Sierra Madre Search and Rescue volunteers responded to several calls for help in November and they released details of two incidents on Friday Dec. 14.
At 5:21 p.m. Sunday Nov. 18 team personnel received a page from Sierra Madre police about two hikers reported lost in Big Santa Anita Canyon, Chuck Stoughton of Sierra Madre Search and Rescue said in a phone interview.
Team members responded to Chantry Flat. The hikers reportedly went off-trail, got disoriented, and could not get back to the trailhead due to darkness, Stoughton said.
Rescuers searched possible routes while team leaders established text messaging with the hikers, who had at least one working iPhone with them. Team leaders were able to activate a "Find My Phone" app on the lost hikers' iPhone for an approximate location near Hermit Falls, Stoughton said.
The "Find My Phone" app could not provide detailed location information, so rescue team members' local knowledge was critical in determining which side canyon the subjects were stranded in, Stoughton said.
Searchers found the hikers several hundred feet up a side canyon around 7 p.m. They were cold but not injured, Stoughton said. Rescuers set up a rope handline to help the hikers get back to the trail.
The hikers and rescue team volunteers were all accounted for back at the Chantry Flat parking lot by 8 p.m. Debriefing of the incident back at the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue station was under way by 9 p.m.
The other incident began about 7 p.m. Saturday Nov. 3, when volunteers received a page from Sierra Madre police about a missing hiker near Mt. Wilson, Stoughton said.
Search team members responded to Chantry Flat in Big Santa Anita Canyon, where staff at Adams' Pack Station first received word a hiker reported his friend fell from a trail between Mt. Wilson and Sturtevant Camp.
The hiker reported he couldn't find his friend, and a team of searchers started a four-mile hike to where the hiker was last seen, Stoughton said.
They made contact the hiker who reported his friend missing, and he showed rescuers where he last saw his friend.
"After several minutes, verbal contact was made with the missing hiker and the crew was able to locate the subject in the canyon bottom below the trail," Stoughton said.
The hiker who fell had a few scrapes but was otherwise fine. Rescuers walked both hikers back to their vehicle at Chantry Flat.
It was about 9 p.m. when rescuers got next to the missing hiker in the canyon bottom. Everyone was accounted for back at Chantry Flat parking lot by 11 p.m., Stoughton said.
Debriefing was under way at the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue station by about 11:45 p.m.
In both incidents the people who needed help were lucky technology worked. There are call boxes in Big Santa Anita Canyon that connect to Adams' Pack Station but "hikers may struggle to locate or be unfamiliar with the use of the system," Stoughton said.
The Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team is a nonprofit all-volunteer organization founded in 1951. Members respond to calls for help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and they do not charge for services. For more information visit www.smsr.org.