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October 5, 2016

Police encourage safe hiking, preparedness

As summer departs and the weather cools this fall, the Vermont State Police and Department of Public Safety would like to remind those heading out onto Vermont’s hiking trails of the ever changing conditions a hiker may encounter this time of year, especially at higher elevations. As you follow trails into the mountains, perhaps for a better view of Vermont’s spectacular foliage, you can find yourself hiking in cold conditions despite warmer weather at the trailhead. Fall rain at lower elevations can turn into an all-too-familiar wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain in the hills. Conditions on the trails above can be much colder and windy than below, allowing for potential hypothermia in individuals who are unprepared.
If hiking at higher elevations, it’s important that hikers now prepare for potential winter-like conditions. Waterproof boots (not sneakers) with traction devices, extra layers of warm clothes, a headlamp, map and compass may become necessary for a safe and successful hike. Consider turning around if you are not properly equipped or if travel and route finding becomes difficult.
Neil Van Dyke, search and rescue coordinator for the Vermont Dept. of Public Safety reports that there were several search and rescue incidents last fall involving hikers who were not properly prepared for the conditions they found at higher elevations. Hikers should get an early start and allow plenty of time, as the days are getting shorter. This year in mid-September two hikers called for assistance near Underhill State Park when they were caught by darkness and could not continue as they had not brought headlamps.

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