The summer season officially begins with Memorial Day weekend. It means people will be spending more time outdoors.

One of the favorite locations in our area for outdoor activities is Lehigh Gorge State Park and the nearby Glen Onoko Falls.

The falls are spectacular. There is unspoiled beauty to them. But there is also eminent danger.

Glen Onoko has narrow, dirt paths leading to each of its three falls. As a result, the least amount of rain can create very slippery climbing conditions.

Also, regardless of the weather, the trails demand specific footwear such as sturdy shoes.

Yet, people wearing flip flops, individuals afraid of heights, and people who take ridiculous risks venture on the paths of Glen Onoko and get into trouble.

Every summer - occasionally in other seasons, too, but primarily in the summer - local fire department personnel are dispatched to Glen Onoko for rescues.

These rescues are dangerous and time consuming. Sometimes they involve people stranded on paths. Too often the rescue personnel are summoned because of individuals who have fallen and are seriously injured.

Fortunately the emergency personnel haven't gotten injured on such rescue missions, but it is just a matter of time. The rescue work is dangerous.

What can be done?

Maybe warning signs could be installed alerting of the dangers of the path to the falls, and educating people on what time of apparel and footwear should be worn.

A fine should be levied to those who don't wear proper shoes and clothing. After all, you can be fined for not having all-weather tires on some snow-covered highways.

Bill the victims or their insurance carriers for rescues. However, before such billing can occur, it would have to be determined how the proceeds from such billing would be utilized. Would it be retained by one fire department? Would it be shared by all responding units?

Often the rescues are necessitated because of stupidity and carelesssness. Those who engage in such reckless activity should be held responsible.

Glen Onoko is a lovely place to visit. It can turn ugly, though, if you're not prepared for what exists there.

BY RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com [1]