Sitka Mountain Rescue led a pair of fog-bound hikers off of Lucky Chance Ridge early Friday morning (8-16-13).
Erik Neumann and Lacey Carnahan had spent Wednesday night at Salmon Lake Cabin, about 10 miles south of Sitka, and were planning to hike all day Thursday over the Lucky Chance Ridge to a kayak they had left in Silver Bay near the Green Lake powerhouse.
Neumann spent ten weeks in Sitka this summer as the KCAW news intern. He’s originally from Seattle, and both he and Carnahan were well-prepared for an extended hike in the alpine.
But they did not count on the thick fog that rolled in on Thursday afternoon. As they made their way down the ridge, the pair became disoriented in the fog. When he realized that they had lost the route, Neumann notified the Coast Guard on VHF radio that he was fogged-in, and would be overdue returning to Sitka.
The Coast Guard, in turn, notified Sitka Mountain Rescue of the pair’s situation. Mountain Rescue captain Don Kluting was able to communicate with Neumann via cell phone from the firehall briefly, before the batteries in Neumann’s phone gave out. They arranged to make radio contact later in the evening, if the fog had not lifted.
Kluting says that Neumann and Carnahan were well-equipped to spend the night on the ridge, with food, raingear, and sleeping bags — but no tent. He encouraged them to put on their raingear, find a relatively sheltered spot, and to wait out the night in their sleeping bags.
With heavy fog still present the following morning, Sitka Mountain Rescue sent a team up the ridge at the end of Silver Bay at about 5 AM. By 7:30 they made contact with the pair, signalling with air horns. Neumann and Carnahan were escorted down the ridge, and given a lift back to Sitka.
Kluting says he appreciated how well-prepared the pair were, and he commended them for bringing a radio, and knowing when to use it.
Neumann told KCAW that he and Carnahan stayed fairly dry, and that it was extremely reassuring to make contact with Kluting on the radio Thursday evening. He added that the route down the ridge was fairly easy to follow, until the fog rolled in, then “all bets were off.”
Neumann and Carnahan flew out of Sitka Friday afternoon. Neumann is a second-year student at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
You can see a picture of Neumann and Carnahan posing with the Sitka Mountain Rescue team who assisted them here. You’ll also find links to several news stories by Neumann, rather than about him.