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Hiking & Backcountry Safety Tips

It seems that it is always hiking season in the Santa Monica Mountains. Hikers need to be prepared for a variety of issues that the Malibu Search and Rescue Team encounters every year. Some of those issues include hikers who are unprepared by wearing inappropriate clothing and footwear for the environment, misjudging their abilities, misjudging distances and terrain, not packing sufficient water, not taking a flashlight, signal mirror, cell phone, a GPS, map & compass and not lathering on sunscreen.

Hiking & Backcountry Safety TipsWe also repeatedly encounter hikers who are curious about waterfalls and water pools in the Malibu recreation area. Be careful in those areas as wet, moss covered rocks are slippery and serious injuries can occur from falls suffered in these remote areas.
 
The Santa Monica Mountains are crisscrossed with fire roads, Edison roads, developed hiking trails, horse trails, off the map locations and points of interest. The Backbone Trail was carved through the mountains and utilizes or crosses older roads and trails. When you cross over a trail or the trail forks, continue for a few yards and then turn around and look back and try and memorize the area, so that when you return to the trailhead you remember the right trail/fork/road to take.
 
Also remember to turn your cell phone off when hiking in areas of limited or no cell coverage. When a cell phone does not reach a cell site it continuously transmits to find one and drains the battery rapidly. Also if you need assistance, DIAL 911 first. GPS technology from a 911 call can more accurately pinpoint your location and get help to you faster.
 
Perhaps most important to remember is to let people know that you are going for a hike, where you plan to hike and when you expect to return. If you find yourself too tired to continue or you are injured or lost, do not delay or hesitate to call 911 and ask for assistance. Daylight hours are better for search and rescue operations than night time hours. Enjoy your hike in the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu area.
 
As a public service message to the hiking community we are providing a few links to websites that give a lot of great information about how to be prepared for your hike.