I have another outlook on this...
First, yes Jim, those are some good things to do and if everyone managed to do so there likely would be fewer people not making it back safe and without injury. If everyone took care of themselves like we should
and ate right, exercised, got plenty of rest, didn't smoke, etc. we probably would live longer and healthier lives. But there is this thing called human nature, and the most important point about human nature is we are not perfect
, thus the vast majority do not take care of themselves.
So what are we to do? Wring our hands over all the people who make bad choices every day? I personally don't feel that's the best use of our time and efforts. I'm speaking for myself here as well, but I'm sure all of us have made at least some bad choices and likely as not, we all have done some things we'd like to take back, or didn't do things we wished we had done but did not.
That said, I would surmise Joe pretty much followed the basic safety tenets, he was experienced enough to know a GPS route drawn out on a map doesn't mean the route is hikeable, he had made several trips in the same vicinity so had an idea of the terrain and conditions, he carried extra batteries for his GPS, and I'm sure someone else could go on about a number of other things Joe did to hike safe
. But we are not in control of our own environment, we are not in control of outside influences, and there are times we are not in control of our own mind and body (sometimes my mind goes WAY out of control!) so we must accept the fact that nothing is guaranteed in life. Not our safety, nor our health, nor our mental capacity... we simply don't know the future so cannot plan for every contingency. I know if I even tried to I would never get out hiking!
I know I don't follow all the rules of hiking
and probably never will. Hiking solo is supposedly a no-no, but for years 95% of my hikes would never have been hiked if I followed that rule. I'm sure there are other rules that will always have exceptions depending on the circumstance.
Before making this next point I will say I hope to tread lightly...
From my standpoint, Joe was doing something he loved, something he had a true passion for, and what better thing to be doing when the end comes. Yes, the survivors always seek closure
of one kind or another, but just like nothing is guaranteed in life, sometimes we never find out the answers. I have already spoken very candidly with my two sons, letting them know that when I am out hiking or mountain biking, I'm doing what I love, so if something were to happen that brought my time on this earth to an end, there is no reason to be sad for me. Sad for you, yes, but please not for me.
I've seen too many people waste away in a hospital or nursing home where they are comparatively safe
, but what about their quality of life. Just a year ago my father saw his older brother waste away, gradually losing all his faculties before death. So this August when my father was hospitalized with multiple fractures of the spine due to advanced osteoarthritis, when there really was nothing to be done but manage the pain with morphine, he said, "I've lived 91 years, I've had a full life, it's time to go." Although he wasn't on life support per se and there were no plugs to pull, he simply stopped eating and drinking, only taking one ice chip every four hours the last 5 days of his life. The only thing done medically was provide morphine for the pain. Being one with an extremely high tolerance for pain he didn't require much morphine. We (six children) took him home from the hospital on a Monday evening to care for him the last days. One sibling or another was holding his hand 24/7 all the way through to the end at 10:30 pm that Thursday evening. His last words on Tuesday evening were God bless you!
to his six children. Although unable to speak from then on, he was able to hear everything we said, if nothing more than moving an eyelid in response. Yes, it was hard seeing him in that state, but not as hard as the pain and suffering would have been if he were to be an invalid for months or years. But although the day and the hour were unknown, as much as he could, he lived those last few days and hours under his own terms.
Back on track here... if I meet my end while out on the trail and end up missing, as I told my sons, when all reasonable efforts are exhausted and I haven't been found, please take comfort in the knowledge that my body will be disposed of naturally... I don't need no stinkin' coffin, I don't need to be burned... and left in an urn. Rather, let the birds, the bees and the bacteria do their job to recycle me.
So for me, not being a spring chicken myself...
Jim Lyding wrote:*Always remember that getting home is mandatory.
When my time has come and I happen to be out hiking, getting home will not be mandatory!
Or better yet, I will already be HOME!
... on the range...
Oh yeah, please pardon my diatribe as well...