Lost Hiker Finds Way out of Crater After Overnight Search
By Wendy Osher
Rescue crews located a missing hiker this morning following a search that began Sunday night at Haleakala National Park.
“Despite inadequate preparation, water, and clothing the hiker had found their own way out of the crater overnight through Kaupo Gap and apparently hitchhiked back,” said Navnit Singh, Chief of Interpretation & Education at Haleakala National Park.
The search was launched for the 58-year-old man after he failed to meet a family member at the Keonehe’ehe’e Trailhead as planned at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 22, 2012.
A coordinated search was conducted by Haleakala National Park Rangers and the Maui County Fire Department. It included ground crews from the park and the use of the MFD’s Air-1 helicopter that resumed its search at first light this morning.
Park officials say the day hiker arranged to be dropped off by a family member at the Halemau’u Trailhead, located at the 7,990-foot elevation at mid-day on Sunday.
He had apparently planned to descend down Halemau’u Trail into the crater and ascend out through Keonehe’ehe’e (Sliding Sands) Trail 5 hours later. The treck would have exceeded 11 miles and a 4,000-foot elevation change.
Park officials say the hiker was poorly prepared and did not possess a trail map.
Fire officials say the man was picked up at around 9:30 a.m. by a passing motorist along the Piilani Highway.
Crews from the Maui Fire Department met the individual at the Kula Fire Station. The man was then transported to the Makawao Fire Station to be medically evaluated.
Fire officials say the man did not suffer any major injuries, “just some minor bumps and scrapes.”