It saddened me to read this morning—that yet another hiker has perished likely because of bad judgement. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know the circumstances. But I have hiked Lava Canyon and it is indeed a place that can be quite dangerous if prudence is ignored. There are no less than 6 signs along the trail warning to stay on the trail because wandering off of the path can result in death. There have been numerous deaths in the past at this specular location within the Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument. In my Day Hiking Mount St Helens book I implicitly state how dangerous this trail can be-and to stay on the path.
We have all made bad decisions—and I know I have done some imprudent things too in the past. Luckily I have learned from them. Unfortunately this young man won’t have that opportunity. There has been a huge uptick in folks taking to the backcountry lately—and sadly many of these new to the woods folks are not versed in backcountry safety, trail etiquette and Leave No Trace principles. If they are not reading my and other responsible authors’ guidebooks—not adhering to posted warnings and signs—and not listening to governing agencies’ rules and regulations addressing backcountry travel—how will we reach these folks so that we can reduce these types of fatalities? There have been so many lately—and I fear many more yet to come. Hiking and backcountry travel is for many of us the source of immense pleasure, spiritual redemption, and a validation of our existence. It should not be a death sentence.