Two hikers have been reported rescued by a limited-staff crew of Yosemite National Park employees and California Highway Patrol officers, the official Yosemite National Park Facebook page announced Thursday evening. According to the post on Facebook, the Yosemite National Park Emergency Communications Center (Dispatch) received an emergency call from two stranded hikers in the park’s North Dome area and were in need of Yosemite search and rescue assistance. The hikers were in the process of hiking the Yosemite Falls Trail, and had a plan to descend down the Snow Creek Trail on to the valley floor, however the hikers became disoriented at the snowline, and traveled down a one-way path into a gully.
The day before the hikers made their call, park officials released a winter weather advisory for expected blizzard conditions in the park. According to the park Facebook page, “Yosemite is forecast to receive up to about five inches of rain and two to three feet of higher-elevation snow tonight through tomorrow [January 16–17].”
Due to these worsening conditions, Yosemite search and rescue staff were unable to make contact with the hikers on the night of the 15th, and were forced to leave the hikers overnight. The morning of the 16th an NPS rescue team, with the aid of a California Highway Patrol helicopter, completed the rescue safely.
The news of this rescue comes as the government shutdown moves toward its fifth week, leaving much of the National Parks Service with bare-bones staff and leading to reports of irresponsible camping behavior and unsanitary conditions within numerous national parks. At least three deaths have been reported in national parks since the shutdown started.