Hiking Safety Tips:
For Mount Washington (New Hampshire)
by the New Hampshire Fish
& Game Department

Every year, unprepared hikers from the summit of Mt. Washington are rescued
-- which serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of refreshing yourself
on safe hiking principles before heading out on the trail this time of year.

Dressed only for summer temperatures, and setting out late in the day for a
difficult hike, these hikers are often unprepared for the winter conditions they
encounter at the higher altitudes of the summit.

Their second mistake: they fail to turn back when they ran into trouble.

"Hikers, especially on Mt. Washington,
should never count on buildings being
open to provide a safe haven -- or
assume that staff will be around
to help you get back down," said
New Hampshire Fish and Game
Department Lt. Todd Bogardus,
who coordinates the hikeSafe initiative.

"It's a beautiful time of year to hike in New Hampshire, with crisp air, colorful
foliage and glimpses of wildlife preparing for winter," said Bogardus. "But
hikers must be equipped with gear and extra warm clothing this time of year.
You should be prepared for winter-like conditions, such as snow, high winds,
rain and exposure to extreme weather at the higher summits."

Bogardus also cautions that because the days are growing shorter, night can fall
quickly. Hikers should prepare for being caught out after dark -- carry a
flashlight or headlamp, even if you're not planning to stay out late.

Also, snow and ice at higher altitudes can obscure signs, so hikers should be
equipped with a map and compass and know how to use them.

Hunting seasons are already underway in New Hampshire, so it's a good idea
to wear bright colors such as red or orange when out on the trails.

Watch your step, because wet autumn leaves can be very slick, and when on the
trail, always stay together as a group. Before you head out, be sure to tell
someone where you're going and how long you'll be gone.

"The weather is extremely unpredictable this time of year, so we encourage
people to be prepared with the right knowledge and gear to have a fun time,
safely. If you do experience unexpected conditions that affect your hike, like
fatigue or weather changes, be responsible and turn back -- the mountains will
be there another day," says Bogardus.

He recommends carrying the "Ten Essentials" on every trip: map and compass,
warm clothing (including hat and mittens), extra food and water, flashlight or
headlamp, matches/firestarters, first aid kit, whistle, rain/wind gear and a
pocket knife.

As you plan your fall hiking, visit
Hike Safe for more safe hiking tips, plus links
to websites like the Mt. Washington Observatory for weather updates and other
information to help plan your trip. Enjoy the fall, review the hiker responsibility
code, and hike safe!


You are responsible for yourself, so be prepared:

> With knowledge and gear. Become self-reliant by learning about the terrain,
conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.

> To leave your plans. Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are
hiking, when you'll return and your emergency plans.

> To stay together. When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group.
Pace your hike to the slowest person.

> To turn back. Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and
unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and
when to postpone your hike. The mountains will be there another day.

> For emergencies, even if you are headed out for just an hour. An injury,
severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Don't assume
you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.

> To share the hiker code with others.

The Hike Safe educational initiative is a result of a partnership between New
Hampshire Fish and Game and White Mountain National Forest. It was
designed to help reduce the numbers of search and rescue incidents and
emergencies by educating outdoor users on proper preparation.

For more information about Hike Safe, visit
Hike Safe, or contact Lt. Todd
Bogardus of N.H. Fish and Game, (603) 744-5470; or Rebecca Oreskes of the
White Mountain National Forest, (603) 466-2713 x212.
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Mt. Washington...Photo courtesy of Mt. Washington Observatory
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You should be prepared for
winter-like conditions, such
as snow, high winds, rain
and exposure to extreme
weather at the higher