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Five Days After Two Hikers Mysteriously Vanished, Rescuers Found Footprints Off The Trail

The San Gabriel Mountains

The San Gabriel Mountains are located in Southern California, right on the border of Los Angels and San Bernardino counties. The mountains are beautiful and are a popular spot for hikers. Because the mountains provide 1/3 of the water supply for Los Angeles residents, President Barack Obama awarded the mountains national monument status.

Dangerous Terrain

While the mountains are beautiful, they can also be dangerous. In February 2019, a man named Ernesto Alonzo Rodriguez from Thousand Oaks, California was in the San Gabriel range with friends when he slipped on ice and fell 200-feet. Sadly, he didn’t survive. In 2017, Michael Yoo was out hiking with his friends when they reached an isolated location. Michael fell to his death, and his four friends were seriously injured.

Eric Desplinter and Gabrielle Wallace

Eric and Gabrielle set out on a hike in the San Gabriel Mountains along with two other. They all worked together, and Eric was their boss. They were heading out the mountains for a hike that they planned to complete later that month. They expected the trip to take 10-hours, but things didn’t go as planned. The two coworkers sensed danger, so they decided to head back to the car. They planned to wait for Eric and Gabrielle, but they never came. Finally, they went to the authorities for help.

Enough Supplies

At the beginning of the search, Eric and Gabrielle’s families took comfort in the fact that they had enough supplies to last them through the night. Eric had extensive hiking experience and had served in the National Guard and spent time in Afghanistan. Gabrielle’s family was sure that he would take care of her out there.

Families Arrive

When Eric and Gabrielle had been declared missing, Eric’s family flew in from Iowa to help with the search. Gabrielle’s family also helped. The first two days that they were missing, the family took comfort in the fact that hundreds of volunteers were coming out to help scour the area. When bad weather hit, fewer people turned up for the search, and the families worried that they would never see the pair again. When the visibility worsened, the entire rescue mission was put on hold.

The 5th Day

On the 5th day of the search, the rescuers spotted footprints leading off the main trail. Five days after two hikers mysteriously vanished, rescuers found footprints off the trail. The rescuers hoped that the footprints would help them figure out where the hikers were and what happened to them. A team searched on land, and there was a helicopter searching from above. Finally, the helicopter pilot spotted a flickering light in the darkness. When they shined their lights, they found the missing hikers. They were immediately airlifted to the hospital.

Their Harrowing Experience

The hike took a turn for the worse when Gabrielle fell over 100 feet, coming to a stop in mountainside scrub. The fall left her with gashes to her hands and legs. After her fall, they decided to head back. The decided to call for help down from the mountain, but they couldn’t get a signal. They thought that the valley would be an excellent place to wait for help, but the conditions were worse than they could have ever imagined. After a few days, their snacks were gone. The dark water using a LifeStraw to keep from becoming dangerously dehydrated. They realized that they were lost, and they weren’t sure how much longer they would make it.

A Missed Rescue

On day three, they were in a wooded area when a helicopter flew above. They realized that they would never be seen, so they decided to find an open area so that they would be seen if another helicopter came by again. Over the next couple days, they were forced to travel through unforgiving terrain and use tied up sweaters to create a rope to help them scale the waterfalls and narrow ledges.

The Rescue

Finally, they heard another helicopter circling overhead, and they were rescued. When they were lifted up into the helicopter, Eric told the rescuers that he was ready to spend a night in his own bed.

Reuniting With Their Families

When the pair arrived at the hospital, their families were there waiting. It was a reunion that the families had been waiting days for. Eric says that in time, he and Gabrielle would have found their way down the mountain, but he was glad that the helicopter came. Eric says that the next time he goes hiking, that he will prepare for the worst just in case. He says that if he and Gabrielle had more supplies to last longer, they would have had an easier time being out in the wilderness.

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