Squamish Search and Rescue is closing one of their biggest files this year after missing hiker Daniel Ring was found on July 22.Local crews, along with rescuers and first responder agencies from across the province, were able to wrap up their weeks-long search for Ring.
Squamish SAR rescue manager Landon James said Ring was spotted by a BC Wildfire Service helicopter, which landed and gave him a ride back to Squamish.James said he was found along the stretch of the Pitt River that crosses into Coquitlam SAR’s territory.
SAR wasn’t activated to carry Ring out, though crews had been conducting wide-sweeping searches for the 33-year-old since RCMP alerted the media he went missing on July 9.Ring was last seen at the popular Elfin Lakes trailhead, and was expected to camp at Rampart Ponds, which is further down the path from the lakes.
“It's a path that can be taken so it's not like he went back to town and just happened to be hiking a different trail,” said James. “He was quite far away from where he was last reported seen.”He said he didn’t have any details on how Ring survived that long, but noted the human body can go for some time without food so long as it can have water.
With the Pitt River nearby, there was a source of water, though it may not have been the cleanest, he noted.In the leadup to Ring’s discovery, James said SAR groups from around the province had been scouring the areas around where the missing man was last seen.
ATV and ebike crews were scouting out areas every day, and RCMP lent a hand as well, he said.In the meantime, Squamish rescue crews have been busy with other calls.
As of July 26, Squamish Search and Rescue has responded to 94 calls, up from 56 in 2020 at the same time of the year.In 2019, this number was at 46.
“It’s quite phenomenal,” said James, of the substantial uptick.On July 15, rescuers helped two people who were struggling to swim in Brohm Lake. Both of them were taken to safety and were fine, James said.
On July 17, rescuers came to the aid of a mountain biker who injured their ankle on In-N-Out Burger, a black diamond trail in the Alice Lake area.The next day, crews came to help a swimmer struggling in the middle of the lake, but that issue was resolved by the time rescuers arrived.
The same day, SAR members led out lost hikers who had gone astray in Murrin Park.On July 22, crews were called out to help people who had canoed out to the Echo Lake trailhead and wound up stranded on a sandbar on the way back when the tide came in. However, they rescued themselves with the help of RCMP, and search and rescue was called off after they had deployed a helicopter and a boat.
Finally, that same day, a mountain biker fractured their ankle in the Alice Lake area, but Squamish Fire Rescue wound up taking the rescue, and SAR stood down before arriving on scene.James said that with the number of distressed swimmers, it’s important to know the area and wear a personal flotation device.
In the case of Ring’s rescue, James said a big factor in the rescue’s success was that the hiker had told his family exactly where he was going and what time he was expected back.It’s important to have an emergency contact, because in many backcountry areas, there is no cell reception, making it very hard to call for help, James said.
Finally, he acknowledged the many SAR teams and first responders who helped with Ring’s rescue.“Some of these searches do get rather large and people come from all over the province to help, which happened in this case,” said James.
“So support your local search and rescue team, even if you're not from Squamish, because a lot of people came from far away to help with it, so we're thankful to them and the RCMP.”
Beautiful weather and summer crowds ensured there was more for Squamish Search and Rescue to do over the weekend.Rescuers responded to six calls between Saturday and Monday, according to rescue manager B.J. Chute.
There were three calls on July 24, Chute said.First, between 10 p.m. and midnight, RCMP called SAR to help find a hiker who didn’t return back to his car to meet the rest of his group, which had hiked the High Falls Creek Trail.
The following day, a team of rescuers hopped on ebikes and ATVs and went to the Squamish Valley. They interviewed the callers to figure out the route.Eventually, crews figured out the missing hiker had walked a series of logging roads out and was picked up by a bystander who had dropped the missing person off at the local RCMP detachment.
It turned out the hiker had intentionally separated from the group, because he was afraid his dog wasn’t able to make it on the descent.Rescuers stood down after finding out he was fine.
The next call on July 24 occurred when two hikers from a party of six, which was heading to Lake Lovely Water, had decided to turn back because they felt the terrain was too challenging.They turned back to the point where they crossed the river for the hike, but weren’t comfortable traversing the water.
They wound up staying the night and waiting for the rest of their group to arrive and canoe them across the river. Rescuers talked to them on the phone and gave them advice, but did not deploy in this case.The final call on Saturday involved a potentially injured climber on the Stawamus Chief. A pair of climbers on the route, Long Time No See, reported that they heard distressed screams.
However, after SAR teams combed the area, it was found that there were no people in trouble. Crews stood down.On Sunday, there were two calls.
First, crews were alerted to a hiker who had arrived at the peak of the gondola loading station when it had already closed for the night.Ultimately, the hiker was able to find a way back down, either by walking or via a ride from a maintenance crew. Rescuers did not deploy.
A second call on July 25 involved a missing hiker at Blanca Lake.A caller who’d finished hiking in the area reported a truck that was parked nearby. The hiker reported the vehicle, as they were concerned a person had become lost and had not returned from their trip.
It was eventually deemed to be a false alarm.Finally, on Monday, a lead climber took a fall at Woodstock, a popular beginners’ climbing area in Murrin Park.
She injured her back, and SAR treated her, put a harness on her and walked her out to paramedics, who took her to hospital.Chute said that Squamish Search and Rescue is a free service because it’s an entirely volunteer-driven organization.
While the society is financially in good shape, it still requires regular donations from the public to keep things going.“Although SAR does not solicit funds or charge for rescue, we do rely on corporate and private donations to ensure we are able to train and provide gear to our members,” said Chute.
As the service grows, it will require more equipment and resources, which will need to be paid for via fundraising.“One of the things that we do see is that people whom we've rescued, they are generally ones who do make personal donations, and that money goes straight back into helping the next person in need,” said Chute.
“So we're very proud of the fact that we have a volunteer system and a volunteer base that we can rely on here in our community.”
**Please note, this story was updated on July 26 to provide the rescues from over the weekend.