Shortly after reopening from a two-month emergency closure, Indian Canyons just outside Palm Springs experienced two hiker incidents on consecutive evenings this week.
On Monday at 7 p.m., tribal rangers with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians reported an overdue hiker to the Palm Springs Police Department, prompting a search and rescue operation by mounted patrol and a Riverside County helicopter crew. The hiker, who had lit a small campfire to keep warm, was quickly found by the air unit and hoisted to safety. He had suffered an ankle injury and was so deep in a canyon that it would have taken ground crew at least four hours to reach him, according to the Palm Springs Police Department.
The next day around 5:30 p.m., a hiker visiting from Texas called the police department from the strenuous West Fork Trail to tell them he had run out of daylight. Again, ground crews and a helicopter were sent. The uninjured hiker was hoisted off the mountain by the air unit to safety.
"Engaging in two searches for hikers in just as many days is very rare," said Kate Anderson, spokesperson for Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, which owns the canyons that are their ancestral home. "It serves as a reminder for hikers to plan ahead."
The Palm Springs Mounted Police Search and Rescue unit responds to dozens of hiker incidents each year in the Palm Springs area.