UTAH COUNTY – Two hikers who lost their way off the Battle Creek Trail near Pleasant Grove are now safe after being found late Sunday night.
Toby Norton is a member of the search and rescue team that found the hikers. He said the cold weather made this a tricky rescue mission.
“They were borderline on that mild hypothermia state,” Norton said. “Their water actually froze in their backpacks. That’s how cold it was.”
With temperatures in the teens, and because the hikers didn’t have supplies to survive a night in the extreme weather, rescuers were racing against the clock to bring them to safety.
Using the ping from the hikers’ cell phone, Norton and his team were able to get a general idea of the hikers’ location. A Life Flight helicopter took the rescue team to those coordinates.
“We found their tracks. We started down their tracks, but then realizing when we got to where we thought they should be, they weren’t there.”
Norton and his partner yelled and made contact with the stranded couple. Moments later they found them and gave them blankets and hot drinks to warm their body temperature before getting down the mountain.
“I don’t know if I was probably the nicest guy, but we needed to get moving. We’ve sat here long enough and you’re not going to get any better sitting here,” Norton said when describing what he said to the hikers after they were found.
Cell phones were crucial in quickly locating the hikers. They were found less than two hours after Norton received the call for help.
“20 years ago, when cell phones weren’t able to triangulate against GPS coordinates, that made rescues a lot different," Norton said.
A tragedy was narrowly averted. This incident now serves as a reminder, to always be prepared when exploring the outdoors – especially when straying away from a main trail.