A weekend hike. That is what Derek planned. Oh, it was a tough hike; climbing to the peak of Mount Adams. Mount Adams, at 12,227 feet, is the second tallest peak in the state of Washington. Climbing to the peak and back requires fitness, stamina, and experience. Derek Mamoyac had all three. He carried little gear since he planned to be out of the wilderness before the weekend was over. When he failed to turn up for work on Monday, authorities were notified and soon a search began. As the week wore on and the weather truned worse with temps in the 20's and snow falling, the prospects of finding Derek alive dimmed with each passing day.
If you were a volunteer search and rescue worker, how many days would you take off work and continue to look for a man who left no itinerary? If you were in Derek's place, how long would you expect people to look for you? If you were in Derek's place, what would you be willing to do to stay alive?
You see, Derek had broken his ankle in a fall. He spent days crawling until his knees were too sore. Then he used a modified "sit and scoot" method to move up and down the mountain. Up the mountain? At one time he thought he saw tents higher up and made his way to the spot seeking help. When he arrived there, no tents-or help--were to be found. Before making that climb he ate the last of his granola bars. It was the wrapper from a granola bar that the tracking found and used to find Derek.
So what was Derek doing while folks were looking for him? Just sitting somewhere nursing his injured foot? Nope. To survive, he ate berries, mushrooms, centipedes, spiders and ants and drank creek water. On the last day, he resorted to drinking his own urine. How much longer would he have lasted? Nobody knows. But he survived 6 days in harsh weather and is in pretty good shape this weekend.
What do you think about Derek? Idiot? Superman? Here are the things I admire about Derek; 1) He is strong and fit
2) He is tough-minded and determined
3) He takes action even when it is very difficult
4) He remains calm in threatening circumstances
And some mistakes Derek made (in my opinion);
1) Tell someone your plans--in detail
2) Don't be so independent and self-assured that you don't discuss worst case scenarios
with family and friends
3) When exposure to elements can be fatal, carry what you need AND some "just in case" items
How does Derek feel about all this now? He says a career in search and rescue seems appropriate for him now. I would say he is probably right. Welcome home, Derek.