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July 17, 2019
Hiker Safety
By Karen Gradel
We hike for a variety of reasons, for physical fitness, to challenge themselves, to explore nature. We pack our backpacks and head out never thinking that we won’t get from point A to point B without a problem.
In May a Berks county woman walking her dog got lost on the on the Tom Lowe Trail. I’m sure she thought she was just going for a short hike since she didn’t have any food or water with her. The idea she would spend the night hunkered down outside never crossed her mind. This should be a lesson for us to not get too comfortable even on a short or familiar trail.
Having a fully charged cell phone with you to call for help is basic item to carry with you but there are dead spots on the trail with no cell service so make sure you tell someone where you will be and what time you will be back. And check in with that person when you return. Always take water with you and for longer hikes a protein bar, water filter and thermal blanket should be in your pack. You should carry a first aid kit and make sure you keep it updated and replenished as you use items from it. And a tip from Michelle Hinkle is to carry your old expired Driver’s License in your backpack for identification.
If possible hike with a companion, there is safety in numbers. While the trail is usually a tranquil place where there is a real comradery among the ‘trail family’ sometimes the violence from the outside world creeps in. One such incident happened in May 2019 when one hiker was murdered and another in-jured by an unstable person. Even though the group of four hikers made the decision to leave the area where the unstable person was, two of the hikers were still overpowered. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel uncomfortable get out of the area as soon as you can. And make sure you report anything unusual to the local authorities. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy says ‘If you see something, say something’. The Nation Park Service has a 24 hour Dispatch/Communications Center which can be reached at 1-866-677-6677 or you can send an email to If you are doing trail work or hiking in our area and see something that doesn’t seem right our local Game Warden Tyler Kreider has asked that we let him know about it. The Pennsylvania Game Commission violation number is 1-888-PCG-8001 or you can reach Tyler at 610-926-3136. Safe Hiking.
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