Monday, July 25, 2005


UPDATE: (7/27/05 2:00 PM CDT) Gilbert Gaedcke and Peter Frank, the boy that spotted him, are on FNC as we speak Nothing new as to facts, just the touchy feelie aspects of the story. My original assessment still stands: How is it possible that this guy couldn't walk out?

(end update)
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This is a puzzling story. From Newsday comes this report of an "experienced hiker" who became lost, and remained so for five days, until discovered by a boy on a tour helicopter ride. Unfortunately, incidents akin to this happen frequently, even to experienced people. But what puzzles me is why a person could not manage to walk/climb out of an area so small.

WAIMEA, Hawaii -- A hiker lost for five days in a lava field near a volcano says he survived by drinking water he squeezed from moss in a mostly barren landscape. Gilbert Dewey Gaedcke III, 41, was rescued Friday afternoon after a teenager on a helicopter tour spotted him stumbling across the rocky lava, trying to attract attention with a mirror from his camera.

Realizing that although this is rugged, and probably unfamiliar, terrain, the hiker still was not many miles from 'civilization' in any direction.

(map credit: National Park Service)

Regardless of the size of the area, an experienced hiker surely had some foreknowledge of the island, even if the minimal information provided by the NPS.

The reason this is puzzling to me is that I had a somewhat similar experience once, long ago. My brother and I (ages 10 and 13 at the time) were taking a hike along a beach. The destination was approximately 10 miles away. About halfway through, we encountered a headland that we could not get around, and decided to cut overland to the main highway, which was about two miles inland at that point. After a couple of hours of rough going we decided that we were 'lost'. Even so, we knew that in one direction lay the highway, and in the opposite was the Pacific Ocean, and our 'rescue' depended only on persistence and a straight heading.

My point is that any '"experienced hiker" should have been able to find their way out.

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