BWCA Woman rescued from BWCA after getting lost, wandering for miles through dense forest Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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      Woman rescued from BWCA after getting lost, wandering for miles through dense forest     
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09/18/2022 03:34AM  
This maybe one of my biggest fears while camping. Someone, mainly my wife just going for a stroll in the wood to check out the area. No plan, no compass, and not having consulted the map to get lay of the land or take the map with too. Very easy to get turned around in thick woods.

Im glad she was found and in good health and spirits. Valuable lesson.
 
Maiingan
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09/18/2022 07:30AM  
I am shocked that a person in their 50s doesn't know better. She is lucky Joe, the Pilot got her and not Darwin. Damn good thing her group had cell service. Thanks Joe you saved this women's life!!

While this was going on a local Pilot saved another person on the west side of the BW park. This guy also contacted SAR with his cell phone from Ramshead Lake.

This was all happened while the FS Pilots put out a fire on Lake Three.

This stuff goes on all summer. This summer the FS Pilots recovered 2 bodies and pulled out about a dozen canoers for medical reasons for strokes, etc...

Anyone here care to share their rescue stories. All my experience is from the rescue side, lets hear from those saved and helped.

This story about 2 from the Twin Cities will always stick with me
 
Savage Voyageur
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09/18/2022 07:32AM  
Glad she was found safe.

 
Maiingan
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09/18/2022 08:18AM  
Gaidin53: "So how has nobody posted this already?

It was brought up in the lake 3 fire post. This stuff happens on a regular basis in the park.
 
09/18/2022 09:04AM  
Lucky!

Best thing she could have done, next to staying put, was get out in the open (water) where she could be seen by rescuers.

I have been asked to take my cousin's 16 year old son with me next year to the BW. He has zero experience in canoes, fishing, the outdoors in general. One of my biggest fears is him wondering off and I can't find him. If I choose to take him we will have a talk and this particular rescue will be used as an example.
 
Basspro69
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09/18/2022 12:00PM  
airmorse: "I have been asked to take my cousins 16 year old son with me next year to the BW. He has zero experience in canoes, fishing, the outdoors in general. One of my biggest fears is him wondering off and I can't find him. If I choose to take him we will have a talk and this particular rescue will be used as an example."
Give him a whistle just in case, a very inexpensive safety tool.
 
09/18/2022 12:15PM  
Basspro69: "Give him a whistle just in case, a very inexpensive safety tool"
Yup already thought of that. Thx!
 
Duckman
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09/18/2022 02:07PM  
Everyone in your group needs to know to keep a good reference of where camp is when you’re exploring. You lose your positioning, stop and yell your head off instead of going miles further, especially if you’re with a group.

That said, even the best of us can get turned around. Most “lost” I’ve ever been was in a small triangle patch of woods while deer hunting. A field on one side, water on the other two, but somehow my entire sense of direction got flipped upside down.
 
Boppasteveg
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09/18/2022 02:27PM  
If you've never read "Lost in the Wild" by Cary Griffith, I highly recommend it!
The book, in alternating chapters, tells the story of two men who got lost in the North Woods.

I would be willing to loan out the book. Here's how that works...
I will send it to someone who requests it.
When that person is finished reading the book they check here for the next person "in line".

It is a very easy read . It is gripping, informative, and, at times...a head scratcher.

Whoever responds first via email...I will send it out this week.
genrich.steveandann@gmail.com
 
Mocha
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09/18/2022 05:23PM  
It is easy to get turned around if you’re just looking at what’s I. Front of your feet.

I went out my door into the woods following deer trails looking for shed antlers. I cross crossed my path several times and found some antlers and when I decided to head home. Well, I looked around and although I knew where I was I just didn’t know which direction to turn.

A slight shiver of panic….then I saw a berm of dead trees and crap so I climbed up on that to look around. Much to my chagrin (and happiness) I then knew exactly where I was and how to get home.

Embarrassed? Ya, you betcha, but I had to make it home because no one would even know to come looking until the next day when I was a no show for work. And they wouldn’t have known where to start.
 
straighthairedcurly
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09/18/2022 06:07PM  
Basspro69: "airmorse: "I have been asked to take my cousins 16 year old son with me next year to the BW. He has zero experience in canoes, fishing, the outdoors in general. One of my biggest fears is him wondering off and I can't find him. If I choose to take him we will have a talk and this particular rescue will be used as an example."
Give him a whistle just in case, a very inexpensive safety tool."


+1 I give everyone on my trips a whistle to wear no matter their experience level.
 
billconner
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09/18/2022 06:19PM  
Apple air tags? ;)
 
09/19/2022 07:18AM  
Glad she is okay. Early in my tripping I went way back in the woods of the Q to deuce and got turned around. It was only about 5-10 minutes but the panic can catch ya quick.

T
 
ockycamper
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09/19/2022 08:18AM  
We have guys that like to go "bush wacking". They find and area, pull up the canoe and just take off. I have tried to discourage this from two stand points. First, LNT to me also means to not plow my way through brush and fauna, leaving a trail of broken vegetation as you go. Second, on a trail you always know how to get back. Those that just "take off" are also those that typicaly do not take a compass, GPS, etc.
 
09/19/2022 10:17AM  
"She did not have food and ran out of water during the night, Chuck Fitzer said."

She had an entire lake to drink from...she didn't run out of water.
 
uqme2
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09/19/2022 11:48AM  
Wait, what?

"She eventually made it to Dawkins Lake, which is located south of Extortion Lake and just west of the Banadad Ski Trail. After arriving to Dawkins Lake, Jennifer Fitzer found a large floating log and essentially rode it along the shoreline of the lake, thinking she was still on Rib Lake, Chuck Fitzer said."
 
Savage Voyageur
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09/19/2022 04:20PM  
Soledad: ""She did not have food and ran out of water during the night, Chuck Fitzer said."


She had an entire lake to drink from...she didn't run out of water."


I was puzzled by the fact that she was found on a lake and was dehydrated too. But then it was her first trip up there and probably never have heard of anyone drinking unfiltered water right out of the lake. She probably heard from trip mates that they needed to boil water, filter water, chemically treat water to make it safe.
 
Moonpath
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09/19/2022 05:38PM  
Hard to see how she ended up on Dawkins and thought she was still on Rib. As others have suggested, she likely walked into the woods and kept going and upon turning around, did not know which way to go. I would like to think this does not happen to experienced travelers. I have never had this kind of thing happen to me or my trip mates on numerous trips.
 
HangLoose
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09/19/2022 10:09PM  
This could have easily ended much differently. Thankfully the rescuers found her when they did.
 
Gaidin53
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09/19/2022 11:31PM  
A buddy of mine and myself got confused about our location when we crossed into an area we normally were not in tracking an elk. We lost sign and we’re spinning in circles looking n the dark. When we finally decided to call it a night we were confused. He figured it out and we were back where we needed to be in short order. We had to stop for a minute calmly collect our thoughts and think about known’s.

Ryan
 
missmolly
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09/20/2022 09:04AM  
Duckman: "Everyone in your group needs to know to keep a good reference of where camp is when you’re exploring. You lose your positioning, stop and yell your head off instead of going miles further, especially if you’re with a group.


That said, even the best of us can get turned around. Most “lost” I’ve ever been was in a small triangle patch of woods while deer hunting. A field on one side, water on the other two, but somehow my entire sense of direction got flipped upside down."


Yep.

Lost?

Stop!

Wait.

Yell.
 
Speckled
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09/20/2022 09:44AM  
Glad she's ok. I now carry a compass with me the majority of the time i head off into the woods for whatever excursion. Back in my 20's and 30's it seemed as though my internal compass was always spot on and I have a various excursions that proved that out. In the last 5 or so years...it's become clear to me that it doesn't work anymore.

I got turned around grouse hunting a couple years back. Let evening parked the wheeler and wandered into the woods in what looked like a good area, followed a couple of grouse, shot one and then decided to head back to the wheeler and road...walked for a while and didn't get back to the road, thinking it was just a little further, kept going, did that twice. Everything inside of me told the road was the direction I was walking. I stopped took an inventory of the situation, meaning I knew I went in on the North side of the road. I put the sun on my right shoulder and headed what should be south. It felt like the absolute wrong direction. It wasn't. I hit the road about a mile East of my wheeler. A quick walk in the woods, less than a 1/4 mile in for grouse, turned into a couple hour ordeal. There was nothing but this one forest road out there for ALOT of miles.

Compass comes with now - mine internal one is broken.


 
uqme2
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09/20/2022 12:03PM  
Maybe I'm missing something but it's hard to imagine that she "found a large floating log and essentially rode it along the shoreline of the lake ..."
 
missmolly
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09/20/2022 01:33PM  
I bushwhacked through some woods a couple days ago. I used a trick I learned from my caving days, which is to keep looking backwards and pin some landmarks in your brain.
 
09/20/2022 03:06PM  
I've been lucky in the woods. I've never been more than momentarily lost. I just assume I have always had good instincts when hiking or hunting.
However, I have been lost in the cities. As a child I had to knock on a door and tell the lady I was lost. After she dressed her child, she took me to the local store and turned me over to a policeman who was stationed there. Immediately afterwards, my father and uncle came walking up.
In the city today I can ask questions or better yet, just follow my wife.
 
Heyfritty
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09/20/2022 04:17PM  
I’m surprised that many people even enter the woods without a compass. I never do that, but don’t remember anyone impressing the need to do that when I was young.

I really like one of the compasses that I have. It’s a sphere with a safety pin and filled with liquid like all my other compasses. My Mom gave my son one of them for his first BWCA trip. I seriously thought it was a toy!

It was at least 10 years later that I stumbled across it and threw it in with my deer hunting gear. Now I pin it on my outer layer high on my chest just far enough down so that I can read it.

I love it because with a glance I can confirm that the direction I’m heading matches my plan. Since then I think my travels are more efficient, allowing me to spend more time where I intended while getting there quicker. It’s actually my backup compass. I have my regular one on me as well. Despite all of that, I have been turned around a number of times. It just helps me to reorient faster.

Fritty
 
09/20/2022 09:25PM  
Mocha: "It is easy to get turned around if you’re just looking at what’s I. Front of your feet.


I went out my door into the woods following deer trails looking for shed antlers. I cross crossed my path several times and found some antlers and when I decided to head home. Well, I looked around and although I knew where I was I just didn’t know which direction to turn.


A slight shiver of panic….then I saw a berm of dead trees and crap so I climbed up on that to look around. Much to my chagrin (and happiness) I then knew exactly where I was and how to get home.


Embarrassed? Ya, you betcha, but I had to make it home because no one would even know to come looking until the next day when I was a no show for work. And they wouldn’t have known where to start."


Been in the woods probably more than anyone, except Ben. Yes it is easy to get mixed up. Pays to know what the landmarks are in the area. yes compass etc.
I do wonder about her getting in the water-getting wet than cold during the evening.
 
LaVirginienne
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09/21/2022 03:25PM  
I am thinking a bit more deeply about whistles and how they are used, as a practical matter.

The concerns I read in this thread are about newbies wandering off and getting lost. How do folks on this thread carry your whistles? On your PFD? In a pocket? Where exactly? If on a neck lanyard, do you also wear binocs around your neck, and do you also wear croakiest with your glasses? Do you constantly have access to your whistle on your trip?

More importantly, what would encourage people who are not worried enough about getting lost in the first place, and presumably walking off without any gear, to carry a whistle at all times?

The broader question might be, how best to encourage safe patterns of behavior in trip mates who aren’t well educated about BWCA and canoe touring?
 
straighthairedcurly
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09/21/2022 08:14PM  
LaVirginienne: "I am thinking a bit more deeply about whistles and how they are used, as a practical matter.


The concerns I read in this thread are about newbies wandering off and getting lost. How do folks on this thread carry your whistles? On your PFD? In a pocket? Where exactly? If on a neck lanyard, do you also wear binocs around your neck, and do you also wear croakiest with your glasses? Do you constantly have access to your whistle on your trip?


More importantly, what would encourage people who are not worried enough about getting lost in the first place, and presumably walking off without any gear, to carry a whistle at all times?


The broader question might be, how best to encourage safe patterns of behavior in trip mates who aren’t well educated about BWCA and canoe touring?"


Whistles just aren't optional if I am guiding.
The whistles are on a piece of paracord with 2 sliding knots and worn around my neck. This way it can be cinched up enough to not tangle with my hat string or croakie or compass. Or people can have it dangle more if they aren't wearing multiple items around their neck.
 
520eek
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09/21/2022 09:15PM  
And right away ( about 1:15 in ) she states that the toilet is about "500 yards away from camp."

I probably would stand a good chance to be lost if the the throne was that far away!
 
carbon1
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09/22/2022 05:15AM  
The worse days are the cloudy rainy or snowy days.

Without a good reference it can be easy to get turned around.
 
adam
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09/22/2022 07:40AM  
We ran into a similar rescue situation 10 years back or so with a boy who ended up going to the latrine and ended up on SHT behind their Emerald camp. Float plane spotted him the next day on Shore on Hustler I believe. End of August and hypothermia was a risk at night.
 
ockycamper
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09/23/2022 12:45PM  
A handy device no one ever mentions is a GPS track back device. I have used them for hunting several times. You just mark where you started. When you want to return it will take you back the exact way you came. I have even had them in the woods and they still worked.
 
rdgbwca
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09/23/2022 03:34PM  
LaVirginienne: "I am thinking a bit more deeply about whistles and how they are used, as a practical matter.


The concerns I read in this thread are about newbies wandering off and getting lost. How do folks on this thread carry your whistles? "


I have them tied to PFDs with paracord using bowline knots. Or if the PFD has a pocket, it just goes in the pocket.

I might need to rethink that because this might mean the whistle is not on the person at all times.
 
Canoearoo
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09/23/2022 05:32PM  
Getting lost is easier than you think, always happens when you least expect it and when you're not prepared
 
Savage Voyageur
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09/23/2022 05:54PM  
ockycamper: "A handy device no one ever mentions is a GPS track back device. I have used them for hunting several times. You just mark where you started. When you want to return it will take you back the exact way you came. I have even had them in the woods and they still worked."

I totally agree with you on the trackback feature. Its so simple to use. Just follow the breadcrumbs back to your start point. Every time that I read a story like this I say to myself too bad they didn’t have a GPS. I used the trackback a few years ago on Ensign. We went out fishing after dinner For the night bite
until about 11:00 PM. Pitch dark was no problem returning back to camp.
 
09/23/2022 09:34PM  
Boppasteveg: "If you've never read "Lost in the Wild" by Cary Griffith, I highly recommend it!"

I love this book!! I read it before I EVER went into the BWCA, and was SO paranoid after reading it, I studied maps and portages, and trip reports, so I had a clear view of what my trip would be. I know some people like to wing their trips, but I like to be as informed as possible and still to this day study so much prior to my trips.

I might read it again, although will read it on my iPad/phone so I’ll pass on your offer of mailing your book, but I highly recommend to anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

On the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast she tells of what happens…
I thought it was SOOOO interesting though that she happened to have her compass on her, but didn’t have her whistle on her. I guess when I’m in camp I’m far more likely to still be wearing my whistle while my compass is attached to my pack.
 
09/24/2022 09:30PM  
Things happen, people make mistakes and some are deadly. So glad to hear she was rescued.

And, on a separate note, so very glad to read so many posts here that were supportive and encouraging. This is a great site!
 
Marten
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09/25/2022 08:18AM  
Savage Voyageur: "ockycamper: "A handy device no one ever mentions is a GPS track back device. I have used them for hunting several times. You just mark where you started. When you want to return it will take you back the exact way you came. I have even had them in the woods and they still worked."


I totally agree with you on the trackback feature. Its so simple to use. Just follow the breadcrumbs back to your start point. Every time that I read a story like this I say to myself too bad they didn’t have a GPS. I used the trackback a few years ago on Ensign. We went out fishing after dinner For the night bite
until about 11:00 PM. Pitch dark was no problem returning back to camp. "


Even with a GPS things go the best if a little thought is put into its use. Marking your camp as a waypoint is really important so you know where to head. Terrain may dictate a retrace as best but maybe you have wandered a lot and are not really to far from camp. Compass can be handy but you do need to know which direction to head. A GPS with an electronic compass is the best as it can better keep you moving in the right direction. If you do not have it as a feature on your GPS be sure to keep your compass in hand to. This may be confusing but important to understand. Without the electronic compass the GPS only can determine direction after it has moved a certain direction. If you stop and turn around looking at something the GPS screen will just point ahead until you have traveled a distance in the wrong direction and then it corrects and you know which way to turn. Not the confusion you want when you are in a pinch. A compass or GPS can get you back but you need to know where that is.
 
Maiingan
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09/25/2022 09:23AM  
The fact she had no idea where she was didn't help. She thought they were camped on an Island?? This seems odd to this old timer. Hard to get back to camp when you don't know where camp is.

Glad she's okay. Big of her to share her story.
 
09/25/2022 12:04PM  
Maiingan: "The fact she had no idea where she was didn't help. She thought they were camped on an Island?? This seems odd to this old timer. Hard to get back to camp when you don't know where camp is.

Glad she's okay. Big of her to share her story."


I wondered the same thing.

I wonder how many first timers travelying with more experienced people are just "along for the ride" . Meaning that they rarely look at the map and only vaguely know where they are, what lake they are on, etc. I don't know if that was the case hear and I have not had a chance to listen to her story on the podcast but plan to.

Perhaps this is a reminder for those of us that are bringing newbies into the BWCA that they stay involved in the daily travels and have had a good look at the map once in camp. There are a lot of things that we take for granted that others may not know.
 
ockycamper
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09/25/2022 03:25PM  
When you pull apart the article there are many lessons

She took off without a map, a plan where she was going, and not telling anyone where she was going.

She took off without a day pack. . .no water bottle/filter, no energy bars or similar, no whistle, no first aid kit and most of all, nothing with her for an emergency shelter or warmth, no jacket, no warmer clothes, no fire starter.

I really don't understand the idea of "I'm just going to wander around off trail in the woods and check things out" idea.

On a side note, we have found as mentioned it is easy to miss the trail to the latrine, particularly at night. We bring glow sticks for that reason. We put them up along the trail to mark the trail during the day. At night we break them so the trail has lit markings at night. Not only prevents guys from getting lost, but falling or tripping from being in the wrong area. I bring enough to change them out every day for the trip. Very little money, and the guys think it is one the of best things we do safety wise.

 
gravelroad
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09/25/2022 03:39PM  
adam: "We ran into a similar rescue situation 10 years back or so with a boy who ended up going to the latrine and ended up on SHT behind their Emerald camp. Float plane spotted him the next day on Shore on Hustler I believe. End of August and hypothermia was a risk at night."

I was on a search for a ten year old girl who wandered away from a cabin on Gunflint. She was found the next morning by the occupants of another cabin that she wandered up to - on the Canadian side. If you know Gunflint, you know she traveled some ground to get there. And yes, Virginia, the woods were thick on that eastern end ...
 
ockycamper
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09/27/2022 03:18PM  
I am reading the "Lost in the Wild book" recommended on this thread. The more I read the more mad I became. How can an experienced guide and an eagle scout make so many mistakes?

This woman in the article, and the situations in the book share a few common threads. First. . .all three took off "bushwacking" which is apparently defined as wandering in the brush without an idea where you are going or how to get back. Frankly, I have never understood the idea of "bushwacking" if what is meant by it is to wander in the woods without a set route, entry point or exit point or ability to tell the group where you are at.

Second, they all three were alone

Third, none of them brought a pack with survival gear or a whistle with them. Not to mention none of them apparently had ever heard of GPS.

How many times do these types of things have to happen? How many groups allow their group members or dogs to just wander off in the woods? Without knowing where they are going?

 
gravelroad
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09/27/2022 06:11PM  
ockycamper: "I am reading the "Lost in the Wild book" recommended on this thread. The more I read the more mad I became. How can an experienced guide and an eagle scout make so many mistakes?


This woman in the article, and the situations in the book share a few common threads. First. . .all three took off "bushwacking" which is apparently defined as wandering in the brush without an idea where you are going or how to get back. Frankly, I have never understood the idea of "bushwacking" if what is meant by it is to wander in the woods without a set route, entry point or exit point or ability to tell the group where you are at.


Second, they all three were alone


Third, none of them brought a pack with survival gear or a whistle with them. Not to mention none of them apparently had ever heard of GPS.


How many times do these types of things have to happen? How many groups allow their kids to just wander off in the woods, or wives (mentioned earlier in this thread), or dogs?


"


1. Bushwhacking is the art of traveling through the woods from one point to another without the benefit of a path. Stumbling aimlessly is something altogether different.
2. I started going into the woods alone at the age of five. Sixty-four years later, I’m solo 99% of the time. Doing it wrong is what gets people in trouble, not the act itself.
3. I do it with a map and compass. My GPS is primarily used to record waypoints for transfer to maps later with the aid of GIS software. The kids I used to teach navigation to were prohibited from using a GPS during the lessons.
 
THEGrandRapids
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09/28/2022 12:03PM  
ockycamper: "How many times do these types of things have to happen? How many groups allow their kids to just wander off in the woods, or wives (mentioned earlier in this thread), or dogs?


"


yes, indeed, how many allow their wives to wander when they should be cooking or cleaning the dishes.
 
ockycamper
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09/28/2022 12:37PM  
THEGrandRapids: "ockycamper: "How many times do these types of things have to happen? How many groups allow their kids to just wander off in the woods, or wives (mentioned earlier in this thread), or dogs?



"



yes, indeed, how many allow their wives to wander when they should be cooking or cleaning the dishes."


I didn't make the statment. . . check earlier in the thread. The previous poster stated his wife like to wander off from their camp to check out the area.
 
ockycamper
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09/28/2022 12:38PM  
gravelroad: "ockycamper: "I am reading the "Lost in the Wild book" recommended on this thread. The more I read the more mad I became. How can an experienced guide and an eagle scout make so many mistakes?



This woman in the article, and the situations in the book share a few common threads. First. . .all three took off "bushwacking" which is apparently defined as wandering in the brush without an idea where you are going or how to get back. Frankly, I have never understood the idea of "bushwacking" if what is meant by it is to wander in the woods without a set route, entry point or exit point or ability to tell the group where you are at.



Second, they all three were alone



Third, none of them brought a pack with survival gear or a whistle with them. Not to mention none of them apparently had ever heard of GPS.



How many times do these types of things have to happen? How many groups allow their kids to just wander off in the woods, or wives (mentioned earlier in this thread), or dogs?



"



1. Bushwhacking is the art of traveling through the woods from one point to another without the benefit of a path. Stumbling aimlessly is something altogether different.
2. I started going into the woods alone at the age of five. Sixty-four years later, I’m solo 99% of the time. Doing it wrong is what gets people in trouble, not the act itself.
3. I do it with a map and compass. My GPS is primarily used to record waypoints for transfer to maps later with the aid of GIS software. The kids I used to teach navigation to were prohibited from using a GPS during the lessons."


My point was that in the book, the two men that get lost were both experienced in the woods, both eagle scouts, and one was a professional guide. The common demoninator is both ignored the ranger's warning against bushwacking and to stay on the trails.
 
uqme2
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09/28/2022 01:07PM  
Ummm, someone please enlighten me before this thread gets deleted.

Assuming there is a cost associated with the 'rescue' of someone who found a large floating log and essentially rode it along the shoreline of a lake? Who pays for such a rescue and how much?

Yes, I did do a search for that topic earlier today. Looking for a knowledgeable quick answer in this particular case. One size never fits all but c'mon man.
 
Maiingan
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09/28/2022 01:10PM  
uqme2: "Ummm, someone please enlighten me before this thread gets deleted.


Assuming there is a cost associated with the 'rescue' of someone who found a large floating log and essentially rode it along the shoreline of a lake? Who pays for such a rescue and how much?


Yes, I did do a search for that topic earlier today. Looking for a knowledgeable quick answer in this particular case. One size never fits all but c'mon man."


The Forest service pays for the plane and pilot. Cook county gunflint SAR were the first ones on site looking for her. Cook county SAR charges nothing, they are all volunteers. Many of these volunteers take time off of work and miss out on family events because of these rescues.

It is a good thing the FS Pilot found her, ground and water search might of had different results.
 
uqme2
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09/28/2022 02:10PM  
Thanks Maiingan. I get the volunteer part but if my sister ever had to walk 500 yards to get to the toilet, she would be demanding to speak to the manager, pronto, and in no uncertain terms.
 
KawnipiKid
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09/28/2022 05:59PM  
I seriously doubt there is any BWCA toilet that’s 500 yards, 1,500 ft, from the firepit. Is there?

It’s interesting to assess what a person should have done or not done based on the report. However, real life situations are much more complicated than any news reports. I unwittingly walked into the middle of an armed crime in progress 35 years ago. I saw it with my own eyes. The newspaper was mostly accurate but would have needed a six hour documentary not 6 column inches. It turned out that I also reported parts of what happened wrong because of how my brain processed the one perspective I saw and filled in from there. Glad she lived whether there was a log or not. I’ll be better prepared when I bushwhack from here on out.
 
gravelroad
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09/28/2022 08:19PM  
ockycamper: "gravelroad: "ockycamper: "I am reading the "Lost in the Wild book" recommended on this thread. The more I read the more mad I became. How can an experienced guide and an eagle scout make so many mistakes?



This woman in the article, and the situations in the book share a few common threads. First. . .all three took off "bushwacking" which is apparently defined as wandering in the brush without an idea where you are going or how to get back. Frankly, I have never understood the idea of "bushwacking" if what is meant by it is to wander in the woods without a set route, entry point or exit point or ability to tell the group where you are at.



Second, they all three were alone



Third, none of them brought a pack with survival gear or a whistle with them. Not to mention none of them apparently had ever heard of GPS.



How many times do these types of things have to happen? How many groups allow their kids to just wander off in the woods, or wives (mentioned earlier in this thread), or dogs?



"




1. Bushwhacking is the art of traveling through the woods from one point to another without the benefit of a path. Stumbling aimlessly is something altogether different.
2. I started going into the woods alone at the age of five. Sixty-four years later, I’m solo 99% of the time. Doing it wrong is what gets people in trouble, not the act itself.
3. I do it with a map and compass. My GPS is primarily used to record waypoints for transfer to maps later with the aid of GIS software. The kids I used to teach navigation to were prohibited from using a GPS during the lessons."



My point was that in the book, the two men that get lost were both experienced in the woods, both eagle scouts, and one was a professional guide. The common demoninator is both ignored the ranger's warning against bushwacking and to stay on the trails."


Eagle Scout is not a qualification for bushwhacking. Having seen Scout groups in action, I am unimpressed for the most part when it comes to actual backcountry travel.

Leaving your tent and gear for the warmth of your car because it’s chilly and rainy is NOT the hallmark of a person ”experienced in the woods”:

The Lost Hiker

And the guide got in trouble from suffering a concussion from a fall. Hardly a typical bushwhacking error.
 
jillpine
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09/28/2022 08:41PM  
ockycamper: "gravelroad: "ockycamper: "I am reading the "Lost in the Wild book" recommended on this thread. The more I read the more mad I became. How can an experienced guide and an eagle scout make so many mistakes?



This woman in the article, and the situations in the book share a few common threads. First. . .all three took off "bushwacking" which is apparently defined as wandering in the brush without an idea where you are going or how to get back. Frankly, I have never understood the idea of "bushwacking" if what is meant by it is to wander in the woods without a set route, entry point or exit point or ability to tell the group where you are at.



Second, they all three were alone



Third, none of them brought a pack with survival gear or a whistle with them. Not to mention none of them apparently had ever heard of GPS.



How many times do these types of things have to happen? How many groups allow their kids to just wander off in the woods, or wives (mentioned earlier in this thread), or dogs?



"




1. Bushwhacking is the art of traveling through the woods from one point to another without the benefit of a path. Stumbling aimlessly is something altogether different.
2. I started going into the woods alone at the age of five. Sixty-four years later, I’m solo 99% of the time. Doing it wrong is what gets people in trouble, not the act itself.
3. I do it with a map and compass. My GPS is primarily used to record waypoints for transfer to maps later with the aid of GIS software. The kids I used to teach navigation to were prohibited from using a GPS during the lessons."



My point was that in the book, the two men that get lost were both experienced in the woods, both eagle scouts, and one was a professional guide. The common demoninator is both ignored the ranger's warning against bushwacking and to stay on the trails."


Rasmussen was staying on the trail. He was not bushwhacking by any stretch when he became lost. He was lost in thought, following the trail, and veered off at a fork in the old powwow trail (pre-burn) and became lost. He did not check his compass and could not find the way back to the correct trail, which was nothing like a well-traveled portage like you have in the BWCA paddle routes. The pre burn pow wow trail was nothing to mess around on. After the Pagami Creek fire, it was nearly lost before the BWCAC started efforts to restore it and keep it cleared of regrowth Jack Pine. Jason was a med student, not an experienced guide. The guide was Stevens, who was doing a bushwhack sweep for a portage. There were errors made in both stories. It’s a gripping read.
I was on two different trips in Canada this summer where whistles, stop-and-shout and GPS were all needed and used. Both were by men who have traveled as much and much more than I have. Both were game trails that looked exactly - even more so - than a portage.
Don’t judge. It happens in the blink of an eye - the second you get lost in thought out there and keep walking.
 
straighthairedcurly
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09/28/2022 10:20PM  
KawnipiKid: "I seriously doubt there is any BWCA toilet that’s 500 yards, 1,500 ft, from the firepit. Is there?


It’s interesting to assess what a person should have done or not done based on the report. However, real life situations are much more complicated than any news reports. I unwittingly walked into the middle of an armed crime in progress 35 years ago. I saw it with my own eyes. The newspaper was mostly accurate but would have needed a six hour documentary not 6 column inches. It turned out that I also reported parts of what happened wrong because of how my brain processed the one perspective I saw and filled in from there. Glad she lived whether there was a log or not. I’ll be better prepared when I bushwhack from here on out.
"


The longest I have found was 170 of my strides (firepit to latrine) and it was 264 steps from tent site to latrine. Wow, was that a HIKE! Felt like forever, especially the first time when I really had to go! Can't imagine one being much longer than that.
 
Minnesotian
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09/29/2022 07:27AM  
jillpine: "
Don’t judge. It happens in the blink of an eye - the second you get lost in thought out there and keep walking. "


I concur, and I speak from the perspective of someone who has gotten lost in the woods. It is a disconcerting feeling. When the realization hits you that you are lost and you don't know where the trail is, a sinking feeling of darkness hits you in the pit of your stomach. You look around and nothing is recognizable, there are no familiar benchmarks for getting back on trail. At first you ignore the sinking feeling, maybe, but that feeling might cause you to change direction and get more turned around. At this point you might be combating panic and naturally your legs might start following the contours of the land that are easier to navigate, also making you more lost and off trail. If you are in thick woods and can't see the sun even if it is a clear day, it is just prison bars of trees all around you, everything looks exactly the same as it was five minutes before.

This happened to me when I was in unfamiliar territory and made assumptions about paths. Luckily, our group was only lost and turned around for a total of about an hour, as we set compass headings based off points we could see from a slight ridge. That hours felt like a whole afternoon though, time perspective also did weird things. But being lost in the woods is a really dark feeling. I will always remember crashing through a gully wash and because of all the years of rain that would funnel through the gully, hundreds of mule deer bones had gathered at that point and were everywhere. Seeing a graveyard when lost in the woods is not great.

I don't recommend getting lost, but I am grateful I did have this experience because any sort of arrogance or overconfidence I had around bushwacking before is now gone. Compass, GPS, Map, Whistle, stuff on me to survive the night are all on me when I bushwack now.

Like the Kingston Trio sang in their song M.T.A. "This could happen to you."
 
ockycamper
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09/29/2022 08:27AM  
jillpine: "ockycamper: "gravelroad: "ockycamper: "I am reading the "Lost in the Wild book" recommended on this thread. The more I read the more mad I became. How can an experienced guide and an eagle scout make so many mistakes?




This woman in the article, and the situations in the book share a few common threads. First. . .all three took off "bushwacking" which is apparently defined as wandering in the brush without an idea where you are going or how to get back. Frankly, I have never understood the idea of "bushwacking" if what is meant by it is to wander in the woods without a set route, entry point or exit point or ability to tell the group where you are at.




Second, they all three were alone




Third, none of them brought a pack with survival gear or a whistle with them. Not to mention none of them apparently had ever heard of GPS.




How many times do these types of things have to happen? How many groups allow their kids to just wander off in the woods, or wives (mentioned earlier in this thread), or dogs?




"




1. Bushwhacking is the art of traveling through the woods from one point to another without the benefit of a path. Stumbling aimlessly is something altogether different.
2. I started going into the woods alone at the age of five. Sixty-four years later, I’m solo 99% of the time. Doing it wrong is what gets people in trouble, not the act itself.
3. I do it with a map and compass. My GPS is primarily used to record waypoints for transfer to maps later with the aid of GIS software. The kids I used to teach navigation to were prohibited from using a GPS during the lessons."




My point was that in the book, the two men that get lost were both experienced in the woods, both eagle scouts, and one was a professional guide. The common demoninator is both ignored the ranger's warning against bushwacking and to stay on the trails."



Rasmussen was staying on the trail. He was not bushwhacking by any stretch when he became lost. He was lost in thought, following the trail, and veered off at a fork in the old powwow trail (pre-burn) and became lost. He did not check his compass and could not find the way back to the correct trail, which was nothing like a well-traveled portage like you have in the BWCA paddle routes. The pre burn pow wow trail was nothing to mess around on. After the Pagami Creek fire, it was nearly lost before the BWCAC started efforts to restore it and keep it cleared of regrowth Jack Pine. Jason was a med student, not an experienced guide. The guide was Stevens, who was doing a bushwhack sweep for a portage. There were errors made in both stories. It’s a gripping read.
I was on two different trips in Canada this summer where whistles, stop-and-shout and GPS were all needed and used. Both were by men who have traveled as much and much more than I have. Both were game trails that looked exactly - even more so - than a portage.
Don’t judge. It happens in the blink of an eye - the second you get lost in thought out there and keep walking. "


Rasumussen stayed on "a trail" which turned out not to be the trail he thought it was but more probably an animal path. Stevens was in fact bushwhacking. . .despite being warned by forest service personnel not to do so.

I realize I probably tend to the more safe and known. I don't "bushwhack" (if that is truly defined as just wandering in a woods with no preset or planned route). My groups have portaged and camped on those same lakes. We don't let people wander off by themselves. There is a statement in the book that the Boundary Waters is not like a state park where there are lots of roads, trails and people.

Forest service has many warnings about bushwhacking in the BWCA. Those that do so should know the risk they are taking on both themselves and others. At the very least no one should bushwacking without a survival kit. In Dan's case (the guide), he was drinking out of bogs that were beaver ponds. As a professional guide, he should have never begun his off the trail search without a kit on him that at minimum included fire starter, a lifestraw, some energy bars.

Can it happen to anyone? Not if they stay on known trails, portages, lakes and water ways, and have a map, compass and some type of gps
 
09/29/2022 04:15PM  
I take it you're not a candidate for the next Bushwackers Jamboree contest. You had me at leaving glow sticks on the path to the throne, ever think of bringing a flashlight with you... just sayin.
 
jillpine
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09/29/2022 07:39PM  
It wasn’t an animal path. It was an old single track logging road. It was so easy to keep walking ahead on it that even some members of his search and rescue team made the same error. It can happen to anyone.

The pow wow trail was very challenging even before the 1999 blowdown. Multiple single track roads transected it as did old snowmobile trails. I tried it with my brother in the early 90’s and we backed out. After 1999, it became almost impossible in parts to find the correct path. When the fire came through, folks reported being able to see the old roads again in part. Had it not been for the work of BWAC and its founder, Martin Kubik, the trail would be lost now due to Jack pine regrowth. They work hard to maintain it in a collaboration with USFS. Incredible work and history.

Dr. Rasmussen has spent years telling his story with candor and integrity. I admire him greatly for doing so, subjecting himself to all manner of judgement. His story has maybe saved a life or two. It certainly has informed mine. I think it a matter of respect when re-telling his tale that at least the facts are straight and not tossed about so loosely.
 
09/29/2022 09:33PM  
I also had to chuckle with the comment, how can an Eagle Scout be so unprepared. Well from my experience in the Boy Scouts that distinction is about as meaningful as, well, an MBA degree you got out of a gumball machine, no offense intended to those who actually got something out of it. And the one that basically amounted to, how dare you allow your wife out of your sight, to wander aimlessly into harms way. I think you might have wandered off a bit yourself and stepped in some doodoo, but it is entertaining to see someone do that, so keep going with it, I want to hear more.
 
OutThere
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10/01/2022 08:08PM  
So easy to walk along based on assumptions, confidence and observations, conversing, occasionally checking your compass, maybe daydreaming. Forgetting the hard lesson to always KNOW where one is. The hard part is admitting to yourself you're lost and your compass totally disagrees with you. Suddenly all kinds of possibilities arise. Is the red end of the needle south or north? Am I near some weird magnetic mystery? Wrong correction with declination too? How big of an idiot? I found it to be a real challenge to put one foot in front of the other and force myself to walk off in what felt like the wrong direction. A real internal Goofus and Gallant struggle. Or the nice trail peters out to a game trail and realize we've been following a long trail of other lost souls. Still fun to reread Peach and Rug on this topic in The Complete Wilderness Paddler book. Then again it can be satisfying to break off from a "lost" group argument whilst sitting in the middle of a lake with storm approaching and just head off in the right direction while the expert digs around in a buried pack to find new batteries for the damn GPS.
 
analyzer
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10/07/2022 10:31PM  
uqme2: "Maybe I'm missing something but it's hard to imagine that she "found a large floating log and essentially rode it along the shoreline of the lake ..."
"


My first thought is "how cold is the water up there right now?". I don't think i'd want to be getting wet, but then, maybe it was a really big log, and she wasn't straddling it.
 
paddlefamily
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10/24/2022 05:14PM  
Glad she was found safe. I appreciate her willingness to share her story.
 
10/24/2022 07:44PM  
I know exactly where Rassmussen got lost. Instead of turning left or west on the Pow Wow (toward Pose lake) which really wasn't as visible as the road ahead he took. At the time he got lost he went on the right branch which for 1/4 mile or so you could still drive a car down it if you had one back there-it was that wide and visible (excellent grouse hunting and moose viewing area). The trail narrows at a marsh and the road slowly disappears as you head toward Arrow Lake.

I myself kept trying to stay on that trail myself and it slowly disappears. I orientated back with my compass once.

When I heard a person was lost up there the first thing I thought I bet he went straight ahead, but then heard rumors they thought he maybe got lost on the west end toward the numbers lake or lake three-four.
Wish I would have called up there and give them my thoughts then. Been many times in the area he got lost, it had lot of old logging roads and huge meadows to look for moose.
The trouble is some of those logging roads as you went along slowly disappeared. Some had Class 5 gravel on them from when the forest Center town-logging camp existed on Isabella lake.
He never was real far from the north end of Isabella lake.
Have a map,compass, matches and familiarize yourself of the maps in your memory and which way the water flows.

Give him credit for the will to live, but very stupid to abandon his tent and sleeping bag.
 
analyzer
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10/24/2022 08:52PM  
I've read about many deer hunters getting lost. Often it's when they are tracking wounded deer. When tracking, the hunter's head is often down, looking for blood spatter, and often paying alot less attention to the big picture. They sometimes track for a few hundred yards, it gets dark, and just like that, they're lost. Unfortunately, if it's gun season, it's also cold, and hypothermia is a real issue.

One of my younger brother's classmates walked off from hunting camp, and they never found him. Never found him, or his gun. It's thought that he may have stepped into a bog, and sunk. No one knows.

I've never been truly lost in the boundary waters. I made a wrong turn in a canoe, but I don't count that. It was discovered quickly enough, and corrected. While my father took our family bushwacking back to lone lake and party lake from Saganaga, I personally haven't wandered far from camp. I usually try to stay within 50 yards of the lake shore, and pay attention to orientation.

I have gotten lost hunting though. It was really spooky. I was hunting south of Mille Lacs Lake, in the Mille Lacs lake wildlife management area. There is this little peninsula of land that juts out into a swamp about 3/4 of a mile. One time, when the swamp was frozen, I walked off the end of the peninsula to see what was beyond the swamp. About 40 or 50 yards out, there as a little raised ground, call it an island. This island wasn't real big, maybe 40 yards in diameter. There were plenty of trees, and deer tracks all over it. It became apparent that's where the deer were going after the gun fire starts. So mid-week, there was a little warm up. It was going to be above freezing that day, so I brought the chest waders and headed out. When I got to the end of the peninsula in the pitch darkness, I heard a bunch of deer run out into the swamp. I thought that was a good sign. I took my boots off, put my waders on, put my boots around my neck, my stand on my back, and carried my shotgun. I made my way across the swamp, and found my tree. I set up and sat there for a few hours. Late morning a fog rolled in. I couldn't hardly see the ground from my stand. I probably should have stayed put, but I was hungry, and got down. I made my way back to the swamp edge. But now, I couldn't see the end of the peninsula. I knew it was about 40-50 yards generally west of where i was, but I didn't have a compass and couldn't see more than 10 yards or so. I put on the waders and headed out. On the way to my stand, the water never came close to the top of my chest waders. It was generally mid thigh, and maybe 6 inches of that was muck. However, now, each step was more like a foot of muck, and the water was above my waste. I was getting hot. It was probably mid to high thirties, and I had dressed for the colder morning temps. I had several layers on, and now with the waders, and boots, and tree stand, and gun all taking it's toll, i was getting hot, sweaty, and tired. Each step I seemed to sink further into the muck. Some steps, the water came within a few inches of the top of my waders, and there was no land in sight. I was truly getting worried, and realized I must have ventured off deeper into the swamp, and completely missed the peninsula. It was scary. I was worried at any given step, I might drop in over my head. I eventually saw a tree, with a little hump of land around it, and decided to sit there and wait for the fog to clear. I had to wait about an hour or so, but it finally lifted. I had no idea where I was, but eventually found out, I was on the complete opposite side of the island and no where near the peninsula. I have no idea how I got over there. I must have gotten turned around when I left the tree I was hunting in. Either way, I feel fortunate I didn't step in the wrong spot. With all that gear, I could have easily drown. Even if I didn't with all that fog, and not knowing where to go, Hypothermia could have been an issue too. I don't care to repeat that experience.

Ya know, we pack whistles every time we go to the boundary waters, but I don't pack them hunting. I really should. Although now I tend to just hunt south eastern minnesota, and it's almost impossible to get lost down there. Reading all of this thread, I wonder if I shouldn't just attach my whistle to my shoes. Just thread it right in with the laces. Then I'll always have it.
 
10/24/2022 09:52PM  
The young hunter not found was that up by McGregor-northeast of Aitkin> I keep thinking did they find evidence the next year?
 
Toggy
member (18)member
 
10/25/2022 08:23AM  
analyzer: "
Ya know, we pack whistles every time we go to the boundary waters, but I don't pack them hunting. I really should. Although now I tend to just hunt south eastern minnesota, and it's almost impossible to get lost down there. Reading all of this thread, I wonder if I shouldn't just attach my whistle to my shoes. Just thread it right in with the laces. Then I'll always have it."


Funny you say that, I got pretty turned around in Rum River State Forest at night. What an unpleasant feeling. Hunting can really land us in some deep places and we used to have to use dead reckoning and compass to get around. Now GPS can help.
 
LindenTree
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10/25/2022 11:07AM  
Pinetree: "I know exactly where Rassmussen got lost. Instead of turning left or west on the Pow Wow (toward Pose lake) which really wasn't as visible as the road ahead he took. At the time he got lost he went on the right branch which for 1/4 mile or so you could still drive a car down it if you had one back there-it was that wide and visible (excellent grouse hunting and moose viewing area). The trail narrows at a marsh and the road slowly disappears as you head toward Arrow Lake.


I myself kept trying to stay on that trail myself and it slowly disappears. I orientated back with my compass once.


When I heard a person was lost up there the first thing I thought I bet he went straight ahead, but then heard rumors they thought he maybe got lost on the west end toward the numbers lake or lake three-four.
Wish I would have called up there and give them my thoughts then. "


They would not have listened to you pinetree.

I was working out of the Isabella Work Station/Tofte RD when that search happened. We initially helped the SAR Team cut their way into old Forest center due to a heavy snow storm that bent and felled many trees over the roads.

We asked to help the Lake County SAR and they turned us down, our USFS employees knew that area and we would have had maps of the all the old logging roads of the area. I'm sure the district ranger would have let them set up a command center out of the Work Station.

I still find it odd that they did not accept our help.
 
10/25/2022 02:42PM  
LindenTree: "Pinetree: "I know exactly where Rassmussen got lost. Instead of turning left or west on the Pow Wow (toward Pose lake) which really wasn't as visible as the road ahead he took. At the time he got lost he went on the right branch which for 1/4 mile or so you could still drive a car down it if you had one back there-it was that wide and visible (excellent grouse hunting and moose viewing area). The trail narrows at a marsh and the road slowly disappears as you head toward Arrow Lake.



I myself kept trying to stay on that trail myself and it slowly disappears. I orientated back with my compass once.



When I heard a person was lost up there the first thing I thought I bet he went straight ahead, but then heard rumors they thought he maybe got lost on the west end toward the numbers lake or lake three-four.
Wish I would have called up there and give them my thoughts then. "



They would not have listened to you pinetree.


I was working out of the Isabella Work Station/Tofte RD when that search happened. We initially helped the SAR Team cut their way into old Forest center due to a heavy snow storm that bent and felled many trees over the roads.


We asked to help the Lake County SAR and they turned us down, our USFS employees knew that area and we would have had maps of the all the old logging roads of the area. I'm sure the district ranger would have let them set up a command center out of the Work Station.


I still find it odd that they did not accept our help."


That is really odd, especially many USFS knew the area like the back of their hand.
 
gravelroad
distinguished member(771)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/25/2022 07:12PM  
LindenTree: “They would not have listened to you pinetree.

I was working out of the Isabella Work Station/Tofte RD when that search happened. We initially helped the SAR Team cut their way into old Forest center due to a heavy snow storm that bent and felled many trees over the roads.

We asked to help the Lake County SAR and they turned us down, our USFS employees knew that area and we would have had maps of the all the old logging roads of the area. I'm sure the district ranger would have let them set up a command center out of the Work Station.

I still find it odd that they did not accept our help."


Very odd. I’ve worked on SAR missions in other MN counties (including Cook, for example) and other states where folks cooperated extremely well, including one occasion in NW MN when a whole alphabet soup of feds were involved under the direction of the sheriff (who has the statutory responsibility in MN). I’ve never heard of federal help being declined in the several states where I worked.
 
analyzer
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10/27/2022 11:09PM  
Pinetree: "The young hunter not found was that up by McGregor-northeast of Aitkin> I keep thinking did they find evidence the next year?"

I wasn't certain, but I found an article, and yes, it says it was by Aitkin.


Noel Dalluge
 
10/28/2022 08:47AM  
analyzer: "Pinetree: "The young hunter not found was that up by McGregor-northeast of Aitkin> I keep thinking did they find evidence the next year?"

I wasn't certain, but I found an article, and yes, it says it was by Aitkin.



Noel Dalluge "


There is some huge tamarack-spruce swamps just to the west of Dam lake
 
analyzer
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10/29/2022 02:19AM  
 
LindenTree
distinguished member(2862)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/29/2022 05:10PM  
We can't forget this one. Even though he may have not been lost, his body wasn't found in the Boundary Waters until months later.

Man found dead after trying to spend the winter in the BWCA
 
Maiingan
distinguished member (132)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/29/2022 06:55PM  
There was also Lloyd Skelton

Lloyd Skelton was an avid adventurer who had once climbed the Grand Tetons and paddled from Minnesota to Hudson Bay. On his ill-fated Boundary Waters expedition, Skelton had left the Twin Cities intending to go on a week-long solo kayak trip, but the cold, wet weather made him change his plans. He was last seen buying a day-hiking permit from an Ely outfitter for the Angleworm Lake entry point. He parked at the trailhead and disappeared into the woods, leaving behind his kayak and gear.

The wilderness can be dangerous and uncertain, even for an experienced outdoorsman, and any number of things could have led to Skelton’s demise: reckless behavior, a misjudgment of his physical abilities, something as freakish as a poisonous spider bite or as mundane as a slippery rock. But we can’t be certain of anything. We can’t even be sure he’s dead.
 
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