Experts share hiking safety tips after multiple weekend rescue m - FOX Carolina 21

Experts share hiking safety tips after multiple weekend rescue missions

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Scene of search area for two missing hikers in Bald Rock. (9/17/17 FOX Carolina) Scene of search area for two missing hikers in Bald Rock. (9/17/17 FOX Carolina)
(FOX Carolina) -

Scott Kilgore knows the area's woods like the back of his hand. He said he's been hiking around the Upstate since he was a kid, always prepared for anything.

"Of course you need a lighter and batteries to go with your flashlight," Kilgore said. “I always bring a big water bottle.”

He's been a scout master for the boy scouts for more than 17 years now, and said he's teaching the next generation of outdoorsmen. Kilgore knows firsthand just how dangerous the wilderness can be, especially at night.

"In the fall, the leaves falling down on the trail creates problems,” Kilgore said. “It's amazing how the trail gets obscured, so it's easy to get off the trail."

Several search parties, even helicopters stayed busy over the weekend with injured or lost hikers. The Department of Natural Resources said in the woods anything can happen, but getting off trail is what leads to accidents.

"If I was going to give someone going out on a hike one piece of advice, it would be to let someone know where you are going," said Spokesman Greg Lucas.

DNR said many state park grounds have kiosks with cards you can fill out letting park rangers know where you're going, how many are in your hiking party and what time you left. Lucas said that vital information can save lives.

"If you are somewhere in a 10,000 acre park in Northern Greenville County, for instance, and they have no idea where to start looking, it's going to be a while before they find you,” Lucas said. “But if you tell them you were on such and such trail, that will help tremendously."

The DNR spokesman said map reading skills are also a must, even in this day of technology.

"Batteries on our phones die or you can't get a satellite signal and then the GPS on your phone that shows where you are is not going to work," Lucas said.

There is one thing they both stress. Kilgore and Lucas have explored off the beaten path, but they said if something does happen with an injury or getting lost, hikers have to stay put.

"Searchers will look for you on a grid,” Kilgore said. “And if you are moving around, they may have cleared a grid and you moved into it. That means they may have a harder time finding you."

The outdoorsmen suggest staying put at a trail junction or someplace where other hikers might pass by.

"You may want to carry some energy snacks or something in case you get lost," Kilgore said. “Always pack supplies and be prepared.”

Experts said it's important to stay calm if something does happen. They also suggest if you're in a group, letting the youngest or the weakest set the pace at the front of the group.    

Another big thing - bring plenty of water. In the heat, they said that's the biggest mistake they see.

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