Why the Hiking Harness – Part 2: Water Safety and Fall Safety

By March 6, 2014Hiking, Ideas

Doggy backpack harness-at-Estes

In our first blog post, I described how fearful I was as a mother to possibly take a toddler into bear country of Glacier National Park. Although I was nervous about encountering bears, mountain lions or other wildlife, I also knew the number one cause of deaths in GNP wasn’t from bear attacks or any other animal.
According to the US National Park Service website for Glacier National Park, water is the number one cause of fatalities in the park. Also, according to the GNP website, death by falling is the number two cause of fatalities. And, I was keenly aware of these statistics as Doug and I had heard of many stories of people drowning and falling while exploring GNP.
Water often runs swifter than it appears. Wet rocks are slippery. Bridges don’t always have railings. Suspension bridges easily swing and have one-person load-limits. So, the cute little doggy-backpack harness and tether made of cloth, like the one below, just wasn’t going to work . . . not for us, anyhow.

1st Trip boat-trip

1st Trip boat-trip

On our first trip to Glacier, we didn’t know how far we could hike with our toddler. So, we did something we never thought we’d do – took a boat ride for the fun of it. We decided to take the boat tour of St Mary Lake. It turns out that our daughter loved riding the boats. (This would be the start of many boat rides on our annual hiking trip to GNP with our daughter.) Here she gets to enjoy the bow of the boat while Dad has a strong hold on the harness and the tether strapped around is arm.

The boat docked near a trailhead that led to a short hike to St Mary and Virginia Falls. We were able to take little Miss L over a log bridge that had only one railing. Many years earlier, I had a small mishap above the falls whereby I landed in the creek; but, that is a story for another blog post.

1st trip - boat ride to Virginia Falls

1st trip – boat ride to Virginia Falls

A favorite hike for hikers of all ages and experience is Iceberg Lake – it is named after exactly that. Icebergs can still be seen floating in the lake even in the summer. This picture was taken at Ptarmigan Falls at the point the trail crosses over Ptarmigan Creek. It’s a popular place to take your pack off and have a snack. It’s also pretty rocky and a slip down the rocks would take you into swift moving water and down the falls quickly.

1st trip - family pix at Red Rock Falls

1st trip – family pix at Red Rock Falls

Ptarmigan Creek break - 1st rip

Ptarmigan Creek break – 1st rip

This popular spot is easy to access for a nice after dinner hike – Redrock Lake. As you approach Redrock Lake, you’ll hear the sound of roaring water from Redrock Falls at the head of RedrockLake. Most hikers like to climb around the rocks to check out the many waterfalls and pools but can be dangerous for small children.
1st trip - walking on rocks at Ptarmigan bridge

1st trip – walking on rocks at Ptarmigan bridge


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