People who hike often are aware of the associated risks. Jennings, 24, grew up in the shadow of the Grand Tetons, where visitors increased 88 percent in October compared with last October, the highest level for the month that the park has had. This summer, Jennings and Julia Olson, 23, set off before dawn on a clear Tuesday morning to run the Teton Crest Trail, the first time they had run the trails.
Within the first few miles, they encountered a bear and a mountain lion, escaping unscathed without needing to call for search and rescue. Jennings, who works in conservation, knew that they were as prepared as they could be. And lucky.
The increase in parkgoers — upward of 90 percent over the previous year in some parks — has added pressure to staff members and the authorities, who are already under financial and staffing constraints because of the pandemic.
“People need to be careful, especially now, as resources for search and rescue can be thin,” said Lisa Herron, a spokeswoman for the United States Forest Service at Lake Tahoe Basin in California.