Search under way for hiker missing in Superstition Mountains

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Christopher Hensley By Jennifer Thomas Christopher Hensley By Jennifer Thomas

APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. -- Search and rescue teams are looking for an overdue hiker who was last seen Monday afternoon when he went for a hike in the Lost Dutchman State Park.

Christopher Hensley, 34, recently moved to Arizona and is not familiar with the area, according to Tamra Ingersoll with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

Hensley set out for the hike from a relative's house in east Apache Junction but did not tell his family which part of the park he planned to hike.

Ingersoll said Hensley was dressed in black workout shorts and skateboard shoes and only had enough water with him for a short hike.

Pinal County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue unit and volunteer Search and Rescue Posse members have been searching the rough terrain of the Superstition Mountains since about 10 p.m. Monday.

A helicopter is being used when the wind allows. Breezy conditions have been making the air search of the canyons very dangerous.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue team has been assisting in the search. A member suffered a serious injury Tuesday night when a 20-pound boulder fell on his leg. A PCSO Search and Rescue Posse member sprained an ankle searching the rugged terrain.

"The Pinal County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team already has had a record year for the number of calls for service related to lost hikers," Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said. "Individuals are encouraged to enjoy the great outdoors and the beautiful hiking trails of the Superstition Mountains but they need to be prepared before starting their adventure."

The Pinal County Sheriff's Office released the following tips for hikers:

• Always inform someone on your plans. Make sure they know the area you will be in and when to expect your return. Then make sure you stick to you plan.

• Bring plenty of water. Make sure to take enough to stay properly hydrated and have extra in case a missed trail or wrong turn extends your tip.

• Take a cellphone.

• Have adequate clothing. Clothing should be lightweight, light in color, appropriate pants and long sleeve shirt. Have a hat available to protect your head and neck from the sun. Have a good set of boots with non-slip soles if possible. Tennis shoes are not adequate for hiking mountain trails.

• Know weather conditions.

• Know your limitations. If you start feeling fatigued or ill, it's all right for you to turn around and head back. Don't ignore what your body is telling you.

• Bring compass/GPS/maps. The old-fashioned compass is rapidly giving way to the GPS (Global PositioningSystem) navigation. But compasses are still often cheaper and it's always a good idea for hikers to get familiar with one and how to use it. If you are going to use a GPS make sure you get waypoints and bring spare batteries. Make sure you bring an efficient map.