SACRAMENTO — Just within the first week of July, tragedy has struck for two young people, both hiking and enjoying the outdoors when they were swept away by fast-moving currents.
But, they weren’t even swimming in the water — a clear picture of how the danger is different this summer.
The water at state, national and regional parks across California is both a joy and a danger.
This year the near-record Sierra snowmelt is continuing to cause waterways to run dangerously fast and shockingly cold.
It’s making many favorite summer spots more unpredictable.
“It is different even for people who go to places they are very familiar with,” said Jorge Moreno, a spokesperson for California State Parks.
For hikers and bikers at Hidden Falls in Auburn, the risk is not worth it.
“Water’s cold, there’s a lot of it,” said Todd Avanerius, hiking the trail.
“A lot of times on our rides we would do a swim ride, where our main purpose is to go out and ride to a swimming area. This year its almost unbearable,” said biker Robert Snyder.
Fun turned to fear for two young people already this month.
Hiker Hayden Klemenok, 24, went missing July 2 at Yosemite — he has still not been found.
“They were leaning down to dunk their heads in, and their hats in to cool off. When within a split second it sounds like Hayden slipped. One of his hands, or one of his knees slipped into the water, into the current,” said Taylor McKinnie, Klemenok’s sister.
And at Eagle Falls near Lake Tahoe on July 4 the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office says Ishrat Binta Azim, 25, was dipping her feet in the water when she slipped and fell down the waterfall to her death.
The proof that you do not even have to be in the water for its dangers to strike.
“Even if they are not planning to get in we recommend they wear a life jacket just in case there is an accident or someone slips in,” said Moreno.
Moreno adds to never hike or swim alone and urges people to always stay on the designated trail.
Also, if you are headed out to a trail or park tell a friend or family member not with you where you’re going, what you’re wearing, when you’ll be back and at what time. Them knowing that is the fastest way to get help your way if something goes wrong, especially if you do not have cell service.
“Wade in slowly test out the water,” said Snyder.
So summer fun doesn’t turn to tragedy.