A 22-year-old Garden Grove man who tried to take an off-trail shortcut and was stuck overnight on a 320-foot cliff was rescued by helicopter from Yosemite National Park.
The rescue took place Saturday morning, about 18 hours after Kevin Baik and two friends set out for a day hike on the trail to Yosemite Falls, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The threesome made it to the iconic falls but daylight was fading as they began their return to the floor of Yosemite Valley. In an attempt to save time, they left the trail and tried to descend a gulch, according to a news release from Auburn-based CHP Valley Division Air Operations, which participated in the rescue.
“This was a bad decision due to the difficult terrain, especially in low light,” the CHP release stated.
One member of the trio decided to take the trail back, and arrived safely at 7:30 p.m., alerting rangers that the two other friends had tried an off-trail route and had not returned. Yosemite Search and Rescue personnel launched a full response.
Meanwhile, Baik and his friend Eurie Kim climbed down a ledge that was about 10 to 12 feet high.
"I just kind of jumped off the ledge and I totally fell and I ate it," Kim said.
On the descent, Kim broke his glasses, leaving him virtually blind.
"It was devastating," Kim said. "My heart just dropped because I knew I can't go on any further."
Baik continued on alone as far as he could, but became stranded on top of a 320-foot cliff. Kim could hear Baik screaming in the distance.
About five hours later, rescuers were able to get Kim out, but could not reach Baik on foot.
He built a fire and waited overnight.
Yosemite Search and Rescue called for a CHP helicopter, which arrived at Yosemite Valley about 7:50 a.m., lowering a park ranger down to set up the hoist of Baik.
A CHP video posted to YouTube showed the ranger being lowered onto a cliff from the helicopter, with Baik waiting below as the falls tumble down the rocks nearby.
The victim was hoisted into the chopper and, clearly relived, gave a thumbs up. The chopper landed in Ahwahnee Meadow, where a fire truck and other search-and-rescue personnel were waiting.
Baik was not injured and “was very relieved to be off the mountain,” the CHP release stated.
“It is very important that visitors stay on designated trails and obey all signs for their safety,” CHP said. "Otherwise, they may find themselves in a similar predicament as Mr. Baik and his friends.”
That message was echoed by Kim, who said he was grateful to his rescuers and advised inexperienced hikers to stay on the trail.
"Don't take it lightly," Kim said. "It's actually really, really dangerous."
KTLA's Kennedy Ryan contributed to this article.