Tourists+Backcountry+GPS=trouble

Joined
Mar 3, 2008
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1,341
Are people really that stupid that they rely 100% on a GPS while in backcountry and can't read a map to save their life (literally!).

CANNONVILLE, Utah - A GPS device led a convoy of tourists astray, finally stranding them on the edge of a sheer cliff.
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With little food or water, the group of 10 children and 16 adults from California had to spend a night in their cars deep inside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

They used a global positioning device to plot out a backcountry route Saturday from Bryce Canyon National Park to the Grand Canyon.

But the device couldn't tell how rough the roads were. One vehicle got stuck in soft sand, two others ran low on fuel. And the device offered suggestions that led them onto the wrong dirt roads, which ended at a series of cliffs.

The group was so lost it couldn't figure out how to backtrack and started to panic. Kids were crying, and one infant was sick with fever, according to a member of the party.

"It was a nightmare — the vacation from hell," Daniel Cohen, back home safely in Los Angeles, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "That's a story I will tell my kids. For now, I don't want anybody to know about it."

From Grosvenor Arch, where the travelers stopped, they should have taken the better-traveled Cottonwood Canyon Road. Instead, they took Four Mile Bench Road, which takes a meandering southeasterly path. Chief Deputy Tracy Glover said the convoy took one wrong turn after another onto a succession of lesser dirt paths that are barely passable in the best of weather. They finally ended so some 25 miles from Grosvenor Arch near Tibbet Canyon.

"They just kept driving and driving and driving," Glover told the AP.

Cohen said the group had no idea it was setting off in the wrong direction.

"A friend with navigation device said we should go that way, and we all went that went," he said. "I had no clue where we were, I can tell you that. But the next day when we saw the airplane, we were jumping."

Glover said a GPS device is no substitute for good judgment or detailed topographical maps.

"People can start down a nice, graded dirt road and it can soon turn into boulders and deep washes, but they continue driving instead of turning around. I don't understand it," Glover told The Salt Lake Tribune. "The shortest way is not always the quickest way."

It took a lot of back-and-forth cell phone calls, but sheriff's deputies were able to find the group Sunday and lead them back out to Cannonville.

It wasn't the first time Staircase visitors have wandered into near oblivion. Dozens have been stranded since the monument was created in 1996, often with the false encouragement of a GPS device, said Bureau of Land Management spokesman Larry Crutchfield.

A group of Belgium tourists had to lick condensation off their minivan's windshield for water after being stranded on Four Mile Bench in May 2007. Riders on all-terrain vehicles stumbled across the group.

In the same country in early March 2003, a South African man living in London and his Quincy, Mass., girlfriend were stranded for six days by a powerful snowstorm.

Rachel Crowley, 27, died four miles after setting out from their buried rental Jeep. A cattle rancher found George Metcalfe, 27, staggering 15 miles away on Four Mile Bench Road. He survived.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20080806/ap_tr_ge/travel_brief_lost_convoy
 

kgd

Joined
Feb 28, 2007
Messages
9,786
Yes it is silly - particularly when driving. People tend to get a real false sense of security when they are in their vehicles. They probably only started out with a 1/4 tank of gas!

I did really appreciate the 'licking the condensation of the windshield' line. That is a good one!
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2005
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11,133
Yes they are. I work with people on the ambulance that cant read a map for nothing. When the GPS is out, its like someone handed them quantem physics to solve. Stupid.
 
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
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and it was only for 1 night too!! They make it sound like they were stranded for weeks and had to survive but they still had their cars, cellphones and I'm sure plenty of fuel between 3 cars to make it 25Mi or so.

I think "licking the condensation off the windows" is a bit of a stretch. I've always wondered what splattered bugs on the windshield tasted like...

Anybody else find it ironic that the man says
""It was a nightmare — the vacation from hell," Daniel Cohen, back home safely in Los Angeles, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "That's a story I will tell my kids. For now, I don't want anybody to know about it.""
to the MEDIA!
 
Joined
Jun 2, 2007
Messages
610
If ever there was proof that a GPS does NOT trump the need for nav skills...
Glad they were ok but hopefully this will keep them indoors for a while.
I'm kinda torn though because on the one hand I think everyone should experience the difference between our rat race and the meandering stream that nature is. Then again, maybe some should just stick to watching the chipmunks on the golf course ?

I think it's pretty weak that the wording says the GPS "led them astray", "stranded them..." and "the device offered suggestions that led them onto the wrong dirt roads".

Where's the situational awareness and dead reckoning ? Someone had to be thinking "this ain't right..." but still followed the leader. It was their blind faith that led them astray, not technology.

Lazerboy, I thought the "don't want anybody to know about it" bit was a gas as well because it reminded me of a celebrity asking the media for privacy lol.
 
Joined
Jun 10, 2003
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My Garmin instructions say not to depend only on the GPS !! I've installed the topo map on my handheld which gives a lot more info [like you're approaching a cliff !!] Bring your brains please .
 
Joined
Jun 19, 2007
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Friggin tourons. The roads through Escalante can be pretty nasty. A good flash flood can pretty much eliminate some of them.

Having worked in the National Parks I have been exposed to countless hordes of morons like this. My all time favorite visitor comment was from a guy exiting Rocky Mountain. He asked me, "How much is it to get into Estes Park?"
 
Joined
Nov 6, 2006
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3,734
Glad they were ok but hopefully this will keep them indoors for a while.
I'm kinda torn though because on the one hand I think everyone should experience the difference between our rat race and the meandering stream that nature is. Then again, maybe some should just stick to watching the chipmunks on the golf course ?

Yep, some people have no business leaving the city.

A lot of people seem to think the GPS is the end all and if they have one they can't possibly get lost.
 
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
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Friggin tourons. The roads through Escalante can be pretty nasty. A good flash flood can pretty much eliminate some of them.

Having worked in the National Parks I have been exposed to countless hordes of morons like this. My all time favorite visitor comment was from a guy exiting Rocky Mountain. He asked me, "How much is it to get into Estes Park?"


You should have sold him a pass, and maybe an all day parking permit why you were at it;)
 
Joined
Feb 28, 2008
Messages
4,832
Ok...they weren't in serious trouble at all...One night off the beaten path IN THEIR VEHICLES?!?!! Please...cry me a river. I am sure it was a traumatic experience for the kids, but it wasn't like they were really stuck or stranded anywhere...


Also...GPS is mostly useless. I prefer to use the flawed BSA methods I learned as a kid. Or a compass and a flippin map...geez...
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2007
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821
For some reason it always noobs that end up in nowhere with a GPS.
Last winther some guys ended up on the railway because their GPS suggested that way to go. They eventually figured out that they had set the GPS on "walking".

Obviously people just buy a GPS and start driving around. They just click and drive to Restaurant this in town that. Yes it works, but those units do not work outside the city limits.

If those guys who drove out into nowhere had had a decent outdoor GPS unit and someone who could use it, they would have been back for lunch.

It should be drivers license on any technical equipment that can cause damage to other people, like computers, GPS, radios, mobile phones and such.
 
Joined
Mar 23, 2008
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People. I know I'm probably preaching to the choir on this particular forum, but LEARN TO USE A MAP AND A COMPASS. Sheesh.
 

Esav Benyamin

MidniteSuperMod
Joined
Apr 6, 2000
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The funniest thing is, they may have been lost and worried, but they weren't in danger, AND THEY WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SCENERY IN THE WORLD AND DIDN'T APPRECIATE IT.

The mishap could have been an adventure and a picnic off trail and a call to the police for directions back. They really didn't need mommy to come and get them.
 
Joined
Mar 8, 2007
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The funniest thing is, they may have been lost and worried, but they weren't in danger, AND THEY WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SCENERY IN THE WORLD AND DIDN'T APPRECIATE IT.

The mishap could have been an adventure and a picnic off trail and a call to the police for directions back. They really didn't need mommy to come and get them.

:thumbup: Outstanding! :D
 
Joined
Sep 22, 2003
Messages
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The funniest thing is, they may have been lost and worried, but they weren't in danger, AND THEY WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SCENERY IN THE WORLD AND DIDN'T APPRECIATE IT.

The mishap could have been an adventure and a picnic off trail and a call to the police for directions back. They really didn't need mommy to come and get them.

I'd second that.

Anytime we get off track or encounter some problem on a trip I always ask my wife: "Would you rather be at work?"

If the answer is no then deal with it;):thumbup:
 

Esav Benyamin

MidniteSuperMod
Joined
Apr 6, 2000
Messages
90,915
Doesn't matter the tech. Stupid is as stupid does.

Exactly. They had CARS. They could have been sooo over-prepared ... but they weren't mentally ready. They thought God's freen Earth was a disney ride.
 
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