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Angeles National Forest: How to Plan a Safe Hike

Authorities from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Crescenta Valley Station, released these tips for safe hiking in Angeles National Forest.

The foothills and mountains see balmy, 70 degree days and then sub-freezing temperatures during the winter season, according to the .  

Montrose Search and Rescue Team rescued three hikers Sunday at Islip Saddle, a man and two dogs were stranded in snow near the summitt of Mount Baden-Powell on Dec. 31 and a moaning man who apparently swallowed draining cleaner in Lopez Canyon on Dec. 28. 

For hikers and day travelers, there are several useful tips to avoid cold injuries from sheriff's deputies.

Here are several ways to plan a safe hike, prepared by Montrose Search and Rescue Reserve Deputy John Rodarte: 

  • Plan Ahead. Prepare yourself and your car for winter travel. Chains may be needed if driving in icy conditions. Slow down when driving on icy roads. 
  • Dress warmly and stay dry. Layers are usually best, including mittens for the hands and a wool cap for the head. Synthetic inner layers wick moisture. Outer Gortex layers keep you dry. Bring a change of clothing to get out of any wet clothes. 
  • Avoid over-exerting yourself at high altitude. Most people are not accustomed to the lower oxygen content at altitude, leading to difficulty catching your breath. In addition, over-exertion can lead to sweating, which can hasten cold injuries such as hypothermia (lowered body temperature). 
  • Eat and drink wisely: Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can both lead to dehydration and predispose to frostbite. Drink plenty of fluids, especially warm drinks. Eating regularly can improve energy stores and heat production. 
  • Avoid walking on icy trails, unless you have appropriate equipment, such as crampons, ice axe and a helmet, and also know how to use your equipment. 
  • Be safe during recreation: Sled feet first down slopes of less than 30 Degrees which are clear of obstructions such as trees and end with a flat runoff; wear appropriate protective gear when snowboarding or skiing, especially a helmet; and avoid snow play near a road or highway where cars can skid into you in icy conditions. 
  • Pay attention to travel advisories: Check road conditions atwww.dot.ca.gov/roadsandtraffic.html
  • Never go alone into the wilderness. However, if you must travel alone, always let someone else know where you are going and when you plan to return 
  • Recognize the early signs of hypothermia and frostbite. Children and people older than 65 are at greater risk for developing hypothermia. Symptoms may include shivering, lethargy, clumsiness and slurred speech. Frostbite occurs most commonly in the fingers, toes, ears and nose. Someone with frostbite may complain that his or her skin “burns” or has become numb, and skin may look pale, gray or blistered. 

Area mountains make for great winter resource, however, local mountain search and rescue teams are deployed each year to assist people in need.

Plan your hike ahead of time by filling out the Sheriff's Hiking Plan Sheet: http://file.lacounty.gov/lasd/cms1_163961.pdf

Officials also encourage hikers to tell family or friends where they are headed. 

"You should tell family and friends what your plans are and provide a list of who will be going with you. That’s why the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department would like to remind the residents of Los Angeles County that having a hiking, camping plan is crucial to survival in case of an emergency," Rodarte said in a prepared news release. 

For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control’s camping website at http://www.cdc.gov/family/camping/.  

RT January 17, 2013 at 08:39 PM
Good tips although I don't know how anyone could eyeball a slope and tell that it was less that 30 degrees. There are some smartphone apps that measure slope but none that I have seen that don't require you to lay them down and that won't work in snow unless you have a waterproof case. Perhaps there is a more practical tip S&R can provide for measuring the degree of slope?

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