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Hiking in Kluane? Prepare to wait out high water, says Parks Canada

Parks Canada is reminding hikers to come prepared for high water levels, after performing two separate helicopter rescues last weekend at Yukon's Kluane National Park.

Parks Canada performed 2 separate helicopter rescues in August

The Donjek Valley of Kluane National Park. Parks Canada says all backcountry hikers should register before heading out. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

Parks Canada is reminding hikers to prepare for high water levels, after two separate helicopter rescues this month at Yukon's Kluane National Park. 

Both groups of hikers had trouble with creek crossing on the Dän Zhùr (Donjek) route over the long weekend, said Carmen Wong, acting resource conservation manager with Parks Canada.

No injuries, but things could get worse.- Carmen Wong, Parks Canada

One group of three people tried to cross a river, but ended up swimming and losing a backpack, Wong said. She said nobody was hurt, but they lost supplies and gear.

In the second rescue, a group of five hikers waited about three days for water levels to go down before getting low on food, Wong said. 

"There were no injuries, but things could get worse," she said.

'Come prepared to be self-reliant'

Parks Canada restricted backcountry permits for a few days after the rescues, but began reissuing permits on Sunday. 

Wong said there has been a lot of rain this month, particularly in the north of Kluane National Park. 

Be "prepared for extra long waiting out of conditions," Wong said.

"Creeks will lower eventually, but in both cases these folks either lost gear or ran low on supplies."

Wong says it is mandatory for overnight hikers to register, which also means hikers will get updates on trail conditions.

Wong said there are a few rescues every summer, some associated with creek crossings.

She said hiking numbers are somewhat lower during the pandemic, but many Yukoners are out in the backcountry.

"Come prepared to be self-reliant," said Wong, noting emergency responders can take a while to arrive.

Written by Laura Howells, with files from Leonard Linklater

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