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Regular readers of the Sedona Red Rock News know the all-too-familiar story of an inexperienced or under-equipped hiker who takes one of our trails and gets lost in the wilderness.

Tourists, occasional visitors and even locals may look at the small geographic area of Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon and the surrounding wilderness and assume they couldn’t get lost. Even if they go off the trail, it’s only a few miles from one trail to another. However, those few miles through rough terrain with unfamiliar landmarks can prove dangerous and in some instances, fatal.

News Editor Christopher Fox GrahamIn my nine years in Sedona, I’ve lost track of the number of reports from sheriff’s offices of both Coconino and Yavapai counties about hikers who went too far down West Fork, fell in a steep canyon in the Secret Canyon Wilderness Area or stayed out past sunset on Wilson Mountain and had to call for help.

Often, Sedona Fire District crews or county search and rescue teams have to hike in and take them out on a stretcher. Other times, helicopters airlift them out or drop paramedics to treat injuries until ground crews can reach them.

It’s not just tourists. One of my former roommates, a skilled rock climber, overestimated his ability a few years ago and got stuck atop a perch on Thunder Mountain. He was stranded for several hours before an SFD high-angle rope crew rescued him.

Missing persons notifications are also common in our newsroom. While some missing people are just overdue and are located a few hours or a day later, others remain missing for months until another hiker or search crews find the person’s remains. Its always heartbreaking when a missing person’s report resurfaces with a tragic discovery.

If you plan a hike around Sedona, bring plenty of water, a map, a charged cell phone, and tell others where you’re going and when you expect to return. If the trail isn’t heavily populated or you plan to be out for a few hours, also bring warmer clothes or a blanket, a signaling device, extra food and required medication.

Never, ever hike alone.

Of course, not everyone plans ahead. This is where we all need to offer a little help.

If you see someone hiking without water, ask if they need more, or gently advise them to turn back and stock up before making a long trek. Offer some of your own water if you encounter someone without any.

If you see someone hiking alone, ask them to join your hiking party.

When you encounter someone on the trail, make a mental note of their appearance and clothing. If authorities report them missing, your memory may help search and rescuers pinpoint where they were last seen.

If you find someone in distress, call 911.

Be friendly on the trails. We’re all here to enjoy the red rocks and get home safe.
















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