GRANITE FALLS — Search and rescue crews helped two hikers to safety this weekend, in what has been the busiest year ever recorded for the Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue team, according to the sheriff’s office.
On Saturday, rescue teams were called to Vesper Peak and Blanca Lake, both in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
By the end of Labor Day weekend the search and rescue team had been called to nearly 330 missions. In previous years that number has been about 200 to 280, sheriff’s office spokesperson Courtney O’Keefe said in an email.
“No previous years have ever been this high by the end of summer,” she said. “We believe it is a result of both good weather and due to COVID-19 folks are likely looking outdoors for summer activities.”
Around 2 p.m. Saturday, reports came in that a woman who was hiking near Vesper Peak had sustained a broken collarbone and severe concussion after she fell more than 20 feet off a cliff, O’Keefe said.
Helicopters were undergoing maintenance and not available, so a team walked into the wilderness to reach the 30-year-old hiker. She was out by about 9 p.m. and taken to a hospital in a personal vehicle, O’Keefe said.
That same day, around 6 p.m., crews were called to another incident near Blanca Lake. A hiker had broken her ankle about a mile into the trail. A team also hiked in to bring her out. That mission was complete by 11 p.m. She was transported to a hospital by aid, O’Keefe said.
In both cases, the women were hiking with other people.
Search and rescue was called three other times on Saturday, but those requests were resolved or cancelled without help from officials.
“While we do have commissioned deputies that coordinate our SAR Unit, we would not be able to conduct these missions if it wasn’t for our volunteers,” Sheriff Adam Fortney wrote on Facebook Saturday night. “I want the community in Snohomish County to know what these folks do every day.”