Lost hikers in Big South Fork hampered search efforts

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The following is from the National Park Service Incident Report from this morning:

A Scott County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher received a cell phone call from a lost hiker on Friday, December 18th. The number was given to rangers and contact was made with John Huling.

Huling reported that he’d been hiking in the Twin Arches area with two other people late Thursday night when they decided to go off trail and camp. When they attempted to return to the trail, they became disoriented. A description of where they had gone off trail put them in the Charit Creek drainage. Rangers attempted to determine a more precise location, but could not due to Huling’s lack of knowledge of the area.

A search was begun immediately, as it was raining and the forecast called for it to soon turn to snow. Personnel searched for approximately six hours without luck. The rain did not turn to snow, and plans were made to continue the search at first light the next day. Additional personnel were called in and the search resumed early on Saturday morning. Further phone contact helped them to finally locate the trio in mid-afternoon.

Search efforts were hampered by the men continuing to move after being told to stay in one position so that searchers could find them. There were no injuries to either hikers or searchers.

The key point of this story is in bold. File this one under: "What were they thinking?" One of the first "rules" for getting lost is to stop, stay put and wait for rescue. This is especially true after making contact with rescuers!

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