Overdue solo hiker
By Kevin Walker
While still in the middle of a search operation (Mission No. 1980-029), base camp operator Mary Bowman at the base of the Tramway radioed up news of an overdue hiker who had come through Round Valley in the late afternoon enroute to Mt. San Jacinto from Humber Park in Idyllwild. So for the rest of the night we not only searched for two girl scouts, we also watched out for the solo hiker. The following morning Don Landells was summoned to join in the search with his Bell Jet Ranger III. Just before Don arrived the girl scouts were found. So now we only had to find the solo hiker. Once Don landed in Long Valley, fellow team member Hank Schmel and I climbed in and prepared to leave for Caramba so that Hank and I could cut for tracks to make sure that the hiker hadn't somehow got into Tahquitz canyon. As we lifted off Don said that he had seen a group camping up on the Wellman Ridge as he arrived, and said that it would be a good idea to check that out before we were set off at Caramba. With a minute we were up to the Wellman divide where the group of campers was preparing to hike out. With the group of well dressed hikers was one man in short pants (still cold in the morning with snow on the ground), so Don found a small boulder to make a one runner landing. Hank climbed out, and sure enough the man in shorts had wandered into the campers sometime after dark.
The group convinced the bewildered hiker to stay with them. With Hank and the hiker back in the bird, we made a quick flight back to the Tram to complete another successful mission.
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