A team of 16 search and rescue professionals from Hope and Chilliwack responded to a stranded hiker near the Ladner Creek Trestle July 8, after two hikers took the wrong trail to get to the popular rail bridge.
The hikers had got lost on the way to the trestle, a portion of the historic Kettle Valley Railway 30 kilometres outside Hope on the Coquihalla Highway. Steve Link, manager with Hope Volunteer Search and Rescue, said the pair were following a trail to the creek when they thought they were following the trail to the bridge.
The hikers saw the train bridge and tunnels above them and decided to make their way there. “They started to scramble their way up a scree slope until they got themselves into a pickle,” Link says. “One person started to slide and they slid all the way back down to the riverbed and one person grabbed a root and hung tight, didn’t want to move at all. That’s when we got the call from the RCMP.”
When Hope search crews arrived after 2 p.m., the police and ambulance service had already made contact with the person who had slid down. Rescuers entered on the trestle trail, above the person on the scree slope.
Twelve members from Chilliwack Search and Rescue’s (SAR) rope rescue team arrived and proceeded to conduct a rope rescue that took around an hour.
The stranded hiker was put into a harness and lowered down to the bottom of the trail. “It took two rope lengths to get her all the way down, they had to…add another length of rope to get her all the way down. It was quite a distance and they lowered her down until it was stable enough for her to walk out on her own,” Link says.
The two hikers were able to hike out of the area. The first hiker who had made their way down on their own sustained minor injuries during that descent, Chilliwack SAR stated, and the hiker lowered to the canyon floor was uninjured.
During the rescue, Link says SAR members found items lost by previous hikers; a reminder that the trail to the tunnels can be dangerous. “You’ve really got to have solid footing and you really have to hold on to stuff as you make your way across the trail,” Link notes.
Link urges people to plan ahead if visiting the Ladner Creek Trestle. This includes familiarizing themselves with the area as much as possible, from multiple sources. Some online information about the hike is incorrect, he adds. In previous years Link says multiple hikers have got stuck going the wrong direction on the trail.
Making a trip plan and communicating that plan is critical, Link says, as there are lengths along Highway 5 and in the backcountry with no cell coverage. AdventureSmart has a trip plan app where people can log their trip plan. If they do not come home at the specified time, the app automatically notifies a person’s contacts.
“And if it looks sketchy it probably is, so don’t go father ahead,” he says. ‘These people travelled quite a ways up this really sketchy scree slippery slope before they decided ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”
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