A local couple and their two dogs are back home safely after spending a night in the bush at Champion Lakes.
Six members of South Columbia Search and Rescue (SCSAR) were called out at midnight Wednesday with a report of two missing berry pickers.
“A man and woman with two dogs parked at the second lake,” SCSAR President Mike Hudson told the Trail Times Thursday. “They decided to go for a walk around the top lake but became lost and disoriented after leaving the trail.”
The pair thought they were headed down toward their car, but after walking a fair distance off trail, actually ended up about 3.5 kilometres from where they were parked.
Instead of an evening walk, they wound up staying in the wilderness until about 4:30 a.m.
“They were lucky enough to get a small fire going and stayed close to the creek,” said Hudson. “And they got to a point with cellphone coverage, so it was easy for us to eventually get to them, it was just a matter of how far down they were.”
Hudson reminds hikers to always have a person in the group who is very familiar with the territory or bring a GPS or compass along when going off trail.
“That’s when people run into trouble,” he added. “Make sure your phone is charged and bring jackets, because you never know what is going to happen.”
This latest call adds to an already busy season for the South Columbia members. Typically the group is called out about 22 times each year, so far this season they’ve responded to 18 searches.
And with long time members retiring or leaving the area, Hudson is getting a jump start on recruiting new volunteers.
“This happens every few years,” he explained. “We just brought five new members on board and are sitting at 22 – but we’d like to get more members, usually we have about 32.”
Search and rescue volunteers provide emergency services to the RCMP, BC Ambulance Service, and the BC Coroners Service. The group’s primary roles are to find and assist people who become lost or injured within its service area and support local authorities during natural disasters or mass casualty incidents.
South Columbia SAR encompasses the municipalities of Trail, Montrose, Fruitvale and Salmo, the area west of the Columbia River to the Kootenay Pass and north from the U.S. border to Ymir. Volunteers regularly assist neighbouring SAR groups through mutual aid requests and provide specialized search and rescue support across the province as needed.
For more information and anyone interested in joining the South Columbia team is encouraged to call 250.231.9944 or visit scsar.ca.