Our View: Outdoor risks we accept

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:37 PM

Editorial Board

Nature is beautiful, is sought-after for recreation by many of us, and is sometimes deadly.

In the summertime, there are accounts of persons who drown because they swam in rivers, lakes and streams that overrode their endurance and skills. Persons die hiking in intense heat, or fall while climbing rocks or mountains, or are killed in flash floods.

The vast majority of outdoor enthusiasts, of course, escape death, or even injury. The possibility of injury or death outdoors is a bargain with fate that we long agreed to. We don’t tolerate nanny-state scolds trying to prevent us from taking risks.

The recent case of an elderly California couple that perished while hiking near a formation, called The Wave, have some wondering if there should be more oversight. Ulrich and Patricia Wahli, of Campbell, Calif., had a permit to hike three miles in the southern Utah desert area. It’s open country with deep sand. It was incredibly hot the day Ulrich, 70, and Patricia, 69, went on their hike. The next day the couple was found in the morning; both were dead. The Wahlis had won a walk-in lottery to hike the trail. Winning a lottery is the only way to get a chance to hike there. More than 48,000 tourists applied to hike last year; there are only 7,300 permits provided.

It’s tragic what happened to the Wahlis, but it’s not a reason to impose further penalties, there or in other natural recreational spots. Nature comes with risks, and there are no shortages of signs, officials, books or websites to inform of us of natural risks and what we, as outdoor enthusiasts, need to do to be prepared for a safe adventure. Ultimately, it’s our responsibility to make sure we prepare for, and have respect for, the risks we take when we go outside to play.

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