Hiker Preparedness

Pemigewasset Valley Search & Rescue Team

Hiker Preparedness

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Hikers should always prepare themselves with the proper knowledge, equipment, and experience before heading out into the wilderness. Many White Mountains search and rescue calls result from the failure to consider each of these areas. Always bring proper gear, including the ten essentials, know how to use your gear, and don't get in over your head. Ask yourself, "Does my pack have everything I need to be self-sufficient for up to 24 hours should something bad or unexpected happen to me?" If you become injured it can take search and rescue teams several hours to reach your location. Be self-sufficient!

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The most common type of search and rescue call is from hikers who are caught out after sunset without a headlamp while the most common issue that requires a carryout is a slip and fall resulting in a lower leg injury, often due to some combination of fatigue, slippery trails, and improper footwear.

The following resources can help a new hiker learn what they need to be safe in the outdoors or help an experienced hiker gain more skills that can be used to help themselves or others in need.

Hike Safe Program LogoThe hikeSafe Program is a joint effort of the United States Forest Service and New Hampshire Fish and Game, the program helps promote hiking preparedness and can educate you on the basics of what to bring and what to do to stay safe in the backcountry.

Appalachian Mountain Club LogoThe Appalachian Mountain Club promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of America’s Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Local AMC chapters throughout the region, including the New Hampshire chapter, lead outdoor trips and training sessions that can help new hikers gain skills and experience in the outdoors under the supervision of experienced trip leaders.

Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities LogoStonehearth Open Learning Opportunities is the oldest, most innovative, and one of the most respected wilderness medical schools in the United States and is located in Conway, NH. SOLO's courses, such as Wilderness First Aid, can help hikers gain skills that may help avert a search and rescue call some day and are essential for wilderness professionals including SAR personnel.

White Mountain Avalanche Education Foundation LogoThe White Mountain Avalanche Education Foundation is used as a mechanism to reduce winter injuries in the White Mountains through avalanche awareness and education of the youth, wilderness rescuers, and other visitors to the White Mountain region.

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Pemi Area Trip Planning

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The Pemigewasset River Valley is on the western side of the White Mountains region of New Hampshire and is surrounded by recreational lands managed by both the United States Forest Service and New Hampshire State Parks in partnership with other organizations.

The following resources can help hikers decide where they want to hike in the area surrounding the Pemi Valley:

White Mountains Visitor Center LogoThe White Mountains Visitor Center tourism website has information on local lodging, dining, and attractions including suggested hikes.

US Forest Service LogoThe White Mountain National Forest in eastern New Hampshire and western Maine ranges from mountainous hardwood forests to majestic alpine peaks and covers much of the White Mountains region. The Forest Service site contains suggested hikes, maps, permit, and recreation fee information.

Franconia Notch State Park LogoFranconia Notch State Park is located in a spectacular mountain pass traversed by a unique parkway which extends from the Flume Gorge at the south to Cannon Mountain at the north. For eight miles, I-93 winds between the high peaks of the Kinsman and Franconia ridges. Although most of the mountain peaks that hikers strive to reach are located in White Mountain National Forest, the trailheads in this area are located in FNSP. New in 2018, FNSP is running a hiker shuttle between the Cannon Mountain parking area and key trailheads to alleviate parking congestion in the lots along I-93.

New Hampshire State Parks LogoThe New Hampshire State Parks website includes information on camping and other state parks including Crawford Notch State Park and Mount Washington State Park, both in the White Mountains.

Appalachian Mountain Club LogoBesides the outdoor trips and training sessions mentioned above, the Appalachian Mountain Club also performs routine trail maintenance throughout much of WMNF, runs a hiker shuttle, provides caretakers at key campsites, and operates a system of huts including Lonesome Lake, Greenleaf, Galehead, and Zealand Falls on the mountain ridges surrounding the Pemi Valley. The AMC publishes maps and trail guides for the White Mountains and local AMC staff at the Highland Center, mountain huts, and staffed campsites are usually knowledgeable on current trail conditions and the AMC maintains a list of weather and trail conditions at their facilities.

Randolph Mountain Club LogoThe Randolph Mountain Club maintains a network of nearly 102 miles of hiking trails, principally on the northern slopes of Mount Madison, Mount Adams, and Mount Jefferson in the Presidential range of the White Mountain National Forest, and on the Crescent Range in the town of Randolph, NH. The RMC also maintains two cabins, Crag Camp and Gray Knob; one lean-to, The Perch; and one Adirondack-style shelter, the Log Cabin. There are also four tent platforms at The Perch. All camps are available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. A caretaker is in residence at Gray Knob throughout the year and during the summer months there is a second caretaker at Crag Camp.

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Conditions and Forecasts

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Hikers must remember that mountains create their own weather and the conditions high up on the mountain ridges may be significantly worse than those at the trailhead or "back at home" further South. The smart hiker will check with rangers and other local resources to verify trail and weather conditions before setting out and will turn around immediately if trail or weather conditions are deteriorating beyond what was expected and what the party is prepared to deal with.

The following resources can help hikers determine current conditions in the area surrounding the Pemi Valley:

US Forest Service LogoThe White Mountain National Forest Closures and Alerts website contains information on hazardous conditions on the trails. Current forest closures and safety alerts should be considered essential information before setting out on any hike in White Mountain National Forest.

Mount Washington Observatory LogoMount Washington Observatory maintains a weather station on the summit of Mount Washington, performing weather and climate research, conducting science education programs, and interpreting the heritage of the Mount Washington region. The Observatory's website provides current Mt Washington summit conditions, weather forecasts, and forecasts for other higher summits in the area.

TrailsNH LogoTrailsNH collects crowdsourced trail condition and trip reports for New Hampshire with additional information on the rest of the northeast.

New England Trail Conditions LogoNew England Trail Conditions collects crowdsourced trail condition and trip reports for New England including New Hampshire.

vfttViews from the Top is a forum for hikers in the Northeast that also has a section for trail condition reports.

Mountain Forecast LogoMountain Forecast.com provides dedicated mountain weather forecasts for major summits around the world, including many of the higher peaks of the White Mountains.

noaaThe NOAA Northeast River Forecast Center collects information on river levels and forecasts flooding throughout the Northeast. This information can help determine if backcountry water crossings may be impassable.

Mount Washington Avalanche Center LogoThe Mount Washington Avalanche Center is a partnership between the US Forest Service and Mt Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol to increase visitor safety on Mt Washington during the winter months. The website contains avalanche advisories and other information on trails, camping, weather, terrain, and other hazards for winter users.

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