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Day hikers, you're probably packing too light

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KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

You need a to pack a lot more than a granola bar when you head out on a day hike.

Bill Radke talked with Taylor Brugh, vice president of Seattle Mountain Rescue, and Sandeep Nain, owner of the Redmond-based guiding company Miyar Adventures, about how to stay safe in the mountains — even if you’re just planning to be out for a few hours.

Nain recounted a harrowing story about a friend who fell while rock climbing and ended up stranded with a concussion. He said the man’s climbing partner didn’t have a personal locator beacon (PLB) device, and they had trouble contacting rescuers.

Nain’s biggest piece of advice to hikers is to have a PLB or satellite messenger device, even on day hikes.

“It would have all started much earlier,” Nain said. “Maybe the helicopter would have reached him earlier.”

Nain and Brugh said they often hear stories of hikers who plan to just hike for the day and return before nightfall, but end up getting delayed. That’s why bringing a sleeping bag, extra food and warm clothes is essential.

KUOW listeners also called in to share their stories about hikes gone wrong.

One listener, Christy, told how she broke her foot and ended up waiting 36 hours for rangers to rescue her. Now she never hikes without painkillers, and she never hikes alone.

“All it takes is one thing to happen and you’re stuck on a mountain with potentially no one there to help you,” she said.

Another listener, Maverick, shared how he missed his trail in the dark and ended up falling at least 60 feet. Badly injured, he spent four hours hiking out in the dark.

“I learned the true meaning of terror,” he said.

Brugh said hikers should know that in King County, search and rescue workers are volunteers.

“You’re not going to get a bill for it,” he said.

And Nain added that hikers should always tell someone where they’re going, when they’re leaving, and when they’ll be back.

“At the very least, leave a detailed plan with your family and friends,” he said.

In short, here’s what hikers should consider before heading out — even if it’s just for the day.

  • Carry a PLB or satellite messenger
  • Pack for overnight
  • Bring a first-aid kit and painkillers
  • Don’t hike alone
  • Bring a flashlight or headlamp
  • Tell someone where you’re going
  • Be realistic about when you’ll be back
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Learn from more experienced hikers

Produced for the web by Amy Rolph.

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