Vernon Search and Rescue (VSAR) spent Wednesday afternoon searching for a pair of hikers who were believed to be lost from their campsite, prompting a reminder to people to make a detailed trip plan before heading out into the backcountry.
VSAR was tasked by the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP to investigate what appeared to be an abandoned campsite at Spectrum Lake northeast of Vernon July 26. The team was tasked with searching for two people and their dog.
Due to other tasks happening at the same time, the VSAR team was stretched thin and had to cover a very large area. Fortunately, they were able to get one of their members in the air working with Graham Helicopters and were assisted by Civil Air Search and Rescue.
Once ground crews were at the trailhead, VSAR coordinated with the RCMP police dog team. The teams quickly covered the six kilometres to the lake with one team preparing to climb to Little Peters Lake in preparation for more thorough alpine searches in the morning.
After a thorough search of the abandoned camp and surrounding areas, crews were preparing to return to the trailhead. However, moments before they were about to leave the campsite, the two people they were looking for walked into the camp, “in excellent physical and mental condition.”
VSAR learned the pair had decided to spend a few days in the alpine areas and had enough camping equipment to make two camps.
“Had our teams left before connecting with our subjects we would have had a team spend the night at approximately 1,900 metres before being joined by additional teams for an extensive search of the area,” VSAR said.
In light of the incident, VSAR offered the following safety tips to those spending time in remote areas:
• Leave a detailed trip plan with a trusted person
• If your plans change, communicate these changes. If you are not able to communicate due to a lack of available technology stick with your original plan.
• If you establish a base camp and are going to be away from it for an extended period leave a note with your plans
• Practice bear aware camping