SAN DIEGO — More and more Baja California residents, especially people from Tijuana, are discovering the sport of hiking, according to Daniel Sánchez Hernández, head of the Baja’s Association of Nature Guides.
Sánchez Hernández says there are now 30,000 people actively involved in hiking in Northern Baja, an increase of 400% from just five years ago.
But he stated that as more and more people get involved in hiking, more and more are getting hurt or stuck in the wilderness. He worries there aren’t enough rescuers to come to the aid of stranded hikers.
“We do have teams of rescuers, but they’re all volunteers,” said Sánchez Hernández. “This group is made up of people who want to help rescue hikers, that’s the only reason we have this.”
He said the main responsibility falls on the state’s civil protection agency, which doesn’t have the personnel or resources to do it.
“Six people have lost their lives — first they got lost, then they ran out of water and died of dehydration — but we’ve also had deaths related to snake bites and injuries like broken bones and internal injuries.”
Sánchez Hernández says they currently have about 40 volunteers, not enough to cover the number of people now hiking in the state.
“There should be at least 100 rescuers in every city, especially in places like Rosarito, Ensenada, Tecate and Mexicali that are closer to wilderness areas,” said Sánchez Hernández. “We also see a lot of people getting hurt due to not wearing appropriate shoes, as they walk along trails they lose their footing and slide off hillsides and there’s no way to get them out.”
He stated the state should hire and recruit more rescuers since hikers bring in money to the economy while participating in the sport.