WATCH: Men Narrowly Escape Wildfire Thanks to GPS Technology

by Chris Haney

Over the weekend, two hikers in the Pacific Northwest narrowly escaped a wildfire and documented their trek to safety off the mountain in a video they posted on YouTube. The two men utilized GPS technology to aid in their escape and uploaded the video in hopes of educating other hikers to not make the same mistakes.

On Saturday, friends Steve Cooper and Matt Bishop went hiking on Baring Mountain, which is in the Central Cascades northeast of Seattle, Washington. Cooper frequently hikes and posts his adventures to his YouTube channel “Path Least Taken – PLT.” On Sunday, Cooper shared a video of his and Bishop’s harrowing brush with the wildfire. In the four days since uploading the 10-minute video, it’s been viewed almost 120,000 times.

During their Saturday hike, the two hikers came dangerously close to the Bolt Creek fire. Flames and smoke caught them off guard during their trek, but GPS helped them out of the jam.

“I debated about posting this video online,” Cooper says early on in his YouTube video. “I was afraid about all the criticism that I would get. I’m posting this video as an educational tool to try to point out all the mistakes that we made which ended up putting our lives in danger.”

Hikers Determined to Escape Wildfire to Make It Home to Their Families

After the two hikers made their way up the summit of Baring Mountain, they started the trek back down the mountain. They took the risk of hiking on a “red flag” or smoky day, but that came back to haunt them as they attempted to leave.

On the way down, they got stuck because of flames and tons of smoke from the wildfire blocking the path they used to hike up the mountain. Therefore the hikers turned to technology and relied on GPS to navigate their way out. Cooper and Bishop used “route finding,” which is a navigation skill set used during mountaineering. Thankfully, for the hikers’ sake, their knowledge combined with GPS capabilities helped them safely find their way down the mountain.

“Hopefully you guys get to see this video, because otherwise we didn’t make it,” Bishop said during one segment of the video.

“We are trapped here,” Cooper adds. “We are going to try to get out of here before we burn to death.”

It took the two men hours to navigate the alternate route. During their trek, they also had a close call when one of them fell beside a steep cliff. As they hiked down the mountain, they were in touch with local authorities after dialing 911. However, the dangerous conditions from the wildfire were too severe for authorities to attempt a rescue.

Numerous commenters on the video praised the two men for staying calm and using their heads during the stressful trek. Cooper credits their determination to make it home to their families as their main motivation to reach safety. By the time they make it down the mountain, the hikers appear exhausted in the video after outrunning the wildfire.

“We wanted to stay alive and make it back home to our families,” Cooper said.