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CHP helicopter crew rescues lost backpackers in Stanislaus National Forest

A California Highway Patrol helicopter crew found three Indiana backpackers on July 18, 2019, after they got lost in the Emigrant Wilderness of the Stanislaus National Forest.
A California Highway Patrol helicopter crew found three Indiana backpackers on July 18, 2019, after they got lost in the Emigrant Wilderness of the Stanislaus National Forest.

A California Highway Patrol helicopter crew quickly found three Indiana backpackers after they activated a personal locator beacon when they got lost in the Emigrant Wilderness of the Stanislaus National Forest.

The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team and the CHP called last week’s rescue a success, because the backpackers had the beacon with them during their hike.

“Good technology is so inexpensive these days, there’s no reason not to have it with you,” according to the sheriff’s rescue team Facebook post on Monday afternoon..

The backpackers became lost July 18 in a rocky portion of the Pacific Crest Trail near Cherry Creek, according to the CHP’s Central Division Air Operations.

The 113,000-acre Emigrant Wilderness is about 35 miles east of Sonora. The wilderness is bordered by Yosemite National Park to the south, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest to the east and Highway 108 to the north, according to the Stanislaus National Forest web site.

After an unsuccessful attempt to find the Pacific Crest Trail, the backpackers activated their beacon. The Sheriff’s Department received the alert and called the Fresno-based CHP helicopter crew.

The helicopter crew using the beacon’s signal flew directly to where the backpackers were, about 8 miles off the Pacific Crest Trail, according to a CHP Facebook post. The backpackers were not injured, and they were flown to the awaiting sheriff’s rescue team.

CHP officials said the backpackers had bright-colored clothing, which made it easier for the helicopter crew to spot them in the forest below.

“Locating missing persons in the wilderness from the air is a difficult task, clothes worn by backpackers typically blend into the surrounding environment,” according to the CHP Facebook post.

CHP helicopter crews recommend that hikers carry a personal locator beacon, a signal mirror and something bright-colored to signal rescuers.

Rosalio Ahumada writes news stories about criminal court cases in Stanislaus County for The Modesto Bee, issues related to immigration and immigrant communities and breaking news related to crime and public safety. From time to time, he covers the Modesto City Council meetings. He has worked as a news reporter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley since 2004.
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