Tonto Natural Bridge State Park was the site of a dramatic rescue this weekend after rising waters in Pine Creek trapped two hikers during a heavy downpour.
The men were hiking just north of the bridge in Pine Creek when muddy water surged down the normally docile stream, stranding them on the eastside of the trail.
From initial reports, rescuers thought the men were on the west side of the creek and would require a swift water rescue, said Commander Bill Pitterle with Tonto Rim Search and Rescue.
Turns out, the hikers were 160 feet directly below an accessible lookout point.
“We decided the most efficient way to extract them was to use ropes to bring them up vertically out of the canyon,” Pitterle said.
Rescuers lowered a 200-foot rope and volunteer Anthony Miotto rappelled down to the shivering men, one possibly suffering from hypothermia.
Miotto hooked each to a harness and rode up with each man with the help of half a dozen TRSAR volunteers and a few onlookers who pulled the men up.
As volunteers worked, the rain continued its steady downpour, the creek ever rising, Pitterle said.
After two hours, both hikers were up and out of the rain. Both were uninjured. However, their mother, who had watched the rescue from the rim, was taken to the hospital for back spasms, Pitterle said.
The Pine-Strawberry Fire Department and Gila County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the rescue.