Lost Austinite: Found

vert.hiker.ap.jpgIf one of your local hiking buddies seemed to disappear for the last week or so, you might try his cell phone now. Austinite Gilbert Dewey Gaedcke is back in Texas after hanging himself out to dry in a Hawaiian lava field for five days.

Apparently seduced by the lure of fresh lava that flows deep in the Volcanoes National Park, Gaedcke became disoriented after dark and got lost trying to find his car. He endured days of dehydration and pain hiking amongst the cutting lava before a sharp-eyed kid on a helicopter tour got him rescued. In between, Gaedcke survived by draining moisture from moss he found on the occasional tree that actually survives in a place that closely resembles hell.

I visited these lava fields on the Big Island a few years back, and there’s nothing in the Hill Country that compares you for that kind of hike. The lava is deceptively smooth until a rock unexpectedly breaks into shards under your feet, and the expansive desolation can easily lull you into confusion. Fortunately, I’m a big wuss who turned around long before reaching the lava flow, because I doubt I’d have thought to suck down moss shakes as a survival technique.

Welcome back to Austin, Mr. Gaedcke. How about a nice, safe trip to Colorado Bend State Park next time, OK? It’s not quite Hawaii, but Gorman Falls are good enough for a flash-back.

2 Comments so far

  1. Mars (unregistered) on July 29th, 2005 @ 2:44 pm

    geez…its a miracle he was saved…

  2. Bryan Lowry (unregistered) on August 1st, 2005 @ 1:34 pm

    Gilbert Dewey Gaedcke, the lost hiker from Austin.
    Does anyone have contact information.

    I’ve been hiking the lava flows for 14 years and his story allows for many questions.

    It just doesn’t make sense to those of us who know the area well.

    I just hiked up to where he was found this past Saturday and I can’t understand why he put himself in such an area that made him so difficult to see.

    He was 1/2 a mile from a road and had gone from a very easy to hike area of lava to that A’a flow.

    That was a tame A’a flow, they can be much worse :-)

    The main rule when hiking out there is, if it’s too difficult to walk, then your going the wrong way.

    I would like to speak with him off the record.
    If anyone knows how to contact him, either let me know or give him my email address and ask him to contact me.

    I tracked many of his movements and documented the entire area with photos and a GPS.

    Bryan Lowry
    Please make subject line; Gilbert Dewey Gaedcke

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