Mt. San Jacinto State Park Supervising Ranger Bart Grant (center) participated in the rescue of a lost hiker in Dark Canyon last week. Photo courtesy of Robert Peek

By J.P. Crumrine, Editor
and Marshall Smith, Staff Reporter


On Tuesday, Sept.18, at about 6 a.m., Hemet Station Sheriff deputies responded to the Marion Mountain trailhead regarding a lost hiker, a 65-year-old female with over ten years of hiking experience.

Once on scene, Sheriff’s deputies learned the lost hiker had been missing for over twenty-four hours, with a reported pre-existing medical condition, asthma.

She had been hiking with others to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto on Monday, Sept. 17, and had become separated on the descent. The hiker had a small amount of food and water with her.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department called out RMRU to lead the search efforts. Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Desert Sheriff Search and Rescue, Riverside Sheriff’s Aviation Unit and rangers from California State Parks all assisted in the rescue. Personnel were broken into several teams in order to conduct a comprehensive search of the vast area.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., searchers from the RMRU and Desert Search and Rescue found the missing hiker, when they heard her emergency whistle.

Pete Carlson of RMRU was the first to hear the whistle. His team was quickly joined by a second team. Carlson then made visual contact with the hiker. The hiker was uninjured, in good spirits and properly dressed and equipped according to responding RMRU volunteers.

It was determined that while hiking, the woman had left the marked trail and descended into the Dark Canyon drainage approximately a half mile. Responding teams assisted the hiker out of the ravine. She did not require medical assistance.

RMRU Idyllwild locals on the rescue included Les Walker, Chad Marler and Craig Wills. Walker noted that there have been quite a few rescues this year where hikers mistakenly hiked down into the Dark Canyon drainage. “People tend to miss switchbacks and see campground lights that they hike toward,” said Walker.