Hiking safety

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Earlier this month, a father and his two sons set out on a hike through Mark Twain National Forest's Ozark Trail. The area is about 100 miles west of Cape Girardeau. What started out as a nice day turned tragic.

David Decareaux, 36, was an experienced hiker. But conditions that developed on this trip -- a drastic temperature drop, rain and waning daylight -- became too much. Ultimately the father and his sons, ages 8 and 10, died.

This heart-wrenching story is even tougher to comprehend considering the three were offered a ride back to the lodge one day before they were found.

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of these individuals. During the memorial service, Sarah Decareaux, wife and mother to the deceased, read Bible verses that were highlighted in her husband's Bible. As the family leans heavily on their faith, we pray that they experience comfort from Almighty God.

Looking back on this story, consider the importance of being prepared. Though the hikers did have a flashlight, cellphone and some food, they lacked a compass, cold weather supplies and appropriate clothing for the colder temperatures.

Pete Olsen, the American Hiking Society's vice president of programs, said in an Associated Press story that it's important to tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Rain gear, extra food, layers of clothing and a whistle are important to have.

Whether you're an experienced hiker or are planning to go for the first time, please consider these tips and others for hiking safety.

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