For Linda Gomez and Marilyn Ortega a very simple mistake on a weekend trip would cost them their lives. In three days two would die and one child would be the only survivor in the course of a routine run of the mill camping trip. Accidents happen on daily routines. A car runs a red light, a trip down the stairs, a slip coming out of the shower, these things are a common occurrence. Often there was no way to prepare for what takes place. It is not as if we consciously live each moment of the day contemplating the next step we may take. If we did in many cases it would not matter.
This trip was not individuals that were attempting a hike of the AT. They were not rock climbers attempting a difficult climb. At ages 50 and 48 and with a child who accompanied them this was a mere day hike in the countryside enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of nature. This could have been anyone, even you. Just like the car that ran the red light or the slip of the foot coming out of the shower, this event was totally unexpected.
They went to a KOA campground for a little getaway and while on their stay a decision was made to take a day hike in the Trinity Alps Wilderness in California. On June 5 2017 they went to the KOA and were expected to check out on June 7. The managers at the KOA reported that something was amiss on June 11 when the guests had not been seen and had not checked out as planned on the 7th. On June 12th family members also contacted authorities stating that Linda and Marilyn had not been heard from since they left for the trip on the 5th.
Authorities would find the two women dead on June 13th while the child survived. They were found 100 yards away from the trail where a wrong turn had been taken. Why the trail was abandoned is unknown. Somewhere over the course of time from June 5 to the 6th they had become lost. By the 13th only one would return. It took approximately 7 days for a call to be made by their loved ones who knew something was wrong. The cause of death was determined to be exposure to the elements, yet in truth the cause of death goes much deeper.
In an auto accident phone calls are made and an ambulance will come to aid you. A slip coming out of the shower one can have help arrive at the doorstep in minutes. Any mistake, accident, fall, bump or bruise within our modern world can be tended by those who are prepared to handle them when we ourselves are not prepared. Therein lay the problem. We as a society are not prepared to take care of ourselves when we step outside of the bubble of our civilization. We rely upon others to come to our rescue. Often enough we do not have a choice but to be rescued.
A weekend camping trip to the KOA and what was supposed to be a brief day hike turned into great loss. This loss came due to the mentality which we have come to accept and which has been ingrained into our culture and society. For many the line blurs between responsibility for self and the privileged society we are in. That privilege is the expectation we hold to assume we will be taken care of. Furthermore we take for granted our security trusting that everything will be okay and the worst would never happen to us.
As cultured as we may believe that we are as a society the wilderness is still wild and as primal today as it was thousands of years ago. The wild has not changed, we have. Our expectations have changed from the more primitive years. Survival is more than learning to light fires in tough conditions. For the ones preparing for the end of the world it requires more than a stockpile of food, gadgets and equipment. For the average 9 to 5 or the blue collar worker within our world, one must accept the possibility of what if no one is there to be called.
We must reshape our thinking. We must redefine our awareness. Survival begins when you get up in the morning, when you walk into the restaurant with your family, as you drive down the highway, and especially when you step out into the wilderness. One must be willing to accept accountability for self and then the ones you love.
Preparation begins with knowledge. It then moves to our physical state in conditioning and practice of those skills which we may have need to rely upon. Only then does it extend to tools, equipment, resources that we take with us. Too often we rely upon the resources and expect those resources to make up for our lack of conditioning and training. After all that is exactly how we live within modern society. It is backward thinking.
Knowing how to build a fire means nothing if one does not know how to retain its heat. In the same way a woman becomes a victim if attacked with no way or knowledge of how to defend herself. Knowing how to throw a punch is not the be all end all. It is a mere tool. The mindset we choose to have and live with in life will define that life, not the tools we carry.
You are the greatest asset which you can possess. Despite the mind of the modern world, reality often will contradict and repudiate our civilized thinking. A match or lighter is not the source of the fire, but merely the spark to the source which is the tinder as it is the fuel. A gun or knife is not a weapon, you are the weapon. Police arrive only after the crime has been committed, not before it so they can save you. How you frame your mind will frame whether or not you live or die in the wilderness, and often enough in life.