Litter carryout on Yosemite Falls Trail

July 20, 2012 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

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). Tennis shoesWhile 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. 

Rescuers wheel a litter with patient down the trail
Litter team uses a wheeled litter to transport the patient to the trailhead. NPS Photo by Jeremy Bernfeld.

6 Comments Comments icon

  1. December 07, 2012 at 11:06

    There was also a lady who slipped on the rocks and got a concussion. There's a spot right where the trial gets closest to the falls where the rocks get soaked from the spray. It's a steep area too and that's where the lady fell. When I went past SAR was already there letting her rest. I believe she ultimately was able to hike out with assistance.

  2. September 16, 2012 at 06:13

    I would echo some of these other comments. Going down that trail is slippery, and hiking poles saved my buttocks more than once. You're on the way down, and tired, and just want to get done, and before you know it... bam. Take your time and be careful.

  3. July 30, 2012 at 11:38

    These guys to do a great job and having had to help litter someone out once (unfortunately the gentleman in question had passed away while skiing up on the mountain) I know how hard their jobs are. We didn't have a wheeled litter and the 7 miles of carry was tough even with 3 full crews to take turns.

  4. July 25, 2012 at 09:33

    Thanks for posting these - they're very useful. Thanks also for what y'all do to help those in trouble.

  5. July 22, 2012 at 02:48

    I was on that trail at the end of June. Was surprised at how fast some people were "running" down the trail. I have rubber sole hiking shoes and there were times when I slipped and had to be extra careful.

  6. July 21, 2012 at 08:08

    I was on that trail last month. Spoke with an SAR ranger on patrol. I am shocked that there are not more calls for ankle/leg/knee injuries. The switchbacks are far more "uneven" than I expected. Coming down would have been extremely difficut for me without hiking poles. They also helped on the "slick" portions as in this report. Y'all do a great job. We appreciate it.

Leave this field empty
Required information

Post A Comment

Last updated: July 30, 2012

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 577
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389


(209) 372-0200

Contact Us