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Missing Hiker -- Sierra National Forest

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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Re: Missing Hiker -- Sierra National Forest

Postby tlsharb » Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:24 am

A couple parts of this story make no sense. I know this area pretty well, and the map in the Fresno Bee can't be right. It has the SAR gang finding her over near the Middle Fork of the Kings River....which is a long way from Horsehead Lake (definitely not a day trip). Also, it describes where they found her as heavily timbered and near 10,000 feet. Not the Martha Lake area or the Ionia Basin. So where did they really find this lady? Inquiring minds want to know :).
ts



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Re: Missing Hiker -- Sierra National Forest

Postby SweetSierra » Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:32 am

More details from an Associated Press article yesterday:

http://triblive.com/usworld/nation/9011 ... z3kUQ4GpmE

'"Miyuki Harwood slipped and fell about six feet when she left her hiking group and headed back to camp alone because she was low on water"

"...left her hiking group" means the group she was day hiking with on the trip's layover day. She then headed "back to camp," meaning the Sierra Club's base camp. I emphasize this because there have been misleading articles that imply that she was hiking with the entire group, including the leaders, down the trail with their full backpacks (poor and lazy reporting IMO).

There's details missing in this article but it sounds like she decided to leave the small subset of hikers and hike back alone. It's not clear if she left the group, continued to hike for a while, and then decided to turn back because she was low on water, or if she turned back and others continued on. But the latter doesn't make sense because she was found so far from the base camp. If the other hikers were that far out as well, they would have told the searchers where to look. But that wasn't the case: the area where she was found was not on the rescuers radar at all, at first, according to SAR. They said she was "far outside the search area," which to me means the Bee's map is accurate.

"She had been on an extended hiking trip organized by the Sierra Club. The group searched for her when she disappeared and reported her missing, prompting the search led by the Fresno County Sheriff's Office."

Tisharb: Traveling over the Middle Fork is a very long hike but it's possible I imagine if you just have a day pack and are traveling fast. Someone on a trip I was on did a day hike to an off-trail pass from Schoolmarm Lake (I think) in a couple of hours and could have continued down to Goddard Canyon and back in a long day. Aren't parts of that area heavily timbered?
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Re: Missing Hiker -- Sierra National Forest

Postby Jimr » Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:49 am

I know first hand how the news media gets many details wrong in an attempt to get the story out first. Perhaps, that is where the confusion sets in.
What?!
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Re: Missing Hiker -- Sierra National Forest

Postby SweetSierra » Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:53 am

Jimr, that's a good point. There's so much more competition to beat all the "news" sites online. Also, the "media" now often just copies and pastes from other sites....AP is still a good news source, though.
I used to be a reporter and so I've got a thing for accuracy.
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Re: Missing Hiker -- Sierra National Forest

Postby SSSdave » Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:24 pm

I've backpacked into that area three times. One news story said something about her crawling 150 yards which didn't make sense unless she was severely incapacitated. Then found the below.

Authorities said Miyuki Harwood crawled for two days so she could reach a creek, then scooped some water into a filtered canteen to keep herself alive.

Did it take her 2 days to go that small distance? If all one has is a broken leg, they ought to be able to move much more. So the 150 yards may be misleading and maybe she actually went much further. Another report said the SAR helicopter landed at 9200 feet that with a description sounding like the SAR team with her was nearby? Horsehead Lake where they supposedly were camping is at 10400 or 1200 feet above. Falls Creek is 600 feet below the lake at 9800 with one steep 200 foot section I doubt they tried to get down and instead took the longer trail. The described creek is most likely Falls Creek because other seasonal streams would have likely long since gone dry considering the topography. Since the helicopter had to be down there that must have been where they day hiked to and where she got lost.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.08330,-118.82022&z=15&t=T

I will speculate they day hiked down into the canyon via the trail that passes McGuire then Guests Lakes which is also the way their group would have had to have reached their campsite unless they came in from further out via Confusion Pass or the pass west of Hutton to reach Devils Punchbowl. As a dayhike that would rate a boring choice if I was camped above on the Horsehead bench. But then why would one one to day hike on a trail they just came up so maybe they did come in over Confusion or Hutton? When she turned around she found herself off the trail then tried to climb upward maybe without a map or the common sense of experienced off trail hikers. As the map shows there are a lot of steep areas below the bench above so that would be a good reason she may have fell? From where the trail levels out at 9700 feet below McGuires is not that far from where the helicopter landed. That she may have scooted down to the creek from anywhere in that area would make sense. The reason the SAR teams couldn't find her might have had something to do with a flawed description of where they went and thought she went that would not surprise this person if they had mediocre topo map skills.

Has a similar ring to the Inyo SAR event I got involved in last month where another Japanese American gal of similar age with hiking experience but no map skills went down the creek below Dingleberry Lake.

http://inyosar.com/two-individuals-sepa ... -same-day/

David
http://www.davidsenesac.com/2015_Trip_C ... les-0.html
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Re: Missing Hiker -- Sierra National Forest

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:41 pm

SSSdave wrote: If all one has is a broken leg, they ought to be able to move much more.


The stories I've read that talk about the injuries said it was plural - she broke both legs.
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Re: Missing Hiker -- Sierra National Forest

Postby maverick » Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:48 pm

SweetSierra wrote:
On a layover day on a Sierra Club National Outings trip, you have to sign up with two or more people for day hikes (for safety, the idea is to stay together). You can't sign out to go on a day-long hike alone.


So they do have some sort of protocol in place, with which they try to eliminate the chances of something like this happening, they will have to rethink things after this incident. Maybe requiring folks, who still have the need to break away from the group, and go solo, should be required to have at least a SPOT, or other locating device when going out on a Sierra Club Outing.
Signing only a waiver still will not stop a SAR to be conducted, and put many peoples lives in danger, just because someone isn't considering the long term consequences of their actions.

The media is just running with this story, adding in fluff to get higher readership, accuracy is definitely not their priority. :\
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Re: Missing Hiker -- Sierra National Forest

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:50 pm

tlsharb wrote:A couple parts of this story make no sense. I know this area pretty well, and the map in the Fresno Bee can't be right. It has the SAR gang finding her over near the Middle Fork of the Kings River....which is a long way from Horsehead Lake (definitely not a day trip). Also, it describes where they found her as heavily timbered and near 10,000 feet. Not the Martha Lake area or the Ionia Basin. So where did they really find this lady? Inquiring minds want to know :).
ts

As many alluded to, I think some of the actual details got refracted a bit by the time they were reported. I think the place where she was found was quite far from Horsehead L. and vicinity because it was far outside the original SAR search area. Before seeing that map graphic and reading this update I had figured somewhere in upper Blackcap Basin, perhaps during a peak bag (say Reinstein) but the "far outside" does in fact suggest further east, more consistent with the map graphic. Of course where the circle is placed on the Bee map is entirely above 10k elevation. The only place in this vicinity where you get below 10k would be in Goddard Canyon or along Goddard Creek (lower Evolution Creek, too, but there are loads of people around there). Accordingly, if the elevation given in the report is correct, then it limits the possibilities by quite a bit because there is not very much area of this elevation in general Mt Goddard region. Of course if the elevation is incorrect there are more possibilities.
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Re: Missing Hiker -- Sierra National Forest

Postby maverick » Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:53 pm

GB wrote:
Of course if the elevation is incorrect there are more possibilities.


Big IF!
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Re: Missing Hiker -- Sierra National Forest

Postby Shawn » Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:05 pm

I noticed this post over on RadioReference.com whereby a scanner enthusiast claims to have heard some SAR traffic related to this incident. He wrote:

"The team finally reach her and she's not doing well. She has a bilateral lower leg fracture, but was calm and alert. They found her 11 S 0339133mE 41 06257mN. That's about 9000 feet ASL and a bit east of Courtright Reservoir. It's a nice area and I enjoy camping there myself.

Here's a link to those coordinates. The hike she went on was to Horsehead Lake, which is to the right of the location. Yes, it is the one that looks like a horse head.
https://www.google.com/maps/place/37...!3m1!1s0x0:0x0 "


Source: http://forums.radioreference.com/califo ... ounty.html

Probably have to wait for the official SAR report to know what actually occurred.
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Re: Missing Hiker -- Sierra National Forest

Postby maverick » Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:41 pm

"The team finally reach her and she's not doing well. She has a bilateral lower leg fracture, but was calm and alert. They found her 11 S 0339133mE 41 06257mN. That's about 9000 feet ASL and a bit east of Courtright Reservoir. It's a nice area and I enjoy camping there myself.


Thanks for that info Shawn.

GB wrote:
This is good news indeed. When someone is missing this long, the outcome is rarely positive. There was a rather schematic map shown in a Fresno Bee article this morning and this woman was found quite a long way from the group basecamp at Horsehead L. From the graphic it looks like within KCNP which suggests she was on a long solo dayhike to explore the Goddard-Ionian Basin area or something when she got hurt (broken bones apparently).


Well, the Bee gave us some great information.
Wish these folks would wait till the official report, before posting, or publishing, all this erroneous information.
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Re: Missing Hiker -- Sierra National Forest

Postby SSSdave » Tue Sep 01, 2015 3:48 pm

Thanks Shawn,

37°05'19.7"N 118°48'36.0"W is about at 9580 feet west of Falls Creek at the head of gentle bedrock slopes that then slope up modestly. That is about 4/10 mile north of the trail and quite a bit higher and further up the canyon than where the helicopter supposedly landed at 9200. So am guessing SAR carried her down a ways to the helicopter and if so the report I read was misleading though that is not surprising. Suspect her group still went down the trail below McGuire and that she missed the trail back up. Instead went up the canyon and then tried to climb that canyon wall north of where the Horsehead Lake stream runs down. However would suspect that was long dry. Satellite shows talus due east of where she was below the cliff. Sort of indicates she either did not have a map or less likely was unable to make sense of one. What she apparently was aware of was she needed to climb upward and once going a bit up the canyon beyond the trail may not have noticed the general route of the trail up to McGuire was much easier than anything she could see higher up because the trail area is visually hidden within forest. And when she got to all those cliff bands may have gotten confused, desperate, and acted on emotion instead of logic.

The Sierra Club should make sure anyone day hiking on layover days ought to have certain essentials that especially includes a topo map and know how to use it. Why didn't she even have some food, fire starter, or a flashlight? News said she was experienced but really? She gets a lot of credit regardless for going 9 days without food, That was certainly a very unpleasant experience. The cost people pay for going on those trips is of course considerable so they ought to be thorough. The notion that simply exploring around with others is not enough though they may be quite thorough in this era and the group didn't bother. I did go on some of their websites to see if they had any information. Since I was a member a couple plus decades ago little has changed. Their regional groups don't even have discussion boards which reflects their decades old attitude of limiting communication within the club organization so the entrenched leaders control it all.

David
Last edited by SSSdave on Tue Sep 01, 2015 4:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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