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Old 03-22-12, 09:44 AM   #1
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Death Valley cyclists wanders away from camp, dies...

There's probably a lesson here...

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...BA331NO4R8.DTL
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Old 03-22-12, 10:13 AM   #2
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This reminds me of the Elephant Graveyard. He knew he was a goner and wandered off to die in peace.

Or not.
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Old 03-22-12, 11:56 AM   #3
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It's hard to tell from the article, but sounds like he died from causes unrelated to being in Death Valley or cycling, in which case, there's not much of a lesson to be learned, either.
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Old 03-22-12, 12:12 PM   #4
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There's lots of dangerous stuff out there. Snakes, scorpions, black widow spiders to name a few.
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Old 03-22-12, 12:21 PM   #5
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Sounds as if there was an underlying medical issue that was causing him to have the falls and the off day. You never know when your time is up.
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Old 03-22-12, 12:23 PM   #6
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Well, it is a reminder that we all have limited time on this earth. Use it wisely, would be somewhat of an understatement.
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Old 03-22-12, 12:29 PM   #7
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It's hard to tell from the article, but sounds like he died from causes unrelated to being in Death Valley or cycling, in which case, there's not much of a lesson to be learned, either.
Have the same feeling. Experienced outdoor people know what they are doing unless---
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Old 03-22-12, 01:11 PM   #8
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The area where he was found, between the Mesquite Springs campsite and Scotty's Castle Rd., is on the alluvial fan [4-5% gradient] that is pretty much wide open. There is sparse scrub brush [less than 4' high]. The very peculiar part of this is that it took searchers - several Inyo County & CA state organizations - the better part of 8 days to find the body. There was some anecdotal commentary in another thread that suggested that Mr. Kohler had suffered some sort of medical event PRIOR to his bike trip. As for dangerous things in DV, the noted critters are all defensive in nature; they don't attack unless you encroach on their territory. There is no more "danger" in DV than there is on ANY highway/roadway that a cyclist would use.

As for the actual cause of death, autopsy results won't be available until sometime next week.
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Old 03-22-12, 02:43 PM   #9
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There were lot's of cyclists in DV last week. I was one of them, witnessed some of the search activtities and had heard they were looking for a cyclist that wandered away from camp. According to the article, the guy was experiencing difficulty of some sort in the days before he wandered off. If anything, it suggests to me not to take such symptoms lightly. It'll be interesting to find out what he did succumb to. The killers in DV are exposure/heat and dehydration but it sounds like he probably died from some health issue. I've spent a fair amount of time out in the desert and the last thing I worry about are snakes or scorpions.
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Old 03-22-12, 06:39 PM   #10
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The area where he was found, between the Mesquite Springs campsite and Scotty's Castle Rd., is on the alluvial fan [4-5% gradient] that is pretty much wide open. There is sparse scrub brush [less than 4' high]. The very peculiar part of this is that it took searchers - several Inyo County & CA state organizations - the better part of 8 days to find the body. There was some anecdotal commentary in another thread that suggested that Mr. Kohler had suffered some sort of medical event PRIOR to his bike trip. As for dangerous things in DV, the noted critters are all defensive in nature; they don't attack unless you encroach on their territory. There is no more "danger" in DV than there is on ANY highway/roadway that a cyclist would use.

As for the actual cause of death, autopsy results won't be available until sometime next week.
YMMV
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Just because you live in that area, don't think saying something like this makes sense on any level.
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Old 03-22-12, 07:18 PM   #11
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There is no more "danger" in DV than there is on ANY highway/roadway that a cyclist would use.

As for the actual cause of death, autopsy results won't be available until sometime next week.
I disagree. Having spent 8 years living in the desert, and realizing that he was completely clueless about his surroundings, just after moonrise, wandering around in the wild, its quite possible that he stumbled into a situation where the local critters thought him to be an attacker requiring a counter-attack.

But as you say. All of this is speculation until the coroner's report comes out. It does sound like he was having health problems.
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Old 03-22-12, 07:42 PM   #12
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The area where he was found, between the Mesquite Springs campsite and Scotty's Castle Rd., is on the alluvial fan [4-5% gradient] that is pretty much wide open. There is sparse scrub brush [less than 4' high]. The very peculiar part of this is that it took searchers - several Inyo County & CA state organizations - the better part of 8 days to find the body. There was some anecdotal commentary in another thread that suggested that Mr. Kohler had suffered some sort of medical event PRIOR to his bike trip. As for dangerous things in DV, the noted critters are all defensive in nature; they don't attack unless you encroach on their territory. There is no more "danger" in DV than there is on ANY highway/roadway that a cyclist would use.

As for the actual cause of death, autopsy results won't be available until sometime next week.
YMMV
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I think if I was going on a long bike ride tomorrow in an area I was unfamiliar with and I fell 3 times today, I would pack it in, especially if I was feeling off. It's not like Death Valley is going anywhere..... The one problem a lot of older men have, especially those over 65, is that they spent a good portion of their lives being invincible. From the article though, I would say, dehydration is a pretty likely culprit.
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Old 03-22-12, 08:09 PM   #13
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..... The one problem a lot of older men have, especially those over 65, is that they spent a good portion of their lives being invincible. ...
Yes, I agree. They also spent a good portion of their lives post poning their dreams until their children were raised and self sufficient. He must have been absolutely thrilled to be taking part in the ride.

It seems obvious that he had some sort of issues on the day or days just prior to the trip and he probably should have cancelled and sought medical attention. That being said, I seriously wonder if I would be smart enough to cancel a dream vacation because I didn't feel right.

Who knows, that one day he had might have been all he would have gotten either way. I hope the autopsy gives his family some answers and closure and I pray that they can find the strength to celebrate his life.
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Old 03-22-12, 09:10 PM   #14
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It's hard to tell from the article, but sounds like he died from causes unrelated to being in Death Valley or cycling, in which case, there's not much of a lesson to be learned, either.
That's what I thought, too (warning: I am not a doctor). I had a friend who died under similar circumstances a few years ago on a camping trip. In his early 50s, good shape, an experienced hiker. He felt sort of crappy all afternoon, thought he was getting a cold, and in early evening we walked him a couple of miles back to his car so he could go home. We went back to the campsite, and next morning the ranger found him dead in the parking lot.
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Old 03-23-12, 05:51 AM   #15
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This reminds me of the Elephant Graveyard. He knew he was a goner and wandered off to die in peace.
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Sounds as if there was an underlying medical issue that was causing him to have the falls and the off day. You never know when your time is up.
Or maybe you do recognize that your time has come and you accept it. I know that this is a hard concept for most people to grasp, but I believe that some of us very willingly accept our mortality with grace.
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Old 03-23-12, 08:21 PM   #16
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Looking at the 318 mile trip, I'm pretty sure this occurred on one of the Adventure Cycling tours of Death Valley. This year they have three, and the third one starts tomorrow, I was considering doing one for a winter trip.
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Old 03-25-12, 10:20 AM   #17
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Or maybe you do recognize that your time has come and you accept it. I know that this is a hard concept for most people to grasp, but I believe that some of us very willingly accept our mortality with grace.
I really want a Viking funeral. I'd like to be laid to rest in a small boat laiden with high explosives, towed out to the middle of the Ohio River, and detonated during the Derby Festival fireworks display. That would be so cool.
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Old 03-25-12, 12:39 PM   #18
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I really want a Viking funeral. I'd like to be laid to rest in a small boat laiden with high explosives, towed out to the middle of the Ohio River, and detonated during the Derby Festival fireworks display. That would be so cool.
All in all simply passing while on a great ride with friends in a beautiful place seems ok as long as your buddies don't mind.
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Old 03-25-12, 01:13 PM   #19
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All in all simply passing while on a great ride with friends in a beautiful place seems ok as long as your buddies don't mind.
+1000! Beats passing in a hospital or long-term care institution by a parsec or two.
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Old 03-25-12, 05:24 PM   #20
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All in all simply passing while on a great ride with friends in a beautiful place seems ok as long as your buddies don't mind.
No problem. One of our friends died on a ride. We all took turns carrying the body. It seemed to work out OK.
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Old 03-25-12, 06:45 PM   #21
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Last year in mid-summer I came upon a cyclist on the bike path who had fallen for an unknown reason. He was being attended by an older couple as he lay on the ground. In a few minutes he stood up but was clearly woobly. The man offered to walk home, just a few minutes away, and get his truck and drive him where he needed to go. This kind offer was refused with an assurance he would be fine. With nothing more they could do, the couple continued on their way. I stayed a few more minutes and walked back with the cyclist a few hundred feet where he seemed much steadier and we both continued our rides.

We all recognize we will one day die but we are convinced it won't be today. Most of the time this assumption is correct.

For my money, having been a witness, the best funeral is a N'Awlins procession with a dixieland band playing a dirge and people doing the funereal/dance, highly stylized, step but we don't do that here in New England.
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Old 03-26-12, 07:47 AM   #22
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Perhaps it's been mentioned already, but the deceased rider was indeed on an Adventure Cycling Association tour. It was written up on their blog a few days ago. It's currently at the bottom following page, but may move to earlier pages as the blog is added to:

http://blog.adventurecycling.org/sea...&max-results=3
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Old 03-26-12, 02:41 PM   #23
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"its quite possible that he stumbled into a situation where the local critters thought him to be an attacker requiring a counter-attack"

Having been to Death Valley at least a few dozen times in my life, it's difficult to picture any critter able to do lethal harm. There's always a first time, of course, but hikers have never been attacked by coyotes, and it's difficult to imagine a scorpion bringing someone down.

This dovetails nicely with DenverFox's post about trying not to shorten our end-of-life times with potentially dangerous activities. I have no qualms about being in Death Valley (what a great name for a place!). I would have qualms about wandering off somewhere by myself, no matter what my age.
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Old 03-28-12, 08:29 AM   #24
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He was having unexplained falls...small strokes? Heart issues?

I'd rather go in a beautiful and serene place like the desert than get ground into some city asphalt but we don't get to choose...

RIP fellow cyclist.
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Old 03-28-12, 09:13 AM   #25
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Sounds as if there was an underlying medical issue that was causing him to have the falls and the off day. You never know when your time is up.

BINGO. Something was going on with him. I'm thinking a slow-leak aneurysm or brain tumor or possibly even something as simple as diabetes. Add in the stress of the heat and ...................bam! He went to take a "leak", got confused, and wandered.

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