MECCA HILLS: Three hikers rescued after becoming lost in “Ladder Canyon”

MECCA HILLS – Three women had to be rescued after they became lost while hiking Sunday, March 12. The area where the trio were rescued is known as “Ladder Canyon” in the Painted Hills area of the Mecca Hills Wilderness Area, south of Interstate 10 and east of Highway 86.

Ladder Canyon. Pinterest photo

Deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Thermal Station responded to the area about 9 p.m., after the three hikers called 911 to report they were lost, Riverside Sheriff Sergeant Chris Olsen explained in a written press release after the incident.

“The three female hikers, all residents of the Coachella Valley and in their early twenties, called 911 when it became dark and they realized they were lost,” Olsen wrote.

The Sheriff’s Aviation Unit responded to the area and quickly located the hikers; however, they were unable to land the helicopter and assist with the evacuation.

Aviation crew members relayed the location of the trio to volunteer members from Riverside County’s Desert Search and Rescue who responded to the area to assist in the rescue.

When they arrived, search and rescue members hiked into the canyon and helped guide the three hikers out to safety.

There were no injuries reported from the incident.

Olsen reminded hiking enthusiasts to always carry proper equipment for any outdoor excursions.

“Proper preparation includes a well thought-out travel plan shared with friends and family, as well as familiarity with common hiking equipment, such as GPS, maps and compasses,” Olsen wrote.


Contact the writer:

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Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 13 – soon to be 14 – grandchildren.

One comment

  • Without more details of their predicament (out of water, hypothermia risks…..), it’s probably not fair to judge, but …- folks need to be prepared for their outdoor adventures. Headlamp? Compass? Doesn’t everyone have GPS on their phone nowadays? Or do we remain ignorant of thinking ahead and say :”Sweet! If I get tired of my hike, I can just call for a free ride back to my car! “

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