Just a week after officials reopened the Fossil Creek Trail from Strawberry, rescuers were hauling out a hiker Sunday.

A woman with her daughter reportedly fell near the bottom of the trail as she was hiking out, said Bill Pitterle, the commander with Tonto Rim Search and Rescue.

The woman could not put any weight on her ankle so dispatchers called rescuers in to carry her out.

The U.S. Forest Service closed the trail earlier this year to curb the number of rescues during the hot summer months. The trail reopened Sept. 1.

Pitterle said while this was TRSAR’s first official rescue since the trail reopened, he and another volunteer member of TRSAR hiked down Sept. 1 and delivered water to several unprepared hikers. They also helped a woman who was so dehydrated she had fallen and hit her face. They helped her walk out.

On Sunday, TRSAR volunteers and two Gila County Sheriff’s Office deputies hiked down to the woman who had injured her ankle.

They loaded her onto a wheeled litter and carried her up the trail roughly a mile. There, members of TRSAR arrived with horses, and the woman rode out to the trailhead.

“It was still a pretty hard mission,” Pitterle said.

Pitterle said he is glad the trail is back open so people can enjoy the creek even if it means more work for TRSAR.

“I do wish people would pay attention to the signs and take the appropriate amount of water with them,” he said. “It would save them a lot of trouble and us.”

For rescues off the lower waterfall trail, rescuers from Pine and Payson can now take Forest Road 708, which reopened last week after county crews cleared it of boulders. The road had been closed to emergency travel for some time because of erosion and rock falls. While the road is still closed to the public, emergency officials can now reach lower Fossil Creek from Strawberry.

Contact the editor at

Contact the editor at abechman@payson.com

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