Hiking Tip for Glacier Park, Grand Teton Park and Yellowstone Park: NEVER HIKE OR CLIMB ALONE

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Here’s a really important hiking tip for Glacier National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park: NEVER HIKE OR CLIMB ALONE! This is one of the fundamental rules of spending time not only in the mountains, but also the prairie, desert, or anywhere in the great outdoors.  Because there are so many things that can go wrong while spending time in these places, it is essential that you have a hiking partner with you to help avoid several potential disasters.

Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park offer incredible hiking and climbing opportunities, and if you follow this basic advice, you will have a far more pleasant and safer hiking and/or climbing experience.  We hike over 1,400 miles a year in these magnificent parks, and we occasionally see the lone hiker or mountain climber deep in the backcountry, and we of course don’t say a word, but we are definitely thinking that their decision to hike or climb alone is not a good one.

Yes, we understand that some people really need to literally “get away from it all”, which includes getting away from humans and human interaction, and some folks do not truly feel free unless they are literally “alone with the wilderness”.  We understand that desire… we truly do.  However, there can be consequences that may not be what that lone hiker or climber bargained for.  Below are several reasons why we feel it is essential to always have a hiking or climbing partner….

If you are hiking or climbing alone in Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, or Grand Teton National Park, and you become ill for whatever reason, if you don’t have someone with you, you could be in big trouble.  We’ve come across hikers who have had conditions ranging from a heart attack, flu, dehydration, heat stroke, pulmonary edema, appendicitis, to passing a kidney stone.  If you experience any acute illness in the backcounty and there is no one to help you OR NO ONE TO GO GET HELP, you could be in really big trouble.  The illness may not kill you, but hypothermia just might if you become incapacitated and cannot stay warm during a storm or after the sun goes down.

Another obvious reason why you should never hike or climb alone is in the event you get injured.  Even a simple ankle sprain could become a dangerous situation if you don’t have someone to go get help.  More serious injuries such as a broken bone (or bones), internal injuries or brain injuries as a result of a fall, make it even more critical that someone is there to help you and to get help fast.

If you are alone, injured and can’t walk, you are in really big trouble. This is when a hiking partner can save your life by helping you at the site and by getting help.  Don’t let a sprained ankle, concussion or broken bone end up costing you your life.

If you’re alone, you’re on your own.  This may seem really obvious, but it must not be so obvious to some outdoor enthusiasts because we have come across lone hikers and lone climbers in some of the most remote areas in Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.

Statistically, the more people you have with you while hiking or climbing, the less likely a grizzly will mess with you.  If fact, just having 3 hikers together dramatically decreases the chance of a problem with a grizzly bear.  Hiking or climbing alone is statistically the most dangerous situation when it comes to grizzly bears because you pose such a little threat to them.   In those rare instances where a grizzly is actually considering you to be his/her next meal, being alone creates a greater likelihood that that particular bear will see this as an easy opportunity.

And by the way, we’ve met grizzlies on top of some of the highest peaks in Glacier National Park, so you NEVER know where you are going to come across one of these amazing animals.  And when you do, you do not want to be alone because that will dramatically increase the chances of a real problem.

We’ve had lone hikers and climbers tell us through the years that if they get into trouble, that’s their problem, and they are prepared to face the consequences… it was worth the risk to them to enjoy the great outdoors without having any one else around.  Well that’s fine and dandy until one thinks about this:  When that particular hiker doesn’t come back when he/she was supposed to (that is assuming this person told someone when he/she was expecting to return….which is also a golden rule), then there are more people involved in their “consequences” than just themselves.

When a hiker or climber doesn’t return when expected, then many men and women of a search and rescue team are called in, as well as potentially many other people volunteering to help.  These people are now putting themselves at risk to find this lone hiker or climber.  If the weather goes bad, or the search is in some really treacherous terrain, then these search and rescue team members are actually putting their lives on the line to find and rescue this lone hiker and climber.

Now of course if this lone hiker or climber doesn’t tell anyone where he or she is going and when he or she is to be expected back, that exponentially increases the nightmare of finding that person because now the search and rescue team are literally trying to find a needle in a really, really big haystack.

When things go bad, every hiker or climber needs to have someone by their side to help them and to go get help if necessary. Otherwise, a bad situation just became a whole lot worse. What could have been a simple and quick rescue may turn into a disastrous and/or fatal situation.

We love the mountains and love hiking and climbing in them as much as anyone, but we also respect the mountains and know that anything can happen at any time.  We want you to enjoy them as well, but we also want you to be safe.  So we hope that everyone who reads this article takes our advice seriously and will always hike or climb with at least one other person.  The mountains of Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are going to be here for you to enjoy for your entire life… and the longer you’re alive and well on this planet, the more time you will have to explore them.  Please be safe by hiking and climbing with a partner, and get out there and Enjoy Your Parks!

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