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Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

10 Responses to German survives quest to reach Yellowstone using only GPS

  1. Chuck says:

    Where’s Darwin when we need him?

  2. Monte says:


  3. Mack P. Bray says:

    Come on now, don’t be quite so hard on the poor guy. It was a series of mishaps, which is frequently how we get into life-threatening trouble.

    There’s more details here that aren’t in the AP story: http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/article.php?art_id=2473

    “I wanted to go from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone, so I typed it in to the navigation system,” he said. “I don’t know why the navigation system put me on that road.”

    The nav system put him on that route because it detected it as the most efficient route (which, on the ground, is debatable. That route takes me the better part of a day). However, the nav system couldn’t tell the road was closed.

    From the story (linked above):

    “While there are signs indicating the road closure in Grand Teton National Park, Krottenthaler said, he didn’t see any signs when he entered the road from the Caribou-Targhee National Forest side.

    “There is no sign on the entrance,” he said. “That really makes me angry because actually the road should be closed.”

    Caribou-Targhee National Forest officials didn’t return calls for comment. Andy Fisher, chief ranger for Grand Teton National Park, said he’s been in contact with Caribou-Targhee officials but can’t confirm whether there is a sign at the west entrance to Grassy Lake Road.”

    But he did run out of gas – for that there’s no excuse; that was VERY stupid.

    Mack P. Bray


  4. Mack P. Bray says:

    You know, we have a classic case here of how a reader’s perception of a story is shaped by the addition or ommission of “details.” Read the AP story and you might think, “what a dolt.” Read the story from the independent >?< source and you see that there was no sign indicating the road was closed, lending credit to the poor guy’s plight.

    Why AP would not include the facts about the road being closed and the lack of a sign where he entered is beyond me…

    Mack P. Bray


  5. Bob Caesar says:

    Thankfully he’s ok! But for the grace of God go I…and you, and Ralph and those people over there too! Who hasn’t done something “stupid’ or less than smart, especially in a land so totally different from his own.

    Given enough time I could tell you the full story about two experienced Wyoming experienced cowboys/hunting guides that ended up at our house at 4am one bitterly cold, winter morning.

    (The short version) Suffice it to say these boys knew the country. Thought they knew how to stay alive, but in 18 short hours came to very near death simply because they were so confident in themselves that they made a series of classic mistakes. No map, no second source of fire, less that adequate clothing, no flashlight, no food, no water and no one knew where were going. They got lost, wet and very cold, couldn’t start a fire. Wandered off trail in two feet of snow rather than staying put. Probably just as well as no one knew they were even in these mountains.

    “It” can happen to anyone. Yellowstone country is a very unforgiving place…

    He must be one tough Kraut to walk all night down that cold, empty road! There is a collection being taken up in Jackson to help him pay for the door. Here’s my ten spot!

  6. Thanks for giving this perspective, Bob, and the help.

    Yes, I did almost die once when I went to my secret fishing hole on May 18, 1980 and didn’t tell even my wife where it was. Folks might recall the geologic event of that day.

    It provoked a tremendous May snowstorm, and a week later I wandered out of the Beaverhead Mountains and found the search party looking for me.

  7. kt says:

    Everyone gets cars stuck in snow, makes wrong turns (GPS or no GPS) and makes mistakes in trying to find their way in unknown territory.

    Who hasn’t taken a wrong turn – based on what you thought was correct – and after getting lost only then figuring out you mis-interpreted something? OR as most commonly happens – especially in cow project country – there are far more roads on the surface of the earth than ever show up on any map.

    AND – part of the adventure is always in the potential for getting lost … or breaking down in the middle of nowhere …

  8. Eve says:

    Hmmm. Maybe he can sue the GPS manufacturer for not ‘splaining that he still may have to use his brain and the device simultaneously…

  9. As people have begun to rely more and more on GPS navigation, I wonder how many similar stories are out there?

  10. Buffaloed says:

    I once drove a road in southwest Oregon the day before it was closed by snow and there were no signs on it and it was shown as a good road on the maps. When I returned home there was a story of a man who was stranded on that very road the previous year and starved to death because nobody looked for him there even though they knew he was in the area and was missing. It was in the same vicinity of the incident that happened recently with the CNET executive.

    I sometimes wonder when someone will be trapped in Bear Valley, Landmark or the Deadwood area.


November 2007


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey