If you’re planning on heading to the Wichita Mountains to do some hiking here in the near future, be sure to get there plenty early.

KSWO is reporting that the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has enacted an Emergency Closure Order. This means that hiking times will be limited in the refuge.

For safety reasons, hikers will only be able to hike from sunrise to 10:00 am due to a recent spike in rescues caused by the hot weather.

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Visitor Service Manager Quinton Smith said some of the rescues have lasted for hours:

There’s right at 24,000 acres of public use lands that people can hike and even though they get out at a trail-head, like the one we’re at now, you can see the vast area that’s behind us...there’s no telling where they’ll be at out there. Which leads back to the complication for search and rescue, when you start thinking that we’ve got someone out there and we know they’re hurt, or we know they haven’t reported back when they should, finding them in that is really tough…Some of the search and rescues we’ve went on has lasted hours after hours, and a rescuer can only give you so many hours before they put themselves in danger.

Limited camping will still be allowed as well as picnicking, fishing, wildlife photography, and kayaking.

Even though temperatures are cooler in the morning, it’s still important to make sure to hydrate for days prior to the hike, according to Smith. Hikers are also encouraged to wear loose-fitting light-colored clothes.

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