Laurie Morphet of Port Alberni was hiking on Mt. Arrowsmith in June when she spotted a Vancouver Island Marmot near the peak. LAURIE MORPHET PHOTO

Laurie Morphet of Port Alberni was hiking on Mt. Arrowsmith in June when she spotted a Vancouver Island Marmot near the peak. LAURIE MORPHET PHOTO

EDITORIAL: In the wild, be prepared

Those of us on Vancouver Island are lucky to have such a treasure-trove of wildnerness to draw on throughout the year.

With beaches, trails, rivers and mountains to explore, it’s no wonder so many flock to the area come summer time.

But, without taking the proper precautions, a simple hike into the woods or a swimming trip to a river can quickly lead to an unexpected and frightening night spent in a dark forest, or worse.

Just ask the father and five-year-old daughter who went swimming July 15 in the Parksville area but didn’t return home that night. They were found the next morning by Arrowsmith Search and Rescue (ASAR) and Oceanside RCMP after spending the night outdoors. They’re the lucky ones as one of the searches ASAR was involved in mid-Island ended without the lost 82-year-old being found.

ASAR is again advising those taking excursions out into the wild, even to nearby rivers, to take extra precautions. They include learning more about the area you wish to explore. We suggest finding out how long a hike should take, if there is cell reception, how steep the incline is, and how close the nearest populated area is.

If it’s your first time to go hiking, why not find a group of experienced people to do it with? Getting involved with local groups can provide security in numbers and lots of useful local knowledge.

Another thing to remember is to pack water and food — probably more than you think you’ll need. Tell people where you are going so they are aware if you’re not back at an expected time. Also, take a look at the weather forecast to consider if rainjackets or warm clothes might be a good idea.

It’s best not to be complacent and assuming. It’s easy to get disoriented in a wooded forest. A wrong turn can lead to a bad and dangerous situation.

Always take caution and be prepared.

You can still get into a bad situation even if you do take the proper precautions. Members of the newspaper have recounted times where, despite taking many hikes throughout their lives, they’ve found themselves in a potentially dangerous situation. One said they lost their way heading back down a mountain, but, luckily, found that the GPS on their phone still worked. They weren’t too far from the trail.

Another said they headed up a mountain without knowing how long it would take. The weather turned bad, but they were determined to make the summit. Luckily, hikers going the other way turned them back.

Please take caution, and be prepared.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News