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Rescuers Spot Missing Backpacker on Santa Cruz Trail
A missing backpacker was found safe Monday evening after Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue crews located him on the Santa Cruz Trail north of Upper Oso in the San Rafael Wilderness area of the Los Padres National Forest.
Sheriff’s Department spokesman Drew Sugars said two Santa Barbara area men in their 60s were on a five-day backpacking outing when they became separated on the Santa Cruz Trail. One of the backpackers waited for his partner at their pre-determined location — at their vehicle parked at the Upper Oso Campground.
When the man failed to show, Sugars said, the backpacker alerted authorities at the U.S. Forest Service’s Paradise station.
Sugars said members of the Search & Rescue team along with the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit initiated a ground and air search around 5:30 p.m. Monday. A helicopter from the Aviation Unit spotted the missing hiker about 6:30 p.m. south of Little Pine Mountain, making his way down the trail toward the Upper Oso Campground.
Rescuers on the ground hiked up to the backpacker, gave him water and escorted him to Upper Oso.
According to Sugars, the backpacker told rescuers he had taken a wrong turn near the end of a section of the Santa Cruz Trail typically referred to as the “40-mile stretch” and became entangled in heavy brush.
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