This is not the way you want a family vacation to end.  A 14-year-old Utah girl was killed at Glacier National Park.  She and family members were traveling along Going-to-the-Sun Road when there was a rock slide.  A window shattered behind her.  She was killed.

Two siblings and her parents weren’t seriously hurt.

The Western United States is a thing of splendor.  There are also numerous dangers (such as a 9-year-old being attacked this summer by a Yellowstone bison). 

A window shattered behind her.  She was killed.

This morning I was having an unrelated conversation with an officer from Idaho Fish and Game.  Travelers to parks and the back country are reminded to be aware of their surroundings.  Not just the wild animals but also rocks, canyons, poisonous plants and you also need to maintain your bearings.

Among the most rudimentary tools you could carry a compass.  Also, bring a survival bag.  And any potential medical supplies you may need.

He did mention the need for communication.  Last weekend he fished with friends where there wasn’t any available telephone service.  A quarter century ago it wouldn’t have even entered our minds but we’re now a telephone dependent culture.  If you make frequent visits to the back country there are global positioning devices available.  These can allow you also to send messages to designated contacts.  It could save your life.

A few years ago I had an epiphany while walking at Grand Teton National Park.  I didn’t grow up near grizzly country and I hadn’t thought about packing bear spray.  A sign on the trail explained there had been bear sightings on average every second day for the previous month.  This was day three.  I didn’t like the odds and quickly hightailed it back to my car.