Last week, Truckee-based Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue team responded to a call regarding a missing hiker in Paige Meadow. Luckily, officials were able to locate the 78-year-old man before freezing temperatures set in across the region that night.
The Placer County Sherriff’s office reached out to the nonprofit, all-volunteer organization just before 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 17. Just an hour after the call, a group of four volunteers had successfully located the hiker about 1.5 miles from the trailhead.
According to one of the TNSR members, it’s not uncommon for them to get calls about lost hikers in Paige Meadows. The popular recreational spot is at the edge of the Tahoe Park Heights neighborhood off Highway 89.
“Paige Meadows is a fairly common place for people to get lost especially in the winter,” said Brad Altman, volunteer with Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, per Sierra Sun. “It’s easy to get disoriented. There are several different meadows that are all interconnected via different trails and at night and in the winter those meadows can really start to look alike.”
TNSR often works closely with local police departments in the Sierra Nevada range. It has served in more than 400 searches and found more than 700 individuals. The organization is just thankful they were able to find the latest man before temperatures started to drop severely.
Hiker Would Likely Have Experienced Hypothermia If He Stayed Longer
Altman applauded the hiker for contacting authorities right away instead of getting himself deeper into trouble.
“He had enough common sense to call 911 and ask for help and not wait until it was three in the morning,” the volunteer said. “He realized he was not going to get himself out of there. It was getting dark, it was getting cold, and even though he was slightly embarrassed that he had to call for help, he did the right thing.”
Lately, temperatures at North Lake Tahoe have been reaching the low 20s and high teens. Add frequent wind to the mix and hypothermia is almost certain for the unprepared hiker. Thankfully, the 78-year-old hiker didn’t suffer this fate, but the rescue serves as a warning for future explorers thinking about frequenting Paige Meadows.
In order to help prevent repeat events, Altman issued a few crucial tips to prepare for a day hike.
“Don’t misjudge your abilities,” he said. “Make sure your fitness and your skills are commensurate with the activity that you’ve planned. Make sure you have plenty of warm clothes, food, water, and have your cell phone charged.”
Sadly, though, the organization responded to another missing hiker alert just one week later. In Mosquito Ridge, the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue helped scour the area for a 60-year-old male. It is unknown whether these efforts were successful.