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KVRS deploys rescue teams for local hiker

Daily News Staff Writer

The Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad sent a search team to look for a hiker Wednesday night near the Deer Mountain and Blue Lake area.

The hiker, age 56, was found Thursday afternoon in good condition with a group at the Deer Mountain cabin.

"He wasn't injured," said Jerry Kiffer of KVRS, "He didn't realize anybody had been looking for him. He hadn't filed any kind of a trip plan. He said he normally does day hikes, but decided to stay the night and is planning on coming back down this afternoon."

Alaska State Troopers contacted KVRS at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday after a report that a person was overdue on a day hike in the Deer Mountain/Blue Lake area.

"We sent a hasty team up last night just to check the trail, to make sure he wasn't injured, or there was a reason he was late coming back down," Kiffer said.

The three-person search team went up the Deer Mountain around midnight, arriving at the cabin area around 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

The KVRS team didn't see any sign of the hiker, and the two people in the cabin said they had seen someone that had roughly matched his description out at Blue Lake at about 2 p.m. the day before.

So, a KVRS team went back up Thursday morning. It was delayed by fog, but the helicopter was deployed at 10:45 a.m. and the team found the hiker at 11:15 a.m., according to Kiffer.

"We checked the cabin," said Kiffer "and there was a new group in the cabin and the subject was with them."

About eight KVRS personnel were involved with the operation Wednesday night and about 10 were involved in the operation Thursday. The hiker was not using a SPOT beacon.

"That's one of the beauties of the SPOT beacon loaner program," said Kiffer, "yes, it provides a beacon, but it also provides a solid trip plan."

The system notifies KVRS when the person is overdue, and if the person wants to extend their trip they can send in an "OK" message on the beacon.

Kiffer said it would have saved a couple helicopter flights and some volunteer time.

The hiker didn't really have a trip plan and didn't think anyone would be concerned about him, according to Kiffer.

Kiffer said KVRS has had about 18 operations so far this year, and typically they have about 20-30 for an entire year.

He said it seems like there have been a little bit more multi-day hiking-type operations and a little bit more activity on Deer Mountain than usual.

"There's always somebody who's concerned if you don't come back," Kiffer said.