Lost hiker eats grass for energy before rescue

A man who got lost on a remote trail in the Pine Valley area is helped to safety on horseback, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 16, 2017 | Photo courtesy Washington County Sheriff's Search and Rescue, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A man was rescued thanks in part to a fellow hiker over the weekend after he got lost on a remote trail in the Pine Valley area.

Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue crews were called to the trailhead of Gardner Peak Trail around noon Saturday after friends of the lost hiker reported him missing when he failed to show up at a nearby campground where his vehicle was parked.

Crews conduct a rescue on a remote trail in the Pine Valley area after a hiker went missing near Gardner Peak, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 16, 2017 | Photo courtesy Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, St. George News

The hiker, from Las Vegas, had reportedly showed up at the campground Friday morning before the rest of his party arrived and decided to go on a short hike, Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. Brock Bentley said.

As he headed north on the trail, Bently said, he got turned around and could not find his way back.

“Thinking he was going the right direction,” Bentley said, “he ended up continuing north for several miles.”

The hiker ended up five-to-six miles away from his intended destination on a different trail.

“He had been walking through the night eating grass and drinking water from the stream trying to keep himself going,” Bentley said.

When he was reported missing, several search and rescue crews who happened to be involved in an annual weekend training were at the ready and were dispatched to trails throughout the area.

Read more: Agencies meet for statewide search and rescue training with one goal: saving lives

“It definitely helped to have everybody available and all ready to go,” Bentley said.

As ground crews scoured the area, Intermountain Life Flight helped the search effort from the air.

“Sometime around 3 o’clock that afternoon,” Bentley said, “we got a phone call from another hiker stating that he was with an individual that was lost that matched the name and the description of the person we were looking for.”

Coordinates were supplied to search crews who were helped to the location by a horse team from the U.S. Forest Service several miles into Water Canyon Trail where they found the hikers.

The other hiker was backpacking in the area when he came across the lost individual, who was tired and hungry but otherwise in good condition.

Search and rescue crew members help rescue a man who went missing on a remote trail in the Pine Valley area, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 16, 2017 | Photo courtesy Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, St. George News

“The backpacker selflessly gave of his resources and gave the lost man food and water and got him warmed up,” a Facebook post by Washington County Sheriff Search and Rescue reads. “He then delayed his own backpacking trip and stayed with the lost man until a SAR team could hike up and help him off the mountain.”

The horse team then helped the man down the mountain on horseback and arrived at the trailhead at approximately 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Bentley said the hiker did several things right when he got lost, such as preserving the battery on his cell phone until he could get in service range. The hiker also told crews he didn’t panic and attempted to keep a clear head through the ordeal.

However, given the fact he ended up so far away from his intended destination, Bentley suggested that hikers in such situations are better off staying put after becoming lost.

“We would prefer people when they get lost and turned around not to continue going,” he said, “and that was one of the things that would have been helpful if he had maybe stayed put.”

St. George News reporter Cody Blowers contributed to this report.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Caveat_Emptor September 19, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Good outcome for this guy, thanks to a fellow hiker and the S&R folks.
    This is a well documented trail, with old school paper maps available, for route finding.
    At some point, we need to be asking for reimbursement of out of pocket costs when the S&R efforts were totally avoidable with some up-front preparations…..

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