Two lost hikers are recovering after spending a difficult night in freezing conditions in Utah's Zion National Park. Fortunately, they were rescued Saturday morning after getting lost on the Subway route hike Friday.
The National Park Service and Utah Department of Public Safety acted quickly after first getting reports the hikers were overdue on Saturday morning. The UDPS quickly put a helicopter airborne to search for the missing hikers. It was able to locate them quickly thanks to a forward-looking infrared system.
The two agencies released dramatic footage of the two hikers' rescue taken from the helicopter. The rescuers were able to lower a specialist down into a steep, snow-filled canyon with a hoist that then air-lifted the hikers out of the dangerous situation. You can see the full footage from that part of the operation in the video below.
From the video, it appears that neither of the hikers was dressed well to handle the freezing cold conditions. A press release from the NPS notes that both hikers were immediately transported to a waiting medical team. The medical staff ended up taking one of the hikers to a hospital because of symptoms of hypothermia. Fortunately, the hiker is now in stable condition.
It is not uncommon for people to get lost or stranded on hikes in our nation's national parks. Authorities are using this incident to remind the public about how quickly conditions can change.
"We appreciate our partnership with the Utah Department of Public Safety. Their execution of this rescue was outstanding," Zion Chief Park Ranger Daniel Fagergren said in the NPS press release. "Helicopters are not always available, and even when they are, conditions don't always allow them to fly."
According to the press release, Saturday's rescue was a best-case scenario. It's the type of situation rescuers and their pilots train and plan for on a regular basis.
"Winter conditions create an extremely challenging rescue environment," Fagergren said in the release. "Currently, many of our canyons drop to sub-zero temperatures at night, streams and pools are iced over and deep snow covers the trails at higher elevations. When you visit, you need to understand and be prepared for the conditions you might face here. These types of operations are inherently dangerous for our staff and our partners, and they don't all end like this one."
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