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Hikers cautioned to be safe this weekend

By Rachael Plath, Good Morning Colorado Meteorologist/Reporter, r.plath@krdo.com
Published On: Aug 30 2013 07:07:55 PM CDT

Manitou Springs Fire Department is preparing for one of their busiest weekends of the year, and they are asking anybody planning to spend their holiday on the trails to do the same.

Labor Day Weekend is viewed by many as the “unofficial end of summer.”  With many outdoor activities on people’s agendas, Manitou Springs Fire Department is asking people exercise caution this weekend.

Larissa Nattrass, paramedic with the Manitou Springs Fire Department, said her team is prepared to help hikers in need.  She added that those planning on hiking need to be prepared, too.

She advises all hikers check the weather before heading to trails.

“People need to be prepared for hiking.  This is Colorado.  The weather can change fast,” she said.

There were several reports of hikers caught in the storms that prompted flash flooding around the Waldo Canyon burn scar and surrounding areas recently. 

To avoid thunderstorms, hikers are encouraged to opt to hike in the morning rather than the afternoon.  If caught in a rainstorm on a trail, Manitou Springs Fire Department said the best option may be to stay put and wait out the storm.  In this case, the hiker would already be elevated.  Hiking down the trail could lead the hiker into flooded terrain. 

Nattrass said the trail will become slippery during the rain, so hikers need to be careful when navigating during this time.

Nattrass also said hikers should not venture into hikes that have been closed off, like Waldo Canyon and Williams Canyon trails.

“The amount of debris that is still up there that could be coming down with a flash flood is very dangerous,” said Nattrass.

Those who breach the barriers of these trails could face up to a $5,000 fine and/or six months in prison.

Manitou Springs Fire Department said it expects to be busy this weekend, but ask people not to call 911 unless there is a medical emergency.  It also said if 911 is required, the caller should be prepared to provide very specific details as to their location.

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