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What Happened In Yosemite?

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Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
67,944
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This is ridiculous numerous people die every year in Yosemite. The week before I climbed Half Dome 5 people died on the trail, and the trail was still packed when I did it.

People have gotten sick (and I think died) from rat shit in the tent cabins, good luck reserving one less than a year out, though.
Memories> I hiked from the valley floor to Devil's Postpile and back, 120 miles in ten days, alone, once upon a time. Kind of stupid. Got lost twice and navigated with a compass terrain map, land marks, and pine needles. Nobody was there in those days. The trails were old and not maintained. I don't even see them on your map.
 
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Jul 9, 2009
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Memories> I hiked from the valley floor to Devil's Postpile and back, 120 miles in ten days, alone, once upon a time. Kind of stupid. Got lost twice and navigated with a compass terrain map, land marks, and pine needles. Nobody was there in those days. The trails were old and not maintained. I don't even see them on your map.
Devil's Postpile, Red's Meadow and fishing in Sotcher Lake. I still have some pumice i picked up there as a kid. My bet is outgassing due to volcanic activity, but i have no way of knowing.
 

SteveGrabowski

Diamond Member
Oct 20, 2014
3,978
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This is ridiculous numerous people die every year in Yosemite. The week before I climbed Half Dome 5 people died on the trail, and the trail was still packed when I did it.

People have gotten sick (and I think died) from rat shit in the tent cabins, good luck reserving one less than a year out, though.
Don't forget all the tourons who get swept over Vernal Fall. What kind of idiot jumps into the Merced River above a 300 foot fall? But lots do.
 

Zorba

Lifer
Oct 22, 1999
10,737
4,811
136
Don't forget all the tourons who get swept over Vernal Fall. What kind of idiot jumps into the Merced River above a 300 foot fall? But lots do.
Yeah, of the 5 that week, 4 died going over Vernal in one incident. Kept going in after one another.

I was there a few years again in July, and people were swimming in the last pool before Yosemite Falls. Just getting to the pool isn't exactly easy, but there was still a decent current going through it headed to a 2,000 foot drop. People are just dumb.
 

KB

Diamond Member
Nov 8, 1999
5,220
247
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I do hope they figure this out. Otherwise it will create crazy conspiracies like aliens took their souls or the vaccines killed them.
 

SteveGrabowski

Diamond Member
Oct 20, 2014
3,978
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Yeah, of the 5 that week, 4 died going over Vernal in one incident. Kept going in after one another.

I was there a few years again in July, and people were swimming in the last pool before Yosemite Falls. Just getting to the pool isn't exactly easy, but there was still a decent current going through it headed to a 2,000 foot drop. People are just dumb.
I have never seen so many tourons as I did on the Half Dome trail when I hiked it up to Nevada Fall first time I went to Yosemite. People with 20 ounce water bottles half empty by the top of Vernal Fall at 2PM saying they were going to Half Dome. Yeah right (this was before you needed a permit though). All the photos of long lines up the cables kept me from ever wanting to do that hike. I'm more than happy with Clouds Rest, Dana, Hoffman, or Gibbs for day hikes in the park (shoot, can do Gibbs and Dana on the same hike).
 
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Zorba

Lifer
Oct 22, 1999
10,737
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I have never seen so many tourons as I did on the Half Dome trail when I hiked it up to Nevada Fall first time I went to Yosemite. People with 20 ounce water bottles half empty by the top of Vernal Fall at 2PM saying they were going to Half Dome. Yeah right (this was before you needed a permit though). All the photos of long lines up the cables kept me from ever wanting to do that hike. I'm more than happy with Clouds Rest, Dana, Hoffman, or Gibbs for day hikes in the park (shoot, can do Gibbs and Dana on the same hike).
Yeah, we did Half Done the first year of permits, lots of dumb people on that trail. It was a great hike, but not much interest in doing it again. Coming down Mist in the afternoon is terrible with all the tourists that have never hiked more than a nature trail.
 

Lost_in_the_HTTP

Diamond Member
Nov 17, 2019
4,780
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This is sounding less and less 'natural' to me. I can't envision anything suddenly overtaking people to that extent. CO and CO2 are not likely to overtake conscious adults. Most cases are when gasses build up in areas where people are asleep.

Some excerpts from: https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/a-couple-their-baby-and-their-dog-died-on-a-california-hiking-trail-and-officials-dont-know-why/


Gerrish was in a seated position with the baby and dog beside him, according to the Chronicle. Chung was a little farther up the hill.

Authorities still don’t know how it happened. An autopsy recently completed on the bodies yielded no conclusive results about the cause of the deaths, CNN reported. A toxicology report, which could take several weeks, is pending.

A necropsy is being performed on Oski, the dog, but the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office said no other animals were found dead in the immediate area.

..........................

There was no suicide note or indication that the deaths were intentional, according to CNN. Although temperatures reached as high as 109 degrees the day the family hiked, dehydration was deemed unlikely because there was still water in the family’s hydration pack, the Chronicle reported.

.............................

But reported human deaths from freshwater algal blooms are rare, the Chronicle reported. David Caron, a University of Southern California biological sciences professor, told the newspaper that while freshwater bacteria are a threat to people and animals, it would take high concentrations to kill humans rapidly.
“It’s conceivable that it is the cause,” Caron said. “But a lot needs to be done forensically to tie it to toxins.”

.....................................

“We have not found any old mine shafts near the area,” he added. “There are some mine shafts, but we can’t confirm if that’s the cause yet.”
 
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[DHT]Osiris

Diamond Member
Dec 15, 2015
9,579
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This is sounding less and less 'natural' to me. I can't envision anything suddenly overtaking people to that extent. CO and CO2 are not likely to overtake conscious adults. Most cases are when gasses build up in areas where people are asleep.

Some excerpts from: https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/a-couple-their-baby-and-their-dog-died-on-a-california-hiking-trail-and-officials-dont-know-why/


Gerrish was in a seated position with the baby and dog beside him, according to the Chronicle. Chung was a little farther up the hill.

Authorities still don’t know how it happened. An autopsy recently completed on the bodies yielded no conclusive results about the cause of the deaths, CNN reported. A toxicology report, which could take several weeks, is pending.

A necropsy is being performed on Oski, the dog, but the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office said no other animals were found dead in the immediate area.

..........................

There was no suicide note or indication that the deaths were intentional, according to CNN. Although temperatures reached as high as 109 degrees the day the family hiked, dehydration was deemed unlikely because there was still water in the family’s hydration pack, the Chronicle reported.

.............................

But reported human deaths from freshwater algal blooms are rare, the Chronicle reported. David Caron, a University of Southern California biological sciences professor, told the newspaper that while freshwater bacteria are a threat to people and animals, it would take high concentrations to kill humans rapidly.
“It’s conceivable that it is the cause,” Caron said. “But a lot needs to be done forensically to tie it to toxins.”

.....................................

“We have not found any old mine shafts near the area,” he added. “There are some mine shafts, but we can’t confirm if that’s the cause yet.”
A little crazy to attribute it to anything not exceedingly acute, to take out the whole family + dog in camp. Like if it was CO, CO2, fucking liquid hydrogen, whatever, how does the entire family just sorta hang out dying one after another? If it was something acute and painful, there'd be local evidence like people thrashing around or trying to leave or whatever.

Ima go for the long-shot, and claim high dose arsenic poisoning, intentional murder+suicide.
 

KB

Diamond Member
Nov 8, 1999
5,220
247
106
"Although temperatures reached as high as 109 degrees the day the family hiked, "

I would not hike with my dog and 1 year old with temperatures that hot.

If temps reached that high, and some pockets may reach higher, I am going with heat-stroke causing disorientation. The child and the dog had little choice but to stay beside the heat-stricken parents.
 

Zorba

Lifer
Oct 22, 1999
10,737
4,811
136
"Although temperatures reached as high as 109 degrees the day the family hiked, "

I would not hike with my dog and 1 year old with temperatures that hot.

If temps reached that high, and some pockets may reach higher, I am going with heat-stroke causing disorientation. The child and the dog had little choice but to stay beside the heat-stricken parents.
I'd think there'd be signs of heat stroke in the autopsy. Not sure what time they started, but it's a relatively short hike and they were experienced so hopefully they wouldn't have planned on being there in the middle of the day.
 

DAPUNISHER

Super Moderator and Elite Member
Moderator
Aug 22, 2001
23,337
5,213
146
"Hmm, he died in his sleep in his lounge chair, that lucky bastard!"
Sounds bad? Try on dementia or cancer or any other lingering death. Yeah no thanks.
I plan to go out like my grandpa i.e. in my sleep. And not screaming in terror like everyone else in the car.

Regardless of whether it was a natural event or foul play, it is a tragic but intriguing mystery.
 

skyking

Lifer
Nov 21, 2001
19,922
1,626
136
no mystery here but I thought of that herd of reindeer that were killed by lightning in Norway.
 

SteveGrabowski

Diamond Member
Oct 20, 2014
3,978
2,493
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Yeah, we did Half Done the first year of permits, lots of dumb people on that trail. It was a great hike, but not much interest in doing it again. Coming down Mist in the afternoon is terrible with all the tourists that have never hiked more than a nature trail.
I was going to say you could come down the JMT to avoid the Mist Trail crowds, but then you gotta dodge horse crap. If you have never done Clouds Rest, that is a really cool dayhike. The summit ridge has some great views down into Tenaya Canyon and towards Half Dome, and it has a pretty impressive view of Mount Clark which really steals the show. Hoffman has a killer view of Clouds Rest and Half Down as well as the Hoffman plateau and isn't too long. Mt Dana is really awesome too. If you take the trail you're above treeline almost the whole time and it has really killer views of Mount Lyell and the Lyell Glacier, Mt Maclure, and Mono Lake. Though my favorite way to do Dana is to hike the Mono Pass trail to the small lake there at the edge of the park, go up the south side of Gibbs, and from there down to the saddle between Gibbs and Dana, and then up Dana, and then take the Mt Dana trail back down to the road. None of these require any technical skill thank god (since I don't have any lol). Though one I really want to do one day is the hike to North Dome from Tioga Pass Road, that's supposed to be the one of the best views of Half Dome in the park.
 
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Zorba

Lifer
Oct 22, 1999
10,737
4,811
136
I was going to say you could come down the JMT to avoid the Mist Trail crowds, but then you gotta dodge horse crap. If you have never done Clouds Rest, that is a really cool dayhike. The summit ridge has some great views down into Tenaya Canyon and towards Half Dome, and it has a pretty impressive view of Mount Clark which really steals the show. Hoffman has a killer view of Clouds Rest and Half Down as well as the Hoffman plateau and isn't too long. Mt Dana is really awesome too. If you take the trail you're above treeline almost the whole time and it has really killer views of Mount Lyell and the Lyell Glacier, Mt Maclure, and Mono Lake. Though my favorite way to do Dana is to hike the Mono Pass trail to the small lake there at the edge of the park, go up the south side of Gibbs, and from there down to the saddle between Gibbs and Dana, and then up Dana, and then take the Mt Dana trail back down to the road. None of these require any technical skill thank god (since I don't have any lol). Though one I really want to do one day is the hike to North Dome from Tioga Pass Road, that's supposed to be the one of the best views of Half Dome in the park.
This year we went up Mist and down JMT. I really liked going down JMT, and since the mules aren't running there was almost no horseshit on the trail. Mist is cool that it right next to the water, but I liked the views more from JMT.

I need to do the others you mention, they are always on my list, but for one reason or another we don't make them.

I did do North Dome a few years back, went up Upper Yosemite Falls, then traversed over to it. I would not recommend doing it this way. Much longer and a lot more ups and downs on the traverse than I was expecting. The views off North Dome are awesome, though. I wouldn't mind doing it again from Tioga Pass Road. Ended up blowing our legs on that one so we didn't do Clouds Rest the next day :(.
 
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Lost_in_the_HTTP

Diamond Member
Nov 17, 2019
4,780
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Update does not rule out heat, but would the dog have been affected so quickly that way also?

In an update provided by the Mariposa County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, investigators substantively ruled out another cause of death — chemical hazards on Hites Cove.


Toxicology reports from any of the family members have yet to be released, and water samples from around the scene and with the family were sent Monday to the California State Water Resources Control Board and to independent labs, said the sheriff's office.







.
 

Jaskalas

Lifer
Jun 23, 2004
30,460
3,966
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They had water, did they really neglect to use it?

I find it difficult to believe all members involved died of heat stroke so close together, and more ridiculous that anyone would speak it up.
 

Zorba

Lifer
Oct 22, 1999
10,737
4,811
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They had water, did they really neglect to use it?

I find it difficult to believe all members involved died of heat stroke so close together, and more ridiculous that anyone would speak it up.
I would think heat related deaths would be noticeable in an autopsy too.
 

KB

Diamond Member
Nov 8, 1999
5,220
247
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I would think heat related deaths would be noticeable in an autopsy too.
I am not a medical doctor, but their bodies were out in the heat for over a day. It may be difficult for a coroner to figure out if some conditions were pre or post mortem.
This means heat stroke or dehydration may be difficult to figure out as the heat and dryness of the area likely dehydrated their bodies further even after death.
 
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KB

Diamond Member
Nov 8, 1999
5,220
247
106
Update does not rule out heat, but would the dog have been affected so quickly that way also?

In an update provided by the Mariposa County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, investigators substantively ruled out another cause of death — chemical hazards on Hites Cove.


Toxicology reports from any of the family members have yet to be released, and water samples from around the scene and with the family were sent Monday to the California State Water Resources Control Board and to independent labs, said the sheriff's office.







.
The dog would have been affected the most. They don't sweat and their fur keeps them warmer, plus they just run hotter. I would not take my dog on that hike.
 
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Lost_in_the_HTTP

Diamond Member
Nov 17, 2019
4,780
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Update with no update:

Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The mysterious deaths of a Northern California family of hikers and their dog have led federal officials to close 28 miles along the Merced River, where high levels of toxic algae were detected.

The Bureau of Land Management closed campgrounds and recreation areas along the river, between the towns of Briceburg and Bagby, Friday after receiving test results of water samples downstream from where the family died.
Algal blooms can form in waterways that are shallow and warm.

“These algal blooms can produce toxins that can make people and pets extremely sick," Elizabeth Meyer-Shields, a BLM field manager, said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor for the algae’s presence and look forward to when the public can safely recreate in the Merced River.”

The bodies of John Gerrish, his wife, Ellen Chung, their 1-year-old daughter, Miju, and their dog were found on Aug. 17 on a hiking trail close to the river in the Sierra National Forest. A family friend had reported them missing.

A cause of death has not been determined, and investigators are considering whether toxic algae blooms or other hazards may have contributed to the deaths.

Toxicology reports are still pending, and investigators have ruled out any weapons being used or dangerous gases from a mine along the trail.
On Tuesday, forest officials had closed access to trails in the area due to “unknown hazards.”

Closure to the Merced River's recreation areas will stay in effect until Sept. 17.

 

hal2kilo

Lifer
Feb 24, 2009
18,758
5,773
136
Update with no update:

Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The mysterious deaths of a Northern California family of hikers and their dog have led federal officials to close 28 miles along the Merced River, where high levels of toxic algae were detected.

The Bureau of Land Management closed campgrounds and recreation areas along the river, between the towns of Briceburg and Bagby, Friday after receiving test results of water samples downstream from where the family died.
Algal blooms can form in waterways that are shallow and warm.

“These algal blooms can produce toxins that can make people and pets extremely sick," Elizabeth Meyer-Shields, a BLM field manager, said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor for the algae’s presence and look forward to when the public can safely recreate in the Merced River.”

The bodies of John Gerrish, his wife, Ellen Chung, their 1-year-old daughter, Miju, and their dog were found on Aug. 17 on a hiking trail close to the river in the Sierra National Forest. A family friend had reported them missing.

A cause of death has not been determined, and investigators are considering whether toxic algae blooms or other hazards may have contributed to the deaths.

Toxicology reports are still pending, and investigators have ruled out any weapons being used or dangerous gases from a mine along the trail.
On Tuesday, forest officials had closed access to trails in the area due to “unknown hazards.”

Closure to the Merced River's recreation areas will stay in effect until Sept. 17.

You would think there still would be basic evidence of sickness. Vomit stains, something.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,085
1,123
126
Wasn't there a case some years back where some people were murdered -- either in Yosemite or the Sierras in general? This obviously doesn't sound like the same thing . . .
 

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