What every hiker should know (by now)

People seem to believe that Nothing Will Go Wrong when they hike in the Grand Canyon. They’re just going to dash in and out for just a few miles. Shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. Ah, but what if it does? What if someone sprains an ankle? Trips over a waterbar on the trail?

In 2015, Grand Canyon answered 318 calls for assistance, involving 271 injured or ill persons. The park boasts the most search-and-rescue incidents of any national park. Cost: over $875,000, for just that year.

Grand Canyon sees from 12 to 20 deaths a year. Contrary to popular belief, most are not from falls but from heat and heart attacks.

It is expected that, in a national park, someone will rush to our rescue if we get in over our heads. During the height of the season, park rangers may get 30 calls a day for assistance. Most of these involve a sympathetic talking-to and a bottle of water. Two to three times a day, for a true medical emergency, the helicopter may be summoned, at great personal risk to all involved.

Should venturing into the backcountry be completely safe? Not at all. Part of the wilderness experience should be getting cold, or hot, or tired, or thirsty, or hungry, or scared, or worried. There should always be that tiny frisson of potential peril.

Know what to do…


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