Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue (CVGSAR) members were involved in a mission Thursday evening to rescue a hiker, lost in Seal Bay Regional Park.
A newcomer to the Comox Valley was walking through the park, and became lost when the sun set.
“She was caught by darkness,” said CVGSAR president, Paul Berry. “She was found at one of the viewing points. She said that she thought she had travelled the same route the day before, but after seeing the same things three times, she realized she was walking in circles and wasn’t sure how to find her way out. At that point her cell phone was dying and she didn’t have a light, so she did the right thing, which was to stay put.”
The hiker called 911, and CVGSAR, as well as the Comox Valley RCMP canine unit, which responded.
The hiker was discovered shortly after 7 p.m.
“It was great inter-agency teamwork,” said Berry.
Berry said the incident serves as a reminder to be prepared when hiking, even when in a well-mapped park, such as Seal Bay.
“Particularly in these days when darkness comes quickly,” he said. “She did say she usually carries a backpack with her, with a headlight in the backpack. But she thought she would just do a quick loop and these things happen.
“This is just a reminder to everyone to have all the things they should have. You should have a good knowledge of the area you are travelling in – all of our regional parks have downloadable maps. You should always carry a light, and a device to communicate with – even a whistle in your pocket so if you get lost, you can call out. And always tell someone when you are heading out, and what time you expect to return, so if you don’t return they can get a search underway. All of that helps.”
Record year for SAR
Berry said 2018 was a record year for CVGSAR, in regards to call-outs, with a 30 per cent increase.
“We had 65 calls. Compare that to (Vancouver) North Shore Rescue’s 140 and per capita, we are probably as busy as they are,” he said.
He said many of the calls were due to lack of preparation on the part of the subject.
“It is discouraging, that so many of the calls were from people who were travelling in terrain they were not familiar with, were not prepared, had not looked at incoming weather,” he said. “There were a significant number of rescues in Strathcona Park this year – much higher than we have had in the past. So I guess it’s a bit of a balance. We want people to be out and be more active, but they need to be wise and active.”