Utah County search and rescue crews encouraging hikers to be prepared this spring

Apr 22, 2024, 6:59 PM | Updated: Apr 23, 2024, 6:56 am

PLEASANT GROVE With warmer weather in the forecast, that means more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. But that could come at a cost if you’re not prepared.

The reminder comes after an overdue hiker from Washington was found safe and unharmed after he was reported missing over the weekend.

While it the best possible outcome for his family and first responders, it’s not the case for everyone.

“(Calls are) already picking up for people who are lost or are stranded or fallen,” said Steve Gorrell, incident commander with the Utah County Sherriff’s Office Search and Rescue.

Gorrell said it’s important to learn to be prepared this time of year, which can bring certain challenges to hikers depending on the route they take.

“It is really warm down in the valley, but above about 8,500 feet, there’s still a significant amount of snow,” he said.

Hikers generally go up not prepared with the right clothing, and they will get wet or cold.

“Hikers get fatigued a lot quicker and they’re just not prepared for how much snow is still at the higher elevations,” Gorrell said. “And because of the coldness and fatigue, then often they call us when they’re worn out or they lose the trail because the snow covers a trail.”

Tips to keep in mind

Gorrell said the overdue hiker did the right thing by letting people know what his plan was and packed accordingly.

“It’s really important to let somebody know where you’re going and what time you think you leave and what time you think you’ll be back,” he said.

Gorrell added depending on the hike, it’s important to bring several liters of water, or a water filter, food, extra clothes and items to keep you warm, even something to start a fire. He said it’s important to pack items that can help you survive for a day or night, if you get lost, or in Gorrell’s case if he has to stay with a victim overnight.

He also recommended having a map downloaded on your phone or GPS. But Gorrell said if you think you’re lost it’s important to call for help immediately, especially before your phone dies.

“Call 911 sooner rather than later. Don’t wait till it’s dark either to figure out,” he said.

While easier said than done, Gorrel said do not panic.

“Know that we can get to people pretty quick and we have lots of resources. Another thing people don’t always recognize is we don’t charge for any of our services,” he said. “We love to come out and help people and we don’t care how they got where they’re at.”

The best possible outcome in any case is to help anyone get to safety and reunite with their family.

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Utah County search and rescue crews encouraging hikers to be prepared this spring