Lost Hiker Sleeps On Cliff Until Walking To Rescuers

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A stranded hiker camped out overnight on a steep ledge near the Mazatzal Peak until rescue crews could escort him down to safety Sunday morning.

The 60-year-old man was hiking the loop around Mazatzal Peak, the Shake Tree Trail, when he lost sight of the heavily eroded trail and veered off course.

TRSAR Commander Bill Pitterle said after the Willow Fire in 2004 destroyed most of the vegetation in the area, erosion washed out huge parts of the trail, making it hard for hikers to stay on course.

“The trail has all but disappeared, so it is hard for people to follow,” Pitterle said.

Realizing he was lost, the man climbed up a hill to get a cell signal and called for help.

Around 11 a.m., Oct. 18, two Tonto Rim Search and Rescue crews headed up the trail to find the man, Pitterle said.

The man was spotted on the side of a ridge, but because it was dark, he could not be rescued.

“They made voice contact with him, but he was still pretty high on the hill and the crew was over a half a mile away from him,” Pitterle said.

The hiker and the rescue crew hunkered down through the night until there was enough light for the hiker to safely navigate down to rescue personnel around 10 a.m.

Earlier in the rescue, one of the volunteers slipped and fell near a washed out ravine, cut her arm and received several stitches.

The hiker was uninjured.

Pitterle said he was sad he missed the overnight mission because he was hunting.

“I like these kind of missions,” Pitterle said. “We don’t have too many like it and it is a challenge.”

On every mission, rescue volunteers carry two to three light sources, along with an overnight bag with food, water and a blanket.

The hiker thanked TRSAR by sending them a $100 check and card.

TRSAR is entirely volunteer-run and donation-operated.

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