MADERA COUNTY – The efforts of Search & Rescue volunteers, along with good weather conditions, led to the rescue of two hikers lost near Fresno Dome on the Sierra National Forest on Tuesday.
Late in the afternoon on Nov. 12, the Sheriff’s Office received word that two men were lost at an elevation of about 7,540 feet.
The lost hikers had a cell phone and when they could find service, were able to tell authorities they were near Fresno Dome, possibly on the south side of the granite dome.
Searchers responded to the area where they blew horns and blared sirens, but to no avail. The pair could not hear them.
Even as night fell, foot searchers and a K9 team continued their efforts in total darkness, and a call for mutual assistance was answered by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Eagle 1 Air Support Unit.
The pair indicated they had no water and were dehydrated. They hunkered down and lit a small campfire, which was spotted by Eagle 1 shortly before 8 p.m., according to the Madera County Sheriff’s Office.
Eagle 1 remained overhead using its spotlight to assist search crews as they hiked into the remote area on foot. Crews connected with the lost hikers and returned them to their vehicle about 2 ½ hours later.
Sheriff Anderson says had the conditions been different, it is doubtful aerial support would have been available that night. With temperatures dipping near freezing, the two men, who were not prepared for the elements, did the right thing when they built a camp fire, which served to keep them warm and help search crews find them.
In addition, they were equipped with a communication device, which is highly recommended.
Before going on your adventure, here is a list of some basic guidelines to follow:
- Check weather conditions before heading out – wear and bring clothing to prepare for the worst.
- Notify a friend or family where you are going, what time you plan to return and do NOT venture off your planned course of travel.
- Before you head into the back country, let the Ranger know of your plans as well.
- Never leave home without your compass.
- Water is more important than food. You can live for days without food, as long as you have water.
- Always carry a means by which you can communicate with searchers. Carry a cell phone and enable your GPS. Depending on where you are, a cell phone might not work. A satellite phone is your better bet. But besides that, carry a whistle. That high pitched distress call lasts longer than a yell for help.
- FRS radios and personal locater beacons are also a good means of communicating – make sure the batteries have life.
- Know how to build a shelter and a secure camp fire.