Backpackers photograph a storm heading their way. PHOTO BY JANA BOUNDS

Essential preparation for fall adventuring

Gallatin County Search and Rescue provides pointers

Countless hikers hit the trail during fall noting the warm temperatures starting-off  – and then are caught off guard with rain, sleet and snow. A fall hike can run the gamut. This time of year, there is an incredibly thin line between a good time and hypothermia. Confusion suffered by hypothermic hikers and hunters can often cause them to do things that further lessen their chances of survival. Some have been known to remove hiking boots before hitting snowfields. They can forget about food in their packs. Avoiding hypothermia means hikers need to gear-up. As Mother Nature shifts seasons, temperatures can swing around 40 degrees in a single day – so carrying extra provisions and clothing in preparation of winter and summer conditions is essential.

This is a busy time of year for those charged with helping recreationists in the backcountry. Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue (GCSAR) Commander Scott Secor said he commends the dedication and the determination of GCSAR volunteers in their ability to put others before themselves.

“To offer their service and give back to the community they live in is just incredible,” he said. Fall months are challenging and their services are regularly required.

Commander Secor iterates how essential it is for hikers to make noise on the trail, carry – and know how to use – bear spray, and have the means to summon help if it is needed. 

“Leaving someone with the knowledge of where you will be hunting, hiking or recreating is a crucial piece in search and rescue operations,” he said. Having a better idea of where to search helps prevent wasted time in a SAR operation.

Now is the time for “heavy-pack season.”

Here is the fall backcountry preparation list provided by GCSAR:

Take sun protection, even if it is chilly when you leave the house.

Carry a warm jacket or puffy coat with you, even if it is 75 degrees when you leave the trailhead.

Add a hat and pair of warm gloves to the bottom of your pack.

Stay hydrated and take plenty of water.

Get a cheap tarp to slip in the back of your pack, in the water bladder or back-support sleeve, to protect you from cold rain or wet snow.

Wear bright colors so you don’t look like a deer or elk.

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