YOSEMITE -- Search and rescue operations are not unusual at the park.
With a span of nearly 1,200 square miles, and millions of visitors per year, rangers and search teams routinely venture out to look for lost, hurt or sick hikers attracted to Yosemite National Park's wild beauty but unaware of or ill-prepared for its rough terrain's dangers.
This year, rangers started a search and rescue blog on the park's Web site to provide lessons from the field. In fact, the blog is called Search and Rescue.
Some basic safety tips:
Hike with a buddy or a group when you can.
Make people aware of your planned route and time of return. This is especially important for people who enjoy nature in solitude, but also a good idea for anyone. A father and daughter who got stranded in July were lucky enough to get cell phone service unusual at Yosemite and many wilderness areas but they also had provided that information to people at home, making it easier for searchers to narrow their focus.
In the case of Jessica Garcia, a park employee who was stranded for three days before searchers found her Tuesday, nobody knew where she was. She had just moved to the Wawona area for a new job and hadn't even met her roommate yet, said Garcia's aunt, Darlene Cunningham. An avid hiker, Garcia had told relatives she planned to look around to get the lay of the land.
Know the limits of your abilities. A team had to rescue rappellers on El Capitan in August. Although they were experienced climbers, they lacked the skills necessary to tackle El Cap.
Carry first-aid supplies. Blisters, broken bones and burns are common. The blog includes the story of a woman burned when she spilled boiling water meant to wash pots. Rangers caution campers to keep an eye on children, who might be enticed to play in what looks like cold ashes from last night's campfire, only to burn themselves on smoldering embers.
Bring the correct equipment proper shoes (which you've broken in), long-sleeved shirts and pants to guard against injury, walking sticks if needed.
Food, water and sunscreen also are important, said Yosemite spokeswoman Kari Cobb. So is a light. "If I remember anything, it's a light," she said. Even on a sunny day, thick vegetation can make for dark conditions. "You can't go anywhere if you can't see where you're going."
On the Net: www.nps.gov/ yose/blogs/psarblog.htm.