Vernon Search and Rescue locates missing hikers and dog

Click to play video: 'Spring transition causing rough terrain in the Okanagan'
Spring transition causing rough terrain in the Okanagan
We're transitioning into spring in the Okanagan, which means you can hike, ski, and go for a bike ride all on the same day, but with that comes challenges, especially in the backcountry. As Victoria Femia reports, a mix of winter and spring conditions could make for a risky trip – Mar 26, 2023

Even though we are now into spring, Okanagan search and rescue teams aren’t slowing down.

The Vernon Search and Rescue Society (VSAR) was called out Saturday afternoon to locate two missing hikers, who had left at around 4 p.m. for a day hike.

Search and rescue responded with 22 members, including ground searchers on snowshoes and a four-member sled team.

Shortly after arriving on scene, VSAR learned that a third hiker and a dog were also missing.

VSAR rescued three missing hikers and a dog Saturday afternoon. Vernon Search and Rescue Society

Although the temperatures are warming up in the valley, members were dealing with continued winter conditions.

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Due to the nature of the terrain and the distance members needed to hike in the snow, the team elected to bring in a helicopter for safety.

The goal was to scout out and transport rescuers to the area.

VSAR members called in a helicopter for extra assistance. Vernon Search and Rescue Society

VSAR members trudged through the mud to get to the snowy area and transported a few rescuers up the mountain.

Not long after, the helicopter team spotted some smoke and eventually the missing persons.

Searchers were able to access the hikers and their four-legged friend with snowmobiles, returning them to the staging area.

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VSAR is reminding the public that even though lower elevations are experiencing spring conditions, it is still winter in the mountains.

According to search and rescue, this is the time of year when slides are quite common.

“With the sun loading were getting on the slopes now, especially those side slopes that have a high probability of sliding,” said Coralie Narin of Vernon Search and Rescue. “This is the time of year where we’ll see a lot of slides come down and a lot of our hiking trails go right through those areas.”

Nairn explained the mix of conditions that can be expected in the backcountry this time of year.

“Anything from really dry ground, surprisingly dry at lower elevations into deeper mud, a lot of swampy ground, and then into slushy snow and into hard pack crusty snow. We also know bears are starting to come out now.”

The group says it’s important to plan your trip ahead, bring appropriate clothing and equipment as well as visit the AdventureSmart website before heading out.

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