% humidity or less. At 110, you can survive indefinitely.

User avatar
MojaveGeek
Death Valley Resident
Posts: 2044
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2008 5:22 pm
Location: Boston

Post by MojaveGeek » Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:54 pm

Interesting chart but note the wide bands of "uncertainty".

A whole let depends on what they are doing. Remember air temps are measured in the shade. It is very different sitting in the shade vs sitting or lying on the ground in the sun (when it is very hot, the dry ground in places like DV is much hotter than the air just a foot above the ground) or moving around exerting yourself, or getting serious exercise (manual labor, running).

Obviously a lot depends on humidity too. Your sweating is not very efficient when it is humid and, given plenty of fluids and replacement electrolytes, that would be what keeps you alive when it gets much above body temp.

User avatar
gedstrom
Grubstaker
Posts: 321
Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:43 pm
Location: Glendale, California
Contact:

Post by gedstrom » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:16 pm


User avatar
MojaveGeek
Death Valley Resident
Posts: 2044
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2008 5:22 pm
Location: Boston

Post by MojaveGeek » Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:10 pm

Wonder if we'll see any changes to the lottery system.

Or they could just paint "trail markers" on the rocks (I hope not).

They do give out nice descriptions of the route. The problem is that it is so famous, it attracts people who probably should not be there, at least not when heat adds to the stress.

Post Reply