The lesson: be prepared
It’s generally not a good idea to go hiking by yourself in rough terrain, says Ken Neden.
It’s even a worse plan to do so without taking proper preparations.
The comments came in light of a dramatic rescue from cliffs overlooking Cameron Lake Monday.
Neden, a search manager for Arrowsmith Search and Rescue, said the subject of the search simply parked at Cathedral Grove and went for a hike with his two dogs, carrying no emergency equipment and clad only in shorts and a shirt.
“He was not equipped to get on this hillside,” Neden said. “He got up this slope and was scared to get back down. He went further up and further up trying to find a way back to Cathedral Grove.”
Eventually, Neden said, the man got to a point where he felt he couldn’t go forward or back, at which point he called for help.
“He had a cell phone, which is good, but he should have probably turned around sooner and retraced his steps back.”
Neden noted that rescuers had little difficulty with the terrain.
“One of the guys from Campbell River walked the two dogs down from that point and he was back at the highway in half an hour,” Neden said.
Rope rescue personnel who were dropped off nearby in an attempt to rescue the man were unable to reach him before dark, meaning they had to spend a miserable, cold night out in the wilderness.
“Our people were pretty cold and tired and sore,” Neden said. “They had to tie in because they were on a steep slope, so they weren’t very comfortable at all.”
The weather, he added, didn’t help the situation, even when the exhausted rescuers saw the first light of day Monday morning.
“The weather was a real problem,” he said. “Three quarters of the ridge was clear most of the time, but the area where he was located was socked right in.”
Anyone planning to go for a hike in the bush, alone or otherwise, he said, should ensure they have the bare essentials to preserve life and limb, should they be unable to get home for whatever reason.
“Bring something warm with you,” he said. “As well, a short hand line would have made it a little easier for him to get down.”