A group of hikers, including three children, spent the night in the North Shore wilderness but emerged otherwise unharmed, Monday morning.
North Shore Rescue was tasked with finding two Surrey moms and their kids, eight, eight and six, when they failed to return home from a hike to Whyte Lake Sunday.
“They obviously got turned around and went the wrong way, we would suspect, coming back. They ended up spending the night out,” said search manager Dale Weidman.
When they were alerted to the overdue group, Weidman said rescuers had very little to go on. They suspected the group was headed for somewhere in Cypress Provincial Park but with no vehicle and transit access only, Weidman had to deduce a rough area where they could be.
As field teams were making their way there around 7 a.m. the moms and kids showed up at the District of West Vancouver’s works yard on Cypress Bowl Road about four kilometres away from Whyte Lake.
“From what I understand they were totally fine,” he said.
Weidman said they were not well equipped for their trek and unexpected night in the woods.
“If they had juice for their (phone) batteries, this would have been over very quickly,” he said.
It capped an extremely busy weekend for North Shore Rescue following three consecutive callouts on Mount Seymour on Saturday (May 29).
The volunteer search and rescue unit was first called at approximately 10:45 a.m. to assist an injured hiker who had fallen into a tree well along the Pump Peak trail, a challenging hike located in Mount Seymour Provincial Park.
“She was immobile and complaining about a back injury,” said Dave Barnett, search manager for North Shore Rescue. “To us, that’s always potentially serious.”
NSR deployed its Talon helicopter with a crew to the location of the injured hiker. She was airlifted to NSR’s Bone Creek search and rescue station, where she was passed off to awaiting BC Ambulance crews.
While NSR was working to extract the first injured hiker to safety, they received a call for an injured hiker who had hurt their knee while hiking the Mystery Lake Trail. “This particular person sounded like they couldn’t move but they weren’t critically injured,” said Barnett.
While the first injured hiker was airlifted away, some crew members stayed behind to retrieve the hiker with the injured knee. They escorted that hiker back to the Mount Seymour parking lot.
A short time later, NSR was called yet again, after one person in a group of hikers returning along the Elsay Lake Trail slipped into a tree well and suffered an ankle injury, said Barnett.
“She was in a very steep area so we ended up dropping a helicopter team in there,” he said. “They dealt with her and we ended up using a hoist to get all of them back into the helicopter and back to Bone Creek.”
Barnett said the rest of the hiking group had been offered a helicopter ride back down because they didn't feel comfortable navigating the steep terrain, especially after their friend had been injured.
He warned that hikers should be prepared for the environment when outdoor recreating, especially with the changing of the seasons creating unstable conditions.
“It starts to feel like summer but it’s still full-on winter conditions and the snow starts to warm up and get really slippery,” said Barnett. “They actually needed mountaineering gear.”