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Careful Out There: Yaks, Slot Canyons, and the Into the Wild Bus

Your survival and accident report for the week of July 22nd to July 29th

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Falls, lost hikers, animal encounters: Every week, we get reminders that the outdoors can be a dangerous place. Each Monday, we’ll bring you a recap of hiker accidents, losses, and survival triumphs from the preceding week, so you can learn from real-world mishaps and be better prepared for your next outing.

Transported from the Subway

A 48-year-old man was rescued on Monday from a popular slot canyon in Zion National Park. The hiker set out on the strenuous 9-mile hike on Sunday evening and was unable to finish due to exhaustion. He spent an unplanned night in the canyon and was picked up by a Park Service helicopter on Monday morning. The hiker was uninjured, according to reports. Lesson learned: Make sure you are physically prepared before heading out, and research your route ahead of time. A dayhike could easily turn into a night out, so carry overnight gear on big days, especially when starting late in the day. 

Injury in Eldorado Canyon

A hiker in his mid-60s required a rescue after injuring his leg on Colorado’s Rattlesnake Gulch Trail on Wednesday. Rescuers carried the man out in a litter and he was transported to the hospital. Lesson learned: Accidents happen. Educate yourself on wilderness medicine techniques to improve your chances if you or someone in your party gets hurt on the trail. 

Yak Attack

On Wednesday, a hiker was charged by yaks—no, not on a Nepalese trek, but near the Bear Hole Reservoir in West Springfield, MA. Three of the animals escaped from a nearby farm and were roaming the area, which is popular with hikers and joggers. Todd Steglinski and his German shepherd ran from the stampede and were uninjured. The animals have since been returned to their owner. Lesson learned: Talk about wildlife being unpredictable! Do not approach wild (or fugitive) animals. Yaks are not generally aggressive unless provoked, so if you happen to spot one, steer clear.

Teen Spends a Night Alone 

A teenager from Montreal was separated from his group and spent nearly 24 hours alone in Vermont’s Green Mountains. The group reported 15-year-old Shmuel Rabinowitz missing around 9 p.m. on Wednesday. On Thursday evening, Rabinowitz, who was carrying overnight gear, ran into another hiker and was able to call for help on a cell phone. The teen was met by search and rescue and was escorted back to his family uninjured. Lesson learned: If you are lost, stay put so your party or rescuers can find you. Always carry a map and compass. 

“Into the Wild” Bus Claims a Life

A hiker was swept away in an Alaskan river on Thursday and passed away. Veramika Maikamava, 24, was attempting to hike to the famous bus where Chris McCandless died in 1992. Maikamava and her husband were trying to cross the Taklanika River along the Stampede Trail when she was pulled under. Lesson learned: Rivers and streams are running especially high in many parts of the country due to increased snowpack. Educate yourself on how to safely cross rivers, and reroute if the water seems too high or fast. 

Hiker Still Missing in the Smokies

A man who went missing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC on Saturday has not yet been found. Nearly 200 searchers are scouring the park for Kevin Mark Lynch, 58, who is reported to have mild dementia. Lynch was not carrying any overnight gear when he was last seen over the weekend. Lesson learned: Hiking in a group is always safer than going solo. Of course, always leave an itinerary with someone at home when you head out. 

The wilderness is full of dangers. Raging rivers, unpredictable bears, huge avalanches—no matter how prepared you are, a walk in the woods can go from safe to disastrous in the blink of an eye. Out Alive is BACKPACKER’s podcast about real people who survived the unsurvivable. Learn what went wrong, what went right, and how you can increase your odds if the unimaginable happens to you. Listen now, and stay safe.

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