Many easy-to-access trails are found locally, making hiking and walking popular pastimes during the warmer and longer days of spring and summer.
According to Rick Laing, team manager of the Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue team, one of the more attempted trails by residents and visitors to the area during that time is Panorama Ridge.
Located in Golden Ears park, the trail leading up to Panorama Ridge is one of the more difficult treks. The 12km trail, with an elevation change of 1,500m, takes about seven hours to complete, one way.
Although this trail offers a spectacular view of Pitt Lake and its surroundings, it is a challenging trail on which people have found themselves getting into dangerous situations. That’s why Laing advises people to take precautions and follow a list of safety tips when taking a hike or walk, be it on the most easy or difficult of trails.
“The biggest problem with people attempting something like Panorama Ridge is probably that people overestimate their own abilities and underestimate the trail,” Laing said.
His five safety tips are: tell somebody where you’re going and when you’re expected to come back; use proper equipment; know the area and familiarize yourself with the trail; hike with somebody; and know your limitations.
“Sometimes people just don’t think the trail is that difficult when they try to attempt it,” he said. “But in most cases it turns out that it is.”
Some of the equipment Laing suggests people take with them, especially if staying overnight are: a map of the area and a compass, and make sure you know how to use both; a pocket knife; a large orange garbage bag, which is useful to use as emergency shelter; a signaling device; rainwear; waterproof matches and a fire starter; a flashlight and spare batteries.
Ensure the weather forecast and hazards are checked prior to departure. Pack extra food and water and to have a first-aid kit, extra clothing and any other extras, such as a whistle, flare, sun protection and tarp.
“Most of the injuries that take place at Panorama Ridge happen when people are descending,” Laing said. “They decide to short-cut off, and that’s when they come across the problems.”
The most recent incident where Laing and his team were called out to Panorama Ridge was in September 2006. A Burnaby man had been hiking in Golden Ears park for several days and lost the trail after leaving the Panorama Ridge shelter that morning. He was fatigued and injured his leg. He was able to make cell phone contact – an unusual occurrence – and search and rescue was able to determine his location and track him down.
For more on local trails, or safety tips, visit the Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue website at www.rmsar.bc.ca.