Nice weather has meant more people getting lost on local hiking trails. In Huntsville, it’s happening just about every week. Search and rescuers say they’re busier rescuing lost hikers in Huntsville than any other place in our state.
Captain Chris Sutphin says the rescues have been happening regularly this summer. “It’s about every weekend when it’s pretty,” he says of the rescues, most of which happen at Monte Sano, Wade Mountain, and Blevins Gap.
“They’re trying to get out there and enjoy nature, and they’re not carrying the right equipment they should be carrying,” says Sutphin.
A hike in the woods can turn scary quickly if you’re not prepared. Emalyn Blackwell knows how scary it can feel to get lost while hiking.
“We got on a trail that we thought was a loop but it was actually the wrong trail,” Blackwell says of the time she and a friend got lost at Bankhead National Forest. “We didn’t have any water. That was scary.”
Taking time to prepare can help hikers avoid getting lost. “If you’re going to go hiking, carry plenty of water, carry a GPS other than your phone, and make sure your phone battery is charged,” says Sutphin.
If you get lost and your phone is losing power, call 911 before the battery dies. Then, try to stay put.
“Once your battery dies, we cannot get a location on your phone anymore. It would be good to stay where you are because we can come to that location and find you,” says Sutphin. He also advises dressing in proper hiking attire and wearing good boots, to prevent accidents.
“It’s definitely really smart to have a GPS that’s not a phone and will work without phone signal”, says Blackwell, who says she hopes other hikers learn from her experience and take the time to prepare before hitting the trails.