Our teenage daughter likes to day hike, and sometimes we go on winter outings on pleasant days. Most of those trips only take four or five hours and take us less than five miles from the truck. But I insist we take along at least one small pack with the afore-mentioned survival gear. We also include a few snacks or sandwiches and a couple apples or oranges. Should you ever get lost the first key is to remain calm, and having the basics — water, food, ability to make fire and shelter — puts your mind at ease and allows you to focus on getting yourself out of the situation or hunkering down until it passes or you’re located.
As we drove home that morning — hours before we heard of the tragedy of the hiking dad and his sons — I told my wife that we needed to double-check our collection of survival gear in the trunk of the car before the next storm. Additionally, we talked to our teenage daughter about how it makes sense to simply pack a backpack or bag with at least a change of clothes and any needed medications and a few toiletries anytime you travel during the winter … even if you don’t plan on spending the night.
While the deaths were disturbing and tragic, another sad fact is that they should have never happened. The father, Air Force veteran David Decareaux, had the training and experience to survive such a situation — given the proper survival gear and clothing. As a member of the military he clearly received training in surviving in the wilderness in all seasons. Furthermore, it was said he was an experienced hiker. The fatal mistake came not from lack of knowledge, but lack of preparation.
In this issue you’ll find the story of the Millstadt, Ill. man and his two pre-teen sons who tragically lost their lives a week ago while day hiking a stretch of the Ozark Trail in Reynolds County, about 50 miles southwest of here. The trio was caught off guard when an unfortunate string of events created deadly circumstances for the ill-prepared hikers.
The Boston Globe reports that the American football team – looking to advance to the eighth Super Bowl in club history tomorrow against the Baltimore Ravens – is to further develop its “smart stadium” experience.
Usually stories of hikers getting caught in inclement weather and perishing on the trail are something we Missourians hear about only on the national news. In most cases the stories come out of Colorado or another western mountain state, or from the states stretching along the north to south Appalachian Trail to the east … but not here in the Midwest. We can take the news of the tragic deaths here close to home last Saturday night and make it a wake-up call to always be vigilant and never take Mother Nature for granted when enjoying or traveling in the outdoors … especially in the winter.