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Many years ago, while hiking with a friend, we came across a particular point in the trail which was rather dangerous. If one slipped, the fall would surely be fatal. What struck me most is the fact that there was a sign in/sign out sheets (which were in a green box with a plexiglass lid) at the beginning and end of this particular section of the trail. One was encouraged to print one's name, the date and time. The reason for the signing in and out was to know for a fact that hikers actually made it to the other end. If one did not sign in on the other side, Search and Rescue had a idea of where to look.

These sign in/sign out sheets were in mid trail and there were no sign in sign in sheets at the trailhead and no permits were required either.

My question is this: Are Sign in/Sign out sheets for dangerous passages while hiking a common practice? Are there any laws requiring this?

  • Where was this sign? Were these sign in/sign out sheets at mid-trail in addition to anything that you signed at the trailhead or any hiking or wilderness permit you got? – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Mar 21 '17 at 2:05
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    I'd note that even where provided, they are no substitute for leaving a route description with someone you trust to initiate a rescue if you don't turn up. You don't know how frequently the sheets are checked, if at all - it might be that they are only collected when there's a need to identify a body at the bottom of the ravine! – Toby Speight Mar 21 '17 at 16:00
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Sometimes, especially where permits are required, it is mandatory to fill out the sign-in/sign out books. Usually they are at trailheads, although I could see them on a particular piece or trail and perhaps shelters along the way.

However, mandatory or not, it is almost always a good idea to put your information down on any sign-in sheets and to sign any summit registers you come across as well for the following reasons.

  • If you get lost, it will assist searchers in knowing at least where you were at a specific time.
  • It helps the land managers get a rough estimate of how many people use the trail.
  • If someone else were to get lost, Search and Rescue will go through the sheets from that time frame looking for people who could have seen the lost person. Then Search and Rescue will call those people to gather clues about the lost person's possible whereabouts.

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