Search, rescue team hike up Pine Valley Mountain to help horse, rider

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PINE VALLEY – Washington County Search and Rescue volunteers helped a man on horseback who had lost his way on Pine Valley Mountain Sunday night.

SAR received a call around 6:30 p.m. about a 52 year-old man who went horseback riding on the mountain alone.

“He went up the Mill Creek Trail,” SAR Commander Mike Thomas said, “and was trying to connect over to White Rocks Trail and do a circle and come down and got lost.”

Both trailheads are located at the north end of Grass Valley, Thomas said, about 10 miles from Pine Valley (an unincorporated area of Washington County) on Forest Service Road 253.

The man climbed to the top of a hill to get cell phone service and called his daughter. SAR volunteers were eventually able to contact the man by phone and determine his GPS coordinates.

The man was not injured, but he did not have food, water or a flashlight, Thomas said, so the decision was made to hike up in the dark and bring the lost rider down off the mountain.

“That can get to be a critical situation pretty quick,” Thomas said. “Especially when you’re trying to hike with no water.”

After making contact with rescuers, the man was able to hike down to the White Rocks Reservoir and find grass and water for his horse while he waited.

A team of eight search and rescue volunteers hiked about 4 miles up the mountain and found the man and his horse, tired but uninjured, and bring them down the mountain.

He walked, and we just led the horse,” Thomas said. The rescue concluded about 11:30 p.m.

Wilderness precautions

The search and rescue team gets a lot of calls about hikers lost in the Pine Valley Mountains, Thomas said.

“People need to remember that times have changed, it is Pine Valley (Mountain) Wilderness area,” Thomas said. Essentially, this means the U.S. Forest Service does not maintain trails and place trail signs.

“By definition, you don’t want a bunch of trail markers in a wilderness area,” he said.

When traveling into a wilderness area, it is highly recommended that people have a GPS and know how to use it, have excellent navigation skills or go with someone who knows the area.

It is also important to carry enough supplies to survive overnight when hiking or riding, Thomas said. Bare essentials include a map, compass, GPS and extra water.

“If you sprain an ankle, it’s going to take you longer than you expect,” he said.

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  • debbie September 28, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Search and Rescue has GOT to be soooo pooooped. oh my GAWSH!!! They are working overtime, and for quite a while now? I’m not even sure they are paid all that good or at all. It takes special people to be in this line of work.. but when they give all on the job, on the side as search and rescue too.. and i know many trail for perilous rescues and therefore risk their lives training, climbing mountains, and swimming deep, and diving… those who train with dogs, have tons of work to do too.. I am so hoping these guys/gals get a huge banquet this year, WITH PRESENTS! because they sure do deserve it <3

  • .... September 28, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    They are an amazing group of people. and we are so blessed to have them. alot of the SAR team members are volunteers..

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