Single Lost Hiker
August 30, 2020
Seven Pines Trail Area
Written by James Eckhardt.
On Sunday evening at 5:30pm, we received a call for a lost hiker who was off trail between Fuller Ridge and Seven Pines. Cameron, Vinay, Blake, and I responded to the Seven Pines trailhead, which is still closed, but provided easier access to the subject’s location. While we were driving to the trailhead, Star-9 flew over the subject’s location and alerted him that a ground team was on the way. Star-9 was not able to see the hiker.
Blake and I arrived at the trailhead and began our hike up Seven Pines trial. Our plan was to hike up to the elevation of the subject’s last known location, as per a cellphone ping, and contour into the drainage. With Cameron and Vinay behind us by about ½ a mile, we cut off trail and did a callout. Thankfully, it was a still night, and we received a faint reply. The location of the voice seemed to be much farther down canyon than we expected, but we hiked towards it and continued callouts. After crossing some steep and rocky terrain we made it to the subject. After assessing him, we hiked up to the trail, met with Vinay and Cameron and hiked back to the trailhead.
The subject had hiked to San Jacinto Peak via Marion Mountain trail and lost the trail on the way down. He continued off trial down the North Fork of the San Jacinto River and then called 911. Dispatch instructed him to stay put, however the subject continued down canyon until he heard the helicopter. At some point, he fell and mildly sprained his ankle. Upon hearing the helicopter, he moved to higher ground, however tree cover and clothing that blended with the terrain prevented the helicopter from spotting him.
While we were fortunate to have a quiet night to do callouts and hear responses, moving after dispatch had instructed the subject to stay put could have greatly complicated the search. Unless in immediate danger, it is important to stop and stay put once you realize you are lost and have provided your location to emergency services. If the subject had stopped, this would have prevented the minor ankle sprain and would have allowed us to locate him more quickly.
RMRU Members Involved: Cameron Dickinson, Blake Douglas, James Eckhardt, and Vinay Rao.