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May 8, 2012
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Written by Alan Lovegreen

At approximately 7:30pm on Tuesday, May 8th, RMRU was activated to help locate and retrieve two hikers lost in the San Jacinto Wilderness. The day hikers, as we later found out, had started their day at the desert floor and hiked up the popular Skyline Trail with the intent to summit Mt. San Jacinto and then return via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. After becoming disoriented at the base of Mt. San Jacinto the hikers called 911.

The Sheriff Star-9 helicopter was en route as Glenn, Les, Nick, and I rode the last tramcar of the night to the upper station. (RMRU members Paul and Pete would show up at the lower tram station at 6am the next morning in case the mission was ongoing and we needed more rescuers.) By the time we had set up the base radio at the upper station and begun communicating with Star-9, the aviation team had spotted and issued instructions to the hikers; wind conditions were too patchy for them to risk an extraction, but the helicopter sent us the hikersí current GPS coordinates before returning to the airfield.

Glenn ran the base radio at the upper tram station while Les, Nick, and I hiked cross-country to the subjects. We made good time, and the updated GPS coordinates led us right to the lost hikers and their fire. Contact was made around 1:00am, with both hikers in good health.

Subjects resting on the way out

(R-L) RMRU Nick, two subjects, and RMRU Les
Photo by Alan Lovegreen

After accepting warm liquids and heavier garments they were eager to get to shelter, and our return to the upper tram station took only two hours. On the hike back our team found out that both hikers were experienced with the San Jacinto area, a reminder that even knowledgeable people can -- and do -- get lost in familiar wilderness environments.

RMRU team members present: Paul Caraher, Pete Carlson, Glenn Henderson, Alan Lovegreen, Nick Nixon, and Les Walker.

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