Hiking Accident Prevention: Solo Hikers Disappear In the North Cascades Two Months Apart


S T O R I E S   P A S T  A N D   P R E S E N T


Samantha Sayers Nor Rachel Lakoduk Returned From Their Solo Hiking Trip


A view of Mt. Shuksan in the North Cascades National Park, Washington state, USA.
A VIEW OF MT. SHUKSAN THE NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK IN WASHINGTON STATE

SAMANTHA SAYERS

Samantha Sayers was 27-years-old when she disappeared on August 1, 2019, while hiking solo in the Mount Baker–Snoqualmie National Forest, of the North Cascades mountain range.

Her plan was to summit Vesper Peak at 6,220 feet, and return by 6:00 PM. Her preparation included hiking poles, three sandwiches, chips and water.

The last time she was seen was 3:00 PM, when she had lunch with another hiker near the summit.

The trail to the summit is considered difficult and rigorous. Sayers had successfully climbed it before. But, after an extensive 8,000 hour search, not a trace of her turned up.

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RACHEL LAKODUK

9n October 17, 2019 Rachel Lakoduk set out on a solo overnight hike in the North Cascades mountains of Washington state. She was on her way to Hidden Lake Lookout, and planned to stay in a remote Cascades cabin located at 6800 feet. She was never seen again.

Two rescue attempts followed on October 19th and 20th. Both times rescuers faced imminent danger and had to turn back, due to extreme weather conditions, the possibility of avalanche, and 2 to 6 feet of trail snow.

On October 22, the rescuers reached the remote cabin, but there was no sign of Rachel. She was 28-years-old.

UPDATE: In August 2021 Rachel Lakoduk’s body was found by a private search and rescue group.

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ONLINE NEWS ARTICLES

Herald.net 9/14/18 “The 8,000-hour search to #find sam sayers on vesper peak” By Caleb Hutton

Seattle.Met 4/23/19 “Where on earth is Sam Sayers?” By Allison Williams

HeraldSun.com 10/22/19 “Rescuers reach remote Cascades cabin but don’t find missing hiker, Washington cops say” By Jaret Gilmour

The North Cascades National Park 10/26/21 “North Cascades National Park Weather”


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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Trip Planning Resources For Hikers and Backpackers



Hiking Accident Prevention: Why You Should Use A Compass and Map

A Map & Compass Are Hiking Survival Tools

Why should you learn to use a compass and map, when all you need is your GPS device?

The reason is battery failure. It’s ok to bring your GPS and cell phone, but don’t rely on them. In many wilderness areas, cell phone signals are weak or don’t exist.

If you’re not familiar with reading a map and compass, learn how to use them before your next trip. And then, put them in your pack for your next hike, even if it’s only for a day.

A compass and map applies to all skill levels, and is one of the 10 Essentials of Hiking.

Hikers sometimes get lost, or injured. If your device fails, or you aren’t carrying one, a map and compass could save you from hypothermia, or heat exhaustion.

Trail maps for U.S. national parks and U.S. forests can be ordered online from the U.S. Forest Service, and National Geographic, Click this link for State trail maps.

Where to buy a trail compass; Sporting goods stores, REI.com, Amazon.

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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Trip Planning Resources For Hikers and Backpackers

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Irene Pastore, is a Certified Personal Trainer, fitness blogger, health educator, and speaker. She has 24 years experience teaching exercise in New York City.  For her complete bio, visit the About Page.  

Hiking Accident Prevention: Losing The Trail In The Great Smoky Mountains


S T O R I E S   P A S T   A N D   P R E S E N T

Cautionary Tales For Back Country Hikers

 

Mother-Daughter Hike Ends In Grief

 

In October 2018, Mitzie Susan Clements, 53 and her daughter were on their way down, while hiking Clingman’s Dome – Forney Ridge Trail, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Her 20-year-old daughter, who was hiking ahead of her, lost sight of her mother.

After a week-long search, Mitzie Clements’ body was found in a rugged off-trail area, typified by very thick vegetation and a steep, very rocky hillside.  The cause of death was hypothermia.  A helicopter removed her remains. 

At the time of their hike, the weather conditions were foggy, and temperatures were in the 40s.  According to a park official, it was raining, and approaching darkness, making it difficult to miss trail intersections.  

News articles about this story are provided in the highlighted links listed below.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina,  is the most visited national park in the United States.

Online News Sources

Asheville Citizen-Times, October 4, 2018 Great Smokies hiker found dead this week is 11th death in park this year. By Karen Chavez

Asheville Citizen-Times, October 4, 2018 – Staying safe in the outdoors: Hiking death in Great Smokies a reminder of forest dangers,  By Karen Chavez

Citizen-Times.com (Citizen Times) April 3, 2019 Autopsy Reveals Cause of Death For Woman Who Went Missing in Great Smoky Mountains,  By Karen Chavez


KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Trip Planning Resources For Hikers and Backpackers


 

Hiking Accident Prevention: Learn The Risks of Slot Canyon Flash Floods

 

 Monsoon Season Brings Sudden Flooding 


SLOT CANYONS are funnel-shaped rock formations, found in the American southwest. They are wide at the top, and narrow at the bottom. Slot canyon formation is caused by water rushing through sandstone or limestone rock.  Southern Utah has the most slot canyons in the world.

SLOT CANYON FLASH FLOODS are often caused by storms miles away.  Slot canyon flash floods are dangerous, and can be life threatening.

During a flash flood, the water level rises quickly, within minutes, or seconds.  A flash flood can rush down a canyon in a wall of water 12 feet high or more.  

Hikers should check the National Weather Service, for an up-to-date report, before entering a slot canyon.  If bad weather is predicted, entering a slot canyon is dangerous, and may result in your death.


O N L I N E  N E W S  S O U R C E S

NPS.gov (National Park Service) –  Zion National Park Utah: The Narrows Safety 

NPS.gov (National Park Service) Monsoon Season 

MyUtahParks.com Be Aware of Flash Flood Dangers In Utah’s Canyons,  By Carly Everett  – 6/19/19

Blogs.Scientific American.comInstant Peril: Flash Floods and How To Survive Them.  Flash Floods Kill People Worldwide  Find Out How To Survive,  By Dana Hunter – 12/28/16

LATimes.com/Associated Press Report: Hikers Were Warned Before Flood,  9/30/97

CNN.com – 7 Dead In Zion National Park Flash Flood,  By Ralph Ellis – 9/17/15

OutsideOnline.com Special Report: The Keyhole 7,  By Grayson Schaffer – 5/24/16

ChicagoTributne.comUtah Floods That Killed 19 Show Dangers Of Popular Desert Canyons,   By Tribune Wire Reports – 9/17/15

Weather.gov (US National Weather Service)Floods  

OutsideOnline.com Surviving A Flash Flood In A Slot Canyon,  By Joe Spring – 9/11/13

Backpacker.com – The Manual: How To Explore A Slot Canyon,  By Kristin Bjornsen and Rebecca Kane – 2/14/17


KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Trip Planning Resources For Hikers and Backpackers


Irene Pastore, is a Certified Personal Trainer, fitness blogger, health educator, and speaker. She has 25 years experience teaching exercise in New York City.  To read her complete bio, visit the About Page.  


Hiking Accident Prevention: Why Trees Fall On Hikers


S T O R I E S  P A S T  A N D  P R E S E N T


How To Avoid Falling Tree Hazards On The Trail


In late December 2018, a 45 year-old woman was killed by a falling tree, while hiking with her husband and three children in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

In 2015 a Pennsylvania man, was killed on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, when wind caused a dead tree to fall.

The health of our forests plays a role in trees dying and falling.  The articles listed below cover this topic.


On an uplifting note, I’ve listed two articles about beneficial aspect of trees and human health. One is a USDA report published in April 2015, and the other is a USDA blog post published in June 2019.  See the last two articles below.


 N E W S  A R T I C L E S

NYPost.com 3/29/21 Parents of Five Killed When Redwood Tree Falls On Their Car In California By Kenneth Garger

OutsideOnline.com  10/9/19  Hikers: Beware Of Falling Trees, By Taylor Gee

WATE.com – Hiker In Great Smoky Mountains National Park Struck And Killed By Falling Tree Due To High Winds, 12/31/18

National Parks Traveler.org Appalachian Trail Hiking Death Prompts Call For Hikers To Be Safety-Minded On The Trail 3/25/15

National Parks Service 8/28/19 Tree Mortality Can Cause Hazardous Conditions

PressHerald.com Pennsylvania Folk Singer Killed By Falling Tree On Appalachian Trail 3/16/15

US Forest Service Hazard Trees

WTA.org (Washington Trails Association) When A Tree Falls In The Woods – Reducing Your Risk From Falling Trees 3/5/18

FS.USDA.gov (USDA Forest Service) Safety In The Woods: Caves, Waterfalls, Hazard Trees, Getting Lost

FS.FED.US USDA Research Review No. 26 April 2015 Trees Improve Human Health and Well-Being In Many Ways

USDA.GOV 6/3/19 – The Power Of One Tree – The Very Air We Breath


KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Trip Planning Resources For Hikers and Backpackers


Irene Pastore, is a Certified Personal Trainer, fitness blogger, health educator, and speaker. She has 25 years experience teaching exercise in New York City.  For her complete bio, visit the About Page.