Two experienced coastal mushroom pickers, one toting her baby, have spent cold and wet nights in the woods this past week after they became disoriented and ran out of daylight before they could find their way back to their vehicles.
Campbell River Search & Rescue (SAT) personnel were called out in both cases. First thing Wednesday a Campbell River SAT team of seven plus a dog team boarded the Comox ferry to assist Powell River SAR in the search for Heather Thompson, her 20-month-old daughter Erika and their dog Monty. The trio were found near Stewart Lake north of Duck Lake just after noon Thursday after spending a cold and wet night in swampy bush.
No sooner were the Campbell River searchers back when a report came in and a search was mounted to find a local picker, Eric Hoch, who was lost somewhere between the Menzies Mainline logging road and the Morton Lake campground.
Campbell River SAR manager Grant Cromer says a team of 14 combed the area through the night and even called in a helicopter to assist. About 10:30 a.m. Friday Hoch found his way to safety and alerted the RCMP that he was safe.
“These were experienced pickers,” Cromer says, “but their eyes are looking down on the ground and they tend to lose their line of sight in the woods. The daylight fails earlier in the bush than in the open and they are easily disoriented.”
Cromer says SAR recommends that pickers work with a partner and carry a small survival pack and adequate rain gear.