Two pairs of hikers from Los Angeles County became stranded Sunday night off different backcountry trails, prompting emergency rescues by 14 members of the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue (SBCSAR) team.
The first call came in around 8 p.m., when two hikers in their mid-thirties lost their way while searching for wildflowers in Grass Mountain Canyon below Figueroa Mountain. The Culver City residents “took several wrong turns and ended up stranded on a cliff,” with only one cellphone light to guide them, said the Sheriff’s Office press release.
Meanwhile, a pair of hikers in their mid-twenties called 9-1-1 when they lost their way near Rocky Ridge by East Camino Cielo and Gibraltar roads. The L.A. locals had set out around 4 p.m. to hike the Rock Garden Trail. Hiking back to their car at sunset, they missed the main trail and found themselves caught in thick brush at the bottom of a canyon without water, warm clothing, or flashlights. “They were trying to reach Gibraltar Road and in reality they were going 180 degrees in the opposite direction,” said the Sheriff’s Office release.
First responders tracked the Grass Mountain hikers using GPS coordinates and an app used to find phones. SBCSAR team members led the pair safely down the cliff to Figueroa Mountain Road, where they drove home.
Gleaning information from a brief phone call with the lost Rocky Ridge hikers — whose cellphone battery was about to die — the team tracked fresh footprints and called out to the hikers until they were located. Using thermal imaging night vision tools, SBCSAR found the pair, “approximately 500 feet down the canyon in thick brush.” The rescue team reached the hikers, gave them water and warm clothing, and helped them out of the canyon, onto the trail, and back to Gibraltar Road, where they headed soon after 11 p.m.
Sunday’s rescues brought the SBCSAR team’s number of calls to more than 70 this year. In 2016 alone, the volunteer team has clocked more than 1,000 collective hours.