For my New Hampshire readers, here’s a plea from me: if you haven’t purchased a Hike Safe card for 2023, please do so now. Even if you’re sure you’ll never need to be rescued, buy one anyway. It will be a small way of supporting the state’s Search and Rescue fund. Sadly, demands on the fund never let up.
TL;DR: Take out a credit card, go online to the New Hampshire Fish and Game’s Hike Safe page, and plunk down $25 for a virtual card covering an individual, $35 for a family. If a Hike Safe cardholder needs to be rescued in the course of an outdoor activity, she or he will not in most cases be assessed for the cost of the rescue. Just get the card. Don’t wait.
I write this as I hear news about a hiker who perished upstate while attempting a solo hike on a mountain ridge in winter weather. A few weeks ago, another hiker lost her life in the same area. Rescue attempts, which became recovery missions, involved professional conservation officers from New Hampshire Fish and Game plus many volunteers.
Those same volunteers and first responders would come out even if the trail were less challenging. They don’t write off any of us. Missing hikers, once reported overdue by family or friends, spark a search-and-rescue mission.
I know from experience that hikes can go awry even in good weather on heavily-traveled trails. (A particularly embarrassing day on Monadnock comes to mind.) While I haven’t yet inspired any rescue missions, I’m uncomfortably aware that this could change anytime. I carry simple essentials even for short hikes, but even so, bad stuff happens now and then.
Ninety percent of my trail miles are on flat trails within an hour of my home. I buy a Hike Safe card every year anyway. It’s cheap insurance against being assessed some hefty costs arising from my own negligence. More importantly, the card lets me as a hiker contribute to the readiness of search-and-rescue teams.
Hunters, anglers, and anyone registering a boat, OHRV, or snowmobile already contribute to the Search and Rescue fund as part of their license and registration fees. Hikers don’t need a license. We can pull our weight, so to speak, by purchasing the Hike Safe card.