Lost Hiker near Peak

May 07, 2021
San Jacinto High Country

Written by James Eckhardt.

On Friday night, I had just gotten to sleep when I heard a callout on my phone. A backpacker had called one and a half hours earlier notifying dispatch that he was lost and cold. Rescue 9 had located the hiker near Miller Peak but had been unable to hoist due to high winds. We were called after Rescue 9 had determined a hoist was not possible, and Blake and I were first to respond to the ranger station in Idyllwild. Glenn ran base while Blake and I hiked the 7 miles to the subject from Humber Park. Soon after Blake and I started hiking, Cam and Becky arrived and followed us up the trail.

Blake and I made it to the subject, who was about ten feet off trail. The backpacker had warmed up after getting in his sleeping bag and was well hydrated and fed as he had all the gear and food for a backpacking trip. Blake and I soon found out that he was section hiking the PCT and had started in the morning from Humber Park with two others from a hiking group. The group had planned to meet up with three others who were taking the tram up to a campsite in Round Valley.

The three hiking from Humber had split up somewhere around Little Round Valley. One was exhausted and planned to camp on the trail, one was still feeling good and would continue to Round Valley and our subject also planned to continue to Round Valley. He got off trail near Miller Peak and then called 911. By the time Blake and I arrived, he had rested and was ready to hike back to Humber Park with us. We met up with Cam and Becky, left the subject to continue down trail with them and then Blake and I hurried to Humber Park. Blake had a family commitment, and I needed to be in Garner Valley for a search briefing at 7:00AM. With the help of California State Parks, we were able to account for the other 5 hikers in the group and determine they were all safe.

The backpacker had the necessary equipment, food, and water to stay comfortable overnight in the San Jacinto high country. Injuries, fatigue, or poor navigation can lead to a situation in which rescue is necessary. Carrying adequate equipment, food and water prevented a much more uncomfortable night for the backpacker. While Riverside County has helicopter rescue capabilities, a fast rescue is far from guaranteed. Wilderness users are responsible for their own safety.

RMRU Members Involved: (Cameron Dickinson, Blake Douglas, James Eckhardt, Glenn Henderson, Steven Rider, Becky Templeton)