Winter has fallen on the trails of the North Shore mountains – and so have a lot of ill-equipped hikers.
North Shore Rescue is asking anyone headed into the bush to be prepared for slippery and potentially dangerous conditions.
“I was just out for a walk on the Baden Powell Trail and the wood bridges are treacherous right now. My dog went flying off the bridge,” said Mike Danks, North Shore Rescue team leader. “It’s very dangerous, so people need to be very cognizant of that.”
Anyone hiking where snow and ice have begun to accumulate should be wearing microspikes (steel spikes on rubber straps that slip over hiking boots) “at minimum,” Danks said.
On Sunday evening, the team mobilized to search out and retrieve two visiting Irish hikers who got off-trail on their return from Dog Mountain and spent two hours bushwhacking downhill.
“They didn’t have extra clothing. They didn’t have lights. They didn’t have the proper gear with them,” Danks said. “It should serve as a reminder for everyone. The seasons have changed. We need to be dressed appropriately and have appropriate gear and footwear with us.”
Danks is also hoping to see more people adopting satellite phones. Typical cellphones often lose coverage in the mountains, and winter rescues mean higher stakes for everyone involved.
“You fall and injure yourself in these temperatures, it can go sideways for you real fast,” Danks said.
The backcountry trails through the Hanes Valley – including Crown Mountain, Coliseum Mountain and Lynn Lake – are now closed for the season due to high water flows and snow in the forecast.
North Shore Rescue is on track to break even more records for the number of call-outs in one year, but Danks said the team’s members are in good shape heading into the second busy season of the year.