A San Diego man and his two adult daughters reported missing on a hike to Baja's highest peak were spotted Tuesday by a helicopter searching the area.
Morgan Fox, 61, and his daughters, Maura, 20, and Claire, 25, were expected to return to San Diego Sunday evening. When they didn't, Fox's wife called the authorities in Mexico and reported the group missing.
The trio went to the San Pedro Mártir Park on Tuesday, June 20. They planned to hike Picacho del Diablo on Friday and return to their car on Saturday, according to officials with the Civil Protection Baja California.
After the car was found still parked in the mountains, officials launched a search effort Monday afternoon.
Ten people searched the trail to the summit on the ground and a Mexican navy helicopter searching from the air, according to Antonio Rosquillas with Protección Civil Baja California.
It was the helicopter that spotted Fox and his daughters, officials said. It appears all three were in good condition but searchers will know more when they meet up with the hikers on the ground.
Due to the rocky terrain, the helicopter could not assist in the rescue.
Rescue teams are traveling by foot to get to the family and will probably arrive by nightfall, officials said.
Pichaco del Diablo is the highest peak in Baja, at over 10,000 feet. The Devil’s Peak is a challenging trail located more than a day’s drive south of Tijuana and the U.S.-Mexico border.
Family friend David Larson hiked the area with Morgan 13 years ago. He said the route goes through a steep canyon that can be treacherous.
“You have semi-truck sized boulders stacked up in this canyon so it's very dangerous,” Larson said. “There's not an actual trail. You're looking for the cairn, which are piles of rocks, to mark where you're supposed to go.”
He described it as a 12-hour hike to try to get to the top of the mountain and back down to camp and the nearest water source.
Morgan is diabetic but is known to pack the insulin needed for long hikes, his friend said.
“I’m hoping they have water and they have food, and they’re waiting for somebody to save them,” he said.
Larson said that even though he has never hiked with Morgan’s daughters, he understands they are in good health and have experience.
“The girls are strong but I don't know that they're strong enough to carry a 6-foot plus man out of a steep canyon,” he said. “So that’s my fear.”
He said there was some cell phone coverage in the area but it was spotty. Without a satellite phone, communication could be limited.
Larson was going to travel to the trailhead. He was not going to participate in the search but will be there to help when the trio is located.
Maura is a student at UC Santa Barbara.
Because of the elevation, the area can be cold. Temperatures can dip below freezing at night even in the summer.