Locals rescue hikers lost on the mountain with no name in Hellhole
Rescuers and the Russian couple they rescued, safely out of the preserve Sunday morning.
July 31, 2013Three Valley Center residents rescued two Russian hikers who became lost in the Hellhole Canyon preserve on No Name Mountain over the weekend.
Local horse people Julie Picot and Debra Duncan and Hellhole preserve volunteer (aka park host) Tim Jeffries helped guide out a young Russian couple named Jacob and Helena Sunday morning after they lost their way and had to spend the night on the side of the mountain.
Hellhole Canyon Preserve is a 1,907-acre preserve with 13.5 miles of trails.
Saturday night Duncan, who lives near the entrance to the preserve, saw flashing lights and the Sheriff's ASTREA helicopter flying around and says, "I had to go see what was going on." She was concerned that someone might have been struck and injured or something. She came upon three Sheriff's cars.
She was told that a couple had not come back from the hike that afternoon. It had gotten dark and they couldn't see the trail. They used a cell phone to call for help.
The Sheriff's Department got the call from the hikers. According to Jan Caldwell, public affairs director for the Sheriff's Dept., the Russian hikers required a translator to get their point across. "They told us they were fine and we dropped water and food [and glow sticks] and a sleeping bag via ASTREA," she told The Roadrunner. "They told us they did not need us. We rescue all sorts of people. We were ready to go in after them. But they wanted to hunker down."
The approximate location of the hikers was known because ASTREA had located them via heat sensors. But because they were on the side of the mountain the chopper could not land.
There appears to have been a miscommunication between the deputies at the scene and Duncan, who is a volunteer for the San Diego County Park & Recreation Horse Patrol. Duncan says she got the impression from the deputies that their commanding officer had ordered them not to rescue the hikers because they were not injured. "That came right from the commanding officer. They told me they were on their own," says Duncan.
This is absolutely wrong, says Caldwell. "We do aggressively search for anyone lost. We do not have a policy that says we don't search for people who are not injured. If they had asked us to we would have gone in and gotten them," she says.
At any event, Duncan decided to go in and rescue the hikers the next day. "I called Julie Saturday night and asked her if she would like to go on a rescue adventure," she told The Roadrunner.
They waited until 6 the next morning (Sunday) and headed out with Tim Jeffries, the park host who, says Duncan, tracked the couple. He was able to do that, says Duncan, because not many people hike in Hellhole Canyon in July. Perhaps it's the name. Both Duncan and Picot were riding on horseback, and they brought an extra mount.
Jeffries made arrows for them to follow to find their way out again.
"The reason it was so difficult was that it was so fogged in that you couldn't see your hand before your face. Tim started out before us and we did the Marco Polo thing to keep track," says Pico. In case you don't recall the childhood game, that's where you yell out "Marco!" and your friend who is some distance away yells "Polo!"
It took about 90 minutes to find the couple. They had moved from the side of the mountain to the viewpoint, the western part of No Name Mountain, which is sometimes erroneously called Rodriguez Mountain.
"Once we got above the fog level it was easy to see where they were," says
Duncan. "We yelled at them to start walking east and they came walking out of the fog."
The couple was in their mid-20s. She spoke no English and he spoke broken English.
"I thought it was funny that we were looking for lost Russians in Hellhole," recalls Picot.
It was cool that night and Helena wore Capri's and a tank top. Without the sleeping bag they would have been quite cold during the night.
Where Picot and Duncan went to find the Russian couple was what Duncan calls "no man's land. "Julie and I were both very nervous and very anxious because we went on this difficult trail and took the hard way. It was very steep," she says.
Hikers have been lost in Hellhole before. "We had two rescues out of there last year and they were sprained ankle and the other was a young girl who may or may not have been hurt. It was this same time of year," says Duncan.
If you don't want to just read about having a Hellhole Canyon Preserve adventure, but want to experience one for yourself, it is located at 19324 Santee Lane in Valley Center.
From Escondido take East Valley Parkway to N. Lake Wohlford Road. Go right on N. Lake Wohlford Road for six miles to Paradise Mountain Road. Make a right at Paradise Mountain Road. Take Paradise Mountain Road for 3.5 miles to Kiavo Road. Take Kiavo Road one block to Santee Lane and make a left up the preserve entrance.