Devil’s Slide Trail Walkout

August 6, 2022
Devil’s Slide Trail above Humber Park, Idyllwild
Mission 2022-22

Written by: Richard Yocum

On 8/6/2022 at 1407 hours RMRU was requested to assist a hiker with Parkinson’s disease having trouble coming down the Devil’s Slide Trail from Saddle Junction to Humber Park. By one report, he was experiencing a medical emergency. Riverside Sheriff’s Rescue 9 helicopter (RSQ9) had been circling over the area and over the Tahquitz Meadow area, but apparently was unable to locate the subject, and RMRU was asked to meet at Humber Park.

Vinay and Richard were in Idyllwild town center grabbing lunch after some tech rope training and Matt was also in the area, and they arrived Humber Park within minutes. As they were packing gear, they were approached by several members of the subject’s hiking party and then the subject’s wife. This provided the opportunity to gather information about the subject: a 75-year-old White man with Parkinson’s on no meds but who just recently had an adjustment to his deep brain stimulator (DBS) for Parkinson’s. He was training with a group that takes people with Parkinson’s on hiking trips. The group had made it past Saddle Junction but on the way down the subject had fallen a couple times and was feeling exhausted. Some members of his group attributed his exhaustion to the recent adjustment of his DBS. While most of his party returned to Humber Park, he was being walked down by a Nurse Practitioner and her husband. He was not seriously injured in the falls and was not having a medical emergency.

The hasty team of Richard, Vinay, and Matt started up Devil’s Slide at 1450 and after about 1.1 miles came across the subject with his two companions hiking with trekking poles down trail, below the big switchback, at 33.77043, -116.68259. He was standing within minimal assistance, alert, oriented, conversant, with a strong radial pulse of 80/min, and respiratory rate 14. He reported being fully hydrated with adequate calories. He denied other medical problems. RMRU assessed that a continued slow, careful, guided walkout was the best evac strategy and offered our assistance, but his two companions preferred to continue guiding him by holding onto his daypack from each side. He declined having paramedics at the trailhead to evaluate him.

Subject being helped down the trail by friends. RMRU there in case anything goes wrong.

Tom, who was at Wellman’s Divide (with Eric and Blake) ran most of the way to Devil’s Slide, after which he was advised by the hasty team that he should continue down trail to rendezvous but need not hurry. Meanwhile, Glenn had driven the SAR truck from the Hemet station and helped Ray with base communications and they were later joined by Caleb. Tom eventually joined the hasty team descending the trail. The last quarter mile or so of the walkout was completed by Richard and Matt, while Vinay and Tom went ahead to join Glenn and Caleb at Humber. Stopping about every 15 minutes for a short rest and water break, the group made steady but slow progress and arrived at Humber Park at 1635. A final medical eval by Richard found no change in the subject’s status. Additional hydration, electrolytes, and rest were recommended.

Glenn, Vinay, Tom, Friend, Subject, Richard, Caleb, and Matt

RMRU Members Involved: (Tom Blanke, Matt Frenken, Glenn Henderson, Caleb Milner, Vinay Rao, Ray Weden, and Richard Yocum)

Other Agencies Involved: (RSO Rescue 9 Helicopter)