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The Perils of the Trail

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The Perils of the Trail

Many of us enjoy the outdoors in the form of hiking or mountain climbing, and in the US, there is no shortage of places to go. This is a great way to get fit and enjoy the beauty of the natural world, but there are also dangers.

During the past two weeks I have been following the story of Geraldine Largay, an experienced hiker from Tennessee who was hiking the Appalachian Trail. She was last seen here in Maine on July 23rd, and an army of volunteers have been searching for her ever since. We have discussed hiking safety in the site and in our print edition in the past, but this strikes close to home for me.

Last summer, prior to my heart attack, I was doing a solo hike on Big Jackson Mountain in Maine. Somehow, I quickly became disoriented and went off the marked trail. It was 11 a.m. so I had plenty of light but I panicked. I went up and then down and yelled for anyone to hear me. I finally heard a stream and decided to follow it down. Just when it seemed hopeless, I heard a truck in the distance. That gave me hope until I got to a dirt road. In my confused state I wound up a full two miles away from my car. Not my best hour!

There are lessons for any hike:
– Whenever possible, go with a partner’
– Be sure to let people know where you will be,
– Hike with plenty of daylight.
– Bring a cell phone (although it didn’t work for me and probably wouldn’t for many).
– If part of a group, use walkie talkies,
– Travel with a first aid kit.
– Always have extra water and supplies even during a day hike. If you are stuck overnight, have something to stay warm. Bring a poncho.

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My thoughts are with Mrs. Largay and her family. 150 people searched yesterday and they have narrowed it to a steeper range. Even the best hikers can have medical issues, falls and disorientation. Hiking is a healthy way to enjoy. There is nothing more beautiful than doing it during the autumn season.

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