Friday, October 06, 2006

Hiking in Yellowstone? Please take a map.

I enjoy day hiking in Yellowstone National Park and go for a week 1 or 2 times a year. During that time I have assisted 5 groups of hikers who were lost or didn't know what trail they were on. None had adequate maps (or perhaps any map) or a compass. Some might have been in real danger if I hadn't come along, the trail was not heavily used and the weather was changing. Some seemed to be close to panicking. I suppose that Yellowstone being a National Park may have caused them to think that the trails would be well marked, well used, and easy to follow but that isn't always true in Yellowstone or other parks I have hiked in.

Most Yellowstone trails are well marked and often well used for the first 2 to 3 miles but after that some trails are hard to follow. Animal paths confuse the main trail and the trail markers fall down and fade with time. I've hiked for several hours on some trail and not seen another person more than a mile from the trailhead.

I do a lot of hiking in the local Washington Cascade mountains and lesser amount in other National Parks, and I don't remember ever running into groups of hikers who were that lost. Yes, I often stop and exchange information with other hikers about distance, conditions, etc., but I haven't had to direct hikers to where the trail exits or tell them where they are.

Of course, you should always take a map and a compass on any trail you hike as well as the rest of the ten essentials (see http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/Essentials.htm). Why hikers in Yellowstone, as opposed to Glacier or Grand Teton or other parks don't have them isn't obvious to me. Or maybe I have just randomly met more unprepared hikers in Yellowstone than other places.

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6 Comments:

At 19/3/07 21:11, Anonymous Jason said...

It's just my opinion, but the reason for the over abundance of really lost people is that Yellowstone is where the yuppies go to experience wilderness (present company excluded from my pejorative tone). People go there and think there's going to be one of those buttons you press in Wal-Mart to have someone immediately come to your rescue when you cannot find your favorite brand of biscotti.

 
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