Skip to content

North Shore Rescue saves heat-exhausted hiker and dog on Seymour

While hikers should always carry essentials, experts at North Shore Rescue warn against packing too much gear
An exhauster hiker and his chocolate Labrador Bo are lowered into Inter River Park in North Vancouver, alongside North Shore Rescue volunteers, Aug. 20, 2023. | North Shore Rescue

Lucky for one heat-exhausted hiker, alone except for the company of his dog, a group of five campers found him as he was fading in and out of consciousness.

Just before 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, North Shore Rescue received a report via North Vancouver RCMP of a 40-year-old male hiker on Elsay Lake Trail, which runs north of Mount Seymour.

According to the informants on the scene, the man wasn’t fully coherent and was having a hard time communicating, so it seemed like an urgent medical matter, said NSR search manager Don Jardine.

Talon Helicopters responded and loaded up on the longline with rescue members as well as a volunteer doctor.

The helicopter arrived where the subject and the other campers were waiting, at around 2:10 p.m.

After completing about two-thirds of the hike out, the man was “overcome by dehydration and exhaustion,” Jardine said. “When he started the hike, he said he had four litres of water. With the conditions and the dog using the water, he quickly ran out of water and suffered in the heat on the way back.”

Communicating with rescuers via cell phone, the bystanders helped to stabilize the man, giving him a good deal of their water supply. That supply was replenished by NSR when rescuers arrived, Jardine said.

With skillful helicopter piloting in the smoke-addled air, the man and his 80-pound chocolate Labrador Bo – who was outfitted with a special dog harness – were lifted out on the longline down to Inter River Park.

By 2:40, the helicopter rescue was complete, and the man was transferred to a hospital by ambulance, while Bo was returned home to be looked after.

Along with the midday sun and smokey climbing conditions, Jardine said the man was overburdened.

“You don’t want to be carrying an 80-pound pack. We always tell people to bring the 10 essentials and go prepared, but you can get away with a lot less weight than that for one person.”

Trying to move that much weight around causes physical discomfort and can put wear and tear on your muscles,” he added. “I would advise in these temperatures, for people either just to go for a day hike or limit the amount of weight they’re trying to transport.”

Also, drinking water isn’t going to replace the chemicals your body needs to sustain in those conditions, so Jardine recommends taking electrolytes as well.

Stay in place once you've contacted 911, North Shore Rescue says

On Saturday, NSR was called out to St. Mark’s Summit, north of Cypress Mountain Resort in West Vancouver, on two calls involving a seized leg and ankle injury. Two technicians were flown in, and provided first aid on site. Both patients were then longlined out on the same flight.

Later that day, NSR was called to Gambier Island on a mutual aid request from Sunshine Coast SAR. A crew went out on a Talon helicopter. However, when they arrived on site, they learned the subject had self-rescued via boat.

“We always recommend for people once they’ve contacted 911 or emergency resources to stay put unless you’re told otherwise,” Jardine said. “It really complicates things... We may be looking for a subject while he’s home safe, and we’re putting our members at risk.”

[email protected]