Exhausted Hiker Rescued from Panorama Trail

July 15, 2014 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue
At approximately 3 pm on Tuesday, July 8, the Yosemite Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call from a party of three hiking on the Panorama Trail. One member of the party was calling to report that his mother (77 years old) and her friend (64 years old) were feeling exhausted and hot, and didn’t think they could complete the hike. The party had started hiking down from Glacier Point at approximately 10 am and had made it just past Illillouette Fall at approximately 2:30 pm.   Temperatures were in the 90s that day and the trail is very exposed to the sun. The reporting party stated that his mother was stopping every few feet to catch her breath and she would be unable to walk out on her own. The condition of the other member of the group was unknown, but it was presumed that she would need assistance as well.

A SAR team member already in the area of the Panorama Trail was dispatched to perform initial assessments of the patients and determine the necessary resources. A SAR team was assembled and deployed with equipment to do a litter carryout for one patient. Another park ranger was deployed with the capability to assist the other patient out on horseback. The SAR team encountered the patient approximately six miles up from the Happy Isles trailhead. Further assessment revealed that the 64-year-old female would be able to walk with assistance, while the 77-year-old female would need to be carried out. A horse rescue was attempted for the 77 year old female, but due to her condition, she was unable to ride safely. Ultimately, she was carried out via wheeled litter by the SAR team back to the Valley. The rescue, in total, took approximately nine hours.

When asked about preparations for this trip, the 64-year-old female said they were given incorrect information by a friend about the intensity of the trail. They did not understand that it would be so arduous and did not prepare appropriately for the exhaustion that accompanies hiking in extreme heat. They also underestimated the challenges of hiking on a rocky trail, as this proved quite difficult for both women being rescued.

It is always important to research trails and terrain before embarking on any hike, especially in very hot and sunny conditions. Using resources like the park visitor centers and information booths, websites, checking maps and trip reports, and talking to park rangers can assist when planning for a safe hiking expedition. Making assumptions about terrain can prove detrimental, as is evidenced by this incident.  


Last updated: July 15, 2014

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