Rescue crews locate missing hiker

May 31, 2011 8:48:17 PM PDT
A Bay Area man lost hiking this weekend in the Mendocino National Forest was rescued Tuesday afternoon. Jeffrey Stadler, 40, texted his girlfriend that he needed help in southwestern Glenn County, near St. John Mountain.

The weather and clouds complicated the rescue effort for some time on Monday. But Stadler can credit his cellphone for saving his life. He couldn't make a phone call, but he did send several text messages to a girlfriend in another state, she called the sheriffs, who sent out search teams that found a tired Stadler just after 1 p.m. on Monday.

Six and a half hours into their effort, rescue teams radioed the command post they had spotted a man sitting on a rock, wrapped in a white cloth.

Searchers set out on foot early Monday morning in the rugged terrain on the east slope of Glenn County's St. John Mountain, looking for Stadler. He is an avid hiker from San Francisco. He began sending texts to his girlfriend in New Mexico, saying he was lost and needed help.

"He told his girlfriend through text messaging that he's found a high spot and he should be visible from the air. However, you can see the inclimate weather up there that we're dealing with," said Larry Jones from the Glenn County Sheriff's Department.

Jones says he was hoping to ping off of Stadler's cellphone, which would use its GPS technology to pinpoint the lost hiker's position on the mountain, but Stadler apparently turned off the phone to conserve battery. By early afternoon, the clouds had parted just enough for a helicopter to get airborne and help direct ground crews to Stadler's exact location.

"It's very problematic when you go into the wilderness and you don't tell somebody exactly where you're going and you go by yourself and you don't pay attention to the weather patterns coming in behind you," said Jones.

The peaks in the area go up to about 7,000 feet. During the nighttime hours, the temperatures can get down to 25 degrees at that location, so it was critical that they find Stadler on Monday.

Stadler was brought out by helicopter by a local campground, he was checked out by the medical staff and was apparently tired, somewhat dehydrated, has blisters on his feet, but is otherwise OK.

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