A pair of hikers were rescued from the San Gorgonio Wilderness in San Bernardino County earlier this month, following a multiday rescue effort by members of multiple emergency response agencies.

The two hikers, one from Los Angeles and the other from Colorado, set out on the excursion on Saturday, Nov. 5.

During their trip, on Monday, Nov. 7, they found themselves caught in a storm that left them disoriented and led to them going off the trail and into a steep canyon.

One of the hikers injured her foot and could not continue, so the pair set up camp and activated a Personal Locator Beacon to send a signal to emergency responders.

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department dispatchers received that signal and activated a search and rescue team. The San Gorgonio Search and Rescue Team, which responded, is comprised of alpine rescue personnel.

Due to the treacherous terrain, the large storm system and near-freezing temperatures, the first team of rescuers did not reach the hikers until late in the evening. At which point they assessed the conditions of the two and began plotting their rescue.

Two more search and rescue teams were deployed to the area but were unable to reach the hikers due to the severe storm system. A sheriff’s department helicopter was also called into assist but was unable to fly in the storm.

The hikers were instructed to shelter in place until the weather conditions improved enough for a possible rescue.

  • Search and rescue crews responded to the San Gorgonio Wilderness to help two hikers who were injured and lost following a storm on Nov. 7, 2022. (San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)
  • A pair of hikers had to hunker down alongside their rescuers after getting stranded in the San Bernardino County wilderness on Nov. 7, 2022. (San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)
  • A helicopter flies over a pair of hikers who got stranded in the San Bernardino County wilderness on Nov. 7, 2022. (San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)
  • A pair of hikers had to hunker down alongside their rescuers after getting stranded in the San Bernardino County wilderness on Nov. 7, 2022. (San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)

They remained camped out in the same location throughout the following day while the storm continued to drench the area.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, the storm began to clear enough for crews to make a rescue attempt, but while a helicopter tried multiple times to reach the hikers, the remaining clouds dashed those efforts.

Additional alpine rescuers from across Southern California were called in and responded to assist in the rescue.

By Thursday, Nov. 10, the remaining clouds dissipated which allowed for a rescue helicopter to finally reach the stranded hikers. The helicopter conducted multiple hoist rescues to bring up the two hikers, as well as three search and rescue crew members who spent more than 30 hours alongside the hikers.

In all, the rescue operation took three days and required the assistance from agencies across the state, including San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego county sheriff’s search and rescue teams.  

The hikers were expected to be OK, although it was unclear the severity of the injured hiker’s ankle.

The San Gorgonio Wilderness is a sub-alpine landscape within the Sand to Snow National Monument that is surrounded by desert to the east, according to the United States Forest Service. It has a total of 96,595 acres with elevations ranging from 4,400 feet to 11,502 feet at San Gorgonio Peak.

“The isolated environment contains many threatened and endangered plant and animal species, as well as bear, deer, mountain lions and bighorn sheep,” the Forest Service says.

San Gorgonio Wilderness is co-managed by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.