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North Shore Rescue hikes pair of pooches out of mountain trails

It’s important to choose trails that aren’t above a breed’s natural abilities.
North Shore Rescue volunteers assist a pooched pup off Grouse Mountain's BCMC Trail, June 24, 2023. | North Shore Rescue

North Shore Rescue has a pair of warnings after pulling some lost hikers and a pooched pup from the mountains this weekend.

The team was called out around 10 a.m. Saturday after two women became lost in the backcountry. The pair had made it to the top of Hollyburn Mountain but lost the trail in the snow while on their way back. They were able to call 911 but searchers found it particularly difficult tracking their location.

“The cell service was extremely poor because they were on the east aspect of Hollyburn Mountain. They were about 500 metres east of the summit and above this treacherous terrain area,” said search manager Dave Barnett. “If they continued down, which they were going to do, they would have ended up in a very steep drainage area.”

Barnett sent in a ground team who were able to lead the hikers back to safety through a 500-metre “bushwhack” back to the trail.

The hikers were experienced and knew the area well, but Barnett said this is a very tricky time in the alpine.

“It’s summer down here at lower elevations. It’s nice and warm, but up high in the mountains, there’s still snow. It’s very slippery. It’s difficult to follow trails,” he said. “You need proper footwear, like microspikes, and poles, and definitely warm gear. It can still be cool up in the mountains, especially in the drainage systems where all the cold air accumulates.”

The pair had a small dog hiking with them, who was fine but appreciative for the walk out. That wasn’t the case with the next call however.

Just as volunteers were getting ready to stand down from the Hollyburn outing, the team was called out again, this time for a man who became stranded with his dog about a fifth of the way up the BCMC Trail to the top of Grouse Mountain.

The dog named Luna became overheated and exhausted, Barnett said, and the hiker tried to carry the 120-pound pooch back down himself.

“So obviously, that was extremely difficult,” he said. “In trying to carry this dog, the hiker became so exhausted and cramped up that he wasn’t able to walk out. Basically, the two of them were stuck there.”

A ground team was easily able to make it to the pair and assist them both out, using a combat stretcher to help the four-legged Luna.

Metro Vancouver, which has jurisdiction over Grouse Mountain Regional Park, banned dogs on the BCMC Trail in 2018, largely because of how steep it is and how crowded it can get.

Dogs are allowed on many other North Shore trails, but Barnett said it’s important to choose ones that aren’t above a breed’s natural abilities.

“Don’t take them on steep, strenuous trails. When it’s over 20 C, they can get overheated extremely quickly,” he said.

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