Last updated: May 14, 2016
On April 3, 2016 Zion Dispatch received a late night phone call reporting an overdue party. The call came from the trip leader's wife who reported that her husband and 3 children had intended to hike the Subway route from the top down and had not yet exited the canyon. Due to the groups late start the reporting party (RP) was told to let dispatch know if the group came out that night. The group did not come out during the night and the following day a SAR team of 3 went through the Subway route to locate the overdue group. At about 1:30pm the SAR team located the overdue group at Keyhole Falls in the Subway. The group was in fair condition, but had no medical issues.
The trip leader reported that the day before they had gotten a late start (approx. 1:00pm) and also missed the correct rout on the way in. The trip leader said that he did not think that he was on the standard Subway Route because the terrain and the length of the rappels did not match his route description yet he continued through Russell Gulch.
By the time the group got to the Left Fork drainage it was almost dark so they spent the night. The next day they continued through the canyon. When the search team met them they had only traveled about a mile from where they spent the night and were moving very slowly. With assistance from the SAR team the group was able to make it to the Left Fork trailhead by 7:00pm.
Getting an early start is important. Do not go down the first rappel of a canyon if you are not sure you are in the right place. This group was lucky to have enough rope to complete Russell Gulch as the rappels in Russell are much longer than those in the Subway. It is important to be prepared with warm clothes, extra food and water in case you spend an unintended night out. Be aware of your limitations in experience.