Madera County Sheriff’s Office release:
On September 15, 2023 around 2:00pm, the Madera County Sheriff’s Communications Center received a call reporting an overdue hiker. A man reported he and his girlfriend had gotten separated while hiking. The couple, from the Humboldt area, had hiked in to Ruth Lake 4 days prior, and were separated while heading back towards the Fernandez Trail head to return to their vehicle. The male party made it to their car and called for help after searching the area.
Officers from USFS, CHP H-40 crew, and an off-duty Madera County SAR Deputy responded to the trail head and began to coordinate efforts to locate the missing female. H-40 checked the area and located a group of hikers who were waving at them, but communication efforts were unsuccessful and a landing attempt couldn’t be made due to conditions. A ground team was then sent in to locate the hikers and confirm whether the missing 49 year old female was with them.
While the team hiked the 7 miles in, H-40 crews returned and were able to make contact with the group, confirming the missing female was at the location and uninjured. The ground team arrived at the camp, located at 9500 feet elevation, around 3:00am and camped out with her until daylight. The team then walked her out early in the morning of Saturday the 16th, reaching the trailhead around noon time, when she was reunited with her boyfriend.
Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue states, “We thank our partners, and our off-duty Deputy, for their dedicated efforts to complete this mission. Their commitment to ensuring the safety of our residents and visitors is what makes Madera County so remarkable.“