Van Beek: The tranquility and adventures of summer
Yay, summertime is here and pandemic restrictions are limited or non-existent … let the games begin! International travel is on the agenda for many, so be sure to check on their health safety regulations. However, we are in a place that others only dream of, and local adventures are the norm. While there are still some health concerns, for most people, life has returned to normal.
We still seem to be in a learning curve on how to reengage in the social world, away from computers and digital media, so remember what your mom always said: Treat others as you would like to be treated.
It’s time to have some fun! Camping, fishing, mountain biking, four-wheeling, boating, climbing the next 14er or simply enjoying a BBQ with a favorite beverage, your inner child is ready to play!
Nothing is better than to sit under the stars and contemplate absolutely nothing. The sounds of silence, interrupted only by crickets and other night creatures, deliver a level of comfort that only nature can provide.
Traveling along a rustic path, or making your own, the sunlight peeking between the leaves of a tall tree, the beauty of wildflowers on the horizon, the chirp of birds flying overhead, the sound of water splashing against rocks, on its way across the valley … summertime is our time to touch a bit of heaven, right here in the Rocky Mountains.
In our neighborhoods, we hear the laughter of children playing outside, just as they have for decades … bikes laying against trees, balls being hit across fields of grass, food trucks surrounding parks offering the best hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream, and on weekends, artists lined along streets and music filling the air with concerts. Yes, nothing beats summer right here at home.
With all of this excitement going on, there are those who will retreat to the depths of our mountain landscapes. It is there that we must be most cautious, as small accidents can quickly become serious events if we are not prepared.
When heading to the woods …
- Bring a fully charged cell phone. Even with no reception, a 911 text can often be received.
- Even if familiar with the trail, bring a map (in case an alternate route back is needed).
- Bring a compass in addition to your GPS.
- Don’t go alone, if possible.
- If alone, tell someone where you are going and an estimated return time. Even a note taped to a neighbor’s door is helpful. If not back within two hours of that time, instruct them to call 911.
- Leave a copy of hiking plans in the car. If it’s a regular destination, keep a permanent copy visible.
- If lost, do not move. You are easier to locate at the point of distress.
- Always bring water and if possible, iodine pills or a water filter to replenish.
- Bring some snack bars to keep energy up, and in case your hike is longer than expected.
- Bring a small first aid kit and Swiss army knife. An extra pair of socks and a lightweight jacket can be a welcome relief, particularly if you are still out when the sun sets. The smaller and lighter, the more likely you are to take these with you.
- Bring a tarp in case of sudden rain or as a shelter for an unexpected night’s stay.
- Be aware of altitude sickness. Remember that at 10,000 feet, oxygen is required and many of our local mountains are 11,000 to 14,000 feet. Also, altitude drugs dehydrate, so if taking them, water is essential.
- Bring sunscreen, even on cloudy days, because the altitude makes you susceptible to overexposure.
- Satellite phones only get reception 70% of the time, so they may not be reliable.
- If in an area with active wildlife, carry bear spray.
- If biking, bring a multi-tool, spare tires, and a small pump.
Stay safe and enjoy our great “bubble” of beauty and adventure.
James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.