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Missing Hiker near Arrow Peak/Bench Lake

Use this forum to stay informed on missing persons alerts, active SAR's and unfortunate hiker accidents we can all hopefully learn from. Any information you may have on a missing person, including first hand weather related information or any other insight (however little) may prove to be critical information to Law Enforcement / SAR in locating the person in question.
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Missing Hiker near Arrow Peak/Bench Lake

Postby schmalz » Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:14 pm

Image

MISSING HIKER: AUSTIN SHEDD

HEIGHT: 5’3”
WEIGHT: 110 lbs.
AGE: 13-years-old
HAIR: Light brown
EYES: Blue
RACE: White
INTENDED ITINERARY: Kings Canyon National Park, separated from party while hiking from Arrow Peak to Bench Lake, plans to exit Taboose Pass on July 28, 2014
IDENTIFYING FEATURES: Green hat, braces
HAVE YOU SEEN HIM? Call Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks at 888-677-2746.



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Re: Missing Hiker near Arrow Peak/Bench Lake

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 28, 2014 4:31 pm

Wow, just read this on the SEKI site, really hope this one turns out okay, the
age of the young teenager (just turned) really brings this home. :(
It also brings up many disturbing questions which will be left for a later time
and hopefully will not have to be addressed because he will be found, healthy
and uninjured.
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: Missing Hiker near Arrow Peak/Bench Lake

Postby Mradford » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:44 am

Was he ever found?! :(


Nvm, just saw the other post.
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Re: Missing Hiker near Arrow Peak/Bench Lake

Postby maverick » Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:04 am

Yes, he was Mradford.
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: Missing Hiker near Arrow Peak/Bench Lake

Postby Ska-T » Sat Aug 02, 2014 1:40 am

maverick wrote:It also brings up many disturbing questions which will be left for a later time
and hopefully will not have to be addressed because he will be found, healthy
and uninjured.

Since he was found uninjured, is it useful to now discuss the potentially disturbing questions as a teaching opportunity?

I was surprised by the lack of information written by the media. The most detailed account was written by the 13 yr old's mother on her Facebook page. I read a "reprint" of her story on whitneyzone.com. Her story still leaves out many details but here is one paragraph of how the trouble may have started.
Austin very tired and hungry was walking slow and told Rick (his dad )to go ahead and find a place to pull over and make him a sandwich. You can't just make a sandwich in the middle of the trail you need to find a rock or log or a place to sit down and spread out. It is unclear, but they think Austin might have passed Rick.

The news accounts said they were hiking from Arrow Peak to Bench Lake.
Were they on a trail, a use trail, or hiking off trail? That is, was the route obvious to the young boy?

Was the potential location of the rest stop thoroughly communicated and understood?

When the dad stopped to make the sandwich did he make himself visible from the obvious path? Could he see the route (trail) and did he keep an eye out for his son? Did he leave his pack in the middle of the trail?

Did the dad and/or son have a whistle?

This last question may not pertain to their situation at all, but it is something to consider (not only for parents).
The boy was a tired and hungry 13 yr old. Was there a brief period of anger between the two that may have put more distance between them than normal?

Many of us that have hiked/backpacked a lot have experienced, or nearly experienced, similar problems. One of my hiking buddies and I have miscommunicated a meetup several times, usually when we are attempting to bag a peak. We now make it a point to stay together as much as possible, and if we do split up we very carefully agree on an obvious place and time to meet. I might have needed our clear agreement this June when I took a header descending Mt Pickering. Luckily I didn't crack my skull or break a leg and made it back to camp at the agreed hour ... bleeding but smiling.
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Re: Missing Hiker near Arrow Peak/Bench Lake

Postby calipidder » Sat Aug 02, 2014 7:55 am

Ska-T wrote:The news accounts said they were hiking from Arrow Peak to Bench Lake.
Were they on a trail, a use trail, or hiking off trail? That is, was the route obvious to the young boy?

Was the potential location of the rest stop thoroughly communicated and understood?

When the dad stopped to make the sandwich did he make himself visible from the obvious path? Could he see the route (trail) and did he keep an eye out for his son? Did he leave his pack in the middle of the trail?


This is all speculation, but it gives a layout of the area and might help understand where they got separated given what we now know.

I climbed Arrow from Bench Lake a few years ago. There is no obvious path between the two, at least that we found. Trip Report

And here is my GPS track on a topo map:

Map

See the waypoint 'cross' (this was in 2011 so marked a good creek crossing point since the water was high that summer). Between that waypoint and bench lake it is somewhat dense forest on sloping terrain with boulders and large fallen trees. You can see how our track was not the same on the way out and back, and both times it felt like we were taking the most direct line along the contour.

I don't know where they got separated, but my guess is it would be in there. The terrain was a bit disorienting, no direct trail to speak of, and it was very easy to lose visual contact with my fellow hikers.

I didn't take any pictures while on that particular section, but here is a shot from above that shows the forested slope. The canyon behind it is the South Fork of the Kings River, so you want to stay on an even contour and circle around the Bench Lake which is behind the ridge at about the same level as the little tarns below us in this shot. When you are in those trees you don't get a perspective of the area, and it's a gentle enough slope it's easy to get off the contour (as seen in my track below).

Image
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Re: Missing Hiker near Arrow Peak/Bench Lake

Postby overheadx2 » Sat Aug 02, 2014 4:34 pm

When I hike, we often stop and fish causing the group to spread out. each person is given a piece of orange construction tape. If you stop to fish, go off trail to take pictures or get to a fork in the trail alone, the tape is tied off to a rock in the trail or a branch indicating where you went. The last guy grabs the tape as he passes. That way we keep on the same path, and if some one stops to fish, others realize they passed him and give him a heads up.
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Re: Missing Hiker near Arrow Peak/Bench Lake

Postby sparky » Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:22 am

When I go out with other people I make sure everyone has a map, and at rest stops will quiz people where we are at. My friends will only go on trips once, maybe twice a year with me so they are not very experienced but at the same time have done many trips over the years.

I remember one time, I quizzed my nephew, I told him to pull out the map and tell me where we are at. I watched him sitting there for a few minutes with a puzzled look on his face, then I looked over his shoulder. The map was upside down! #-o

When we are off trail, I wont let them out of my sight!
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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Re: Missing Hiker near Arrow Peak/Bench Lake

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Aug 03, 2014 1:27 pm

First of all, I'm very glad the young fellow was found, safe and uninjured after having to spend only one night in the wild. This one also hit very close to home because the kid is only a year older than my son and he looks like a spitting image of my son's best friend.

As for the recriminations and such, I don't want to be too negative, because it is overwhelmingly positive that the boy was found safe and well, but...I wouldn't separate at all from any of my kids whether on trail, off trail, etc. My dad would allow me some latitude at that age (13), but I am someone who could read a topo map at age 6 and was doing the route planning (off trail backpacking and climbing routes) for all of the family trips from about age 13 onward. Anyhow, I'm not letting my kids out of my sight on our trips. I haven't to date, and I won't in the future. However, most of all, I am mighty happy the boy is safe.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Missing Hiker near Arrow Peak/Bench Lake

Postby Ross939 » Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:08 pm

I can only imagined the horror, as a parent, waiting for news. Last summer, my brother and my son hiked the JMT. My son only did the first 80 miles, as he had an issue with his ACL. There was a stretch between Little Yosemite Valley and Toulamine Meadows where they became separated. My son borrowed someone's cell phone ( I have no idea how there was coverage there, perhaps it was a satellite phone. He called me at home, trying to stay calm, but I could tell he was terrified. He explained the situation, said it was about 4 pm and he thought my brother was headed to the Meadow and was thinking about hiking into the evening to get there. I told him absolutely not, I'm sure that your uncle is on his way back to find you. He hunkered down with some campers for the night and his uncle was back the following morning to retrieve him. It turned out that he was never truly alone., as there were some adult hikers keeping an eye on him, and apparently a ranger in the little Yosemite Valley area radioed a ranger in Toulamine to be on the lookout for his uncle, and they were able to pass the word where Sebastian was. My brother had to backtrack a ton of miles and was pretty beat, but they did eventually get back on course and had quite an adventure. My son, Sebastian was 16, at the time, but I just couldn't imagine if he were young how nerve racking that would have been. I met my brother and Sebastian at Mammoth after he completed the JMT. We were able to have a drink and put it behind us. I believe he now knows that on future hikes with Sebastian, he just can't let him out out his site (well, he's almost 18, now, so perhaps it would be different. My brother's an old Marine, and to this day, I kind of think he purposely got out ahead to "man the boy up a bit," which was not smart at all... Lesson learned...
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