Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

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Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers
24 Comments
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Source: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Search & Rescue (SBCSAR)

SBCSAR team members responded shortly after 2:30pm [Saturday] afternoon to the reports of 2 lost hikers that had also run out of water in the backcountry on the Santa Cruz trail near Little Pine Mountain. Team members quickly organized a response plan which included high clearance 4x4 vehicles and a pair a side-by-side UTVs for quick access from the Upper Oso area of the Santa Ynez River area.

GPS coordinates had been obtained by the emergency dispatch center and were validated by the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit Copter 2. Having the Copter in the air helped to confirm the location of and make first contact with the subjects via the public address system onboard while also providing trail recon of the area to insert team members onto the trail. The air support on the call was lost when it had to divert to a possible water rescue off Isla Vista.

Team members first met up with California Fish & Wildlife officers who where in the area on patrol and team members made best access to the Santa Cruz Trail via a 350’ trail off the Santa Cruz Jeepway. From this spot, team members hiked 2.5 miles up the trail to the subjects location. Upon arriving at the two subjects, an evaluation of their condition was provided along with water and food. The subjects were in good condition but extremely thirsty having been out of water since mid-late morning when also jettisoning their packs in an attempt to make better time on the trail and to the next water source while enduring the 100°+ temperatures in the area.

Once hydrated and determined to be in a condition to hike down the trail, team members escorted the two subjects to the SAR insertion point on the trail where they were met by additional team members and a rope hand line back up to the SAR vehicles. All teams and the subjects proceeded up the jeep way and back out to the Buckhorn Rd to Upper Oso where the subjects were released at their vehicle.

Teams were back at the station just before 9pm to wash and put equipment away and be ready for the next response.

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aragorn Jul 29, 2019 03:32 PM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

Fine these two hikers to pay for the time and trouble for the first responders to locate them. Obviously they were not prepared for this hike. They needed plenty of water, a map of the area, a compass, (and know how to use it) mark the trail so they can make their way back. I have walked more than half ways up there with a friend of mine about 3 years ago and he knew the area very well. We made it back down. And no signal on our cell phones. If one can afford a satellite phone get one.

oops Jul 29, 2019 10:51 AM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

It maybe too sensible - why aren't there emergency water station along some of these trails in the event someone runs out of water? Could be a couple of gallon jugs in a bear box during the summer months. Stocked by volunteers & restocked by users. Significantly cheaper than a call out

asitis Jul 29, 2019 10:05 AM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

I can't stand disinformation! It has officially been posted by multiple trail user groups that the Santa Cruz trail was severely damaged by the Rey Fire back in 2016. Even since 2007 the portion past Alexander Saddle down towards the guard station had been demolished by the Zaca Fire. Add in lack of funds by the Forest Service (also lack of will and priority), some nasty rainfall events, neglect and it's been quite obvious for awhile how fire and flood impact our backcountry recreational options. It is also posted at trailhead signs warning of severe damage and impassability. Mountain bikers have nothing to do with the state it's in, in fact, they have been the most consistent user group to try and help maintain it. Davy Brown should get his/her facts straight before accusing folks who have the right to recreate in our forest on they trails they are allowed on. Maybe he/she should roll up their sleeves and give back some. Nonetheless, the hikers choose to ignore the warnings, and almost paid the price.

EastBeach Jul 30, 2019 12:24 AM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

There's actually truth in both your comments and Davy Brown's. I used to ride Little Pine regularly in the 90's and early 2000's. Back then the singletrack was heavily rutted by mtn bikers in sections. Same for Camuesa Connector. And people would ride when it was wet/muddy. I don't recall many folks doing trail maintenance back then but that's just me. I'm guessing Davy Brown has similar recollections. Since then, riders have become more organized and have trail days so things have definitely improved. I hike, backpack, ride mtb and dirt bikes so multi-use is important to me. After years doing family stuff, I've got a new long-travel 29er and can't wait to get back in riding shape!

Davy Brown Jul 29, 2019 08:30 AM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

The Santa Cruz Trail has been hammered by fire and by mountain bike overuse, and there is that horse trough with a trickle about a mile below Alexander Saddle (south side)...past this A. Saddle there is Little Pine Spring, but it's a huge hassle scrambling down there, and often as not the spring isn't running or is a minimal seep. There had been hot weather advisories, and these guys were not fully prepared. When I do this -- heading for Santa Cruz Camp [10.5 miles from Upper Oso] -- it would be hiking by 5:30 a.m., at least 5 liters of water, and know beforehand if the Sta. Cruz Creek is running at the USFS site (next to the Cabin). But then, I am too old to try it at all during summer; October is a great time as also May. Glad these guys made it out, kudos to SARS.

CoastWatch Jul 28, 2019 10:52 PM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

I appreciate the work the Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team does as volunteers-that is a serious commitment. That being said, I am absolutely NOT impressed with the services or how the SB County Sheriff's as an organization on a whole... Unfortunately, they are all we have as an overpriced and marginal Police service...

EastBeach Jul 28, 2019 06:21 PM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

Well said. Probably a life-long lesson. It's 6-7 miles from the Upper Oso parking lot to Little Pine Spring on the Santa Cruz trail. Since they ran out of water mid-morning and were found further north, I'm guessing they were backpacking.

Shasta Guy Jul 28, 2019 05:00 PM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

No need to shame these people. They did a foolish thing that hopefully they’ll never do again. When your life was at risk you tend to remember the lesson of the consequences of being unprepared very clearly.

EastBeach Jul 28, 2019 03:18 PM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

Looks like the hikers were about 2 trail miles north from Little Pine Spring. I haven't explored much behind Alexander Ridge but am told that's an intermittent dribble of a water source. I wonder if they were trying to make it to the old SC station, about another 2 miles north on the trail. I was up at Cathedral Peak last weekend and it was in the 90's - used up 3.5L water before finishing the hike.

Shasta Guy Jul 28, 2019 03:11 PM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

This is not the right season for backpacking in that area. In this heat, 4 liters per day minimum. If they didn’t start with 2 gallons in their backpacks then that was their first decision in the direction of becoming a statistic. Nature sets the terms, and you must choose to accept.

Shasta Guy Jul 28, 2019 05:06 PM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

It’s hard to tell from the article if they were just day hiking or on an overnight backpacking trip. At any rate they seem like they were inexperienced and lacking several of the 10 essentials. No one plans for their day hike to turn into a life threatening overnight ordeal.

a-1568866629 Jul 28, 2019 02:11 PM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

Hiking in this heat = not too bright seeing as a person would have had to be living on Mars the past week to not know it was going to be another hot day.

tagdes Jul 28, 2019 02:24 PM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

As some have already alluded to....be careful what you believe from SBCoSheriff or in this case SAR. Copter 2 was not assigned to the water rescue, it was 308, the blue and white Fire one. This incident began at 2:30 with contact and trail direction well established long before the 4:52 call for water rescue which was completely over by 5:06 pm. So called diversion would have been 14 minutes plus a very short flight time if already airborne....not enough to hamper the hikers who were not in any real danger or they would have air lifted them out.

a-1568866629 Jul 28, 2019 01:22 PM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

Umm . . . Let's see here. 100º+F today. We'll need at least 16oz of water apiece, some weighty stuff in our packs. Hats or no hats? Hmm. Vague idea of the area and where we're going and how long we'll be gone. Topo map? Nah. We've got cell phones. Oh, yeah. Don't forget cell phones, in case we get lost . . .

Luvaduck Jul 29, 2019 11:05 AM
Search and Rescue Respond to Two Lost Hikers

Ignorance is curable with information; stupidity isn't and willful reckless usually isn't unless debilitating injury or age intervenes.

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