North Shore Rescue volunteers plucked three men from the Fools Gold Trail by helicopter this Tuesday, the same trail where Vancouver hiker Tyler Wright disappeared last year.
North Shore rescuers got the call from Coquitlam Search and Rescue after a beacon for three hikers went off near Debeck Creek in Pinecone Burke Provincial Park on Monday. Land-based rescuers left that day, but the terrain and the pouring rain conspired to halt their efforts, requiring a helicopter from North Shore Rescue.
The helicopter launched, but still had trouble with low clouds, spotting nothing until the very last run before a planned refuel, when the crew saw smoke from a flare near the creek. While the initial locater had placed the missing hikers on a ridge, they were actually hidden in a valley below tree cover, and were very difficult to spot, said Tim Jones, team leader with North Shore Rescue.
The three hikers were all dressed in black, green and blue, and were very difficult to see against the tree canopy, he said. We knew it was legitimate, we just didnt know exactly where they were, and in that terrain 100 metres means everything.
The hikers, all men in their 20s from Vancouver, had been swamped by the rain and couldnt cross a creek to get out of the woods. They were pulled up by the helicopter and deemed to be in good health.
Fools Gold Trail, which leads from the Squamish area to Coquitlam, is particularly challenging, said Jones, and Coquitlams ground rescue team had to be airlifted out of the woods due to the bad weather and steep terrain.
The North Shore crews know the area well after last years fruitless search for Tyler Wright, who was last seen on Aug. 10, 2010, when he set out on the Fools Gold route and never returned. The 10-day operation was believed to be the largest search effort in the provinces history, but yielded only a few footprints in the mud.
This is starting to become a popular area again and theres a lot of challenges with the communications and the remoteness of the area, said Jones, who added that the rescue beacon was extremely important.
Although they were well equipped, the hikers in this case wore dark green, black and blue clothing, making them impossible to see from the helicopter, said Jones. He advised hikers to always bring bright clothing or something else thats highly visible, like a bright orange garbage bag, and to clear the forest canopy when waiting for rescuers.