WASHINGTON COUNTY — A 60-year-old Kansas man and his young dog became lost after setting off on a hike through the Red Mountain Wilderness Thursday morning. They were found Friday afternoon after going without food and water for nearly 24 hours.
The hiker called the St. George Communications Center reporting he became lost while hiking on the Red Mountain Trail Thursday evening and needed help getting back to the trailhead, Washington County Search and Rescue Liaison Darrell Cashin said.
The Washington County Search and Rescue team was called in to assist. After coordinating the search effort, the group was split up into two search teams, one to search along the Red Mountain Trail on all terrain vehilces, and one on foot along the Gunsight Trail near Tuacahn.
“We had a GPS on the guy,” Cashin said, “but I wanted to send both teams in case one route turned out to be faster.”
After a few hours the rugged terrain prevented the team from continuing on ATVs, so they continued on foot for nearly two miles before reaching the stranded hiker just minutes before the Gunsight team arrived.
Rescuers found the hiker and his dog dehydrated and hungry after running out of food and water the day before, Cashin said. After the pair were fed and hydrated, the man called his family to tell them he was safe.
“That man actually did really well, and his dog was a 5-month-old puppy,” Cashin said, “so even without food or water they were in pretty good shape.”
The incident began on Thursday morning when the hiker, visiting the area from his home in Kansas, started out on the Red Mountain Trailhead approximately one mile south of Dammeron Valley, the deputy said. A short time later, he made his way down an area near the water tanks at the Tuacahn Center. Realizing he was no longer on the trail he made his way back up toward the top of Red Mountain, depleting his food and water supply in the process with dusk quickly setting in.
The hiker called his wife in Kansas reporting he was unable to find the trail, but that he and his dog were doing okay, claiming he was going to attempt to locate the trail on his own.
“That trail is really only marked on the north and south end, but for miles there are no markings,” Cashin said, “so it’s fairly easy to get lost.”
The man then continued searching for the trail on and off until approximately 3 a.m. Dressed in only shorts and a t-shirt, he decided to find an area where he and his dog could rest until sunrise.
At daylight, the hiker continued searching for the trail again.
“He called his wife back in Kansas and told her he was still lost, and she told him he had no other choice but to call 911,” Cashin said, adding, “so at that point he conceded and called in.”
After being rescued, the hiker was then taken back through the Gunsight Trail near Dammeron Valley. He and his dog were able to drive away unharmed once they reached the trailhead parking lot.
“That hiker was very fortunate that we weren’t having a normal November, weather-wise,” Cashin said, “or this experience would have been made even more difficult for the pair.”
Cashin advised anyone considering tackling Red Mountain trails to be aware that the path is only marked at the trailheads to the north and south, and once a hiker leaves the trailheads the route continues through primitive area that isn’t clearly marked.
No injuries were reported.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or first responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.