Poorly Prepared Hikers Put Themselves in Peril

Poorly Prepared Hikers Put Themselves in Peril

For the third time in a week, I've been asked to comment on developing news stories dealing with lost hikers. For the third time in a week I've had to talk about inproper planning, a lack of prepareness and poor decision making.  Teenagers playing in caves under melting snowfields, groups heading into rugged terrain without planning for the forecasted poor weather, and hikers pushing into areas they aren't prepared to handle. In short, bad decision before and during the hike led to the problems these folks encounter. In every one of these instances, the need for a rescue was entirely preventable.  First and foremost, hikers need to think about their hike BEFORE THEY LEAVE HOME. A simple weather check should be a standard practice. Just watch the morning news for an area forecast-- or better, use the internet to get a detailed forecast for the specific area you'll be visiting. When that forecast in hand, pack the appropriate apparel and gear. For gear, start with the TEN ESSENTIALS, noting that there is a reason they are called ESSENTIALS! Perhaps the most important essential to back is extra clothing. You can survive the night without food, and even without water. But shelter from the elements is vital when temperatures drop and rain or snow starts falling. At the very least, you need to have an extra insulating layer (fleece jacket, wool sweater, etc.) and a weather shell. You need to be able to keep yourself dry, and as warm as possible. Finally, when you are out in the wild country, you have to make good decisions. Entering a cave under a melting snowfield is a bad decision. Crawling out on a narrow ledge to get better views is  bad decision -- especially during a wind and rain storm. And heading up a rugged,rocky summit during one of the stormiest weekends of the summer is a BAD decision. Three stories of backcountry rescues in the last week. The first ended with a couple seriously injured kids, but no fatalities. The second ended with some cold, wet teens but no injuries. The third is still playing out. Hopefully, the result there will be positive,too. But with so many people making bad decisions before and during their outings, eventually we'll see a fatal accident.
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