72-year-old hiker found alive after being lost for 6 days

Stock image: Hole in the Rock at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Kane County, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of National Park Service, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — After being missing for six days, rescuers located a Utah man Sunday who became lost while hiking near Lake Powell.

The 72-year-old Richfield man became lost while hiking the Hole in the Rock of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Kane County, according to a statement issued by the National Park Service.

The man had told a friend that he planned a day hike to Lake Powell, officials said. On Friday, four days after the man left to go hiking, the man’s friend called the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office to report the man missing.

The Utah Department of Public Safety and the Bureau of Land Management joined the Kane County Sheriff’s Office and the National Park Service on a multiagency search.

The search continued for two days before rescuers in a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter spotted the man at approximately 2 p.m. Sunday, 2.5 miles southwest of the trailhead.

“He was waving at the helicopter with his shirt,” park officials said. “His skin, bronzed by the sun, blended in with the surrounding rocks.”

The man told rescuers that he became disoriented and hiked out of the canyon, looking for the trailhead, according to the National Park Service.

Crews flew the severely dehydrated man to Escalante for medical evaluation. Despite being outdoors for six days, officials said the man was in “good health.”

“This hiker’s life was saved by a call from a concerned friend,” Kane County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Alan Alldredge said. “Hiking with a friend, and letting someone know specifically where you plan to hike, and when you plan to return, can make the difference between life and death.”

While visitors to the area are welcome to explore the many side canyons, slickrock hills, and passageways through washes into slot canyons or hanging gardens, there are no maintained trails in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, according to the National Park Service. Visitors are advised to hike at their own caution.

In 2014 St. George News published tips on how to prepare to hike safely and to be found when lost or injured. Those are restated below.

Preparation by the wilderness hiker including knowing one’s own limitations is the most effective measure to avoid mishaps, keep from getting lost and to ensure being found when things go wrong.

  • Develop a knowledge of reading maps and wayfinding using landmarks.
    • Setting cairns (piles of marker rocks) can be helpful but beware that another’s cairn may misdirect you; note: setting cairns on some public lands may be prohibited.
  • Prepare for and maintain proper hydration and fueling (water and food) – even hydrate and load up with fuel foods days in advance.
  • Leave an itinerary with relatives or friend.
  • Read all available materials on the area prior to hiking.
  • Consult with BLM staff and other outfitters and guides on recreating in the area.
  • Know your own limitations, health conditions, abilities, and body’s reaction to extreme heat and other weather conditions.
  • Wear bright clothing that can be easily spotted, not camouflage or muddy colors: Bright blue, bright or fluourescent lime greens and oranges, even reds are more easily spotted.
  • Carry or wear a bright handkerchief or scarf that you can wave at a search team and helicopter. (A little pink ribbon tied to a man’s backpack, flapping in the wind, drew the attention of a search and rescue team member to locate a man who was hidden under a bush in 2014. Read that story here.)
  • Carry a small flashlight, even in daytime a small flashlight can deliver a glint that catch attention.
  • Carry a small mirror or anything that will reflect a glint that can catch a helicopter pilot’s eye.
  • Carry a GPS tracking device; these may operate where cell service will not – if you set a waypoint at the trailhead, even at points along the way, you can follow the device’s arrows to find your way back using the device.
  • Those who hike often might consider using a Spot Locator device and service, when injured or lost you press a button which signals the company, which notifies the nearest Sheriff’s office of your exact location.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • .... September 7, 2016 at 12:02 am

    I’m so glad he wasn’t hurt. it’s always a bad idea to go hiking in an unfamiliar area alone. but he’s home with his loved ones..Praise the Lord !

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