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Hiking Hazard

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Hiking Hazard

Postby will_jrob » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:36 am

> > >This exerpt is from the Yahoo BayAreaHiking group 08/08/09 , the incident has now resulted in a fatality.
A heads up to those hiking the oaklands.

"Hikers hike for different reasons, mainly to "have a good time and get
> > exercise." I'm often frustrated (as a leader) with hikers who chat and have
> > no sense of hazards on the trail....they get behind and wonder why everyone
> > is ahead of them. This report came thru on one of my Sierra Club postings
> > and I'm passing it along sans names.
> > >
> > > The Tan Bark Oaks are dying due to Sudden Oak Death and we're seeing more
> > and more downed trees. Please be aware, please be careful and please warn
> > your hikers to PAY ATTENTION.
> > > Jayah Faye Paley
> > > http://www.AdventureBuddie s.NET
> >
> > >
> > > On last Wednesday's 1A hike a thick tree branch fell on one of the
> > hikers, probably fracturing her neck, back, and right arm, and putting her
> > in a coma. She is still in a coma.
> > >
> > > Our hike that day started out as a nice stroll out of Samuel P. Taylor
> > State Park, up the Jewell Fire Road and on to a stretch of the Bolinas Fire
> > Road before coming back down Jewell and then along the South Creek Trail,
> > near the Creekside Campground.
> > >
> > > Suddenly a loud crack sounded from a tree overhead. Most hikers seemed
> > not to notice it but to me it was the sound of tree limbs breaking. I looked
> > up, saw nothing, but hollered, "Watch out!" As soon as the words were out of
> > my mouth there was an even louder crack and down came a huge limb with many
> > branchings, smashing down with a terrifying roar on the people immediately
> > behind me, burying them under a pile of branches and a big cloud of dust.
> > Horrified, I thought they all must be dead. But (name withheld), who had
> > been right behind me on the trail, very quickly appeared out of the jumble,
> > brushed himself off and declared himself OK. Next behind him was (name
> > withheld) who staggered to her feet with a bruise and a small cut on one
> > hand but nothing more, and also asserting that she was all right, more or
> > less. I thought this was a miracle — no one badly injured in spite of this
> > brutally violent crash!
> > >
> > > But then we looked behind (name withheld)and saw (name withheld) lying on
> > her back on the trail, in repose, but eyes partly open and looking all
> > right(except for some blood on her right arm). But she didn't respond to our
> > questions. Hiker checked her pulse, OK. Another hiker saw that she was
> > breathing. She was unconscious but the only injury we could see was the
> > blood on her arm.
> > >
> > > This was serious. (name withheld) got on his phone and dialed 911. A
> > hiker went in search of a Ranger (we were not far from the Park entrance).
> > The emergency vehicles arrived in about 10 minutes and soon a helicopter
> > came and took Ann to Santa Rosa Memorial hospital. (The next day she was
> > transferred to San Francisco General Hospital's Trauma Ward which nurse
> > hiker says is rated the best in the nation.)
> > >
> > > After she was gone we survivors stood around, still in shock and grief
> > about (injured hiker), and knowing that it could have been any of us instead
> > of her.
> > >
> > > The Supervising Park Ranger came around to get information about (injured
> > hiker)and about the incident. She later told a Marin Independent Journal
> > reporter that we "appeared to be experienced hikers." Indeed. But not
> > experienced tree dodgers.
> > >
> > > I have returned to the scene since the tragedy to get information and
> > > take photographs. I saw that the tree has three fresh breaks where
> > > limbs have fallen off, and they are over the trail. I estimated the
> > > tree to be at least 80 feet tall. It is entirely barren of leaves,
> > > dead. It is not a conifer; perhaps a tanoak, someone said. The fallen
> > > limbs still lie on the ground. One is 7 inches in diameter at its thicker
> > end.
> > >
> > > While I was there several children were playing in the area and a
> > > group of four teenagers hiked through. The guilty tree is 80 yards
> > > from a family campsite (number 20 in Creekside Campground). The
> > > branches could have fallen on their children.
> > >
> > > This tree can and will drop some more branches. Near it is another
> > > dead tree. Is the park management paying attention? They don't have to
> > check every tree in the park, just the ones by trails and in
> > > campgrounds. Yes, they are in financial straits but keeping the place
> > > safe should be top priority."
Last edited by will_jrob on Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hiking Hazard

Postby hikerduane » Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:24 pm

We all take risks in the out of doors, the government can't protect us from everything. We all need to be aware of our surroundings too. Sorry to hear about your friend/co-hiker.
Piece of cake.
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Re: Hiking Hazard

Postby dave54 » Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:00 am

The incident is tragic, but not unique.

Every year there at at least a few news accounts from around the country of hikers or campers killed or injured from falling tree limbs. This story serves as a reminder of the importance of 3D situational awareness. I have personally observed supposedly 'well experienced' backpackers spend 30 minutes or more obsessively fussing over the ground where they intend to place their tent, yet be totally oblivious to a large widow maker hanging directly over their heads like an arboreal sword of Damocles.
Log off and get outdoors!
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Re: Hiking Hazard

Postby oldranger » Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:11 am

I have had similar experiences as Dave. When at Roaring River Ranger station I always let friends choose their own site to pitch their tents in the back yard. They always picked the same place. After setting up their tent I would point out the large jeffry pine snag leaning over their tent, then asked if they really wanted their tent there. After a patrol one day I returned to the station to find the snag laying exactly where it looked like it would fall!

Since most of my patrol area was below treeline I usually heard about a dozen trees a season fall. I told my wife that if I was ever killed in the backcountry it was likely to be a tree falling on me. Given this awareness I always carefully scrutinize potential campsites for snags and dead limbs on living trees.

Be aware out there!


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