Fossil signs

Signs warn hikers of the dangers of hiking the Bob Bear Trail, which is steep and extremely hot during the summer months. 

Rescuers had to help an Avondale man off the Bob Bear Trail Saturday night after he could not hike out on his own.

The man, in his 30s, had hiked down the 4-mile trail, formerly the Fossil Springs Trail, with family earlier in the day to cool off in the creek.

He injured his knee at some point and when he started up the trail to get back to the trailhead, found walking difficult with the injury, said Bill Pitterle, commander with Tonto Rim Search and Rescue.

Along with the injury, the man was suffering from heat exhaustion and was throwing up.

About half a mile from the creek, the man stopped while the rest of his family hiked out. His sister stayed behind with him while they waited for rescue.

Pine-Strawberry firefighters/paramedics called the man’s sister and told her to hike back to the creek and fill up their water bottles at the spring since they were running low on water.

“Which was a very good thing, it cooled him off,” Pitterle said.

P-S Fire hiked in and started an IV while TRSAR was called out around 6 p.m.

Pitterle said he didn’t have enough manpower to haul the man out on a wheeled litter. They asked if he could hike out slowly, and he agreed. About 1.5 miles from the trailhead, Gary Hall arrived on horseback and the man was given a lift out the rest of the way.

The Forest Service has closed access to Fossil Creek from the Camp Verde side because of COVID-19, but visitors can still get a permit for the Bob Bear Trail and hike in from Strawberry.

While hikers need a permit to park at the Strawberry trailhead, enforcement is limited because the Forest Service is not staffing the parking lot because of COVID-19.

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