Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue recovered a stranded hiker from the Los Padres National Forest last Sunday approximately two hours after the volunteer team mounted a full search effort.
According to a statement issued by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, the hiker — an Arroyo Grande resident in his early 40s — signaled search helicopters with a mirror and alerted rescuers to his position in dense brush north of the Happy Hunting Ground campground. The hiker’s friends and family notified the Sheriff’s Emergency Dispatch Center after he failed to return from his planned 17-mile day hike from the Nira Campground on Saturday afternoon.
Search and Rescue Incident Commander Jennifer Beyer said the hiker intended to make a loop up and around the Manzana River, starting and ending at the campground. However, Beyer said the man attempted to cut across near Happy Hunting Ground Campground at dusk and became stuck in thick vegetation without a flashlight.
The hiker tried to follow a small creek back to the Manzana River until several waterfalls and hazardous terrain prevented further progress. The man remained in good health throughout the ordeal and sustained only a few minor abrasions, according to the press release.