Family Home Safe After Volunteer Team Rescues Them
When four local residents went for a hike in the Kings Range yesterday, they intended to be out for only a few hours. Instead, chilled and covering themselves with ferns to keep in their body heat, the family wasn’t found until after 10 p.m. last night. Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue spokesperson Diana Totten said that two adults, two children and four dogs were lost in the southern portion of the coastal range. (See previous story here.)
According to Totten, the hikers became “disoriented on the trail as darkness was coming on [and] realized they were lost.” The hikers contacted family who contacted law enforcement. The call notifying law enforcement that the family was lost came about 5:15 p.m. But Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue said they weren’t dispatched, sent on the job, until about 8 p.m.
Fortunately, they had cell phones and were able to call in their general location. They had service in certain areas so they were able to provide information on their general location. “That could have saved their lives,” Totten said.
Because the family started out on a day hike, they didn’t have equipment like headlamps for an extended nighttime hike and, Totten said, “they had fairly light clothing since the day was nice.”
Meanwhile, Totten said the wind was strong and the temperature was quite cold. Shelter Cove had a low of 31° last night.
After dispatch, Whale Gulch Fire Department personnel and the trained volunteers with Southern Humboldt Technical Search and Rescue headed into the wilderness area between Bear Harbor and Shelter Cove near Jones beach. From there, Totten said, the rescue team hiked about 2000′ elevation in the King Range.
“A lot of our rescue members are familiar with the trail systems and we have the equipment for extended search and rescue,” Totten explained. “It takes a high level of expertise to do a safe rescue in one of the most rugged places at nighttime in inclement weather.”
The rescue team located the missing hikers a little after 10 p.m. “They were found safe,” Totten said, “but they were cold.” The hikers had attempted to protect themselves. “They built a lean-to shelter to get out of the wind that was strong,” she said. “The temperatures were very low. It heightens the danger of staying in the woods.”
Kai Ostrow was the first volunteer on the scene. He was followed by Aurora Studebaker who brought “warm clothing and hot tea to warm them up.” The family was able to hike out to a place where, Totten said, “they were able to catch a ride and head on home.”
The rescue was complete about 11 p.m., she said. But the volunteers had to gather their gear and vehicles. “They got back in well after midnight.”
Totten wanted to be sure everyone who hikes in the area remembers some basic safety rules. “The Kings Range is beautiful yet steep and rugged—that is some of its charm—but it can be dangerous,” she said. “Remember if you are going to go hiking even for a short day hike—bring warm clothing, matches or a lighter, flashlight or a headlamp, a first aid kit, cell phone and other essential things that you could use if you were lost or injured on a trail.”
Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue and the Whale Gulch Fire Department give up their weekends to train to help this community. Last night, their expertise paid off. Anyone who would like to help this team of local volunteers purchase equipment and supplies can contact them here. (We’ve contacted Whale Gulch Fire asking for a way people can donate and will update with that when we get an answer.)