Safety first!

There’s been too much distressing news the past few days about people getting hurt in my beautiful New Hampshire’s outdoors. Please, everyone, be careful out there!

I write this in a spot that lets me look out on my town’s #1 swimming hole, which has been doing good business during these hot days.  Like all rivers in this area after recent rains, it is running high. No problem for those who expect it and are prepared.  One bad move, though, and someone’s going to get hurt. The nearby Merrimack River has seen several rescues and recoveries over the past week. Please be sensible when you’re taking a dip or fishing from shore, wherever you live. I love doing my hiking and swimming alone, so I don’t say this lightly: have a friend along if you’re going to be cooling off in a river or stream while the water’s running high. And God bless all the emergency responders, professional and volunteer alike, whose quick actions keep some bad situations from getting worse.

And then there are the situations that make me want to flog some people with a wet noodle. Two teenagers in a town nearby got lost and disoriented on a rail trail and relied on – wait for it – their cell phones to get them out of trouble. No map, no compass, no clue. I know this particular trail. A map is available for download on the town’s web site. There is signage on some areas of the trail (not all). The trail crosses a large powerline cut parallel to an informal jeep trail that can serve as a bailout point for the rail trail; a state highway is nearby. The young men were found by searchers, no worse for wear. I hope they learned from their experience and that they stay adventurous – but a bit smarter.

I say these things at  my peril, knowing that I am one bad decision away from needing rescue myself, but here goes: I wish there were a way to disable the cell phone of any hiker who isn’t carrying a map of the area she’s exploring. I wish no one could buy a GPS or use a GPS app without first demonstrating competence with a map and compass. I wish we would all stop putting batteries where our brains ought to be. I always carry my phone when I’m out, but I’d be a fool to consider it my first line of protection.

(Karma might swat me for being critical of others. When that happens, I’ll make sure my embarrassment is on full display here.)

If you’re not familiar with HikeSafe and the Hiker Responsibility Code, check out the HikeSafe web site. It’s good for me to review the material now and then.

Get outside, by all means. Just be careful!


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  1. Pingback: Hobbling ’round Monadnock | Granite State Walker

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