Some long-awaited warm weather drew crowds of outdoor enthusiasts to the North Shore's mountains on the weekend - and made for a very busy two days for rescuers.
Volunteers were forced to venture out on three separate occasions Saturday and Sunday after hikers became lost or injured, two of them on the Grouse Grind's rugged and poorly marked neighbour, the BCMC Trail.
The first call came late Saturday night when a woman who was out walking her dog on the track became disoriented as he light failed. She had no headlamp to light her way but was able to describe her surroundings to members of North Shore Rescue.
"Very quickly, I realized where she was and told her to stay put," said Tim Jones, NSR team leader.
As searchers got closer, they heard the woman's dog barking, which was helpful for finding her but also indicated something more dangerous. As they neared the spot, they encountered a bear that had made its way into the area. Fortunately, it was easily frightened off - not always a guarantee, said Jones, especially when other animals are involved.
"Dogs can get bears very worked up," he said.
The team soon reached the woman, and walked her out to safety.
Less than twelve hours later, volunteers were combing the same trail again, this time for a group of three hikers who had missed a switchback and wandered out into a boulder field. The victims had called 9-1-1 after one of their companions, a woman in her 20s, fell and injured her leg. Their cell phone GPS coordinates were off by half a mile, Jones said. It was only after calling in a helicopter that rescuers spotted them from the air.
Because of injury and the extremely rough terrain, NSR long-lined the wayward adventurers out.
That rescue had just wrapped up when another call came in around 3 p.m. Sunday, this one from a woman who had become separated from her group on the Black Mountain trail near Cypress Bowl.
NSR volunteers tracked her down from the air using information she texted them about her whereabouts.
The spate of calls prompted the organization to issue a warning to the public, reminding them that despite the warm weather, many trails are still covered in snow at higher elevations and are "deceptively dangerous," according to Jones.
The BCMC trail suffers from another unrelated problem where it crosses private property, he added.
"We don't know who's doing it, but somebody is taking the markers down off the trail. It's causing a bit of a problem for us," said Jones. "We can see why people are getting lost."