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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Three groups in three days lost at Garden of the Gods

  • On Friday Saline County Sheriff’s deputies, Equality Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service located a party from French Lick, Ind., that had strayed from the Observation Trail.
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  • Three groups in three days lost at Garden of the Gods
    On Friday Saline County Sheriff’s deputies, Equality Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service located a party from French Lick, Ind., that had strayed from the Observation Trail.
    On Sunday two groups from Kentucky also found themselves off and trail and unsure how to get back. Deputies, firefighters and Forest Service personnel again responded. The first group was aided by other hikers and responders back to the main parking lot. In that group were Cayla Reece, Alyssa Reece and Patricia Bearden of Dawson Springs, Ky. No one was injured. They reported being lost at 3:12 p.m.
    The second call of lost hikers came at 7:21 p.m. Deputies and firefighters responded. This group, from Hazel, Ky., consisted of Nathan Dodd, Whitney Lovett, Cole Dodd, Chandler Dodd and Chloe Dodd. They had strayed from the main trail and were unable to find their way back.
    Saline County E-911 was able to plot their location and responders located them at 10 p.m. They emerged from the forest at 11:47 p.m.
    Saline County Sheriff Keith Brown offers advice to hikers.
     
    1. Get a map.
    The U.S. Forest Service sells quadrangle maps by county. These may be purchased from the U.S. Forest Service. Since the Shawnee National Headquarters in Harrisburg is closed during the weekend, those planning on hiking in the wilderness should plan ahead and order a map by calling (618) 253-7114. Ordering information is available at the Web site http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/shawnee/maps-pubs
    The Friends of the Shawnee National Forest organization sells a $10 map of hiker and equestrian trails in the Eddyville and Herod vicinity. Some of these may be available from the Shawnee National Forest Headquarters in Harrisburg, or may be ordered from Friends of the Shawnee National Forest, FSNF, P.O. Box 350, Carterville, Illinois 62918.
     
    2. Take a GPS.
    Global positioning systems are sold to be carried into the woods, but if forest visitors have one in their vehicle that is battery powered, those can be packed along as well.
    “Some car GPS units are battery operated and can be placed in a pocket in case they get lost,” Brown said.
    Many GPS systems show a map of the immediate vicinity with main trails represented. If not, a GPS should at the least show the latitude and longitude which hikers with cell phone service can call in to 911. With those coordinates, responders can pinpoint the lost hikers’ location.
     
    3. Pay attention to telecommunicators
    If in contact with telecommunications, stop moving and pay close attention to their instructions. Cell phone service is sporadic. If cell phone service is lost after a description of the surroundings has been provided, it only makes the responders’ jobs harder if the hiking party moves from that location.
    Page 2 of 2 - Also telecommunicators outside the area may receive the initial call, so hikers should know how to explain where the hike began.
    “When calling 911 the call may bounce to Saline County or Johnson County and even to a location in Kentucky, so be prepared to explain where you started your hike,” Brown said.
     
    4. Keep cell phones charged
    The Shawnee National Forest is notorious for sucking cell phone batteries. Service is sporadic and over time as a phone searches for a signal the battery depletes. If there is no reason to keep the phone on it is a good idea to turn the phone off so that it will have power if needed later.
     
    5. Plan to get lost
    Few people set out to get lost, but planning for the worst case scenario — especially in the summer heat — can prevent problems later. At Garden of the Gods in particular, water is scarce. There are creeks in the hollows, but these are far and few between and the water needs treated before drinking. Iodine tablets for purification or a water filter should have a space in any hiker’s backpack.
    Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and shoes, let someone know an approximate return time and stay on the main trails.

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