Hikers urinate on each other to keep warm

Just when you’ve thought you heard it all: five hikers from Florida who got lost in the High Peaks reportedly urinated on each other to keep warm.

The Albany Times Union first reported this tidbit earlier this week, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation confirms that this is what the hikers told forest rangers.

DEC spokesman David Winchell advises against this practice. “No matter what, getting wet in cool or cold weather hastens the loss of body heat,” he said.

Winchell said the hikers were woefully unprepared. They didn’t bring a map, compass, or other essential gear and seemed not to understand the difficulty of their expedition.

The five left Rocky Acres Inn in Schroon Lake about 10 a.m. last Thursday and drove to the Upper Works trailhead. They planned to hike to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve and around the Ausable Lakes and back.

That’s a crazy idea. There are no trails around the lakes. It’s about 12 miles to Lower Ausable Lake, passing by Panther Gorge. Once there you could sort of loop around Upper Ausable by climbing to the Colvin Range ridge, hiking over Blake Peak and Pinnacle, descending to Marcy Swamp, and following the trail back to Panther Gorge. The round-trip would be more than thirty miles, with strenuous climbing.

The inn called 911 when the five failed to return by 11 p.m. A state trooper located their car at Upper Works, and two forest rangers searched throughout the rainy night without success.

“The next morning six additional forest rangers joined the search, with two entering the High Peaks Wilderness from the north. At 10:05 am the group was located in the Calamity Brook area. They were wet and cold but otherwise healthy. After rehydrating and warming them up, Forest Rangers escorted them back to their vehicle,” DEC said in a news release.

Click here to read Brian Nearing’s report in the Times Union.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Frank says

    You can use urine to stay warm. It’s about 98deg. Just pee in an empty water bottle or zip lock bag and leave it in there.

  2. Raymond says

    Aren’t there private trails near the lakes? You and I know they’re not open to the public, but they may have thought otherwise.

  3. seasoned pro says

    When its wet and cold, the LAST darn thing i do is ‘relieve myself” all that preheated fluid keeps your core warm…a warm core means less chance of hypothermia..

  4. Raymond says

    Phil, I noticed that you have the owner of the inn calling at 11 a.m. the next day; according to the Times Union, it was 11 p.m. that same night.

  5. Jeff says

    Raymond, yes there are private trails in the vicinity of the Ausable Lakes. They may shorten the 30-mile round trip to around 28.

    I’m generally opposed to the idea of fining or billing backcountry users for Search & Rescue, but this case has me re-thinking that position. Perhaps the ideas put forth by Neil Woodworth and Tony Goodwin in Phil’s recent articles in Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer have merit: the most grossly unprepared (that takes on a new meaning, doesn’t it?) and unkowledgeable ones suffer some sort of fine or other consequence.

  6. Bob says

    This can’t be true! We need an interview with these people or the rangers who found them. They were probably so tired they went back to their hotel to take a nice long, hot, golden shower. Any truth they used their feces as sun screen?

  7. Marvelous Marv says

    I am really pissed off about these comments. Don’t piss all over the concept until you have tried it. Urinating on a fellow hiker can raise the temperature of both the reliever and the reciever. When the ambient temp is 40, there is nothing like a 98.6 degree shower!

  8. adkhiker48 says

    Seasoned Pro…think of all the energy it takes your body to keep all that fluid warm (specific heat of water/urine is pretty high!)…best to empty it out, much less fluid for your body to keep up to temp!

    • Raymond says

      I don’t think your body expends any energy keeping urine warm. It’s warm because it’s in your body, not the other way ’round.

      See DougPaul’s comments on this subject on ViewsFromTheTop.com.

  9. seasoned says

    Im sorry, but disagree with me if you like, I’ve spent a very considerable part of my meager 42 yr existence plying both water and wood of a lot of NYS.

    I stand by my statement, if im cold, i’m not going.

    maybe it doesn’t keep anyone else warm, but i know for a fact it keeps me warm.

    I dont carry an axe, i carry a saw, I step over obstacles, not on them, and I never pee when its cold (and i can help it).


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