Opinion: Respect the outdoors

Chilliwack has some remarkable terrain. But that beauty and scenic serenity can mask its risks.

Elk Mountain Trail.

The death of a hiker near Lindeman Lake on the weekend marks a tragic start to the summer season in the back country.

It also serves as an important reminder of the dangers that exist on even some of the easier trails, and the care that must always be taken.

Chilliwack has some remarkable terrain. It’s beauty and accessibility makes it a popular playground for much of the Lower Mainland.

But that beauty and scenic serenity can mask its risks.

We see it every year: A refreshing dip in the river that turns deadly; an ATV ride that ends in injury; a walk in the woods that becomes an overnight ordeal.

Every year volunteers from Chilliwack Search and Rescue are called out to help those who have found themselves in trouble. The volunteers respond to some 60 to 70 calls each year, “to help those in need who by misfortune, lack of experience or poor judgment find themselves in trouble.”

But while the risks are real, that doesn’t mean Chilliwack’s great outdoors should be avoided.

It just needs to be respected.

Preparation is key, even for a simple hike.

Dress for the conditions; pack the proper gear (including water in this heat); don’t travel alone; stay on the trail; and, tell people where you are going and when you’ll be back.

Most important: know your abilities and your limitations.

If you are in or around the water, remember a personal floatation device. Streams and rivers are unpredictable, and change from year to year. They are cold and the currents are strong, even for an experienced swimmer. Do not underestimate them.

Chilliwack is on the doorstep of some of the most spectacular rivers and trails in the country.

It’s also home to a dedicated bunch of search and rescue volunteers who are responsible for more than 1,100 square kilometres of challenging terrain.

Let’s try not to keep them any busier than they already are this year.

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