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Warm weather keeps rescue crews busy

Teams scour trails in back to-back calls

SOME long-awaited warm weather drew crowds of outdoor enthusiasts to the North Shore's mountains on the weekend - and made for a busy couple of days for rescuers.

North Shore Rescue were called out on three separate occasions Saturday and Sunday after hikers got lost or injured themselves. Two of the incidents were on the Grouse Grind's rugged and notoriously badly marked neighbour, the BCMC Trail.

The first call came late Saturday night when a woman walking her dog on the trail became disoriented in the failing light. She had no headlamp to light her way, but when she phoned for help, she was able to describe her surroundings to rescuers.

"Very quickly, I realized where she was and told her to stay put," said Tim Jones, NSR team leader.

As the volunteers got closer, they heard the woman's dog barking, and soon encountered a bear. 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, said Jones. It was only after calling in a helicopter that rescuers spotted them from the air.

Because of injury and the extremely rough terrain, the team 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 some companions on the Black Mountain trail near West Vancouver's Cypress Bowl.

NSR volunteers tracked her down from the air using information she texted them about her whereabouts.

The string of calls prompted the organization to issue a warning to the public this week, reminding hikers 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."

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