On the afternoon of Thursday, July 12, the Yosemite Emergency Communications Center received a report that a male hiker in his upper 40s/early 50s had fallen on the Yosemite Falls Trail, just below Columbia PointRock, and could not continue hiking. The subject was hiking downhill when his foot slipped on a step covered by decomposed granite (very fine gravel). While one leg slipped forward, the subject's other leg slipped backward, forcing the subject into the splits. The subject was wearing tennis shoes with slick bottom soles (see photo).A combination of high use and very little to no precipitation leads to an accumulation of gravel on Yosemite's trails, especially during the summer. When travelling downhill on steep sections of trail, slipping on the gravel is common. Wearing trail shoes, hiking boots, or footwear with sticky rubber soles can help hikers maintain traction on the park's trails; some hikers also use trekking poles to help with balance and avoid slipping.
After catching his breath, the subject got back on his feet and tried to continue hiking downhill, but the pain from a strained muscle in his upper left leg was more than he could bear. The first YOSAR rescuer sent to the scene carried a pair of crutches in the hopes that the subject could crutch down the rest of the trail, but the subject was unable to use the crutches. A litter team was dispatched to the scene and, using a litter (stretcher) fitted with an all-terrain wheel, carried out the subject.
Litter team uses a wheeled litter to transport the patient to the trailhead. NPS Photo by Jeremy Bernfeld.