Do you use GPS devices in unfamiliar places?
PORTLAND -- The experience of a Canadian couple that followed the directions of a GPS device, only to get horribly lost, is not new for unsuspecting travelers in the Northwest.
Rita and Albert Chretien were traveling from British Columbia to Las Vegas and took a route via their GPS that led them into the remote Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada.
They eventually got stuck in mud on a remote road. Rita Chretien was found alive after seven weeks. A search continues for her husband, who walked for help from the their stranded van.
In 2006, James Kim and his family got stuck in snow along Bear Camp Road in the Oregon Coast Range. Until the Kyron Horman disappearance, the search effort for the Kims was the largest in state history. James died trying to go for help. His wife and children were rescued.
In November 2009, a GPS led an Alabama couple into the Oregon Coast Range and they got stuck on the same path chosen by the Kims. They were rescued after getting a call out for help on their cell phone.
In December of 2009, A Nevada couple followed their GPS directions through the high desert of Klamath County and onto a Forest Service road. They stayed with their vehicle and were rescued after three days.
In May of 2010, an Aumsville mother and her two children got stranded in the snow in Southern Oregon on a trip to the Rogue River. Just 15 minutes from their destination, the GPS had them veer off onto a backcountry road. They were able to get through to 9-1-1 on a cell phone and were rescued.
In the Rogue River and Klamath incidents, the GPS also aided in the eventual rescue, though the lost were lucky that weak signals still reached emergency responders.
Mike Ferguson, a Boise author of the backcountry guidebook "GPS Land Navigation," told the Associated Press that many inexperienced users can be led astray by putting too much trust in the devices as they seek out the shortest routes, not considering the terrain they might be facing.
"Unless you're prepared for it, with a four-wheel drive, or maybe a snow machine in winter, when it sends you off into remote terrain, it can surely get you into big trouble," Ferguson said.