Safety tips for hiking outdoors as temperatures drop
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – As the weather and clocks change, search and rescue volunteers are preparing to handle more calls for help.
“You can hike all day, it’s not too hot in the afternoon, and you can layer up and be outside in the morning,” said Nicole Appelman.
Nicole Appelman hikes part of La Luz Trail nearly every day.
“It is awesome. It is one of the best amenities of living in New Mexico. Our outside lands, our hot springs, our hiking, our skiing, our hot air balloons,” said Appelman.
But some of our best amenities can also be some of our most dangerous. A search and rescue rep says that can be especially true if you’re not prepared.
“When we respond up there, I never thought I’d have to call for help. I’m too good of a hiker to be in this situation, but that mountain is very notorious for doing that kind of stuff,” said Bob Rodgers with New Mexico Search and Rescue.
His volunteers have responded to 26 calls for help so far this year just in the Sandias. That’s up from 17 calls in all of 2022.
As temperatures are expected to drop, they expect a rise in calls.
“Last week we were experiencing around 30 degrees Fahrenheit up there on that mountain, so it can get and does get below freezing up there,” said Rodgers.
Once we start to see snow in the Sandias the trails bring an entirely new set of challenges.
“Can get in a position where it’s too slippery to move and too dangerous even to go back down the way you came at times. So they wind up what we call stranded; they can neither move up or down,” Rodgers said.
He says bring layers, water, and even something to start a fire if you plan to hike when there’s a possibility of snow.
As the sun sets earlier, a headlamp with new batteries is a good idea.
“I myself will time my hikes and exercise to where I am not outside by myself after dark on the trail,” said Appelman.
But if you ever do get caught in a situation, Rodgers says don’t wait to call for help.
“It’s when you don’t call for help, and you put yourself in a worse situation, and then you potentially increase that time that you’re out there in that cold temperature, getting cold, hypothermia it actually will cause more problems,” said Rodgers.
Rodgers reiterated how crucial it is to tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
If you want to become a search and rescue volunteer, contact Bob Rodgers at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org.