Virginia Fire Department Rescues Lost Hikers With a Drone

by Courtney Blackann

Two hikers from Virginia almost had a less merry – and more scary – Christmas holiday after getting lost on a popular hiking trail. However, thanks to a Bedford, Virginia fire department, the hikers were found with the help of a drone.

One of the most popular Virginia hiking trails is the Sharp Top Mountain summit, according to Fox News. Two men embarked on a journey Christmas day to hike to the 3,875-foot summit. However, they weren’t prepared for the elements. The hikers left without proper gear or lighting and quickly found themselves lost on the snowy hills.

At some point during the evening, rescuers were alerted the hikers were in trouble. The Bedford Fire Department set off in hopes they could locate the men before the night completely fell over the mountain. Utilizing their drone, the rescue teams were able to pick up on the men’s thermal images. At this point, the fire department followed the trail and found the men stranded.

Hikers Brought to Safety

After picking them up and bringing them back to safety, the crews returned to their unit by 8:30 p.m. Luckily for the hikers, their Christmas nightmare was over.

The National Park Service reminds hikers to practice safety when setting out on a trail by bringing the proper gear and plenty of water.

“This peak has attracted hikers for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The 1.5-mile trail ascends 1,300 vertical feet through the forests to spectacular 360-degree views of the Peaks of Otter and surrounding landscape,” according to the agency’s website.

Especially in the winter months, it’s crucial for hikers to be aware, tell someone where they’re heading and carry extra lights. This is especially important because it gets darker than normal and rough trails can be hard to see. Being in the dark will make it that much more likely for hikers to get lost.

Rare Albino Bear Charges at Tourists

While getting lost on a hike is definitely a concern, people also need to be aware of the wildlife in the region. This is the case of Ukranian tourists hiking in Turkey when a rare albino bear nearly charged them.

Bears all over the world have mostly gone into their annual hibernating phase, but this encounter happened back in July. According to the National Park Service, the charge could have been a warning known as a ‘bluff charge.’

“Bluff charges are meant to scare or intimidate,” the NPS official website reports. “When a bear bluff charges, it will have its head and ears up and forward. The bear will puff itself up to look bigger. It will bound on its front paws toward you (moving in big leaps), but then stop short or veer off to one side. Often bears retreat after a bluff charge, or they may vocalize loudly.”

Luckily, the hikers stood their ground and didn’t run. But the experience left them shaken and a little more respectful of the fellow wildlife.

“It took seconds for the bear to rush towards us to attack us when we heard his voice,” tour guide Saffet Akkus says. “It was a bear as white as a polar bear. I had never seen a bear on Mount Ararat until today. It was a huge bear.”