Zion Hikers

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Zion Hikers

Postby drndr » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:38 am

Just wanted to pass on condolences to family members of the 7 hikers caught in the flash flood while hiking in the slot canyons of Zion. They seem to be members of a very popular Meetup hiking club (VHC) based out of Valencia. Many of you may have hiked with them. I know I have.

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Re: Zion Hikers

Postby Sally » Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:46 pm

This is very sad news. I had hiked with one of the women a few times, and she was a remarkable soul. She was the nicest person you would ever meet, and very accomplished at a variety of outdoor skills. My condolences to the family and friends of all who perished.
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Re: Zion Hikers

Postby Cy Kaicener » Fri Sep 18, 2015 8:29 am

Last edited by Cy Kaicener on Fri Sep 18, 2015 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Zion Hikers

Postby Hikin_Jim » Fri Sep 18, 2015 11:19 am

Thanks, Cy.

I think a lot of people knew Muku and Don. I never met them in person, but had seen them/friended them on Facebook. Sigh. This really sucks.

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Re: Zion Hikers

Postby cynthia23 » Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:55 pm

It's striking that the hikers who died were not novices and had good wilderness understanding. It underscores the point that even with knowledge and caution, there is always a certain risk. My condolences.
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Re: Zion Hikers

Postby Hikin_Jim » Mon Sep 21, 2015 2:04 pm

A reasonably good article in the LA Times:
http://graphics.latimes.com/zion-flash-flood/

(Uh, but don't read the comments. Some are just so heartless)

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Re: Zion Hikers

Postby RichardK » Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:27 pm

Jim - Thanks for posting that link. I don't see the LA Times now that I have relocated to Florida. I found this quote interesting:
Around 1 p.m., someone in the Keyhole hiking group phoned a family member to ask about the weather forecast, according to Bottcher. At that point, she said, there was still only a chance of rain.

I don't know how the Arizona weather patterns compare to those here in south Florida, but I do know that the word "chance" has a totally different meaning than it does in Southern California. A 20% chance in So Cal usually means that is the chance of widespread rainfall. In a thunderstorm oriented climate, it means that 20% of the forecast area will get rain. I have spent a lot of time watching the weather radar online. It is astonishing to see an intense storm covering maybe 2 to 5 miles pop up, dump rain for 15 minutes, and dissipate. I have to wonder if these canyoneers misinterpreted the word "chance".
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Re: Zion Hikers

Postby Hikin_Jim » Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:19 pm

The scary thing for me is that I'd have probably gone ahead under those circumstances. In other words, had I known what they knew at the time they went in and had been with the group, I would have descended into the Keyhole right along with them. :shock: Very scary.

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Re: Zion Hikers

Postby cynthia23 » Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:47 pm

RichardK, you raise an extremely important point. Like most Southern Californians on here, I too would interpret '20 percent' as meaning rain was very unlikely--overall. The hikers in this story may not have fully understood that a 'moderate' risk of rain (the forecast) meant a situation that was too dangerous to risk.

For me, all of this underscores the point that there may be certain areas that I'm just not willing to risk entering, ever--i.e. slot canyons, avalanche-prone slopes, etc. Others with a higher risk tolerance might choose otherwise, and that's reasonable, too. But the bottom line is that in certain areas, risk can't be wholly eliminated. It's good to know that, and make an informed choice.
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Re: Zion Hikers

Postby Wildhorse » Tue Sep 22, 2015 2:41 pm

According to the LA Times article linked above, the chance of rain was 40%, according to the NWS forecast, and the flash flood risk was moderate. That was the forecast they had access to in the morning for the afternoon. Perhaps they did not check that forecast, but another one that was different.

At the time they phoned a relative to ask for a weather forecast update, the NWS forecast had been raised to 50% and the flash flood risk was "probable." According to the LA Times, the relative sad there was a "chance of rain." We don't know which forecast the relative viewed, or exactly what was said. This exchange implies caution on the part of the canyoneers, but possibly bad information was transmitted.

No one will ever know what happened.

The LA Times article also notes that very large numbers of people now travel through these canyons. Skyline, S Korea, Katahdin, Zion: all are seeing more adventure lovers, more deaths, more rescues, and more damage to the land. It is a flash flood of people.

Over the last week, the City of San Diego installed new timbers to patch up part Cowles Mountain damaged by hikers, trail users, exercisers, or whatever they may be called. The timbers look like bulkheads - blackened with creosote. They are bulkheads, really, installed to protect the land from the powerful waves of humans that beat against the mountain.
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