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How to avoid needing rescue in the great outdoors

Lora Peppers is chief ranger at Mammoth Cave National Park. She has some specific advice for outdoor trips, but overall, she says, “These are wild areas and you’re going to encounter the unexpected. That’s part of the fun. If you plan ahead, you can have a great experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”

Peppers’ tips:

ON THE TRAIL: Your cell phone is not enough. “Cell service can be spotty. Batteries run out.” Go old school and bring a physical map, “and let people know that you’ve gone hiking and where.”

ON WATER: Did you check the weather? This is especially critical for anyone planning to boat, kayak, or canoe on a river. The Green River, for example, can go from 6 inches to 6 feet in less than 48 hours. “If you make your plans on Thursday, but don’t keep up on the weather, you could find a very different—and more dangerous—river on Saturday.”

UNDERGROUND and ABOVE: Know your capacity. Mammoth Cave has tours that cover less than 1 mile, and others that go much further. “Don’t let other people talk you into something you know is beyond your capacity. If you haven’t walked 2 miles in a year, maybe don’t take the 2-mile tour.”

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