A Kelowna man had to spend the night out in the cold, dark and wet trails of Angel Springs in southeast Kelowna on Sept. 18.
The experienced mountain biker, in his 30s, was out for a ride in the Myra Bellevue provincial park when he got lost, said Ed Henczel, Central Okanagan Search and Rescue (COSAR) team member.
At 7 p.m. the cyclist’s concerned girlfriend called search and rescue. Henczel said that a team of 15 COSAR volunteers, including the eBike and canine teams, were dispatched to the trail network at dusk.
The man had sent his girlfriend a photo of his surroundings at some point during his ride and had told her about his plans for the day. Unfortunately, he had planned a big ride over an expansive area and was not still in the area he had photographed.
The COSAR team searched the area around Angel Springs, the area in his photo, since it was his last known location, until 2 a.m.
Henczel said they were worried about the rider spending the night out on the trails as the temperature dipped to below 5 C overnight.
At 8 a.m. crews from West Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon rescue teams joined the Kelowna crew to search for the missing rider.
Meanwhile, once the sun came up, the man hiked uphill to find cell service. He was able to text his location, with the last few percent of battery from his dying phone.
He had been saving his phone battery overnight, using the flashlight and navigation functions sparingly, with the hope of finding service and to send his coordinates at daybreak.
After receiving his approximate location, the search and rescue teams converged on his location from the land and air.
Shortly before noon, the Penticton Search and Rescue helicopter team spotted the man.
After being lifted out of the forest on a long line from the helicopter, and assessed by medical professionals, it was found that the cyclist was cold and tired, but otherwise healthy, after his night in the woods.
“He is a tough man,” said Henczel.
Earlier in the weekend, COSAR was called to rescue an injured hiker from Carrot Mountain, West Kelowna, at 9p.m. on Sept. 17.
Henczel said that people should call for help as early as possible, since searching is difficult and dangerous in the dark and cold.
“Search and rescue is generally free in BC and we would rather you call earlier than later.”
Additionally, having the tools and knowledge to start a fire will make waiting for rescue much more comfortable, said Henczel.
COSAR has had 71 calls so far this year, and 12 of them were from the same vicinity as the lost mountain biker.
30 volunteers were involved in the search for the man
For more information on how to stay safe in the backcountry, visit AdventureSmart.ca.