Sunday, August 30

Nature is not a human rights advocate

The headline for an August 29 report at CBS News San Francisco reads, Lost Hiker With 2 Broken Legs Survives 9 Days Crawling In Wilderness

That hiker is a 62 year old woman.  

I had a broken leg once, in my 20s, which couldn't be treated right away. The pain was so awful that after a couple hours I was pleading for someone, anyone, to kill me. I do remember making the plea but I also remember that I was almost out of my mind from delirium.  

That must have been the case with the hiker; at some point she must have experienced delirium from the pain. Yet she had the presence of mind to decide that there was no way she would survive a long search for her unless she got to a water source. So she starting crawling  She crawled until she found a creek. 
The decision -- and the whistle she carried -- saved her life because the search was slowed by a forest fire that broke out in the area.  So while she went 9 days without food, she had potable water.

Now why would a 62 year-old go hiking in the wilderness? Of course the question sounds silly to a nature lover, but I'm not one. My idea of trekking through the wilds is driving through Rock Creek Park here in Washington, DC. And I'm never comfortable until the car is out of the woods. The road through the park is a heavily traveled vehicular thoroughfare yet my view is that one never knows what can happen in the wilds.      

But from a nature lover's viewpoint, she was in good health and she wasn't alone; she was part of a hiking group but somehow got separated from the group, then sustained a bone-breaking fall that prevented her from returning to the group's base camp.  

However, the scariest part of the story is the words uttered by the man who headed up the search:
“When you’re nine days into it, you’re really starting to wonder if the dividends are going to pay off for you and then have such a success story is utterly amazing,” CHP Chief Jim Abrams. “It just tickles us all to death that we have good news at the end of nine days because that is rather amazing survival for that length of time.”
Yes. At some point mathematics has to take over a search for the missing.  But there is a place math can't go, and one must always strive to mentally reside in that place.      

Miyuki Harwood, Survivor


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