The Transylvania Times -

Safety Tips Provided For Nighttime Adventures


Last updated 7/5/2021 at 11:46am

Recently, local rescue groups used a drone with a thermal camera to find some kayakers who had got lost on the French Broad River.

The long days of summer are finally with us. With more time to get out on our public lands and waters after work or in the cooler temps of evening, late-day outings are very tempting.

After reading several reports of recent rescues from our county and community rescue squads involving nighttime responses to calls from outdoor recreationist, I felt some brief safety reminders would be timely.

Our first responders and rescue squads are some of the best anywhere. These folks, mostly volunteers, train year-round to work in some tough environments.

Mountaineering, swift water rescue, backcountry rescues, and the knowledge and skills of equipment to perform these rescues are all needed. To be a responsible recreationist it is important not only for our own safety but also for those we ask to come help us, to try and prevent accidents to begin with.

Accidents often can be avoided with proper knowledge of the environment and the abilities needed to do the sport safely.

This also is no cheap endeavor for our county because rescues have a cost from both human and equipment resources.

We want our rescue departments to have the best equipment and training – at the same time limiting their calls to real accidents and not an ill-prepared recreationist.

As a sportsman, I often hike and boat at night while hunting and fishing.

I usually know the area well that I am in.

While in unfamiliar areas I do use more caution than my so-called stomping grounds.

This is a rather good rule for anyone doing late evening trail rides, hikes or paddling trips.

Connecting trails, access points and signage all can be hard to see in low light or after dark.

Knowing your area can be extremely helpful in these conditions. Often in summer we do not carry the gear we do in winter: a pack with water and a flashlight is a must. I prefer headlamps that free my hands – another must for bikers and paddlers.

While a compass and map are great, make sure you know how to use it. Today's smart phones with GPS apps are extremely accurate, just do not depend on service everywhere.

The old school method of telling someone where you are going and when you plan on returning are still are still solid choices.

If you are paddling and night falls and you are on a lake with motorboat traffic, having the proper bow and stern lights are a must.

Rivers, especially the French Broad at night, can be tricky reading the water for obstructions.

Evening paddles are some of the best times to view wildlife and fish. Just make sure to time your trips to not extend past last light.

Knowing what your takeout looks like or counting bridges to keep up with where you are at on the river are crucial to know your timing and location.

Most of all know your skills and adapt an evening trip that fits you.

Trying to paddle a 10-mile section of the river in an hour in half probably is not going to work for most folks.

Slowly enjoying a couple of miles of paddling and watching for wildlife is a much better pace.

Several Hiking and Biking clubs do evening trips.

If you are not comfortable by yourself on an evening trip, check out a group event. If an evening paddle is of interest, Headwaters Outfitters and Oskar Blues offers a trip on Friday evenings, leaving from the brewery, paddling the French Broad and returning to the brewery.

Cruise then Booze runs Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Call Headwaters Outfitters for details at (828) 877-3106 or go to http://www.headwatersoutfitters.

com. Get out and enjoy the long days of summer with some late evening trips, because before you know it, summer is gone.

Hats Off

Hats off to Connestee Fire Rescue, Rosman Fire Rescue, Transylvania County Emergency Services and Transylvania County Rescue Squad for a rescue of some kayakers recently who went past their takeout and became lost with night falling.

In the past it took rescuers in boats to locate lost boaters on the water.

A drone was launched with a thermal camera and in under 6 minutes from launch the subjects where located.

Recently, local rescue groups used a drone with a thermal camera to find some kayakers who had got lost on the French Broad River.

Luckily no one was injured, but without this technology and those trained to use it, it could have been easily 30-45 minutes before a boat with rescuers could locate them.

Well done!


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