Husky wrote:Krakauer did make a pretty big deal about Chris not having a good map and how a good topo map would have indicated the presence of a gauging station about a mile down the Tek River from the trail crossing. Couple thoughts about that....
Chris had been on enough back country trips to know that detailed topographic maps were available for the whole country. If he had wanted to he could have easily bought a map in Fairbanks or at Denali Park headquarters. I don't think he wanted to have a detailed map with him. He was a minimalist looking for adventure. In his romatic mind the less info he had the greater the adventure.
Even if Chris had brought a topo map that doesn't mean he would have known from the map that a cable car existed. If he had brought a "section map" (they are smaller scale-divided into one mile wide squares) he would have seen the notation of a "gauging station" down the Tek. The quadrangle maps (quad maps are divided into 6 mile wide squares) that I've seen didn't show the gauging station. So, he would have needed a small scale section map and he would have needed to know that the gauging station included a cable car. (By the way, the Savage River also had a cable car which was not indicated on any map I've seen.) Krakauer also seems sure that the cable car would have been on the west side of the river where Chris could have used it. He assumes this because the cable car was on the west side when he went there one year later. Krakauer also assumes that Chris was physically capable of operating the cable car.
Krakauer notes that Chris did have a road map which showed the Stampede trail. Any map that showed the Stampede would have also shown the Denali Park Road to the south of the outer range. It would have shown the bridge crossing the Teklanika River. But, there was no marked path or gravel road leading south from the bus so Chris would have needed to do some real bush whacking to get over the outer range and down to the Park road.
When Chris walked out and found the Teklanika to be running high and uncrossable he may have looked up and down the river for a safe crossing. How do we know he didn't?
The problem is that when the Tek is really high all those channels can flood together and become one. There really isn't a safe place to cross without swimming until you get miles upstream through the canyon to the Park road bridge. And high water means he couldn't even walk on the flooded gravel bars. He would have been forced to walk in the wet, mossy taiga woods and climb around the steep banks. As Krakauer noted, Chris probably thought it was best to return to the bus and try to walk out sometime later.
Which brings us back to the question of why didn't he try to walk out later? Or do something other than leaving a note on the bus to initiate a rescue? Perhaps he was too physically debilitated to walk out. Starvation must also affect mental capability, too. Maybe he just got so weirded out that he couldn't think straight.
I was watching a movie called "The Edge" the other night. Anthony Hopkins and Alex Baldwin are in a plane crash and are lost in the woods. Alex is freaking out and Hopkins says to him, "Most people lost in the wilds, they die of shame. See, they die of shame. What did I do wrong? How could I have gotten myself into this? And so, they sit there and they die. Because they didn't do the one thing that could have saved their lives...
Husky wrote:Thanks for the link to the article with photos that Chris took. I hadn't seen several of those. The one of the Tek River is very interesting for several reasons.
The river doesn't look that high to me. It looks about average for summer. When the level is real high it goes up over a lot of that big gravel bar- that's why there's very little vegetation on it. It would have been a lot lower when Chris first crossed in April, though, and it certainly looks high enough to make anyone think twice about crossing.
The other thing is that I think the picture is taken from the hillside above and to the north of the trail. So he had enough energy to bush whack and climb up there to take the picture. Maybe he was also getting a good look at the river upstream with the thought of crossing up there.
The other picture that is interesting to me is the "lingonberries" in the jars. If the date for that picture is correct then those have to be the previous year's batch. I've eaten some of those berries (we call them lowbush cranberry) that have stayed on the bush over the winter and they get kind of freeze dried. I wonder if they were still nutritious?
He sure was a good looking kid in that Montana picture. You'd think the gals would have been all over him. And that August 13 shot! He looks so gaunt...but still smiling.
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