On Saturday night, March 18 about 11:30 p.m., my Tonto Rim Search and Rescue beeper went off, indicating a search for overdue hikers at the Barnhardt Trail.
After waking up and getting my gear, water, gps, etc., I left Pine for a trip to the Barnhardt trail, just past Rye.
Seven SAR members responded to the callout, from the Sheriff's Office, and we were able to locate a track from the only car left at the trailhead.
Two hikers, one who was 44 and the other 78 years old, were overdue and we prepared to find them.
Our group split up and five of us started hiking on one trail at 1:30 a.m. and followed the tracks about 3.5 miles over some rough terrain and some washed out trails.
At about 4:30 a.m., we located the subjects off trail in a rugged canyon and after giving them some water and energy bars, offered them the option of a helicopter removal or walking out on their own.
They decided to walk out, and we arrived at the trailhead about 8:30 a.m.
All arrived safely, but as tired as I was, the determination of the 78-year-old really amazed me and the other squad members.
Sgt. Terry Hudgens from the Sheriff's Office and Rodney Cronk coordinated our efforts. Other squad members included: SAR commander Bill Pitterle, Dave Pirtle, Ron Crimmins, Kathy and Hal Baas and Bob Edwards.
It took a lot of effort and dedication for the seven mile, seven hour hike, and I applaud all of our members and the Sheriff's Office and their expertise for all involved in the rescue.
Ira Gibel, Pine