Two sets of lost hikers had to be rescued from Grass Mountain off Figueroa Mountain Road on Jan. 14, after taking a wrong turn while hiking.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team received a call at about 4:30 p.m. from a couple who said they had become stranded after hiking down Grass Mountain but went off trail believing they had taken a shortcut. The Sheriff’s Office says the couple soon found themselves in high brush unable to go further with daylight fading.
“It is pretty extensive up there, I’ve hiked pretty high up the mountain there before,” hiker Geoff Graber said.
This comes as even more of a surprise to Geoff and his wife because the two sets of lost hikers were couples, just like them.
“I can imagine someone I guess getting lost, it’s hard to imagine, but I guess I can,” Graber said.
While on their way to locate the stranded couple, the Search and Rescue team received another call from a different couple that had taken a wrong turn off the trail and were lost. This second couple complained of being cold due to not having proper clothing, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Dispatchers were able to capture a GPS signal from the second couple’s phone and relayed that information back to Search and Rescue. Search crews determined that both couples were within 1/2 mile of each other, but separated by a set of steep canyons and 300 feet of elevation.
This second couple was escorted down the trailhead after being located, and were released just before 8 p.m.
About two hours later, the initial couple was found by Search and Rescue who had been using night vision equipment to locate them. The hikers and Search and Rescue crews arrived back at the trailhead successfully at about 11 p.m.
Hiker Debbie Esser was also out hiking with her dog.
“I just wanted to get one more hike in before the big rain, that we’re hoping is going to come,” Hiker Debbie Essler said.
Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue personnel remind the public if they’re going out for a hike, they should go prepared and bring essential equipment. Always bring flashlights and extra warm clothing. SBCSAR also strongly encourages everyone to stay on the main trails and not try to take “shortcuts”.
For more information and safety tips for hiking, visit http://temporary.sbcsar.net/code/hiking-tips/.