On June 12, 2016 at 9:55pm Zion dispatch received information about an injured female in the Virgin River Narrows needing assistance. Rangers met with the reporting party (RP) at the Zion Canyon Visitor's Center where he reported his group was day hiking the Narrows (permitted top down portion) when a member of their group fell multiple times, injuring an ankle and possibly a knee. This was reported as happening somewhere above the first waterfall, on the permitted top down route, around 1:00pm. The RP said the patient had continued hiking downstream, albeit very slowly. The RP had left the group immediately above the waterfall to hike out and ask for help. The RP told rangers that the patient had planned on continuing down canyon as long as she could.
The patient was reported as a 32 year old female who was with two other members of the party and all had minimal overnight gear - a dry change of clothes, a lightweight jacket, and a headlamp. According to the RP they had sufficient food and water for the day hike but nothing more.
On June 13th at 7:05am a hasty team of two, including a park medic, left the Temple of Sinawava trailhead. At 9:00am a litter team of ten started hiking up the trail with the litter. Due to the unknown location and condition of the patient, all team members were equipped with supplies for a full day and possibly nighttime hike in addition to carrying extra food and gear for the patient and her companions.
The hasty team reached the patient around 9:55am at the bend above Big Springs (approx. 5 miles up from the trailhead).The pt. was reported as still ambulatory and making her way down canyon. The litter team met up with the patient around 12:20pm above Big Springs. She was packaged and transported to the Temple of Sinawava, arriving with the litter team at 2:33pm where she refused all medical attention.
The hasty team reported the patient had fallen twice near the beginning of the hike and had "lost confidence" in her ability to walk in the river. The patient was scratched and bruised but otherwise uninjured and had spent the night at campsite 11 where the permitted campers had supplied them with food, shelter, and warmth to make the night more comfortable.
Lessons learned: Be prepared, mentally and physically, for the hike you are attempting. Turn around early if the hike is not what you expected. Always carry enough gear with you to survive an unplanned and uncomfortable night in the backcountry.