The Mystery of Kim and Carole

bigjskagway

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Aug 25, 2018
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I’ve walked around Watson both directions and hiked over it. The terrain going clockwise from their final photo spot all the way around to the final resting spot is not insignificant. It would take a wet and exhausted hiker hours to make the trip. It is no less rough (and in some ways more so) than the stretch on the northwestern side. Not only that, but Trial Lake, Washington Lake and the Crystal Lake TH are all clearly visible from the southern foot of Watson.

Thank you for you sharing your experience hiking that area. Unfortunately I haven't hiked that particular part of the Uintas, so it's interesting to hear about your experiences with the terrain. All I could go by in drawing my suggested possible route was the topo map-- and I tried to draw what I thought would be the path of least resistance if they did indeed go clockwise around Watson from Clyde Lake after leaving the final photo spot.

Just curious, how long did it take you to hike from the last photo spot south to the final resting place? I'm having a hard time believing that Kim and Carole only covered 1 mile after that last photo if they were intentionally going counter-clockwise around Watson. Even if one of them was injured and couldn't walk after that mile, I believe there was likely a good amount of daylight left for the other to go attempt to get help, assuming they hadn't completely lost track of time and didn't leave Hidden Lake until very late in the day.
 

DrNed

The mountains are calling and I must go
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Thank you for you sharing your experience hiking that area. Unfortunately I haven't hiked that particular part of the Uintas, so it's interesting to hear about your experiences with the terrain. All I could go by in drawing my suggested possible route was the topo map-- and I tried to draw what I thought would be the path of least resistance if they did indeed go clockwise around Watson from Clyde Lake after leaving the final photo spot.

Just curious, how long did it take you to hike from the last photo spot south to the final resting place? I'm having a hard time believing that Kim and Carole only covered 1 mile after that last photo if they were intentionally going counter-clockwise around Watson. Even if one of them was injured and couldn't walk after that mile, I believe there was likely a good amount of daylight left for the other to go attempt to get help, assuming they hadn't completely lost track of time and didn't leave Hidden Lake until very late in the day.

Two years ago I did a walk to their final resting spot.

In summary, the evidence suggests that they left the trail by choice.
They had already received some rain before they left the trail and
that they continued to get rained on or it had started again at the
Hidden Lake meadow, and based on the photo, I extrapolate that
they are not overly worried about the rain.

When I left the meadow I took the high route, thinking that was going to
be the most direct route to their resting spot. I don't remember how long it
took me but I do know that at nearly one hour after leaving the meadow I
still hadn't reached the spot.

Leaving the meadow I don't recall seeing any trail, but @Dave can speak to that
better than I can. The quality of the terrain suggests that they would be moving
slower than you think.

I also think that if they go all the way to Hidden Lake and then back to the trail
at Clyde Lake, they've got a grasp on direction and getting confused which
way to go at the Smith Morehouse Trail junction is unlikely.

My gut says it's later in the afternoon when the last photo is taken, but if it is
early afternoon, I think it's more likely that they sit out the weather near Hidden Lake.
Now it is getting late, which prompts the decision to try going counter clockwise
around Mount Watson.

My conclusion,based on known facts, terrain and some deduction, the clockwise navigation of
Watson is unlikely.
 

tennistime99

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Jan 16, 2018
Messages
94
{snipped} Even if one of them was injured and couldn't walk after that mile, I believe there was likely a good amount of daylight left for the other to go attempt to get help, assuming they hadn't completely lost track of time and didn't leave Hidden Lake until very late in the day.

I'm not sure they realized the danger until too late. If one was injured they may have just sat down to rest, still warm from the exertion of hiking. By the time the cold was really getting to them it may have been dark.

Sad situation regardless.

Sent from my XT1575 using Tapatalk
 

Dave

Broadcaster, formerly "ashergrey"
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Messages
1,722
Even if one of them was injured and couldn't walk after that mile, I believe there was likely a good amount of daylight left for the other to go attempt to get help, assuming they hadn't completely lost track of time and didn't leave Hidden Lake until very late in the day.

Sunset in September at that latitude would have been about 7:30-7:45. With overcast skies, it probably started getting dark well before that. If Kim and Carole started on trail late in the morning, I think it’s very reasonable to have them leaving Hidden in the mid-to-late afternoon.

I could make the hike from the last photo spot to the final resting place in under an hour, but that’s with me knowing where I am going. Wandering and looking for a trail would make that trip much, much slower. There are game trails back there an even some horsepacker/hunter trails but they are not super-obvious.

Unfortunately, the photos are not time-stamped. The cloud cover dispersed the sunlight and makes it difficult to judge time of day by sun position or shadows.
 

bigjskagway

Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2018
Messages
5
I also think that if they go all the way to Hidden Lake and then back to the trail
at Clyde Lake, they've got a grasp on direction and getting confused which
way to go at the Smith Morehouse Trail junction is unlikely.

My gut says it's later in the afternoon when the last photo is taken, but if it is
early afternoon, I think it's more likely that they sit out the weather near Hidden Lake.
Now it is getting late, which prompts the decision to try going counter clockwise
around Mount Watson.

Thank you for sharing your valuable insights from your personal experience hiking in that area. Given that you have experienced the terrain and viewsheds firsthand, you certainly can speak to this area with more firsthand knowledge than I can. I think that your deductions and conclusions are very plausible, and indeed probably more likely what transpired than the possible scenario I proposed.

I can accept that if Kim and Carole were confident enough in their hiking abilities to go off trail to Hidden Lake, then they could have felt the same way about going off trail around Watson to shortcut their way back to the trailhead. But the timing is what really baffles me. If they were experienced/confident hikers, why would they lose track of time or miscalculate their timing as to run into nightfall? When I hike I'm always keeping track of the time so I know have long I've been going to I have a pretty good idea how much time to allow for my return. Even if Kim and Carole underestimated the time to circumnavigate Watson-- why would they have been cutting it that close to dark to begin with? That last photo in the meadow does suggest that they weren't too concerned (given that you probably aren't taking photos if you are stressed). So if they indeed chose to wait out the weather at Hidden Lake and then decided to shortcut their way back, they would have had to grossly miscalculate the time. If this was the case, then I think it's very possible that one of them became injured to the point of majorly slowing down their progress, and then one of them wouldn't want to leave the other alone if darkness was descending already.
 

Curt

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Feb 1, 2014
Messages
399
I've been having notices from this string pop up quite a bit lately so I reread most of this again and have been thinking about it. I think I'm convinced that Dave's theory of injury for one or both ladies is almost certainly part of the explanation.

That caused me to remember a theory about back-country fatalities by a guy who has hiked extensively in the Grand Canyon - a place where people die every year. He has a great website, by the way, with lot's of good info. His name is Doug Nering. Here's his website; http://www.sixtymile.xyz/index.html#alphabetic Here's his theory:

"This is my own pet theory about risks, mistakes and misfortune. The chances for survival in the event of a mistake or bad luck are usually promising as long as they don't occur at the same time.

Therefore, the often-fatal combinations are:
  1. Two serious mistakes together.
  2. One mistake combined with bad luck.
  3. Very, very bad luck.
Very, very bad luck includes items from the list of Hazards and Risks like rockfall, stepping on a rattlesnake in springtime alone and far from help, earthquake in a bad place, or a sudden and very severe storm. Really bad luck like this doesn't allow much chance of escape.

Examples of a mistake combined with bad luck might be stepping on a loose rock (mistake) near a big cliff (bad luck), or camping in a streambed during a storm and then the storm turns out to be a big one. Examples of two mistakes together might be losing your way and then deciding to climb down a cliff, or forgetting your map and then trying a new route.

There are other examples that might be a bit more difficult to classify, like running short of water and then finding the next spring is dry. If the spring is generally reliable from your own experience or a good reference this might be a mistake with bad luck. If you just saw it on the map and assumed there would be water, then it seems to me more like a case of two mistakes... being short of supply and counting on an unknown source. But either way, what matters is that you're in big trouble.

I'm not trying to be an alarmist about the possibilities. I just believe that one of the worst things, regardless of the severity of consequences, is to take on risk without realizing it, without judging the value of the choice, and without being prepared (at least mentally) for the possibility of a bad outcome.

If this theory should ever catch up with me someday, I will have made my best effort to be sure I was doing something that I wanted very much to be doing, knowing risk was a part of it."

Perhaps Doug's list of often-fatal combinations applied to these poor ladies.
 

DrNed

The mountains are calling and I must go
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Joined
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Messages
1,012
Therefore, the often-fatal combinations are:
  1. Two serious mistakes together.
  2. One mistake combined with bad luck.
  3. Very, very bad luck.
In my opinion that's it exactly, and though I don't want
to put words into his mouth, I think that's the theme of @Dave
write up. Weather without injury they hike out. Injury without
weather they get out a little slower. It's the probable combination
of both that makes their experience fatal.
 

Tomaswmitchell

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Oct 21, 2020
Messages
4
Dave, I just found your article after all these years. I have a 30 year background in film processing and printing. Did you look at the negatives? They don’t lie, there is no way the pictures could be shuffled out of order on the film. Did you actually see the negatives? If not you should because it would answer the questions about the sequence of the pictures.
 

Dave

Broadcaster, formerly "ashergrey"
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Dave, I just found your article after all these years. I have a 30 year background in film processing and printing. Did you look at the negatives? They don’t lie, there is no way the pictures could be shuffled out of order on the film. Did you actually see the negatives? If not you should because it would answer the questions about the sequence of the pictures.

Unfortunately, I have never personally had access to the negatives nor do I believe KSL did. I can’t say for sure but I’m of the understanding the reporter who did the story in 2006 only had prints.
 

Tomaswmitchell

New Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
Messages
4
Unfortunately, I have never personally had access to the negatives nor do I believe KSL did. I can’t say for sure but I’m of the understanding the reporter who did the story in 2006 only had prints.
That is too bad, seeing the negatives would answer the question of the order in which the photographs were taken. My wife and I just did that Clyde Lake loop trail on Saturday which got me thinking about this subject. Thank you for doing such a great job at investigating and documenting what happened to them. It is a sad story that more people should be aware of so they don't make the same mistakes.
 

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