California hiking family and dog's cause of death finally determined

Originally published at: California hiking family and dog's cause of death finally determined | Boing Boing


Briese noted that an empty 85-ounce water bladder was found with the couple, and no other water containers were present.

Under extreme stress your body needs that [daily] and likely a lot more H2o, and 85 ounces don’t cut it for 3 humans and a dog. Condolences to the family and that poor doggo.


I got near heat stroke/exhaustion once when I was little on a 4-H rock hunt, and this summer at the range, even though I as gulping down water, I was in the heat about 30 min too long and got exhausted (and a little burnt). The heat will sneak up on you. I was able to get in the car and cool down fast with the AC, but out on trail with no shade?

It sounds like poor planning, and not completely aware of the dangers they may face. :frowning: But exhaustion creeps up on you and then gets you. You think you’re fine until you aren’t.


Yep. I have friends who are avid hikers who carry gallon jugs of water on hikes. Which sometimes they refill.


That’s an extreme horrible way to die. And dying together like this only makes it worse.


All of this is horrible and sad.
I hope people understand that things that might seem “simple” (like going hiking), do require some knowledge. Always ask someone who knows their stuff!


Yeah for anything beyond a casual stroll you need to ensure you have plenty of water. Water weighs a lot but every person needs to carry plenty of it. Also if you’re going for a strenuous hike and there isn’t a lot of shade available please consider wearing oversized hats for shade, or bring small umbrellas. Take a lot of breaks, rehydrate and have protein snacks to recharge.

Never ever take the outdoors for granted. It takes very little for an enjoyable hike to turn ugly, from being bitten or attacked by an animal/insect, to an unexpected fall, getting lost, getting caught in a flash flood, etc. That’s not to say that hiking demands being over prepared but its good to be aware of what could happen or go wrong and make mental plans to avoid potential issues. And when in doubt bail early, i’ve quit planned hikes right on the spot because of scattered rain and in other instances because it was hotter than anticipated.

It really pains me to know that this whole family died over something that was avoidable, i really hope it will serve as a cautionary tale and that it might save other lives.


My god how tragic. Never underestimate the heat.


A good friend of mine who was an experienced hiker died of heat exposure in Big Bend in Texas in the early 2000s. He wasn’t carrying enough water either and only made it a short distance from his vehicle before he was overcome. Stay hydrated, everyone.


I don’t have a better explanation for these tragic deaths, but this one seems very odd. They were reportedly found on the Savage-Lundy trail right next to a river, which is why toxic algae was one of the causes investigated. Even if, on the verge of death, the humans refrained from drinking or cooling off in the unclean water, why wouldn’t the dog take advantage of it?

Or maybe they were a bit further from the river than earlier reporting suggested.


I really wouldn’t recommend drinking unfiltered or unboiled water from a tainted water source. That said it is a good idea to keep life straws on your person when hiking to avoid such an issue


Hyperthermia can kill you fairly quickly but dehydration takes a bit longer if you’re able to keep your body cool. So cooling off in unclean water by at least getting your clothes wet seems like a low-risk way to stay alive in that situation.


Yeah getting in the water would’ve been better than drinking it, though extreme caution has to be taken into account since warm waters can harbor some really nasty amoebas and other organisms. And the toxic algae could pretty quickly kill a dog, which happens every year here in Austin when people bring their pets to the river during the height of summer.


I have a Camelbak I use for long bike rides and day hikes. I recommend anyone doing a lot of either get a hydration backpack as they’re easier to carry than multiple bottles/jugs.


I have a small one I used for mowing the lawn.


If you can get rescued and to a hospital within a few hours, drinking tainted water is a better solution than dying of hyperthermia or dehydration.

The thing is, by the time you hit the point where you’re in danger of dying from thermal stress, you also sort of lose the ability to think rationally, and often don’t realize that you’re actually about to die until it’s too late. This happens in both directions, too, which is why you also find hypothermia victims stripped naked in snow banks; your brain just flat-out stops making logical sense of the inputs it’s receiving and has a tendency to self-sabotage you.


It’s not like people can schedule their rescue, drinking tainted water is a gamble that can do a lot of harm. Carry a filter and that kind of takes most of that risk out of the equation



Also, note this area was one of the areas with a relatively recent wildfire, so a lot of the shade providing tree cover wasn’t there. One report I read noted that the local temps at the time of their hike peaked at about 109 deg F.

Also, when you’re sweating that much water loss, you can get electrolyte derangements. Had this happen once towards the end of a long hot day gold panning (yep, weird, but fun). Wasn’t too hot, but suddenly exhausted and woozy. Tried shade and water thinking I was overheated. Didn’t help much. Started to eat some beef jerky, and WHOOSH felt like electricity was spreading around my body, and I felt almost instantly better.


And the longer you can hold on, the more likely that someone will find you.