Laura Atencio Re: Rosario Garcia
From Karin Shinn, Class of 2022PCT hiker
Greetings! I am a member of the PCT class of 2022. While hiking NB in the Trinity National Forest, I decided to take a shortcut to a water source that was marked as a forest service road on FarOut. Subsequently, this road became overgrown. In an attempt to retrace my steps, I ended up in a gulley surrounded by a heavily wooded & bushy steep incline in both directions. My GPS on FarOut showed my blue dot to be spinning! This, coupled with the fact that this ravine prevented me from seeing the actual direction of the sun, I became disoriented. After two hours of continuous attempts to break thru brush & climb up the incline (all the while holding my trekking poles as well as my phone for guidance), I realized I was lost.
I had watched a live presentation on the FB Class of 2022 Planning Page presented by this Foundation. I recall the stories of missing hikers coupled with the comments ” if only they had had a Garmin….” I decided to invest in this device for my hike, even though it involved a monthly subscription.
So at about 4 pm PST I hit the SOS button. I got a rapid return text from the main center asking if I was hurt, needed evacuation, food, water, etc…I said merely that I was lost. Otherwise, everything was OK. Feeling really stupid, I knew I was very close to the trail but just could not find it.
After texts back & forth from the local agency, at 6 pm a helicopter was circling directly overhead. I had to come out from under the tree I was resting under & go partially up the steep bank & wave the bright yellow underside of my Z-Lite mat so they could locate me.
They guided me out of the ravine up to the trail via a loudspeaker while circling overhead. It was a lot of hard work for me. But at least I was expending energy that would lead me back on trail, instead of continuing to get further lost!
It didn’t take long, & finally I was back on solid ground! I went a bit further to set camp when I heard someone calling me. The copter had landed a mile away in a field and the deputies had walked down the trail to make sure I was OK. I felt really dumb but they assured me I did the right thing, even topping off my water, leaving me with electrolyte packs & two protein bars.
I was embarrassed & didn’t tell my daughters until I returned off trail. After hearing my story, my 28 year old looked me straight in the eye & seriously said “Mom, I am so glad you pressed that button. I don’t know what I would have done if you just disappeared!”
So to the Fowler O’Sullivan Foundation, thank you so much for making it your mission not only to locate missing hikers, but also for insisting that every hiker get a Garmin In Reach. I realize now that I could very well have been the 2022 PCT hiker that went mysteriously missing!