[UPDATE 5:36 p.m.] Searchers Scour Lost Coast Hunting for Missing Canadian Hiker

Rick Eastep

Rick Eastep

Around 25 searchers scoured the Lost Coast trail today for a missing 33-year-old Canadian man. They had no success and the sun which sets today at 5:10 p.m. is beginning to drop below the horizon.

Though Tuesday and Wednesday were stormy, today has been much clearer and calmer. Crews from Shelter Cove Fire, Shelter Cove Ocean Rescue boat crew, Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue, the US Coast Guard, a Bureau of Land Management representative, and Copter 102 from Cal Fire are committed to finding the lost man, Rick Eastep, a Ontario man, whose family are anxiously awaiting information. 

Tomorrow, however, rain is moving back in. There is a 60% chance of precipitation, according to the National Weather Service.

The last word from the missing man came three days ago when he texted that he had hurt his back and was at Miller Flat, said Humboldt County Sheriff spokesperson Samantha Karges. “The text was something along the lines of help,” she said. But the text wasn’t seen until yesterday.

Miller Flat is about nine miles north of Shelter Cove, his destination and could be hiked easily in a half day under normal circumstances. However, the extent of the missing hiker’s injuries are unknown.

Dale Eastep stated in a comment on this website that his brother is alone on the trail but has had some experience. “He has previously hiked “The West Coast Trail” in BC and he has hiked the “Slims River West Trail” in the Yukon,” Eastep said. “This may not make him a pro by any means but he has had [some] experience.”

Diana Totten of Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue who is the incident commander for today’s search and rescue operations, said that Rick Eastep “was a good at hiking and backpacking.”

Cheryl Antony, spokesperson for Shelter Cove Fire, said that crews are still looking down some of the trails that shoot off the main trail and from the air.

“I hope he is found,” Dale Eastep said. “God be with all who are out there.”

Black car missing hiker

The car of the missing hiker was left in a parking lot at Shelter Cove. [Photo provided by Shelter Cove Fire]

UPDATE 5:36 p.m.: Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

Rick Raymond EastepThe Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a Canadian man reportedly injured while hiking the Lost Coast Trail.

On Jan. 9, 2019, at about 9:30 p.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to the Lost Coast Trail for the report of a missing hiker with possible injuries. The hiker, identified as 32-year-old Rick Raymond Eastep of Ontario, Canada, sent a text to the reporting party indicating that he had been injured while hiking the trail, possibly near the Miller Flat area. The reporting party told dispatchers that though the text appeared to have been sent on Monday, Jan. 7, it was not received until late Wednesday.

Sheriff’s deputies, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Posse, Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue, Shelter Cove Fire, CAL FIRE, Bureau of Land Management and the Coast Guard are currently searching for Eastep. Search and rescue teams have conducted an extensive ground search of the area. A Coast Guard helicopter has also assisted in the search.

Anyone with information regarding Eastep’s whereabouts should contact the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251.

Earlier Chapter: Multiple Agencies Searching for Missing Canadian Hiker on Lost Coast Trail

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36 comments

  • I hope you find him well.🕊🕊

  • Lost Coast Adventure Tours probably knows most of the companies that are shuttling people unless he got a ride with a privateer

  • I called Shelter Cove fire and they do have access to the beach for all terrain emergency vehicles talk to Diana she seems pretty concerned

  • Hes a goner I just hope they find his body before the bears and cougars. Never ever hike the rugged and wild lost coast alone, never.

    • Your comment is rude and pointless.

      I’ve hiked it alone many times. I understand the dangers and how to avoid them. I also carry an emergency beacon.

  • My guess – he’ll be found in the next 24 hours hungry and cold but otherwise OK – Godspeed S&R folks!

    • Smart people survive, dumb people die!

      A well prepared hiker starts with selecting a partner to go with him. A lot of protein, rain gear and other things for survival. Like never turn your back on the ocean you never go hiking in a remote area without a buddy especially when you are from Canada. It has been wet and starting a fire can be very challenging without a bottle of fuel oil. And dry matches. Ifd he is wet and no dry clothes if he doesn’t have a fire he will be subjected to hypothermia even at 40 degrees. And it would be a shame if all the searchers end up finding him dead.

  • Watching, Reading, and Hoping

    If he sent a text message on Monday, that didn’t go through until Wednesday, that would generally indicate he moved locations (despite the injury) and magically found fleeting, momentary, reception (or got lucky with a satellite’s orbit).
    I *really* wish that all these travel websites that advertise SoHum trails and parks would be much, much, better about making it *explicitly* clear that you cannot rely on your mobile phone to be your life line, EVER. And venturing out alone is basically taking your life in your own hands and can turn into a fatal folly incredibly fast. Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter, those trails *always* have the capability of being dangerous—multiplied exponentially in the winter. There should be very clear and firm warnings, from not only the travel sites but every business and organization involved in that tourism, *especially* those that transport people to trailheads. Post the statistics and news articles about what has happened to others in the past. Do *more* to curtail the hubris. People from outside NorCal seem to always think that all of California is like SoCal…where “hiking” the hills & canyons is a leisure activity. In Humboldt County, that couldn’t be further from the truth… the trails can, and will, kill you if you underestimate them.
    I sincerely home this man is found alive…but after being stranded for 3+ days, in the middle of a series of epic storms, I fear that his experience will be just one more cautionary tale.

    • Well said! Just as I would never scuba dive alone, I’d never hike without a safety buddy, not around here. Not even when I was hiking the SoCal trails.

      Stern warnings should be posted with all online sites, brochures etc. strongly deterring venturing alone anywhere along the Lost Coast and surrounding areas.

      • I am a NAUI certified diver, D.A.N. certified oxygen provider, and certified in NAUI first aid, and a former hiking guide. I would never dive alone but hiking alone is entirely different.

        Again I was a paid professional hiking guide for 6 years in Yosemite Nation Park. I have a lifetime of hiking experience.

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      Yes to almost everything. Any trail, anywhere, anytime can kill you, SoCal, NoCal, you name it. The King Range is not to be trifled with. The KR can take you. Folks hike a few trails in large wilderness areas and then see this little sliver of land hanging off the belly of Humboldt County and think: that little thing? That’s nothing. Go light, minimal gear. Not gonna bother getting the brochure, the topo map, a tide book, talking to the BLM, having compact flashlights, super survival matches, checking the weather or asking if January is the best month for hiking in North America, let alone NorCal.

      This is the kind of crazy stuff I did at that age and somehow survived. Hope this guy does, too. Probably he will be holed up a little way off the beach at Miller Flat with plenty of firewood and water in his tent, tarp or tube. Whistle, flashlight and signal mirror at the ready. Has food he packed in. THe whole ordeal will be good for laughs, after his ribs heal, and a lifetime lesson.

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      Yes to almost everything. Any trail, anywhere, anytime can kill you, SoCal, NoCal, you name it. The King Range is not to be trifled with. The KR can take you. Folks hike a few trails in large wilderness areas and then see this little sliver of land hanging off the belly of Humboldt County and think: that little thing? That’s nothing. Go light, minimal gear. Not gonna bother getting the brochure, the topo map, a tide book, talking to the BLM, having compact flashlights, super survival matches, checking the weather or asking if January is the best month for hiking in North America, let alone NorCal.
      This is the kind of crazy stuff I did at that age and somehow survived. Hope this guy does, too. Probably he will be holed up a little way off the beach at Miller Flat with plenty of firewood and water in his tent, tarp or tube. Whistle, flashlight and signal mirror at the ready. Has food he packed in. THe whole ordeal will be god for laughs, after his ribs heal, and a lifetime lesson.

  • Emeral…shame on you….his family is reading this……It is so, so possible that he will be found cold, tired, hurting….but alive

    • yeah, that was a pretty pathetic comment. Thousands have hiked that trail alone. However, winter is a hard time to hike it. this person is injured and needs positive thoughts and prayers no matter what the circumstance.

      • Thank you. As long as he has water filtration device, he’ll be fine. I’m assuming he has cold weather gear since he went out in January. A person can survive with little food for a long time. Good luck. I’ll bet they find him today

      • He need to be rescued. Thoughts and prayers don’t rescue you, hero’s do.

      • Mid-Range...(Optomistic)

        I’ve noticed some people feel safer making pessimistic predictions. If they’re right they get to say “told ya so”, gosh i’m so smart.
        If wrong you get to melt away silently feeling like ‘ok it wasn’t so bad, good news’ nobody feels bad.
        Optimists get disapointed, pessimists, never.

        KR tips: how about a marine radio? They are cheap, one could relay a distress call via a fishing vessel. BLM should recommend using marine radios, local rescuers are called out there multiple times a year searching for hikers. Think about how you can make it easier for rescuers to find you. A couple years ago hikers called in a snake bite, then hiked out ignoring the helicoptor, not bothering to call anybody, to update their status, drove past an ambulance staging for them. As it was getting dark, the Incident Commander, started contacting local hospitals, where lo and behold, the folks walked themselves in, while rescuers were spread out all over the KR still looking!

    • His family is already worried sick. They don’t need to read about all the dangers, and opinions on hiking solo. And they certainly don’t want to hear about the worst possible outcome. That’s cruel and thoughtless. This thread should be one of hope and warm thoughts. Plenty of hikers, skiers and outdoors people have been found after a good search, worn, cold and hungry but happy to be rescued.

  • Pls be considerate

    I agree, how does it help to spew that??
    Lots of folks go backpacking alone. Many whove gotten lost in the desert and got into a bad situation did have someone with them.
    This man sounds like an experienced hiker/camper. There are ways to stave off the cold/hypothermia. Considering his experience in the woods im sure he brought emergency supplies. He told folks where he was going, thats what we’re sposed to do.

    Yes there are folks who have forgotten that nature rules and to be prepared&humble when heading out to remote areas.
    The many people ive talked to as they come off the trail at black sands beach say one of the things they love is being out of cel range so no one can contact them. Most were from SF.
    That said i think its good for local tour guides to mention satellite phones/flares. I know our local shuttle biz is awesome&discusses the reality of the trail with those heading out. It doesnt benefit them to have folks get in trouble out there! None of us want that.
    Blaming the victim sucks no matter the situation.

    Even the most experienced backwoods person can get injured, and unable to navigate very well.
    He could be tucked in a cave waiting. Lets hope for the best.

    • I’ve hiked alone a lot but so many areas are popular and some other party always comes along.
      Of course January would be a good time to hike if you wanted to absolutely nobody.
      When hiking alone it was a little exiting because you have to be very careful with every step.

  • There is a risk in travelling alone. If course there’s a risk in relying on another person too. And there’s the risk of missing out by refusing to take opportunities alone. The most satisfying memories I have are the times I was alone and free to stop or go where I wanted and explore in solitude. To be undistracted. I wouldn’t trade them for all the safety in the world.

  • Poster formerly known as Matt

    Looking forward to hearing some good news on this story –

  • With the BLM King Range Project office closed due to the government shutdown, this hiker would not have had the normal access to renting a bear proof cannister (required), getting and being taught how to read a tide chart, getting a map, which shows all the places on the trail impassable at high tides and contains info and warnings about the conditions, learn that there is little to no cell coverage on the Lost Coast Trail, or be warned that with the heavy rains, many of the streams can be impassable without a buddy and a rope. Hopefully he was able to get a tide table and a bear can from Shelter Cove or Petrolia, but being out there alone in that storm was beyond risky. Whoever shuttled him from the Cove to the northern trail head was professionally obligated to provide him with all the above info, and I hope they did. There is also a trail map and warning info posted at the trail head.
    We have dedicated and knowledgeable search and rescue people with access to all the equipment necessary to get him out, either on an ATV, on a stretcher, or even an air lift via Coast Guard helicopter. Diana Totten is heading up this search and rescue effort, and she is the most dedicated and qualified person we have. Unless he was swept out to sea by a wave, which is entirely possible due to that last storm, he will be found.

  • Seems like no good news to report… is not good news.

    Where’s the coast guard helicopter?
    It could have flown that stretch easily several times today.

    No budget ?

  • “A venturesome minority will always be eager to set off on their own, and no obstacles should be placed in their path: let them take risks, for god sake, let them get lost, sun burnt, stranded, drowned, eaten by bears, buried alive under avalanches-that is the right and privilege of any free American” Edward Abby.
    John Muir hiked alone when there were still Grizzles in California. I don’t think he had good cell phone reception either. Shudder to think what Yosemite would be now if he didn’t. I have hiked part of the Lost Coast Trail alone because I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. My nearest near death experience was going off trail in Alaska (don’t do that). I walked on “brown ground” before I know that there was such a thing (don’t do that either)(google it). Take a deep breath, think a positive thought of finding him, and let it out. What ever your beliefs are it won’t hurt, as a matter of fact taking a deep breath is good for you. He has some of the finest people I know and know of looking for him. Blessed be. If you have any negative comment on my comment stick it in your ear cause you are probable the only one who wants to hear it.

  • Fingers crossed...

    Ya kno a baby was found alive under a collapsed building in russia after days in freezing weather. The will to survive is strong.
    Heard a chopper today in the fog near KR. Coast guard as far as ive heard still have funding.
    Wknd supposed to clear a bit, pls let us know if volunteers are needed to walk the beach.
    Something tells me he will be found this wknd alive and with a serious survival story to tell.

  • Gosh I hope you find him worst place in the world to go missing. Prayers he is found!!!

  • I am a colleague of Rick’s and he is one of the smartest people I have met. Always troubleshooting and optimistic. Always with a smile. Kind and hardworking, funny and would do anything for his co-workers and clients. He’s incredibly tech-savvy and loves the outdoors. He would be doing all he can to figure things out there. He’s done many long-distance road trips and solo hikes, so I’m not surprised he went to California for an adventure. He needs to be found and brought home. Please do all you can to help him! If something is expensive to try to track him, please let us know so we can start a fund at work to help find him!

  • Rick, I hope you will be able to one day read all these comments to see how many people are praying for you, and sending their heartfelt good thoughts,believing for the best possible outcome.
    I’m believing with them— I know you’re incredibly smart and are doing your best out there.

  • Praying for this young man that he will be found soon and be reunited with his family.

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