Missing Hikers Humber Park

March 26, 2016
San Jacinto Mountains

Written by Tony Hughes

The page went out at just after 1:00 AM Saturday morning for 2 lost hikers. A male and female, both in their 40's, had left Humber Park around 4 PM on Friday, March 25th. Their goal was to summit and return to their vehicle at Humber Park. They were both experienced hikers but had never hiked this route to the summit. They were reported overdue by family. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Helicopter, Star 9, had been dispatched earlier in the evening and scanned several trails, but were not able to locate the subjects.

Lee was first on scene and went to Willow Creek Crossing, then followed Willow Creek down to Laws Camp, then up to Reeds Meadow, then back to the Saddle, and down to Humber. He found no signs of the subjects. Cameron Dickinson and I arrived at the trailhead around 3:30 AM. Ray was on scene with the team truck and ran Base. After being briefed, Cameron, Ray, and I inspected the subjects' vehicle and looked for footprints nearby. We found a partial print, but were not confident it belonged to either subject. The subjects later confirmed it was not their print.

At 4:00 AM, Cameron and I headed up Devil's Slide. Near the top we met with Lee and did a quick information exchange. Cameron and I then proceeded to follow the subjects' intended route towards the summit. The sun came up soon after we left Saddle Junction towards Wellman Divide. We spotted a tent about .5 miles before the turn off to Strawberry Cienega and investigated. It was a local Boy Scout troop up for the night. They had not seen or heard anyone else in the area and were going to keep their eyes open.

Cameron and I continued on to the Wellman Divide. Right when we arrived, we received word the subjects may have been located by the State Park Rangers. We looked for signs at the junction and after a few minutes received confirmation that the subjects had been located. We headed back to Humber Park.

On arrival back at Humber, Ray briefed us that the subjects had only 2 of the 10 essentials and had slept in some garbage bags over night. They had plenty of food and water but had no means to start a fire. They were not prepared to be out overnight nor were they prepared for the snow travel, post holing through the snow. The subjects reported seeing Star 9 the previous evening and flashing the light on their cell phone, but they were unable to gain the aviation team's attention. In the morning they met some hikers who directed them in the direction of the Upper Tram Station where they walked into the Round Valley Ranger Station on their own. The subjects confirmed they had summited San Jacinto but had turned left down into Round Valley at Wellman Divide.

Star 9 returned to the scene once the subjects were located and airlifted them to Keen Wild where the Deputy on scene drove them back to their vehicle at Humber Park. Fortunately for the subjects, the temperatures that evening where mild and there was no wind.

Hikers at Base

Kirk, Subjects, and Ray at Base
Photo by Tony Hughes.

Lessons: Know the conditions, know the route, and be prepared.

RMRU Members Involved: Lee Arnson, Kirk Cloyd, Cameron Dickinson, Gary Farris, Tony Hughes, Wayne Smith, and Ray Weden.