PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Following the recent death of a hiker who fell at Mt. Rainier National Park, Pierce County Explorer Search and Rescue crews want to make sure hikers are prepared before they hit the trails.
For more than 20 years, Keith Schlemlein has rescued the injured and the lost on Washington trails. Sometimes crews get there when it is too late.
That's why Schlemlein said knowing how to handle certain situations could save your life. People often become their own worst enemy when they realize they are lost, he said.
"Stay put. People [who] tend to get lost also take off. They may go down a drainage, try to find their way out. The best thing to do is stay where you are at [and] we'll get to you that way."
Schlemlein also said it is a good idea to have a plan. Let someone know where you are going and, if possible, don't hike alone.
Hikers need to make sure they always have these essentials with them: a firestarter, a map and compass (if not carry an GPS), tools such as a knife and repair gear, a headlamp, a first-aid kit, sun protection, shelter, food, water and rain gear and insulation. For more detail on the essentials, check out Washington Trails Association's 10 essentials list.
"When I talk about extra clothing I mean a fleece jacket, a wool sweater and rain gear," Schlemlein said. "You always want to have rain gear with you because our weather changes so much."