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Santa Barbara trails prepare for crowds over Labor Day weekend

Oliver Forster/KEYT
Hiking trails could be muddy by Saturday morning with a weak rain system coming to the Central Coast.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — With Santa Barbara County beached partially closed for Labor Day weekend, many are expected to venture onto the trails for a hike. 

“We just stay outside,” local hiker Anjali Oertel said. “There’s no more indoor exercise so we gotta do something.”

However, the potential for a record-breaking heat wave has the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue team concerned.

“When we get heat waves like we’re anticipating, it becomes a little worrisome for us,” SAR team member Mark Hall said.

“Our trails in general are easy to get lost in,” another hiker Kimberly Sorensen said. “This is because they connect to each other.”

No matter the climate at trailheads, the temperature can rise 10 to 15 degrees depending on the level of elevation, 

“A lot of hikers hike in the middle of the day unprepared with no water,” Hall said. “We’re seeing a lot of incidents of heat exposure, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.”

Many aren’t wearing masks while hiking, which presents a challenge for maintaining safe physical distancing on narrow pathways.   

“There is some wider trails that are probably better,” Oertel said. “You can still stay apart and people usually turn away.”

With more cars attempting to squeeze into tight spots, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's officers will be handing out tickets for illegal parking. 

“It’s gotta be something off the road,” Hall explained. “Not blocking driveways or access points.”

Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue is also advising people to avoid bringing their dogs on the trails throughout the three-day weekend.

This is because dogs can be even more susceptible to heat-related illnesses than humans. 

“Bring enough water for yourself and your friends,” Hall concluded. “That’s the thing that gets people in the most trouble.”

For more information about Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue, visit their website.

Article Topic Follows: Outdoors

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist and sports anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Blake, click here.


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