Big Sur boulder hop ends with
rescue of mom, 3 kids
Published: March 1, 2012
THANKS TO the efforts of the Monterey
County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team, Big Sur’s latest
foolish hiking adventure had a happy ending.
According to Sgt. Joe Moses, on Feb. 24, an Atascadero woman,
her two 12-year-old sons and 9-year-old daughter attempted to
follow Villa Creek (65 miles south of Carmel) downhill about 2.5
miles to Highway 1.
After dropping his family off in the Big Sur backcountry, the
woman’s husband drove to where Villa Creek meets the highway and
awaited their arrival.
But darkness arrived before the hikers did, so the husband
drove a short distance to the tiny hamlet of Gorda and contacted
“He was a little nervous,” Moses said. “He figured someone tripped and fell.”
Moses and a crew of four rescue workers were called out just
before 8 p.m. After preparations and a lengthy drive from
Monterey, they hit the trail at about 11:15 p.m. Two rescue
workers drove up Willow Creek Road and descended down the creek,
while the other three hiked up the creek from Highway 1. It was
the second group that reached the hikers first. “They got to
them at about 4 a.m.,” Sgt. Moses reported.
The hikers, it turned out, gave up their trek only a
quarter-mile from Highway 1 — but they had no idea they were so
close. No doubt shivering as the sun set and temperatures headed
toward the 30s, they built a fire on a sandbar along the creek.
While the hikers told rescue workers they were trying to follow
a trail, they were essentially boulder-hopping down the creek.
“They were knee-deep in water and scaling around a couple
waterfalls,” Sgt. Moses said.
Rescue workers spent the night with the woman and her children,
and everybody hiked out in the morning. Sgt. Moses and his crew
returned to Monterey at about 10 a.m. Feb. 25 — 14 hours after
their odyssey began. Nobody was injured.
“In hindsight, they probably could have made it out by
themselves, but we couldn’t take that risk, especially with
small children involved,” he added.
As is typically the case, taxpayers will pick up the tab for
the cost of the rescue, though Monterey could ask the family’s
home county of San Luis Obispo to reimburse them.