Search and Rescue and the unplaned first activation

My first activation was not planed in the least.

On Saturday my neighbor, Bill, was planning a very long, one day, dirt bike ride with his son. The ride would go from his home (next door) to the Bear Canyon Loop. They have done the loop before just not from home. This is about a 125 mile ride, round trip. They left at 7:30. I tracked them on Inreach (a satellite tracker) from home. The day went on and it got to be about 6pm and I noticed that had not moved for about 3 hours. I sent them a text via Inreach, the message I received back was “having some issues”, but nothing else. I waited a while longer and sent another text asking if they will be spending the night. Text back “it looks like it”. At this point I was concerned but I know they are prepared. I went to bed.

I woke up next morning to a text asking me to bring the battery out of my bike and one from his house and to bring lots of water in my truck. I have never been to Bear Canyon so I don’t know what to expect. I left about 9am. I reached the area after about a 2 hour drive. He gave me directions and coordinates and I tried to get to them for another 1 ½ hours but there was no way. I texted him saying it was time to hit the SOS button on his Inreach. I was down in a canyon with no radio or cell service so I got in the truck and rode back up to a point where I had cell and could hit a local repeater. He sent a text back saying “SOS has been pushed they are working on logistics to get to us”. At this point I was about 6 miles from them. I looked on my GPS to see how far and noticed I was right next to a SOTA summit (W6/SC-100). I knew I there was nothing I could do for my friends except watch. I decide to do a short activation. I walked about a ¼ mile to the summit and set the antenna and radio up. I spotted myself and made 4 qso’s pretty quick.

It was getting to be about 5pm I wanted to get back out before dark. I could see a helicopter circling them so I knew that were going to be ok. I received a text from his daughter saying the Search and Rescue was staging at Pine Canyon and Highway 166. It took me an hour ½ to get there. I got there and spoke with the person in charge, she said they were being picked up by the helicopter and would be transported to a vehicle and driven out in about an hour. I waited to take them home.

On the drive home they explained that the trail had become so over grown, they became so fatigued and had used all of their 7 liters of water (each) that they could not continue. They both have blisters on their feet from walking in motorcycle boots and were very tired. The motorcycles are still there. Plans are being made for recovery.

Thanks to K6HPX, KC1BB, W7RV and N6WS for the Q’s!!



Interesting story! The usefulness of the InReach device is plain to see.

Glad it all worked out.

Wow! So the bike broke down? Was that why they were walking?

The bikes did not break but they hand no power left in the batteries because they were having to stop and start so often. You can only kick start a 450 motorcycle so many time then it just is impossible because of fatigue.

When we recover the bikes we are going to take several batteries with us. It is going to be a long hike in but with plenty of water we should be fine.

Man that is a crazy story! Glad they are ok! So how does that work… do you get a bill for the rescue?

Interesting comment… rescue is free in the UK. Helicopters included.

Ah, you’ve got to love Iridium based technology. :wink:


This happened in Santa Barbara county. They do not charge.

I do not know about other counties or states.

Iridium, yes I have an Inreach myself, My XYL knows where I am most of the time. :wink:

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That’s good to know! Please don’t misunderstand my question - I was purely curious from a “if it ever happens to me” perspective. :wink:

Here is an interesting story from Time on the subject.,8599,1892621,00.html

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In california CHP does the bulk of the hoist ops, (or military). those are free. The air ambulance services do not have hoist capabilities, but if they can land and do pick you up they will bill.

So i have been on some SAR ops where we used the Iridium system (both in the Sierra Nevada mountains). It was a neat little unit being handed out; like next gen inreach type tech…Anyway on one of those recent missions the Iridium system in general was having some sort of issue amd the transmit from unit to central was an hour delay for all the teams in the field. flukes happen, amd with all tech do not think you can rely on it. Sounds like the overall experience was a pretty epic outing, glad everyone made it out!!!

So did you guys get the bikes out yet?

Yes we did!

2 days later I was able to drive my Jeep to with in 1/2 mile of where the bikes were. It took us 2 hours to get to the bikes only because we trimmed the trail as we went to make it easier to get the bikes out. Then it took us another 2 hours to get the bikes up the trail and out. The trail had washed out in places so it took all 3 of us to move one bike at times. We drank all of our water just as we made it back the the Jeep.


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