I used to love to go hiking by myself. When I first moved to L.A., I didn’t have a job for about 3 months. So, I went hiking. Everywhere. Two or three times a week. I would grab a bottle of water and be gone for hours at a time, not telling anyone where I was going. People warned me about mountain lions and snakes, etc. But it was in my blood. I had to go.
I never thought about being murdered.
Meredith Emerson disappeared with her dog while hiking Blood Mountain in Georgia on New Year’s Day. Authorities found Meredith’s decapitated body on Monday. Officials are now saying she was alive 3 days after she first disappeared. According to reports, Meredith was last seen with murder suspect Gary Michael Hilton, as their dogs played along a hiking trail.
But that was Georgia. That could never happen here. Could it?
Here’s a checklist from the American Hiking Society that could save your life:
- Always carry a map and compass with you, and know how to use them.
- Whenever possible, hike with a friend. There is safety in numbers. Most of my longest lasting friendships were initially forged on hiking trails.
- If you are new to an area or don’t have friends or family who are interested in joining you on a hike, don’t let that discourage you. Consider joining a local hiking club. American Hiking Society has more than 250 affiliate members. You can search our Alliance database for a hiking organization in your area.
- Let your friends and family know where you are going, and when you are expected to return. This is very important. It could make all the difference in a search and rescue operation should you become lost or incapacitated on the trail.
- Carry the 10 essentials with you in your backpack (PDF 109 KB).
- Follow your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, it might not be. If you find yourself with a gut feeling that things aren’t quite right, be attentive. Listen to your instincts. Report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.
- Look out for your fellow hikers. That could take many forms, including taking First Aid and CPR training so that you can be prepared to assist in the event of an emergency. I plan to renew my expired certification soon.
- Stay on the trail! Do not wander off into areas that you are unfamiliar with. If you change your hiking plans, be sure to notify your friends and family of the change in your itinerary.
- Pass along this message by teaching your children these tips on how to stay safe.
Some good advice, for sure. You can never be over-prepared for a hike or a camping trip.
If you’re up for it this weekend, and you dig you some historic ruins, check out the Mt. Lowe Railway Loop.