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[pct-l] Sarah Bishop's Unfortunate Death

I crossed this river myself recently, on the afternoon
of August 16, when backpacking from Timberline around
Mt. Hood to Cascade Locks.  This was before the higher
water caused by rain storms since then.  At that time
it was an easy crossing.  The PCT crossing was in fast
water, but less than a foot deep.  I crossed on logs
just a hundred yards upstream.

Your advice is sound, and I'd like to add something I
learned myself when falling into a High Sierra stream
a couple years back.  Hiking poles are very helpful
for stream crossings, but you should hold the handles
directly and not use the straps.  They are difficult
to shed when trying to swim or stand up in a stream.

Larry H

--- waynekraft@verizon.net wrote:

> I have been in communication with Clackamas County
> SAR regarding the death of Sarah Bishop at the PCT's
> Sandy River crossing near Mt. Hood.  First, this a
> confusing area of trail junctions.  I took the wrong
> trail just after crossing the Sandy River at this
> point last year.  There is no bridge on the PCT
> across the Sandy River where Rushing Water Creek
> joins the Sandy.  Last year in September you could
> cross on three logs about 50 yards upstream from the
> trail crossing, but you could also just walk across
> at the trail crossing with nothing worse than wet
> feet. 
> Regarding Sarah, the following facts were not
> mentioned in the media reports:
> 1.  Sarah's pack weighed about 60 pounds bone dry.
> 2.  The pack was so securely strapped on that the
> SAR folks had to cut if off in order to recover her
> body.
> 3. Sarah was using trekking poles.
> The lessons I learned from this incident are:
> 1.      Pack weight is usually treated as a mere
> matter of personal preference, but it appears to
> have been a matter of safety here.  I am guessing
> that Sarah's pack equalled about half her body
> weight.  
> 2.      Always undo your hip belt and sternum strap
> when crossing deep water.  Better to lose your pack
> than your life.  Sarah was about two miles from her
> car.  She could have easily ditched the pack and had
> a much better chance to walk out safely. So sad.
> 3.      Wait for help.  I hesitate to criticize
> going solo, because I do it myself.  However, given
> the kind of weather conditions Sarah was dealing
> with (the city of Gresham to the west of Mt. Hood
> received an inch of rain in 20 minutes at one
> point), it was time to either bail out, hook up with
> another hiker or hunker down. She was at the very
> lowest elevation point in her hike. She had to
> either cross a stream or return to higher elevation
> and exit out Paradise Park trail or some other trail
> that didn't cross a large creek or river. Maybe she
> felt she was too cold and wet to go higher up, but
> the other options might have worked.  I crossed the
> Sandy at Rushing Water Creek twice last summer and
> there were other hikers there both times.  There are
> places to camp nearby if no one else comes along and
> I would guess the temps would have been in the mid
> 50's.
> My heart goes out to Sarah's family and to the SAR
> people, one of whom told me this was a "very sad
> incident, one that I do not want to have to repeat
> anytime soon."
> Wayne Kraft
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