Media in New Hampshire have been following one of the most bizarre and sad hiking stories I have heard in a long time, the rescue earlier this month of an 80-year-old man who was trying to hike Mount Washington (yes, the highest peak in the Northeast) when he was left behind by his family.
When I first saw the headlines for stories about this situation, I figured there had to be more to the story, that no one could really leave an 80-year-old behind during a hike on a long hike on a mountain known to have the worst weather in the world. But no, there really isn't more to it, and it's actually worse than I initially thought. The Manchester Union Leader has a full account here.
The group not only ditched grampa on the way up, but they then took a different trail on the way down, having no idea where he was. And it appears they knew he did not have gear, including a flashlight, to deal with the cold and darkness of Mount Washington at night. I've been to the top of that mountain once, on a day where it was in the mid-70s at the bottom of the mountain, and 40s, sleeting and windy at the top. It's never warm, just varying degrees of cold.
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The people who left this guy behind should not only be charged for the cost of the rescue, but also charged criminally (reckless endangerment?) and banned from hiking state trails.
Don't ever leave children or the elderly behind when hiking. Really, groups should stay together no matter their age, unless you are absolutely sure of the abilities of those who are going ahead or staying back.
-- Don Lehman