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Expert hikers say avoid high elevations in lightning storms

By Eric Turcio, Reporter, eturcio@ktvm.com
Published On: Jul 19 2013 07:05:40 PM MDT
Updated On: Jul 19 2013 08:37:05 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Montana is a recreation paradise and hikers flock to the mountains in droves, taking advantage of hundreds of miles of trails. However, the wilderness can also be dangerous, especially when severe weather rolls in and lightning begins to strike.

NBC Montana spoke with people who hike at the Sypes Canyon Trailhead in north Bozeman.

Katie Bretson-Cook told us she had quite the experience during a lightning storm while on the trail head and had to take cover.

"We heard the storm coming in and it was coming in really quick so we got down into the canyon and hunkered down," said Bretson-Cook.

After 20 years of hiking, Bretson-Cook says it is easy to get caught in a storm while hiking in high terrain.

"They just get stranded. It's like they pay attention to the weather warnings, but often time don't have enough time to retreat," she said.

Graham Francis works at Chalet Sports in downtown Bozeman selling hiking gear. Francis says using metal gear while hiking can be scary when lightning begins to strike.

"You start to think maybe this isn't such a good idea," said Francis.

NBC Montana Meteorologists say you are never 100-percent safe if you remain outdoors during a lightning storm and to immediately get off elevated areas.