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Be prepared before taking a hike in San Diego

Since the beginning of June, two hikers died at Three Sisters Falls in the Cleveland National Forest. KPBS Reporter Melissa Mae has some tips to stay safe while out on the trails.

Since the beginning of June, two hikers have died at Three Sisters Falls in the Cleveland National Forest.

Hiking guides rate Three Sisters Falls as moderate-to-strenuous due to areas of rocky, unstable terrain, extreme heat risk and no shade.

“That (trail) seems to be the most dangerous because you walk downhill to start. There’s a lot of water there now from all the rains we’ve had, so people have slipped and fallen and injured themselves,” said Cal Fire Captain Brent Pascua.


Cal Fire works with the San Diego Sheriff's Department's search and rescue detail to help locate missing and injured hikers throughout the county, including at Three Sister's Falls.

“Getting back up is very challenging — especially if it's warm,” said Richard George, a search and rescue coordinator for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. “It's very difficult coming back because of the steep incline, and you're looking ... at least two miles trying to get back to your car.”

George said hikers need to be prepare before setting foot on a trail.

“Dress appropriately for these types of hikes, especially if the weather is warm. Wear appropriate shoes for those trails, a large-brim hat and plenty of sunscreen. Also, bring plenty of water — at least a liter of water — for every hour that you're on the trail,” George said.

He also advised leaving young children and pets at home.


“Don't go hiking by yourself. Hike with family and friends. If you do hike alone, be sure to let someone know where you're going, at what time you're expected to be home, and also make sure your cell phone is charged in the event of an emergency,” George said.

Pascua said if you are hurt while out hiking and don't have cell service, send someone to call 911 right away.

“Give a good description of what you're wearing, maybe even get other people to join you and make a big crowd at waving at the helicopter so they know where you are,” Pascua said.

The sheriff's search and rescue team has more than 150 volunteers and has access to the department's helicopter.

“We're sending ... our trained personnel and volunteers and our full time employees. (We are) also (using) the consumption of aircraft fuel or the logistics to support these types of events. It could be in the tens of thousands of dollars,” George said.

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