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In hurricane’s aftermath, use common sense outdoors

November 8, 2012

If you’re thinking about taking a hike in a park or wooded area after Hurricane Sandy, your favorite hiking trail is going to look totally different today than it did a week ago. Trees and branches are likely to be down and trees will have lost most if not all of their leaves.

Lisa Lyons of Morgan Outdoors and a group of volunteers took to a section of the Finger Lakes Trail in the Catskills Park north of Livingston Manor on Tuesday to clean up debris. They were surprised not to find more damage. “But that’s the story with this storm,” Lyons said. “It was so localized. It was different from hill to dale and from one township to another.”

Bottom line for Lyons is to use common sense if you’re hiking after this storm. As she and her group proceeded with their cleanup, they were constantly checking to see what was hanging overhead out over the trail. “Pay attention to what’s around you,” she said, even while carrying on conversation with your fellow hikers.

Because it’s archery season for hunting, “be sure to wear blaze orange,” she added, also advising that when deer season opens the weekend of November 17, it would be prudent to take a break from hiking. “Stay home and waterproof your hiking boots.”

Peter Olsen, vice president of programs for the American Hiking Society, based in Silver Spring, MD advises hikers to call ahead and speak to someone at the park or forest agency that controls the land where you’ll be hiking. Once you ascertain that the park is open, ask what condition the trails are in. Be wary of trees that are subject to high winds and use common sense if a situation feels dangerous.

Follow the same safety advice all hikers should take to heart, Olsen said: Plan your route, let somebody know where you’re hiking and when you expect to be back, bring along basic hiking essentials. These include appropriate footwear, a map and compass (GPS alone is not sufficient), extra water, extra food, rain gear and extra clothing for warmth, a flashlight or headlamp, a way to start a fire, a first aid kit and a whistle.