Letter: Be Prepared for Your Hike
To the Editor:
I have noted several recent reports of rescues of hikers in the Whites and Greens. Without discussing the particular circumstances of each incident, I do feel a few general comments are in order.
I lead many hikes each year for the Green Mountain Club, the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Sierra Club and the Eastman community, so I do have background knowledge of what constitutes good practice in the outdoors. Before venturing out, especially to higher or less accessible areas, one should acquaint oneself with trail conditions and expected degree of difficulty, as well as with weather forecasts. Essentials to take include adequate layers of clothing, good footwear, food, water, emergency gear, an LED head lamp, first aid materials, map, compass, guidebook and the wherewithal to spend an unexpected night out. And let someone know your planned route and expected time of arrival back at the trailhead.
Cell phones are a double-edged sword. They are not always reliable in emergencies, and they do make it all too easy to call in a possibly unnecessary rescue. Rescue teams mainly consist of dedicated volunteers, who may put their own lives in danger by going out in the worst of conditions, often to rescue completely unprepared hikers. And a rescue is expensive also, with much of the cost borne by taxpayers. Most prepared hikers should be able to self-rescue, bar a serious injury or illness. Please do enjoy our great outdoors, but plan carefully in advance!