Time is of the essence when it comes to rescues in the North Shore backcountry, especially at this time of year when the sun sets earlier and earlier.
That’s the message from North Shore Rescue, which was tasked three times to go looking for lost hikers on Saturday afternoon and evening. While all rescues were successful, either because hikers made it out on their own or other trail users helped them out, they all would have been simpler if search crews had got the call sooner, said team leader Tim Jones.
In the first case, RCMP called in North Shore Rescue volunteers after first responders were unable to pinpoint a man who had slipped and fallen about 10 metres off the BCMC Trail.
The hiker was lost and waited for help for several hours. Eventually it was another hiker who heard the man’s cries for help and escorted him down to the Baden Powell Trail where search volunteers intercepted them.
Then, after darkness fell, search crews received another request for help, this time from a young Burnaby couple lost on the side of Mount Seymour. The pair had set out on the Baden Powell Trail from Panorama Drive around 4:30 p.m. and hoped to make it to Lynn Canyon, but by 7:30 p.m., the pair were severely disoriented, believing they had wound up on Grouse. North Shore Rescue members used the lost couple’s smartphone GPS co-ordinates to find them on the Bridal Path area of Seymour and dropped flares from a helicopter to confirm their location.
Volunteers were in the process of putting away their gear at 8:30 p.m., when they were called back to Grouse for another report of more lost hikers. In this case, they were easy to pinpoint over the phone and searchers directed Grouse patrol members to help them.
This time of year, the sun sets around 7 p.m., Jones said, but darkness falls much sooner under heavy tree foliage or in a canyon.
“This is sort of typical of the kinds of calls we’re getting. The light window is rapidly decreasing,” he said. “If you get into trouble, don’t wait too long before you phone for help, especially if you need a helicopter to come get you because we need every opportunity to get up and get you,” he said.
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