Riding high on the unprecedented success of my Funny T-shirts series (and by ‘unprecedented success’ I mean the fact that I’ve actually followed through, kinda), I’m floating the idea of launching another ongoing series called “Idiots in the Outdoors.”
We at the Outdoor Bloggers Summit always say the outdoors is for everybody. Maybe it’s not.
I’m big on safety in the outdoors, and I’m grateful for the technological advances that take some of the worry out of enjoying the wilderness. The personal locator beacon (PLB) is one of those. Get into trouble? Push a button, and in swoop the rescue helicopters. Chalk it up to savvy or luck, I’ve never been in an emergency situation in the outdoors– at least not one serious enough that I would have activated a PLB.
But then of course, I’ve never been faced with a situation so dire as one party faced in the Grand Canyon in September. In fact, their trek on the Royal Arch Loop was so harrowing that, according to this AP piece, they activated their PLB no less than 3 times in 3 days.
Wolf Cry #1: The group activated their PLB for the first time when they ran out of water. A legitimate reason if– IF– you’re about to die. Never mind that no hiker with half a brain would try to tackle a desert canyon without making certain he had enough water to sustain him. No worries, though. By the time rescuers arrived in their emergency helicopter, the hikers had found a nice stream.
Wolf Cry#2: Later that night, the party (whose members’ names I can’t find anywhere) pushed the red button again. This time it was for a far more serious reason: the water they had collected from the stream “tasted salty.” The hikers declined the offer for evacuation, so the rescue team left them fresh water.
Wolf Cry #3: The hikers activated their PLB again the next morning (AP doesn’t mention why, but I’m sure it was an absolute emergency). This time, frustrated rescuers forced their evacuation. They were finally cited for endangering rescue crews with their wolf cries.
I’ll leave the debate over PLB’s to the comments section. If I were the National Park Service and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, I’d charge these hikers for the costs incurred by these rescue missions, right down to the water that was left for them.
Then I’d ban them from the outdoors. Forever.