When Are You Really Lost?


The interesting story linked below touches close to home for me.  It seems these days that in the interest of safety, and the avoidance of liability searches for “lost” hikers are being launched sooner than in the past.  The reality that most lost hikers find their own way out is understandably overshadowed by the few cases where people don’t make it.  Still, what I wonder is this:

These women did not consider themselves lost.  They were only a mile from intersecting a trail they knew would lead them out of the woods.  But because they were overdue and a search was started for them, many people are calling for them to pay the costs of that search.  Is that fair?  The arguement is often made that search costs are part of what our taxpayer dollars support.  But in some cases, bone-headed hikers really do end up in situations they could have easily prevented.  In this case, the women were not interested in being “rescued” and were on the verge of exiting the woods on their own.

Here are a couple of links to the story:

Park Rapids Enterprise

Northlands News

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Will Sig
1 steve

hi Will,
This story raises a question that I’m still on the fence over. I’m not sure when “lost” hikers should be charged for their rescue, or who should decide. I was told by a Grand Canyon park ranger once that some hikers called a helicopter to get them out because they were “too tired” to finish hiking out of the canyon… I guess the silver lining in these rescues, whether the taxpayer picks up the tab or not, is that it gives the rescuers practice and keeps them current on their equipment and techniques. ~ Steve


2 Swubird


In this case I definitely do not think they should be charged. It’s not their fault that a search was issued. No case.

As to charging for searches in general, I’m against it. But I have to hedge that in a case like the one mentioned above. They call for a helicopter because they’re tired? Please. At least say it’s an emergency. Idiots should be charged, but not sincere cases where the hikers are in danger. And kids, or their guardians should never be charged.

Happy trails.

Swubirds last blog post..THE TIRE THIEF


3 JD

If people – from the beginning – give a ‘due back’ date and choose for themselves how much leeway to give before starting a search then I could see charging for it. But if the hiker did not go into it knowing they could incur a charge by extending their hike or not coming back by the same route they went in etc… I can’t see why they should incur the expense.

By the way, Happy Birthday Will!

JDs last blog post..Was it War for Oil Afterall?


4 Will

You know Steve, I think there should be a special penalty for people like that. A “self centered dumb fine”. A good point about the practice, though. I knew a S&R volunteer who approached it exactly like that.


5 Will

I agree with your Swubird. There has to be some personal responsibility, and penalty for being “idiots”, though.

And that is an interesting take on it, JD. If I understand correctly, it is sort of opposite to what is often said… That it is the people who don’t file a “flight plan” and due out date that should be charged. And the ones that do everything right and still get into trouble are covered. Thanks for the Birthday wish. Another year older, but fortunately not deeper in debt!


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