Monday, January 14, 2008

Hiker Safety Articles Abound

Here is a gathering of news articles about hiker safety in, on, and around the Appalachian Trail in the wake of the murder of Meredith Emerson in Georgia.

The first is in the New York Times, 14 January 2008, by Brenda Goodman, and titled "Killing of a Young Hiker Puts North Georgia on Edge." The first part of the article focuses on self-defense classes in the region, then there's a rehearsal of the facts of the Emerson case, and finally there are some quotes from local hikers. The article includes this note:
"Trail-maintenance volunteers have planned a memorial walk and a smudge ceremony, which is an American Indian cleansing ritual that involves burning sage to rid a place of evil spirits, on Sunday to honor Ms. Emerson and to try to calm their own nerves."
Another article appeared in the Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune on 13 January 2008. It's a column by Laura Sperling titled "Murders in National Parks; Crimes against our birthright." Sperling writes:
"I can't count the times I've day-hiked the rural parks, hills and woods, usually with a dog and/or human relatives. These are the cherished memories I rely on to restore me when I'm back in the city, surrounded by overdevelopment that once was trees.

"When a hiker is killed, it diminishes me and anyone else who loves to be in the deep green bosom of America's parks and forests. They are our birthright."
Then there's the editorial from Chambersburg, PA on PublicOpinionOnline by Becky Bennett titled "Editor's view: Packing heat does nothing to break the cycle of fear." This is really an editorial about the right to bear arms - and whether it's also a wise thing to do - but it uses Emerson's murder as a jumping off point.

And, finally there's Nic Corbett's article "Hikers say recent attacks raise safety awareness" in the 13 January 2008 Tallahassee (FL) Democrat. Corbett talked with members of "a group of hikers tackling a 4.5-mile trail Saturday in the Apalachicola National Forest in Wakulla County." They expressed various safety concerns, of course. The article starts with a familiar sounding interchange:
"When Tallahassee resident Bill Snyder talks about how he's preparing for a six-month hike on the Appalachian Trail, people typically ask him this question: 'Are you going alone?'

"When he answers in the affirmative, they usually ask, 'Are you going to carry a weapon?'"
I think a lot of us have heard those two questions.

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