Two lost hikers were found in a river drainage on Quadra Island Friday afternoon after spending two nights and approximately 40 hours stranded in a remote area.
The missing pair pulled the attention of numerous search and rescue teams from all across Vancouver Island, as well as from the Lower Mainland.
Berry says the two women went for what was supposed to be an hour-long walk on Wednesday evening just before dinner and were reported missing the following morning when they did not return home.
“The search was initiated right away and we’re now into our second operational period for these two missing women in the Village Bay/Surge Narrows area of Quadra Island,” Paul Berry, Search and Rescue Commander for the search said Friday morning while the search was still underway. “Currently we have members from every SAR team on Vancouver Island here on Quadra, as well as teams from the Lower Mainland, as well. We’ve got K9 resources as well as ground-search personnel, we’ve utilized 442 Squadron, night vision equipment and forward-looking infrared throughout the night, but nothing has been located at this point.”
The women were found by rescuers “in good condition,” Berry said after they were located. “They’re cold, they’re wet, they’re hungry and they’re in a river drainage to the south of their destination…but no significant injuries apart from some hypothermia.”
Berry says the search area was very remote and challenging.
“It’s not at all a popular hiking area,” Berry says. “It’s very remote and it’s very steep and it’s very slippery.”
Crews quickly located the head of the trail it’s believed the women were hiking when they located their vehicle parked nearby.
“They did drive to the area where the family said they were going to hike a trail, but it’s not a very well-defined trail. The car was parked in the vicinity, but not right at the trailhead,” Berry says.
There were some early rays of hope throughout the search, Berry says, but it took some time to actually locate the women.
“There was some belief that there were prints located yesterday, but it was not definitive that they belonged to our missing persons,” he says. “They had a dog with them, and he popped his head out of the bush early this morning in the vicinity of their vehicle, but immediately jumped back in the bush.”
Cellphone signals or “pings” couldn’t be used to help track the pair, as they did not have phones with them, nor is there cell service in the area.
As with any SAR operation, time was of the essence.
“They were not well-prepared to be out in the conditions,” Berry says. “They’d only planned on being out for an hour or so and back by dinner.”