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Discussing Date of Exit and Cut-off Times

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Discussing Date of Exit and Cut-off Times

Postby maverick » Tue Dec 08, 2015 5:58 pm

It would be remiss of me not to bring this to everyone's attention, this major issue, which not only occurred in the Matthew Greene incident, but also in the more recent Michael Meyer incident, needs to be addressed.

In the Greene case, it was believed that Matthew was heading to Colorado to meet some friends after his stay in Mammoth, before heading back home to PA. Matthews family and friends believed Matthew was on the road, it was normal for Matthew to go without calling for several days, they did make repeated attempts to call Matthew and they left him messages, but it was not until a full 12 days after Matthews date of exit had passed, that Law Enforcement was contacted.

Similarly in the Meyer case, Michaels family believed that he was preparing for a conference, it was also normal for Michael to not call anyone for a few days, and so their was no call made to Law Enforcement till 6 days after Michaels date of exit had passed.


It is extremely important to make sure that you discuss your date of exit, and just as important, your cut-off time for which you should call your contact person by, there should be not leeway, if you are supposed to call by 5:00 pm, your contact person needs to be on the phone to Law Enforcement at 5:01 pm, period. It is better to be wrong or embarrassed, then to be sorry. This information needs to be passed on to a contact person, not only in the case of backpackers, but also day hikers, climbers, fishing persons, or mountain bikers alike.

Time is of the essence in these cases, one can get injured days before the discussed exit date, important evidence and clues can be lost due to time and weather, witnesses memories start to get fuzzy as time goes by, so our best chance at survival is to have someone call Law Enforcement immediately.

Even those with a SPOT should consider having a call time set, your tracking device will show that you made it to the trailhead, but the windy forest roads are extremely dangerous, especially if you had a long day of hiking behind you and it is getting dark, so setting a cut-off time for a call is important, and a call should be made to our contact once again, when make it to the main road/hwy.

This should be done at all times of the year, but even more so during the shoulder seasons, when the terrain we travel on is much more volatile, and the weather can have deadly consequences.


Do you have a cut-off time discussed with you contact person, or indicted on the form left at home?


PS The Reconn Form has a place for this, but you can just as easily write/type this information down and leave with your contact with the rest of you important personal information.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org



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Re: Discussing Date of Exit and Cut-off Times

Postby rlown » Tue Dec 08, 2015 7:27 pm

maverick wrote:
Do you have a cut-off time discussed with you contact person, or indicted on the form left at home?


PS The Reconn Form has a place for this, but you can just as easily write/type this information down and leave with your contact with the rest of you important personal information.


My standard protocol is two days after the exit date of my trip if i don't check in. Wife knows that implicitly now. YMMV.

I ran over that by 3 days in '2009 but it was an extenuating circumstance. She knew I was fine as I was with 2 others.
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Re: Discussing Date of Exit and Cut-off Times

Postby hjldennis » Tue Dec 08, 2015 7:40 pm

I have been really bad with this, which is really bad considering I go out with my children. My excuse has been that we go as a family, and we go out typically to trails that are not too remote. But lately we've been having trips with no encounters for a day or two.. I always had exit/backup plans in case of emergency, but i realized they all involved me being health. So I made big step to purchase Inreach recently, and I will begin practicing the notification procedure as discussed here.

I wonder, in these days of app everything, if there is an app that will alert certain people by certain time unless it is deactivated.
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Re: Discussing Date of Exit and Cut-off Times

Postby maverick » Tue Dec 08, 2015 8:15 pm

My standard protocol is two days after the exit date of my trip if i don't check in. Wife knows that implicitly now. YMMV.

I ran over that by 3 days in '2009 but it was an extenuating circumstance. She knew I was fine as I was with 2 others.


Having hiking partners does help, but it something that still needs to be discussed with the contact person at home, but this become even more important for solo hikers.
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Re: Discussing Date of Exit and Cut-off Times

Postby rlown » Tue Dec 08, 2015 8:27 pm

Ok. what is to discuss. Put documentation in your vehicle. Leave documentation with a friend/loved one. Plans, entry/exit etc. and the cut-off time. Are we done?

My wife was ready to drive up to Weaverville to find me. Pointless. She'd have no clue were i was after 10 days.. Yes we filed a permit, and the FS would have it in hand.

Is there a larger picture that I'm missing? If solo, you take a LOT of that on yourself. Leave good basic plans on the area you are headed towards. If you change plans, leave a breadcrumb of a note on the trail if you are on one and well, see what develops.
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Re: Discussing Date of Exit and Cut-off Times

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue Dec 08, 2015 8:33 pm

All of my long trips I realistically would not be considered missing until November. I always tell people that if you value your life don't do as I do!
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Re: Discussing Date of Exit and Cut-off Times

Postby rlown » Tue Dec 08, 2015 8:46 pm

Rogue, you know you want to live! Your write-ups are what you live for.. :thumbsup:
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Re: Discussing Date of Exit and Cut-off Times

Postby kpeter » Tue Dec 08, 2015 8:58 pm

I always leave a page of instructions with my wife, with a very clear exit date and time. Here is how I work it in conjunction with my SPOT.

I take a SPOT but do not rely solely on it. Obviously if I hit 911 I need help, but I also tell her not to panic if she gets no signals from the device. It may be because I lost it or it became damaged. She appreciates the regular OK signals, but whether she gets signals from SPOT or not, she knows to contact authorities if she does not hear from me by the end of the day I instruct her I am coming out. Ideally that will mean an OK signal from my car at the trailhead, indicating that the car has started, but I follow up with a phone call when in range just in case the SPOT signal did not work. (It always has so far.)

The SPOT does give me some latitude, however. If for some reason I wish to extend my stay for a day or more, I use my SPOT to send a coded message at an agreed upon time of day which informs her I will be a day late, and she can delay by one day notification of the authorities. (I use the "Help" button for this--obviously not the 911 button or the OK button.) I have in mind a minor health problem, minor twisted ankle, etc. which I can deal with on my own but which will delay my exit. Last year I contracted a virus that laid me up in my tent for a day. In that case I made it out on time, but I liked knowing that I could let my wife know I would be a day late if I had to.

If my SPOT has ceased to work (to my knowledge), then I know I cannot extend my stay without having search and rescue coming for me. The worst that would happen, then, would be for me to think I had put people off for a day only to find the SPOT did not work and rescuers came for me. Better to error in that direction than to trust solely in a signal in an emergency situation. So yes, having a cut-off time is essential, and a SPOT does not replace the need for it.
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Re: Discussing Date of Exit and Cut-off Times

Postby tomba » Tue Dec 08, 2015 10:52 pm

kpeter wrote:The SPOT does give me some latitude, however. If for some reason I wish to extend my stay for a day or more, I use my SPOT to send a coded message at an agreed upon time of day which informs her I will be a day late, and she can delay by one day notification of the authorities.


One shouldn't rely on SPOT to extend the stay and delay notification of authorities. SPOT is a strictly one-way communication device and it doesn't give any indication whether the satellites received its signal or not. Failure could be due to tree cover, mountains, etc., or perhaps unlucky satellite configuration (even waiting full 20 minutes doesn't always 100% guarantee that suitable satellite was available - see http://www.findmespot.ca/en/index.php?cid=108).

See also viewtopic.php?f=15&t=9933#p75070
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Re: Discussing Date of Exit and Cut-off Times

Postby SSSdave » Tue Dec 08, 2015 10:55 pm

The need to leave information with others while out in the field and to maintain periodic contact is generally a wise need as Maverick has related. And it has never been easier than in this era. He is however not addressing minor numbers of enthusiasts that live rather independent lives. His audience is particularly those married folks and especially those with children, dependents, significant others, and close loved ones. In case I ever become a news item, members here can refer to the below as to why it came to pass without any you-should-ovs.

At the other extreme are single persons without dependents, significant others, or living near relatives that are into hard core outdoor activities like the surfer who goes on extended vacations sampling shores at a whim day to day, the ski bum that visits a sequence of resorts, the solo thru trail backpacker out for weeks, the day hiker solo touring big parks in The West, or the rich world traveler out in foreign lands for weeks, and others. Most of those such people have loved ones like parents, siblings, close friends, work peers etc but when out for extended adventures, most are unlikely to keep in close contact with others. I'm one of those people and have been living on that dangerous edge for decades much like our ancestral hunters that wandered off for weeks during days when communication was nada.

In this era when off for several days, I email a couple relatives with modest summary itineraries and thoughts but not with the expectation someone ought to do something if I don't show up days beyond. Note in this Internet era I do email them with a couple days of returning but decades ago often didn't even phone. And recently purchased a smartphone that will allow somewhat more remote communications. I do large numbers of day or weekend trips and tell no one what I am doing in part because I often make decisions at the last minute. For instance lots of my resort ski days are decided when I wake up at 4am then web check how much fresh snow some storm left. As a corporate worker my employer would after 2 or 3 days missing from a return to work date, likely look up my contact info in HR and phone up noted relatives. If on a backpacking trip the next contact would be the USNF or NP wilderness office to see what I might have filed. A lot of my spring trips are road trips into desert regions where no one is likely to have a clue what I've been doing. Heck the desert without water is flat out deadly for a solo injured person. If I ever become missing it is likely going to be a recovery situation.
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Re: Discussing Date of Exit and Cut-off Times

Postby FeetFirst » Wed Dec 09, 2015 12:18 am

@Maveric, Good reminder-thanks. The recent examples really drive it home.

Personally, I'm an over planner so it's part of my MO to hand my wife a map, itinerary, and time to call if unheard from. SOP is 24 hours from planned exit before she's to call authorities for solo trips and 48-36 hours for trips w/ others (route dependent). Honestly, no real logic behind the time tables given; they just seem prudent. Thus, I'm curious what others have to say especially from people who have been in the uncomfortable situation of knowing that home is calling for help even though you're fine, just late to call for whatever reason. Likewise, if anyone has been in real trouble knowing that no one is calling/looking for another couple of days, I'd love to hear their stories as well. In short, I'm trying to determine if my timetables are reasonable. Thanks in advance.
Last edited by FeetFirst on Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Discussing Date of Exit and Cut-off Times

Postby markskor » Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:13 am

maverick wrote:It is extremely important to make sure that you discuss your date of exit, and just as important, your cut-off time . This information needs to be passed on to a contact person, not only in the case of backpackers, but also day hikers, climbers, fishing persons, or mountain bikers alike. Do you have a cut-off time discussed with your contact person?

SSSdave wrote: At the other extreme are single persons without dependents, significant others...the solo thru trail backpacker out for weeks. I'm one of those people and have been living on that dangerous edge for decades much like our ancestral hunters that wandered off for weeks during days when communication was nada. If I ever become missing it is likely going to be a recovery situation.


Sorry Mav, on this one, respectfully have to disagree (and for a while now, have held my tongue too.) What you demand is not always possible, and even if it were, really only benefits others - those at home. What if there is no one at home?

There are inherent risks...accepted risks in backpacking, especially with extended X-country routes. Some of us go out solo regularly, with just a general hiking agenda, not planning any concrete "exit" plans or knowing for how long out...(eg: Rogue, SSS Dave, me?). For many of us old-timers, trail agendas are always subject to change, chit happens. Often in the past, have been known to alter my plans on the fly or, if encountering inclement conditions, just hunkering down and waiting things out. If solo, no car (YARTS transportation), out on a 10 day adventure, and something serious happened on the third day, how does organizing a search on the 12th day help me out, especially if you have no idea where to look?

While much admiration here for your generous "give the the family closure" attitude, for some of us, this is inane. For one thing (probably in the minority here), would rather not put anyone else in peril by some ad-hoc group searching the bergschrund and crevasse for my remains - especially one organized years later. Secondly, (not having a death wish but), knowing that a few seasons of Sierra will soon completely reclaim my ashes anyway, I would rather just be remembered (fondly?), and be left alone. Those that care will know where my life ended...my choice - Sierra. Lastly, when did we become such Puss-ies that we require any such crutch? I leave no note nor carry a Spot-type device. If not serious, will eventually work my way out. If serious injury, probably will be long dead before any help arrives anyway.
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