Before You Hike, Leave Critical Information

Vernal Fall in Yosemite...

Vernal Fall–image via Wikipedia


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Last year was a bad year for hikers and climbers in Yosemite. Extra snowmelt, combined with storms, led to deaths of hikers. A climber slipped while climbing the famous Half Dome in the rain. Hikers drowned trying to cross rivers. Backpackers were swept over Vernal Fall. Fourteen deaths occurred, making it one of the deadliest years for Yosemite in recent history.

In New England and upstate New York, Tropical Storm Irene had contributed to problems for hikers and backpackers. However, there had been many search and rescue calls in New York’s Adirondacks before the storm, Irene. Heart attacks, capsizings, drownings, falls, and lost hikers had kept searchers and rescuers busy.

As I read through the reports, one bit of advice came to mind: Don’t try to do too much, too soon, too fast. I’ve been guilty of this too, and I’ve paid for it. Rushing in Virginia just so I could make it to a post office and pick up a care package before the P.O. closed for the weekend, cost me an extra week on the Appalachian Trail.

As I dug deeper into the reports, it was clear that some victims were not physically or mentally prepared to tackle so much. Extra snowmelt in the West should have meant extra caution and revised plans. In other accounts, hikers had left scattered information about their routes and destinations to loved ones. When they were expected to return and didn’t, families had to try to piece things together and scramble. Don’t forget, cell phones aren’t reliable in the wilderness.

This brings me to the planner and report forms at the bottom. I scanned the forms from the Adirondack Newspaper, Embark. These simple forms can make life easier for a lot of people and give you, the hiker, peace of mind as well. Searchers need specifics; rescuers need vital information.

Don’t forget to take it slow and easy out in the wilds. Life is too short–enjoy it.

Backcountry search and rescue reports for hikers

Search and Rescue Reports–provided by DEC

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