What’s with the Yosemite Hikers?

(Here’s an example of the Black Virgin…This one is in Czestochowa. There are many theories offered for her skin color, depending upon the ones doing the offering…)

Four deaths in a little over a month. What can these nature-enthusiasts be thinking? They apparently aren’t deterred by signs: In the first case, three fell over the falls at a particularly dangerous spot of Yosemite, one cordoned off from tourists with warnings that currents are dangerous and everyone needs to “Keep Away.” Apparently, a group of 3 hopped the signs and went closer. Next anyone knew, they were sucked in by the current and went over the falls. They hadn‘t “listened“ to the signs.

In the second instance of the single hiker plunging to her death from the high point –the Half Dome–these hikers, too, were warned. Signs explained that wet conditions have been the cause of serious accidents in the past. What was the condition of the rocks that day? Wet and slippery.

Those climbers, too, chose to ignore the signs.

I consider it unfathomable that people ignore clearly-posted signs telling them of the dangers and engage in the very activity they‘re warned about. In other parts of the world, no such signs exist…Rather, people take whatever action they determine at their peril, as was discovered by the band of 3 American hikers who crossed over into Iraqi territory, with 2 of them still imprisoned.

Not being the suit-frenzied region America is, these regions allow others the consequences of their actions. Translation? They don’t entertain negligence suits: If people don’t use common sense and terrible consequences befall them, so be it. They should have used better judgment.

Case in point: Montserrat, Spain.

Years ago, I took my girls on a pilgrimage to the Benedictine monastery, Santa Maria de Montserrat http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_de_Montserratto see the famed Black Virgin, in Catalonia, Spain. The Basilica houses art works of El Greco, Dali, and Picasso, to name a few. After paying homage to the sainted relic and walking about the grounds, we proceeded up the steep path, going to the top of the mountain. We were the only ones to do this.

On this very warm day, I’d foolishly failed to bring water or snacks.

We were struck by the huge rock formations that appeared to rise in columns, each more fantastical than the last, and because we were so engaged, I lost all sense of direction. Hours passed and we grew tired and parched. No signs pointed the way down, and as a result, we got lost in the maze of pathways. I inwardly thought: “My God, we could die up here and no one would know it.” I knew, too, that nightfall would bring cold temps to the mountain and we had no outerwear to protect us. I cursed myself for my lack of preparation that now put my family in peril.

Just before nightfall, we got lucky. We met up with another family on top who knew the way down (one was native to the region.) In addition, they gave us snacks and water and led us out, retracing the steps that thwarted us before.

But this episode taught me some valuable lessons: In other countries, there are few signs that warn of imminent dangers (travelers are on their own and it’s expected they’ll use common sense.) Why is that tricky for Americans? Using common sense is pretty much a foreign concept to us, for our legal industry has made it superfluous.

We blame others, if we get in touble and the industry supports that.

From that day forward, I never went on future excursions of unknown destination without snacks, water, jackknife, compass, and outerwear “just in case…” We were inordinately lucky that day and I recognized that fact. My omissions could have just as well spelled our doom.

In retrospect, maybe the visit first to the Black Virgin had something to do with our turn of luck. So, two things: If warning signs are there, follow them…If they aren’t, use common sense.

And now, click on the link to visit her yourself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Madonna

(And here are my girls, heading up the steep path in search of the geodesic rock formations that rise in spheres. Who led them on this feckless journey without water, snacks for nourishment or light jackets? None other than their mother who should have known better…

But we did see a fascinating geological landscape…The photos are old, but you get the idea.)

And here are some facts from Niagara, on the heels of the recent tragedy of a young girl going over the Falls, after having slipped, while posing for photos:

Deadly Niagara Falls

• Since 1903, only seven deaths involving people going over the Falls have been determined to be accidents. The only person to ever survive an accidental plunge was Roger Woodward, in 1960.

• 16 people have gone over the Falls as daredevils. Eleven of them survived.

Most years, between 20 and 25 cases of suicide happen at the Falls.

• The Falls’ height is 57 metres on the Canadian side and 34 metres on the American side.

• The water speed at the Falls is estimated at 40 km/h.

• 168,000 cubic metres (6 million cubic feet) of water go over the crestline of the falls every minute.

Sources: Niagara Falls Reporter and Niagara Parks

***Now, how about you? Ever get lost and fear you’d never make it out alive. Biddy LOVES comments. Share your story. Comment section is below, use an “anonymous” if you prefer, e-mail address is NEVER shared or given out..

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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