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jgradyc

Hiker FOUND at Beaman Park... Lessons Learned

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I'm just decompressing after bushwhacking up and down hills in Beaman Park (Nashville) to find a hiker who had been lost for two days. Amazingly, he was found uninjured this morning, but there are some important safety lessons to be learned, especially for those of us who spend time hiking in the woods.

He left his phone in the car, left the trail, and got lost. He was found by ATV riders searching their land that borders on Beaman Park. 

Beaman Park is big... about 2.5 miles wide and nearly 5 miles long in places, but there is still no excuse to get lost for two days. Here's my thoughts and advice. Please feel free to add to this list.

  1. Carry your phone. Turn it off if you must, but carry it!
  2. Let someone know where you're hiking.
  3. Share your location with someone. My phone's location is shared on my wife's phone so if I fall and I'm unconscious, she can see my location on her phone.
  4. Know how to tell direction by using the sun and the time of day... or the stars. 
  5. Know the boundaries of your wilderness. Even if you're hopelessly lost in Beaman Park, heading north will bring you to Little Marrowbone Road in an hour or two. 
  6. Follow the streams downhill. Streams eventually reach valleys and valleys mean houses.

People who have no sense of direction, leave their phones in the car, and can't navigate shouldn't leave marked trails. Sorry to rant. I'm glad he's been found unhurt, but this was over a hundred volunteers and a thousand manhours of searching. 

 

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21 minutes ago, jgradyc said:

I'm just decompressing after bushwhacking up and down hills in Beaman Park (Nashville) to find a hiker who had been lost for two days. Amazingly, he was found uninjured this morning, but there are some important safety lessons to be learned, especially for those of us who spend time hiking in the woods.

He left his phone in the car, left the trail, and got lost. He was found by ATV riders searching their land that borders on Beaman Park. 

Beaman Park is big... about 2.5 miles wide and nearly 5 miles long in places, but there is still no excuse to get lost for two days. Here's my thoughts and advice. Please feel free to add to this list.

  1. Carry your phone. Turn it off if you must, but carry it!
  2. Let someone know where you're hiking. AND THEN HIKE THERE!
  3. Share your location with someone. My phone's location is shared on my wife's phone so if I fall and I'm unconscious, she can see my location on her phone.
  4. Know how to tell direction by using the sun and the time of day... or the stars. 
  5. Know the boundaries of your wilderness. Even if you're hopelessly lost in Beaman Park, heading north will bring you to Little Marrowbone Road in an hour or two. 
  6. Follow the streams downhill. Streams eventually reach valleys and valleys mean houses.

People who have no sense of direction, leave their phones in the car, and can't navigate shouldn't leave marked trails. Sorry to rant. I'm glad he's been found unhurt, but this was over a hundred volunteers and a thousand manhours of searching. 

 

I just wanted to put a little sharper point on something that you checked back to at the end of your post.

Sharing your plan isn't particularly useful if you don't stick to your plan.

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So, 67 yo "avid hiker" doesn't know the basic rules of hiking?  IDK, it's not like the park is terribly large, seems to me that had he known of escape routes, he could have found a road.  Basically you choose a direction which even with a small  margin of error you will hit a road, in this case north to Little Marrowbone Rd.

Either way, good on you and the rest of the volunteers, and glad he was found ok.

Edited by Omega
Speel check

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Sometimes even finding a road doesn't help you find civilization.  When you're following a road and the road is getting worse, go the opposite direction.  If you come to a fork, take the better looking road.  Good roads lead to people.

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I run the trails at Beaman Park often. It's about 2 and a half by 6 miles at it's widest points with no roads and no trails in the western section, which is where he was found. Surprisingly, Beaman Park has a larger sectional area with no roads than the Cheatham Wildlife Management Area, which is bigger but has a lot of bisecting dirt roads. 

That said, I groused at another volunteer as we were leaving that "avid hiker" was a poor description. There was never a time when he was more than an hour's hike from Little Marrowbone Road by going more or less north.  On the west side of the park, following any creek bed downstream would have taken him to the same road in an hour... two hours if he had the misfortune of starting at the east end of the park. 

Edited by jgradyc

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Thanks to you and the others for doing what you did. :up: I assumed when I heard that situation on the news there was more involved than someone simply being ill prepared.

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We hiked in the Ashville N C area, last week. Went on a good marked trail, but one, with no since of direction like me, can get lost on good trails. I like hiking, but don't ever feel safe doing it. Hiked the "Fiery Gizzard" in South Cumberland S P also, and felt uneasy. 

Glad the old guy was found safe. 

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Carry a decent paper map of the general area and a compass.  Most phones have a compass built in, though some require you to be moving for it to work properly. 

GPS won't tell you when it's just guessing. Just like with a phone, signal is poor deep in the valleys. 

I don't know anything about Beaman park, but given how small it is, I'd think you could climb a hill and look around to figure out the best direction to go.  Otherwise, some basic knowledge of the general area and a look at the sun can point you in the right direction. 

That guy may be an avid hiker, but he's a clueless avid hiker. He should visit a local scout pack and learn a few things. 

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The biggest reason people get lost for long periods is often they walk in circles and don't know it.  Beaman park isn't big enough to be lost for more than one day.  I can see getting dark and loosing your bearings but when daylight rises you should walk outta there.  Any cardinal direction would put you at a home or road within a few hours of steady pace.  Now its heavily wooded and can seem intimidating to just bushwhack straight cardinal direction but that's what needed to be done to get out.  The biggest fault is what you perceive is "north" even after looking at a compass can be deceiving when you have ridges and valleys and creeks.  You have to pick a spot in the distance go to that spot and then use the compass again to pick a new spot.  

I often wonder how folks get off trail so easily.  Pay attention and if the trail goes faint, turn around and retrace your steps.  This is akin to being situationally aware for safety at Walmart.  You can't day dream and know where you are in the woods.  

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3 hours ago, enfield said:

Sometimes even finding a road doesn't help you find civilization.  When you're following a road and the road is getting worse, go the opposite direction.  If you come to a fork, take the better looking road.  Good roads lead to people.

No, roads won't help you find civilization, but it will help civilization find you.  So when you still have the energy, get yourself to a road, it will make it easier for the search party(s) to find you.  If injured, or just exhausted, then stay put and quit moving your location to avoid moving into an area a search party has already searched.

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If he was found where I was told by one of the rescue officers, it was west of the park very close to Little Marrowbone Road. To get there, he would have had to cross a high tension power line tract. You'd think someone would think, "That power line has to go SOMEWHERE. I'll just follow it."

I guess he must have just mentally shut down or worrying so much about others worrying about him that he couldn't rationalize a strategy to get out of the forest. 

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I don't recall being on any trail in a state park that wasn't pretty well marked with either signage or color-coded medallions nailed to trees every so often.

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40 minutes ago, E4 No More said:

I don't recall being on any trail in a state park that wasn't pretty well marked with either signage or color-coded medallions nailed to trees every so often.

According to what family members told us, he was known to go off trail to explore. Beaman Park only has trails in the NE quadrant. The rest of the park is undeveloped. 

There are some paths being developed that aren't open to the public yet. If I were to guess, he took one of those paths, ran short on time, and decided  to bushwhack back to the main trail, but he went in the wrong direction.

Once you're into the park, one hill top looks pretty much the same. Once on a hill top, it's hard to see even the other hill tops because of the thick foliage.

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23 hours ago, jgradyc said:

According to what family members told us, he was known to go off trail to explore. Beaman Park only has trails in the NE quadrant. The rest of the park is undeveloped. 

There are some paths being developed that aren't open to the public yet. If I were to guess, he took one of those paths, ran short on time, and decided  to bushwhack back to the main trail, but he went in the wrong direction.

Once you're into the park, one hill top looks pretty much the same. Once on a hill top, it's hard to see even the other hill tops because of the thick foliage.

If going off trail is his MO then he needs to learn to read a TOPO map and compass.  Its not hard

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It just occurred to me that when this happens again, a call should go out to all drone owners to overfly the area. If you could figure out a way for the drone to make enough noise to be heard on the ground, (maybe a small beeping device?) a lost hiker could hear it and try to attract its attention. 

One experienced drone operator could cover the area of 20-30 searchers on foot. 

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Used to live just up from Beaman park and my parents still do. Kinda ashamed to say I have never ventured into it. They were in the process of building it when I was in high school. We used to drink from the spring that’s near the entrance. We used to drive our old mustang up and down Little Marabone road.

Edited by swiley383

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Beaman Park is surprisingly large. It has a larger area uncrossed by roads than the Cheatham Wildlife Management Area. It's an irregular rectangle about 2.5x6 miles at its widest points. 

I see how someone could get lost there. From the ridgetops, on hill top looks pretty much like the other. 

What I don't understand is how anyone could stay lost in that area for two days. I was there with the search both days. After being lost overnight, wouldn't common sense make you recognize that picking any direction any walking that way would take you out of the park eventually?  Also, he crossed a logging road and a high tension power line right of way to get to were he was found. Following either in either direction would have taken him to a well traveled road. 

I've asked park officials and they are equally puzzled. It would be good to get the story out so others could avoid similar mistakes.

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This has reminded me that, in hunter's safety, we were taught to just sit tight and work on shelter if we should find ourselves truly lost.

Is that something that's taught in TN?

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1 hour ago, TomInMN said:

This has reminded me that, in hunter's safety, we were taught to just sit tight and work on shelter if we should find ourselves truly lost.

Is that something that's taught in TN?

He's reported to be an avid hiker; not hunter, so I doubt that he was actually formally taught anything.

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10 minutes ago, E4 No More said:

He's reported to be an avid hiker; not hunter, so I doubt that he was actually formally taught anything.

Good point. The other difficulty with "when you realize you're lost..." is actually realizing/ admitting that you're lost. The situational awareness and humility required can make that difficult.

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I would never go into the woods without a rifle….ever. Probably a .308. Not even a park unless it is mowed. So if I got lost, I would guess someone would be investigating where the gunfire is coming from within the first few hours.

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As others have said, a person who goes on a hike in the woods should bring along a magnetic compass, a whistle, a good map, and plenty of water.  A hiker should also know where the nearest hardball road (or river) is that runs along the edge of the woods.  That way, if you get lost, you can shoot your emergency azimuth, which will get you to the road.

 

There are other things that are helpful to know, such as your 100 meter pace count and how to read a topo map. 

 

I'm glad the man who was in the news is alright, but it seems like a pocketful of equipment would have saved him a whole bunch of trouble.

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I've asked around. No one knows the story on how he managed to stay lost for two days. He was very lucky to be found. He was at least a mile outside the grid search area and he was not in a clearing.  A couple on an ATV were searching and just happened to see him waving his t shirt. He was outside the park and nearly in the middle of the wilderness area. He was extremely lucky to be found. 

One thing that could have cost his life was the poor description as "an avid hiker" given by his wife/family. That led to erroneous assumptions by me and the rest of the rescue team that he had at least some rudimentary wilderness knowledge. 

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1 hour ago, jgradyc said:

I've asked around. No one knows the story on how he managed to stay lost for two days. He was very lucky to be found. He was at least a mile outside the grid search area and he was not in a clearing.  A couple on an ATV were searching and just happened to see him waving his t shirt. He was outside the park and nearly in the middle of the wilderness area. He was extremely lucky to be found. 

One thing that could have cost his life was the poor description as "an avid hiker" given by his wife/family. That led to erroneous assumptions by me and the rest of the rescue team that he had at least some rudimentary wilderness knowledge. 

Maybe he thought it was the Appalachian Trail: 😀

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Sanford_extramarital_affair

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