Lunchbox's Disaster Roundup - Backpacker

Lunchbox's Disaster Roundup

The beloved star of our in-book feature "The Predicament," Lunchbox the Cadaver Sniffing Dog, brings you a round-up of this week's outdoor predicaments, disasters, and near-misses

Ahoy-hoy, Lunchbox here: People can't seem to go a week without getting hurt in the backcountry. It means I'll get to stay up to my ears in kibble, but it also means that some of you could be a little more careful when you head into the wild. Class is in session—let's take a look at this week's wilderness woes:

Geocacher falls 30 feet at night. A geocacher near Gifford Lakes, WA, took a 30-foot-fall while bushwacking at night in search of the hidden cache. The fall injured his knee bad enough that he couldn't walk out, so he called rescuers. The King County Sheriff Department search-and-rescue crew pulled off a difficult night rescue via helicopter just in time, as the man had started to succumb to hypothermia.

Lunchbox's lesson: SAR teams report the man was well-prepared with a fully-charged cell phone, plenty of lights, and materials to build a fire. But that doesn't mean he should've been tramping off-trail in the dark, at night. In fact, with geocaching involved, I'm willing to bet this fella might've been paying more attention to his glowing screen than the trail in front of him. Hiking off-trail, solo, at night? That's three strikes—this guy's incredibly lucky he wasn't out.

Avalanche buries Colorado teen neck-deep. A teen from Eagle County, Colo., was skiing on a peak near Copper Mountain when a 500-foot avalanche broke loose 50 feet above him, sweeping him away and burying him up to his neck. Luckily, friends located him, dug him out, and called for rescue. He'd suffered a broken leg and several lacerations after being dragged across rocky terrain. Summit County SAR found the teen and a helicopter airlifted him to safety.

Lunchbox's lesson: The teens were described as being well-versed in avalanche safety, but being prepared for a rescue won't keep avalanches from happening. A massive snowstorm that hit the Colorado's Front Range made for precarious conditions, and backcountry forecasters warned of heavy avalanche danger. Researching conditions and knowing when not to go (however powder-hungry) could've kept the kid out of the hospital in the first place.

Hawaiian surfer punches biting shark in the nose. This week's Total Badass Award easily goes to Scott Henrich, a 54-year-old Hawaiian surfer who got a 6- to 8-foot shark to release his leg after repeatedly punching it in the snout. Henrich needed 100 stitches, and Department of Natural Resources officials closed the beach. Henrich is expected to recover and surf again.

Lunchbox's lesson: Lunchbox doesn't surf, and this is why. Water rescue is beyond my ken, but it's hard to quibble with Henrich's tactics: He smacked the shark a few times, it recognized who was boss, and let go. Congratulations, Scott "Sharkpuncher" Henrich—you are now assured the lifetime adoration that comes with having the best story in the bar.