A solo hiker at the Canyonlands National Park in Utah was injured in a fall last week and was forced to crawl for four days before eventually being rescued. Ironically, the incident took place not far from where hiker Aron Ralston famously cut off his own arm after becoming trapped under a large boulder.
64-year old Amos Richards was visiting the national park while on vacation from his home in North Carolina when he decided to go hiking in the Blue John Canyon area. At some point on his trek, while trying to scramble down to a lower section of trail, he fell approximately 10 feet, fracturing his right leg in the process. After the fall, Richards discovered that he was unable to support his weight on his injured leg, and so he proceeded to crawl out of the remote area in which he was stranded.
An injury of this kind would be difficult to overcome in any environment, but in the remote backcountry of the Canyonlands, it was especially challenging. To add to the complications, Richards hadn’t bothered to tell anyone where he was going, nor was he properly equipped for extended stays in the wilderness. For instance, he carried no extra clothing, had no map, nor any kind of overnight gear. Fortunately, he did have five liters of water and a couple of power bars in his daypack.
Despite his determination to reach safety, this story could have had a potentially disastrous ending. However, park rangers came across an abandoned campsite that Richards had used, and suspected that someone was in the area. The began a search and rescue operation, and Richards was eventually spotted by helicopter. Later he was airlifted to a local hospital where he was treated for the injuries to his leg, as well as internal trauma and dehydration.
Obviously Richards hadn’t seen 127 Hours, the movie about Ralston’s ordeal, or he would have learned to never go into the backcountry without first letting someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. He was also woefully unprepared for any kind of emergency as well, leaving behind important items that could have been the difference between life and death. Perhaps he should have reviewed the ten essentials of hiking before setting out. Lucky for him, he is expected to make a full recovery, but this is an important lesson to all of us on being smart about our outdoor adventures.