Members of North Shore Rescue marked Queen Victoria’s birthday by rescuing some of her subjects from Crown land.
The team was called out three times over the long weekend, as sunshine and warm weather drew out plenty of inexperienced hikers, according to Mike Danks, North Shore Rescue team leader.
The first rescue mission was carried out on Saturday afternoon, when four people attempting to reach the first pump of Mount Seymour wound up off trail, heading west into the ominously named Suicide Creek. Luckily, they were able to get cellphone reception and call 911. Clear conditions meant the team could easily spot them from a helicopter and airlift them out.
The next rescue subject, however, was in much deeper trouble.
On Monday afternoon, a woman slipped on steep terrain about six kilometres up the Lynn Headwaters Trail and sustained an ankle injury that made it impossible for her to get out on her own.
“There were two other people with her who were trying to assist her out but they were not any to make any headway with her at all. Her ankle was pretty bad,” Danks said.
But calling for help wasn’t an option. Once you enter the Lynn Headwaters, there is no cell service Danks warned – “right from the trailhead all the way up past Norvan and into the Hanes Valley.”
One of the woman’s friends had to run six kilometres back to the trailhead to alert parks staff who then called 911. North Shore Rescue volunteers arrived in a Talon helicopter rigged with long-line harness to bring the woman back to a waiting ambulance before darkness set in.
Before the call had wrapped, North Shore Rescue had to dispatch another field team to escort a group of men who lost their way on the Baden Powell Trail near Larson Creek in West Vancouver.
In each of the cases, the hikers were inexperienced or taking on a trail above their skill level, Danks said.
Anyone venturing into Lynn Headwaters Regional Park should be aware that it can be a difficult place for rescuers to reach, even in ideal conditions.
“If this was a significant injury that required immediate medical attention, there would be a huge delay,” Danks said. “It makes a tremendous difference if we’re able to fly. If we looked at these calls in bad weather, it would be a totally different story.”
Danks recommends carrying a satellite phone or GPS beacon in areas with spotty or no cell coverage but at the very least, people in Lynn Headwaters should make sure they’ve let someone at home know where they’re going and when to expect them back.