Stay safe on hiking trails on Memorial Day and all summer long

May 29, 2010

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. May 29, 2010

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of hiking season. Despite a rainy forecast, hikers will load up their backpacks and head to the Issaquah Alps, and to moss-covered forests and snow-capped peaks elsewhere in the Evergreen State.

Washington Trails Association — a hiking-trails advocacy and maintenance group — launched a map search feature May 26. The addition to the organization’s popular hiking guide enables hikers of all levels and abilities to find suitable hikes. Find the feature here.

“Imagine your family wants to find a short hike to a lake within an hour’s drive of Seattle,” Susan Elderkin, website editor for Washington Trails Association, said in a news release. “WTA’s Search-by-Map drills down to those results within seconds, and provides you with detailed information on each trail.”

The guide also includes hiker-submitted reports about weather and trail conditions.

The statewide organization also encouraged residents to stay safe on trails on Memorial Day and in the months ahead.

“It’s wonderful to get into the mountains and enjoy our Memorial Day weekend, but please be careful out there,” Lauren Braden, Washington Trails Association communications director, said in the release. “Many trails are still under a thick blanket of snow. Also, spring hiking often means navigating blow-downs and other trail damage that occurred over the winter and has not been repaired yet, so hike with caution.”

The group offers the following safety tips for hikers taking to trails:

  • Pack the essentials: maps, compass, flashlight and extra batteries, extra food, extra clothing and shelter, sunglasses and sunscreen, first aid kit, pocket knife, matches and fire-starter, and adequate water.
  • Research conditions thoroughly before setting out. Check weather forecasts and online trip reports for recent conditions. Check ahead with local ranger stations for current conditions on roads and trails, and closely watch weather forecasts. Find the contact information for ranger stations here.
  • Tell someone the destination, the trails and expected return time. Hike as a group, and end as a group. Pace the hike to the slowest person.
  • Hiking poles can be helpful on stretches of snow-covered patches, in crossing downed logs and in stream crossings. Unhook packs when crossing a stream.
  • Be prepared to turn back. Because weather changes quickly in the mountains, streams might be deep and swift in the spring due to snow melt.
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