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What starts out as an enjoyable hike up Utah's challenging mountains or through its beautiful canyons can easily end in injury or death.

Though that point may appear obvious, Utahns always seem to need a reminder when hiking season gets into full swing as it has now that school is out and the weather is warming.Unhappily, we have had not just one but three painful reminders with the death of a 16-year-old girl and a 10-year-old girl in separate falls in Little Cottonwood Canyon plus the injury of an 18-year-old youth who survived a 30-foot fall in Ferguson Canyon.

To make hiking safer and consequently more enjoyable, a few suggestions are in order:

-It's best to hike in parties of at least three people - one to go for help if something happens, the other to stay behind with the injured hiker.

-Let someone back home know where you are going and when you plan to return.

-On the first few outings, hike in areas you already know. Before going to new areas, get familiar with them by reading maps and talking to others who have hiked there before. Be especially watchful for wet, mossy places or spots with loose gravel.

-Bring along some food to keep your energy up. Especially, remember to carry an adequate supply of water. The exertions of hiking can generate tremendous thirst. Many hikers bring little water or none at all.

Utah has some astonishingly beautiful scenery that certainly ought to be enjoyed. But hikers must be alert. To err is human, but mountains and canyons seldom forgive.