Preparation Can Help Hikers Not Get Lost (or Worse) While Hiking in Ventura County

By Nancy Needham (

Knowing what time the sun goes down can prevent hikers from being surprised when they run out of daylight while enjoying the wilderness.

In the last half of November 2010, 13 people were rescued in Ventura County for various reasons that probably could have been avoided with a little preparation such as knowing when darkness falls, being aware of the weather forecast or accurately anticipating how long a hike would take. Each rescue costs taxpayers about $2,000 and could have put rescuers' lives at risk.

Photo by VCSD

"Underestimating how long it will take to hike is a common mistake," VCSD Sgt. Frank Underlin said. People need to consider that even though they can walk about 3 miles an hour on the street, they will go much slower on a trail due to elevation, creek-bed rock surface obstructions or maybe children slowing them down. So, 3 miles an hour can easily become 1 mile an hour.

The Sheriff's Department recommends hikers be prepared to spend the night by taking waterproof jackets, water, food and flashlights. Also take a map and tell someone where you're going to be hiking and when you're returning.

Those who do get lost or otherwise have a hike go wrong will be glad to know the Ventura County Search and Rescue teams are ready to help on the ground, with ATVs and helicopters. There are several teams including East County, Fillmore, Upper Ojai, Dive, Canine, Posse and Medical ready to use ropes, tracking or whatever is necessary to save people on dry land, in swiftwater or in mountainous areas.

Photo by VCSD

Ventura County Search and Rescue offers more tips on preparing for a safe hike.