2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine –

The First 30 Seconds

What you can do to thwart a panic attack in two common crisis situations

by: Jason Stevenson


The First 30 Seconds

On August 4th, 1999, Raffi Kodikian, 25, and David Coughlin, 26, best friends since college, backpacked into Rattlesnake Canyon in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southern New Mexico. They made camp a couple miles down the trail and boiled hot dogs for dinner. In the morning, they packed up and headed back to the car, but somehow got turned around. They had a topo map, but neither of them could read it. Suddenly lost in the Chihuahuan Desert, Kodikian and Coughlin began wandering among the ocotillo cacti, passing several cairns marking the trail out of the canyon. They drank all of their water, but it rained in the afternoon, so they slurped from pools, refilled their water bottles, and prepared to spend a second night out.

Although they knew their car was parked on the eastern rim of the canyon, that night Kodikian thought he spotted a light on the western rim. So the following morning, stumbling through 90F heat, they crossed the canyon floor and scrambled up the far rim hoping to find a road. Surrounded only by more cacti, they slumped into the shade and watched vultures circle overhead. An hour later and parched with thirst, they struggled back to their camp, sucking prickly pear cactus fruit for its sappy juice. Later that night, Kodikian gagged trying to drink his own urine.

By the third morning, Kodikian and Coughlin convinced themselves they were going to die, and made a suicide pact. They tried slitting each other's wrists, but their hunting knife was too dull. Then, according to Kodikian, Coughlin began begging Kodikian to kill him, to spare him the agony of dying of thirst. Kodikian obliged, plunging the knife twice into his best friend's heart.

Park ranger Lance Mattson found the men less than six hours later. Kodikian was lying in his tent.

"Where's your buddy?" Mattson asked.

"Over there," Kodikian said calmly, pointing to a pile of rocks atop a shallow grave. "I killed him."

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Good adventure book?
Posted On: Jul 28, 2014
Submitted By: reubenstump
The Political Arena
Ebola breakout
Posted On: Jul 28, 2014
Submitted By: High_Sierra_Fan

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions