Sitka Trail Works, on Friday, published this photo of the bridge where the hiker fell along Indian River Trail (Kaasda Héen) with a warning to use caution when hiking the trail, as the rest of the railing may not be structurally sound (Photo credit: Lee House/Courtesy Sitka Trail Works)

Sitka’s Search and Rescue team rescued an injured hiker on Thursday (6-23-22) evening. 

According to Assistant Fire Chief David Johnson, 911 dispatchers received a call around 3:45 p.m. from a man who fell while hiking the Indian River Trail (Kaasda Héen). A fellow hiker made the 911 call, and said they believed the man had broken his ankle.

Search and Rescue Captain Matthew Hunter said the hiker had been crossing the first bridge on the trail when the railing gave way, and the hiker fell.

Hunter said ten volunteers and two fire hall staff responded to the call. They found the hiker around a mile and a half down the trail, and brought him back to the trailhead on a rolling litter. 

“The litter wheel is basically one big ATV tire that is underneath the center of the litter,” Hunter explained. “So it allows us to go over anything from large rocks to boardwalk steps, if it makes a relatively cushy right in the litter and then allows us put most of the weight on that tire.” 

Hunter said it took nine people carrying the litter around two and a half hours to make it back to the trailhead. Still, the relatively flat trail made it a bit easier — rescues can be much more challenging on other hikes. 

“If someone gets hurt on Gavin or Verstovia, it’s going to be hours and require more people, because it is exhausting work,” Hunter said. “Thankfully, we have a great crew and working as a team we can do stuff that can’t be done individually, so it’s fulfilling to help someone and not just train.”

The rescue team made it back to the trailhead shortly after 7 p.m. where an ambulance met them to take the hiker to Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center.