Hiker Rescues in Local Mountains Double in a Decade, Driven by Social Media

Caution Urged by Hikers as Indian Summer Smolders

Published : Thursday, September 12, 2019 | 5:40 AM

Images courtesy Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept.

Over the last 10 years the number of rescues of injured, lost or precariously-perched-and-needing extraction hikers in the mountains above Pasadena has doubled and that’s mainly attributable to social media, which is driving an increase in the popularity of local hiking spots, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Paige of the Altadena Mountain Rescue Team.

Good hiking weather is continuing past summer vacation and the mountains bordering Eaton Canyon are a popular destination now.

But when a pleasant outing goes wrong in the nearby San Gabriels, it’s usually Altadena Mountain Rescue Team that gets the call.

The rescue team is all-volunteer and is on call 24/7/365. Each volunteer has passed the Sheriff’s background check, become a Sheriff’s reserve deputy and completed rigorous mountain rescue training.

The County Sheriff, Paige explained, is responsible for unincorporated wilderness rescues, because of the link between them and missing persons reports, which are under the department’s jurisdiction.

In 2010, rescues averaged about 50 a year, but in the last decade that average has essentially doubled.

In 2016 and 2017, there were 112 rescues each year, in 2018 there were 90 rescues. This year there have been 76 rescues so far, Paige said, although uncharacteristically, there hasn’t been a call since Aug. 24.

“We believe there was a minor increase because of rain and wear and tear on the trails,” he said. “It may be difficult to recognize the trail. There’s hundreds of miles of trails and as time goes on, minor rockslides, and new plant growth change the trails a little bit.”

The number of rescues is certainly low compared to the 700,000 enthusiasts who traipse through the Angeles National Forest annually, but still represents a strain on the public treasury.