There was yet another story about some people who died a horrible tragic death because they used a GPS. I know it’s a tragedy and shouldn’t happen, but it’s not the GPS, it’s the (stupid) people.
I’ve heard of a couple who were lost 7 weeks after taking a logging road in the Pacific Northwest on their way to Vegas (one of whom died), this family in Death Valley, a group of SUVs getting lost in Utah, I remember a bus that tried to go through a tunnel that it didn’t fit through, a man who drove a bus into a lake, and another lake story, I’ve heard Park Rangers tell of getting calls from cell phones where someone asks how to hike out of where they are lost using a GPS, and many many others. All usually blamed on the GPS.
Every one of these stories seems to “blame” the GPS, in fact this story calls it “Death by GPS.” As harsh as this seems it’s actually the “STUPID” that is the issue (so the story should be re-titled “Death by STOOPID”).
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a gadget guy and I love my gadgets. I had an early version of the hand held Garmin GPS which was marketed to hikers, campers, and the like. I have an in-dash GPS in my car, my wife has the ubiquitous GPS suction cupped to her windshield, both our phones have Google Maps with turn-by-turn instructions (walking, public transportation, and of course driving).
Even with all that technology that I have, you will find in my glove box a nationwide map, at the bottom of my hiking day-pack you will find a compass and depending on where we are spending the day you will most likely find a trail map as well.
Two weeks ago my wife and I were horseback riding in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We went on a Saturday and did a day hike (with a trail map and compass in our day-pack) and looked for good trailer parking for our horse trailer. That evening we looked at the horse friendly trails and the parking we had spotted and decided on a 10 mile loop for the horses. We were maybe two or three miles away from the road when we came across a family (man, woman, teenage child). They asked us which way to the road and how far. We pointed them back down the trail we were coming up, told them were to turn and how the trail was marked. He pulled in iPhone 4 out of his pocket and exclaimed how his “technology” didn’t work here. He had no map.
As far as we could tell, they drove up from some metropolitan area, using their in-car GPS or his “technology” entered into the National Park, parked, and started walking on what looked like a trail. If you’ve ever hiked a “horse friendly trail” you would know they are muddier than the trails reserved for hikers only and usually covered in horse shit. We took pity on him and provided him with the $1 version trail map available from the Visitor’s Center and requested that he head directly to said Visitor’s Center, purchase a map, make a small donation to the trail crew, and ask a Park Ranger where to go spend his afternoon. What kind of idiot thinks you can just get out of a car in a National Park and start walking? Didn’t he realize that he didn’t have a cell phone signal, without which his “technology” wasn’t working?
My boss often states that in-car GPS are the “spawn of the devil.” Like me, he travels for business. He always has a map in his car and usually a printout from Bing (he also thinks Google is the “spawn of the devil”) of his route. He often relates to these stories of tragedy “caused” by in-car GPS systems. I often reply with the title of this blog post.
Here’s my wrap-up of recent GPS issues:
- To the folks in Death Valley – It’s called “Death Valley” for a reason
- To the folks on the logging road in the Pacific Northwest – you lived in the British Columbia … what is wrong with you
- To the group in Moab – SUVs and GPS … real outdoor type folks aren’t you
- To the bus driver – pull head out of ass and watch minimum clearance of tunnel not your GPS
- To the other bus driver – pull head out of ass and watch the road (lake).
- To the woman who drove her SUV into a lake – see comment to bus driver