What appeared to be a crowd awaiting Raid the North Extreme athletes to cross the finish line at Gyro Park Friday, actually was concerned onlookers who watched as a teen was safely guided down a steep hillside.
Seventeen-year-old Axel Wood from Castlegar left local Sara Piche’s 17th birthday party at Gyro’s beach, to climb up the hill across from Gyro Park.
But making his own path on his journey to touch the Canadian flag proved to more difficult on the way back and he never made it down on his own.
“I watched him go up, but then I lost sight of him,” said Jamie Leach, a 17-year-old Nelson resident. “I was really worried, he’s one of my best friends.”
After about two hours in the blazing sun, Wood gave up on his downward climb and started to yell for help.
“I was dead tired and I couldn’t move – my legs were all numb,” he recalled the dehydration that set in.
Police and the fire department were called by concession employees and appeared on the scene at about 2:30 p.m.
After a quick assessment and communication with Wood over a loud speaker, Trail RCMP Const. Chris Elwood and Trail firefighter Grant Tyson realized Wood was not hurt and navigated their way up the mountainside.
About 30 people stood with their heads cocked, watching the men get closer to the teen.
Though the loose gravel made for a challenging descend, Elwood said he managed to find a footpath that led them to safety.
Wood downed two water bottles and held his head up with his hand as an ambulance attendant checked him out.
The teen only regretted that he didn’t finish his first hike on his own.
Inexperienced hikers not following designated paths on this hillside is not new to the RCMP.
Last year, three 16-year-olds got lost above Sunningdale and when the sun went down, lit a fire for warmth. The flames got out of control and the teens were pinned between the fire and a cliff before they were rescued in the nick of time.