After a busy summer responding to injured hikers, Custer County Sheriff’s Deputy and Search and Rescue Coordinator Shade Rosenkrance said it’s always appreciated when an easy rescue comes along.

Such was the case when a female hiker near Kane Lake injured herself Oct. 3 and needed to be rescued. Rosenkrance said before search and rescue workers could mobilize in Custer County, they learned the hiker had been able to get to a meadow which was large enough for a helicopter to land and take the hiker to a hospital. So, the local searchers didn’t have to respond to the lake, located near Devil’s Bedstead in the Sawtooth Range.

“They weren’t even out of the trucks when they got called back,” Rosenkrance said about his crew.

Rosenkrance said there has been an increase in the number of injured-hiker reports searchers have responded to this summer. Such calls come in every summer, he said, but this year the severity of the injuries has been worse.

“We’re not just talking twisted ankles,” Rosenkrance said. “It’s been broken bones, diabetic episodes, severe exhaustion.”

The culprit is inexperience, according to Rosenkrance. A lot of people exploring public lands in Custer County this summer were people who haven’t logged much time outside, he said. Either they didn’t pack the right supplies and gear, got lost and went off-trail, or weren’t paying attention to their surroundings, he said.

The coronavirus pandemic may have been a factor in the increase in inexperienced people heading outdoors. With outdoor recreation being one of the few acceptable forms of entertainment during the health crisis, people who wouldn’t otherwise risk it are giving nature a try, Rosekrance said.

“Your average person doesn’t understand nature is unpredictable,” Rosenkrance said.