As Saturday’s heavy storm pounded the region, San Diego firefighters conducted a challenging rescue of two hikers stuck about 200 feet down the cliffs at Torrey Pines.
At around 3:30 a.m., the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) received word from 911 that a man and woman stuck on the Indian Canyon Trail at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in La Jolla.
The pair had been hiking the trail amid the storm, and the rain made path slick and slippery to the point they couldn’t climb back up.
SDFD rescuers made their way down the cliffs, about 200 feet, and began the lengthy process of getting the hikers out. The woman was experiencing hypothermia, officials said.
The stormy conditions created extra hazards and made the rescue a bit of a challenge. An SDFD helicopter aiding in the rescue had to be grounded due to the downpour and lightning. Eventually, the chopper came back and was used to hoist the pair from the cliffs.
“This foot trail that is normally – you can walk it day and night – it’s really not a problem. But, when you add water to it, it becomes like a river; it’s like a torrent river,” SDFD Battalion Chief David Connor explained. “And it loosens up the top of that sandstone and it becomes extremely slippery.”
Connor said the rescue took about two-and-a-half hours, with about an hour of that just to get to the hikers.
After being hoisted from the trail, the man and woman warmed up in an ambulance. They did not need further medical treatment and were sent home. No firefighters were injured in the operation, the SDFD said.
Connor said the trails at Torrey Pines and other popular hiking destinations in San Diego County will remain slick on the heels of Saturday’s storm. This will likely happen again next week as two more storms are expected to move into the region.
He urged locals and visitors to avoid the trails during rain for safety reasons.
Meanwhile, the City of San Diego said Saturday morning that the trails in Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, Del Mar Mesa Preserve, and Carmel Mountain Preserve would be temporarily closed to the public following the heavy rain.
With more rain expected next week, the city said the closure would likely remain in effect into the week of Jan. 20, particularly at Del Mar Mesa Preserve.