Ill-prepared hikers are putting undue strain on search and rescue, say New Hampshire Fish and Game officials.
On Tuesday, June 21st, two hikers called for search and rescue when their lack of a flashlight caused them to become lost in the dark. The pair also neglected to bring rain gear, leaving them vulnerable to the downpour that began soon after sunset. Search and rescue teams found them at 11:30pm.
Tom Bogardus, a Fish and Game Lieutenant, says that hikers need to be prepared for all possible problems when they set out. “What they believe will be a simple half-hour hike turns into an ordeal if they twist an ankle,’’ Bogardus said. Carrying extra food, water, matches, and warm clothing can keep an injured hiker safe while they wait for search and rescue.
Surprisingly, in this age of technology, Bogardus does not advocate reliance on cell phones or GPS devices for hikers. Cell phones, he believes, make it too easy for people not to plan ahead; instead, they rely on being able to call for help. But, he points out, “Cellphone reception is very spotty when you get up into the mountains. They can’t be relied on.’’ Dead batteries can also spell trouble.
He directs hikers to www.hikesafe.com for more advice on how to hike safely without relying on search and rescue.
In case hikers needed more incentive than their personal safety to go out prepared, New Hampshire law allows the state to fine hikers if their negligence required an extensive rescue mission. Ignoring trail signs and park ranger advice or going out desperately unprepared can cost rescued hikers in the thousands of dollars.
(Photo courtesy Associated Press/Jim Cole)