New York man tries to hike in Arizona but calls to be rescued twice in two days

Originally published at: New York man tries to hike in Arizona but calls to be rescued twice in two days | Boing Boing


A good portion of Arizona is not for the faint of heart, mind, or body.


This is more like what Humphreys Peak looks like now (photo taken 2/2/22):

I imagine that the peak has more snow since a storm came through the SoCal mountains last week.


Calls 9-1-1 on his cell phone to say that he was lost.

Hm. Okay. Still using a flip phone or what?


My not so outdoorsy ex and I were camping once, and it started to rain. There were some flashes of lightning, which she said were the flashlights of the rangers coming to tell us to break camp and leave, as it was raining. I broke it to her gently that wasn’t a thing. Most of the outdoors is not a chaperoned activity.

The article should have given the general advice of don’t hike alone, and, if you’re a novice, hike with non-novices a few times to get the hang of things. Lot of hiking clubs around, on meetup and other venues.


Hiking on the east coast is a lot different than hiking out west-- for most trails in the Appalachians you’re never more than a few hours hike from a road or town, and you’re rarely without a water source.


May I gently point out that shaming people for calling for help in these circumstances is counterproductive . Don’t let pride prevent you from calling for help when you need it.


I live in Minnesota and regularly camp in the BWCAW. We have had several recent mind boggling stories of people in the wilderness who were not prepared and called for help inappropriately. I am glad people were rescued, but I wonder if we might not be better off educating people to not go if they aren’t prepared. We don’t carry a spot or other rescue beacon, if something happens to us we will have to self rescue, and I think that makes us much safer campers.


Sigh. I’ve hiked both coasts, and there’s a huge difference. The Appalachians are an old mountain range, worn down and only a shadow of themselves, really just the roots and cores of the original, now almost half a billion years old. The Appalachian trail, which I’ve only hiked the New England, Virginia, and Maryland portions of, goes from peak to peak with the majority of the hiking done in temperate forest, with few truly challenging climbs or dangerous drops. Most of the time, all you can see is the surrounding forests, a green and brown tunnel only occasionally opening up to one of the many stunning views or open country where you can see where you’re headed or where’s you’ve been.

The San Francisco Peaks are the eroded remains of a volcano, only 200,000 or so years old. I’ve not hiked them, but I have hiked Philmont New Mexico and some Rocky Mountain trails, so am somewhat familiar with the region. When we flew in, we flew in to Denver, so our lungs and bodies could acclimate to the higher altitude as we drove three days south to the hiking area-- the base of the San Francisco Peaks is around 8000’ above sea level, higher by nearly 2000’ than the highest Appalachian peak, Mt. Mitchell in NC. If you’ve never been that high up, don’t worry, after a couple days of moderate exercise your body will adjust. It’s not until you start getting above about 10,000’ that you realize that every breath, every step, is becoming harder and harder, and less efficient at replenishing your energy. Step, rest, breath, repeat. Curse at the locals who are jogging up the trail in defiance of Park Ranger rules, sip at your rapidly dimishing canteen and wonder where and when you’ll be able to get a refill, put all your smellables in a bear-bag and dangle it from a tree whenever you stop for more than a few minutes, and marvel at the vast visages and scenic views that are almost always around you.

We trained, for that week-long Philmont hike, for nearly 6 months – monthly group hikes and practice campouts, plus regular individual hikes with heavy packs (I ended up carrying nearly 110 lbs of supplies, because I was strong like ox, and apparently stupid like ox as I had the heaviest pack.) Despite that, when we finally arrived and started off, we were all exhausted after the first 5-mile “shakedown” hike, panting and dehydrated in the first desert-like conditions most of us had ever experienced. On the first moutain climb, The Tooth of Time, two of us got altitude sickness – one had to return to the base camp and later went to a clinic for treatment – he had to go home, his body just couldn’t handle the relatively rapid change. At one point, the dry, dusty, alkaline conditions gave me a nosebleed, and the ranger who noticed nearly pulled me out as well, but fortunately it cleared up quickly once we were out of the dusty area and I was allowed to continue.

When I got home, as we exited the aircraft, after nearly two weeks of heavy exertion at high altitude, I noticed I only had to breathe about once every two minutes when I was at rest. The air felt thick and chewy, damp with moisture, and deliciously oxygenated, if a bit stinky. This lasted for a good month before wearing off.

In short, if it’s not too late, even with training, preparation, and professional supervision, hiking in conditions you’re not used to can be dangerous, often in ways you may not have thought about, and that this guy got lost and then had to be rescued for injury is not particularly surprising. I’m just glad he survived, and hope the rest of the trip made up for the disaster.

edit: apparently this forum doesn’t like the word “m o i s t”


The volume at which that education was offered is left to the reader’s imagination.


That’s a seriously high mountain to be climbing, even if you live in the area. My work takes me to a telescope at 10,500 ft and leaves me winded after climbing a few staircases upon arrival.
And what’s with that 7 PM phone call? By that time, you should be down off the mountain and in front of a fire sipping cocoa.
Also, he’s darn lucky that a phone worked at that location. Most mountains in Arizona don’t have nearby cell towers.




Honestly, if he was having difficulty connecting it could simply be that he has the wrong carrier.

I had a long bicycle trip along I-10 from Austin to San Diego/Tijuana, and despite assurances from T-Mobile, the reception was shitty the entire way. I should have gone with AT&T.




The GPS, compass and tracker app would still be working even without carrier. (Not that a phone would be my one-and-only resource.)

If he wasn’t equipped to spend the night, then calling probably was his safest move.


“Here’s a lanyard with a laminated i.d. for you to wear. So we can later identify your scattered remains.”

I get the impression this guy went hiking alone and didn’t have a map or compass, or experience.
Good thing he had a phone that worked.


The gps chip in the phone can get the signals and the app can turn that into coordinates, but it can’t map location without adequate data signal. For someone without a map and experience with navigation from raw GPS coordinates, they’re still going to be lost.


And that’s why you preload the maps for an area (Google Maps), or use a device with internal map files.


I’m going to go out on a limb and guess this guy isn’t that savvy…