What began as a day trip hiking in the mountains resulted in a chilly night for a group of three and an extensive search and rescue operation.
At 4:38 a.m. Thursday, a call from the provincial emergency centre alerted Penticton Search and Rescue manager Dale Jorgensen to the missing hikers.
Princeton RCMP had been contacted after two women and a man in their twenties left on Wednesday from the Lightning Lakes day-use parking lot to hike up to Frosty Mountain, but failed to return.
Friends searched for the trio in the evening hours without any success.
Jorgensen said that the trailhead starts at about 4,300 feet elevation, and with most of it still covered in snow and pending weather warnings, it was important to get to the scene quickly.
Jorgensen's callout resulted in 14 Penticton, three Keremeos and two Oliver-Osoyoos team members responding to Manning Park.
Two teams were airlifted to the area using helicopters from Eclipse and HNZ, where they met with police and BC park rangers.
The teams were inserted at the 6,000 foot level after a helicopter survey of the mountains spotted the tracks of the missing trio in the snow.
Shortly after 10 a.m. Jorgensen was notified by the Oliver-Osoyoos team that they had found the hikers on Light Lake Road, a short distance from Manning Park lodge.
It appeared the hikers had become disoriented Wednesday afternoon and wandered off the trail. The group then cut through the bush and lit a fire in the evening to stay warm as they were lightly dressed.
As dawn broke, the trio crossed the ridge and could see the Manning Park Maintenance yard in the distance and started down the mountain where they were spotted.
There were no injuries and although the outcome was good, Jorgensen warned it could have easily been worse.
This group was not well prepared for their trip and Jorgensen reminds all users of the backcountry to prepare for the unexpected by bringing the following essential items with them:
- Fire making kit
- Signaling device such as a whistle
- Extra food and water
- Extra clothing
- Navigational/communication devices
- First Aid kit
- Emergency blanket
- Pocket knife
- Good footwear
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