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Grim Reminder Hiking is Not Risk Free

So Close But So Far to Herbert Glacier

This is a picture I took at the end of the established Herbert Glacier trail in Juneau, Alaska in September 2010. I was across the river from the glacier. I was hiking alone that day, as I often do. I just don’t find it easy to find hiking partners.

Not terribly far from here on June 15, 2011, Adam Webb, a 30 year old New Yorker was found dead. According to the Juneau Empire, Mr. Webb was also hiking alone. He went past the end of the trail and at one point was actually on the glacier itself. He even phoned a friend back home to celebrate the occaision.

It sobers me to think that he was hiking the same trail I was. His death should be a reminder to all of us hikers to always take nature seriously. Anything can happen can happen to anybody. According to the Empire article, Mr. Webb was “was very fit, a hiker, a bike rider, a real go-for-it guy, in very good physical condition.” That’s not me. I’m in what I consider to be fair condition, but I am overweight (again. another story) and if I lost my glasses I’d be in trouble.

I do things to reduce my risk.  I always file a hike plan with my spouse, take extra food and water and have a fluorescent pink backpack so that if anything does happen to me, I (or at least my body) can be found. Also, when I’m on my own, I stick to established trails.

But I suppose this only reduces risk, which simply can’t be brought down to zero. But I’ll take the improved odds these measures take. See the Juneau Empire article for additional hiking tips along with the sad details of this accident.

Stolpe, Klas. Extensive search finds missing hiker dead near Herbert Glacier: New Yorker might not have been familiar with or equipped for terrain. Juneau Empire, June 15, 2011, accessed at http://juneauempire.com/local/2011-06-15/extensive-search-finds-missing-hiker-dead-near-herbert-glacier.

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