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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 6:31 pm | Fair 58º


Lost Hiker Rescued in Santa Barbara Frontcountry After All-Night Search

The San Diego man was visiting friends before hiking the Cold Spring Trail area by himself and winding up off a trail in 8-foot brush

A 27-year-old San Diego man was rescued Friday morning after a county Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue team spent roughly 10 hours trying to reach him.

The Search and Rescue team was notified around 10 p.m. Thursday night after the hiker’s local friends reported him missing after he didn’t show up to dinner, sheriff’s spokesperson Kelly Hoover said.

The man’s hike began at the Cold Spring Trail north of Montecito on the way to Tangerine Falls, Hoover said.

After finding he could not climb down safely from the side of the falls, she said, he continued hiking further and called his friends to tell them to call 9-1-1 if he did not arrive for dinner.

They contacted authorities and found his car on Mountain Drive by the trailhead with no sign of him.

Hoover said the man, who was not named, ended up in 8-foot brush after leaving the trail and taking a shortcut up the mountain, which made rescue more difficult. 

Search and Rescue team members search for a lost hiker in the Cold Springs Trail area Thursday night and Friday morning. Click to view larger
Search and Rescue team members search for a lost hiker in the Cold Springs Trail area Thursday night and Friday morning.  (Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue photo)

The man decided to stay put after his phone, which was also his only source of light, ran out of battery in the dark.

Search and Rescue members combed the area and called out to the man, first hearing a response around 3 a.m. Friday, and two rescuers reached him around 6 a.m., Hoover said.

One of the teams had been hiking on a non-maintained trail above Tangerine Falls leading to East Camino Cielo Road, which is where they were when they heard a call back, she said. 

"Additional teams were then coordinated to hike down from East Camino Cielo to try and locate the missing hiker," she said.

"Once near enough, the teams went off trail and fought their way through very heavy brush, often crawling on their bellies with their packs out in front to slide under the densely woven brush above them." 

It took rescuers 12 hours to find and help a lost hiker in the Cold Springs Trail area of the Santa Barbara frontcountry. Click to view larger
It took rescuers 12 hours to find and help a lost hiker in the Cold Springs Trail area of the Santa Barbara frontcountry.  (Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue photo)

They eventually found the man, who was uninjured, and gave him clothing and water. 

Teams had to use GPS to find the best access to the hiker and they were able to make a trail through the brush to get him out around 8 a.m., Hoover said. 

The hiker and rescuers hiked up to the old trail, then East Camino Cielo Road, where he was driven back down to his car and released. 

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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