People lost in Oregon. Again. UPDATED

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According to the Associated Press, yet another couple has faithfully followed their GPS's directions into Oregon's wilderness and got themselves lost.

The Nevada couple got sent down a remote national forest road by their SUV's GPS device on Christmas day, the AP's story says. John Rhodes and Starry Bush-Rhodes were stuck for three days before they got a weak signal on their cell and got winched out by Klamath Country sheriffs.

You'd think that after the whole James Kim thing where his road map and bad decisions took him, his wife and children down remote Bear Camp Road in southern Oregon (some speculate that since Kim worked for the tech website CNET and thus used GPS but interviews with his wife suggest otherwise), people would be a little wary of romping down remote roads in the winter. After all, just last year an Alabama couple used their GPS to get themselves lost on the same road that led to James Kim's death.

On a side note, it was the same sheriff, Tim Evinger of Klamath County who worked on both the Kim's case and the recent Rhodes case. He must be tired of finding lost people wandering the BLM and national forest lands of Oregon.

Another side note: One of the cover models for our 2008 Survival 101 cover story (pictured above) got lost in the woods on a snowshoe hike with her hiking-experienced partner some time after we ran the story. It can happen to anyone, even experienced hikers and backcountry trekkers. Luckily they stayed calm, stayed in one place and search and rescue got them out. A big mistake people make once lost is to keep hiking or driving, and get more lost.

The moral of the story here is: It's Oregon, it's snowing. Don't leave the main roads. Learn some basic survival skills if you plan to drive through the middle of nowhere. Your cell phone is NOT going to help you in Middle of Nowhere, Northwest.


Well, while I was blogging yesterday, more people were using their GPS devices to get lost! According to an update from the Lane County Sheriff's office this morning:

"DETAILS: Two women, one man, and their dog slid off this remote Forest Service road yesterday afternoon while attempting to drive to Terwilliger Hot Springs. The three, from the Portland metro area followed the route provided by their cell phone GPS program. While the route would have eventually taken them to the hot springs, it does not take into consideration seasonality and road conditions. They also lost GPS navigation when they lost cell service in the area. The three had no maps or survival gear. They were located at 11:00PM and assisted by Lane County search and rescue personnel after receiving a 911 call from the three. They had walked nearly 17 miles. They were mildly hypothermic, tired but in otherwise good condition.

The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind travelers to take basic survival kits, including maps with them and not rely totally on technology for route finding. This is especially important when traveling through national forests where going off the highway may lead to un-maintained road systems with few directional signs."

Yeah, what they said. C'mon people, just because a map says you can go there, or the voice from the GPS in your SUV says to turn there, doesn't mean you shouldn't actually consider weather conditions, road signs warning of danger, and remote conditions!

Lost Knuckheads

I hope the GPS doesn't tell them to drive off a cliff next time. They looked old enough to know better, but I guess not. Life is tough, but tougher if you're stupid!!

Submitted by Bill Parry (not verified) on Tue, 12/29/2009 - 05:30.
doing it right

Hmmm, I should have clarified, rather than expected folks to follow the link for the full story! The woman in the photo and her partner did everything right -- followed their maps, had survival skills, but thanks to a heavy snowfall, landmarks were obscured. They were able to call for help and were found by search and rescue the same night they got lost. The point being, it can happen to anyone and it's good to be prepared and if you're in a car, don't go down remote roads in areas you don't know!

Submitted by Camilla Mortensen on Tue, 12/29/2009 - 10:15.

Tell us the brand names of these GPS units that have led people astray, so we can see if it's one particular company that we should avoid. Give us some news we can use.

Submitted by Martin Henner (not verified) on Wed, 12/30/2009 - 07:55.
shopping guide

News you can use. Hmmm, I'm sorry, I think you've confused us with KVAL, that's their gimmick.

Much as I would totally love to provide you with a shopping guide... sadly none of the news reports provide brand names, nor do they proffer the makes of the SUVs with pre-installed GPSs that are being used.

However, many GPS devices have a setting for "shortest route" as well as a setting for "quickest route." The shortest route can involve alleyways and forest roads and is often not at all faster. I'm going to guess that's where these people went wrong — the quickest route to Terwilliger Hot Springs from Portland is not a forest road, though the shortest route might be (thanks to the Teditor for info on that one, since I'm not a big GPS user myself).

Submitted by Camilla Mortensen on Wed, 12/30/2009 - 14:17.
Whether one travels from

Whether one travels from Portland or Timbuktu, there is only one road to Terwilliger hot springs; Forest Service road 19.

Submitted by wrinkled as a prune and smells like sulphur (not verified) on Fri, 01/01/2010 - 23:49.
Yes, maybe, but if you come

Yes, maybe, but if you come from the South, it's a HECK of a lot further then coming down the same road from the north.

Submitted by Anonymous Coward (not verified) on Sat, 01/02/2010 - 12:22.
"Visit Oregon, just don't stay!"

I really love hearing about these idiots who drive out onto logging roads and get lost.If your dumb stay at home! If you dont know how to use a map and compass in the forests of Oregon stay the fuck out! We have too many non-local people invading our Wild areas as it is. As Tom McCall said "visit Oregon, just don't stay!"

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People lost in Oregon. Again. UPDATED | EW! A blog.

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