Hawaii National Park, HAWAI‘I – Two hikers were rescued by helicopter last Thursday evening after getting lost overnight and running out of water in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
The two men, ages 82 and 72, are Volcano residents and are experienced hikers, but a late start from the Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu trailhead to Keauhou on Wednesday afternoon did not afford them enough time to reach the Keauhou campsite. The campsite, located on the park’s remote and rugged lava rock coastline, is reached by a rigorous downhill 7.6-mile (12.2 km) hike from the trailhead through the Ka‘ū Desert Wilderness.
The hikers wandered off trail, did not reach the campsite, and bedded down off trail overnight. On Thursday, they found a familiar landmark but due to the rough terrain and lack of water, they were unable to make much distance. By 4 p.m., they called an emergency contact listed on their backcountry permit, who called the park to report them lost.
Hawai‘i Fire Department resources assisted, and the men were found on the rough, hardened ‘a‘ā field above ‘Āpua Point, and flown to safety by Hawai‘i Fire Department’s Chopper One by 5:45 p.m. Both men were mildly dehydrated, and upon evaluation by emergency medical services personnel, it was determined that the men did not require further medical attention.
“We are relieved the hikers were located, and are appreciative of the County of Hawai‘i’s quick response in coming to their assistance by helicopter,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Acting Chief Ranger Jack Corrao. “There are valuable lessons to be learned here, and they include allowing enough time to complete your hike, being mindful of weather conditions, and being adequately prepared for emergencies by having enough water. It’s been extremely hot and dry on the coast, and we urge hikers to carry at least three to four quarts of water per person per day,” Corrao said. He also noted that cell phone service is unreliable in many remote areas of the park.
The National Park Service urges hikers to prepare for a trek with 10 Essentials, which include Navigation (map/compass/GPS); Sun Protection; Insulation; Illumination; First-Aid Supplies; Fire (matches, lighter); Repair Kit & Tools; Nutrition; Hydration; and Emergency Shelter.