Coquitlam SAR rescues 17 campers stuck at Widgeon Lake due to poor weather

VANCOUVER — Coquitlam Search and Rescue helped 17 campers stranded at Widgeon Lake in Pinecone Burke Provincial Park Friday after their chartered float plane could not pick them up due to poor weather.

The volunteer team received a call around 11 a.m. Friday from a group of young adults who entered the area Tuesday via a chartered float plane, but it was not able to bring them back Thursday as planned.

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"Everyone was fine. The initial call that we got was that they were cold and wet and running out of food," said Jim Delgrande, a manager with Coquitlam SAR.

"At the time, it wasn't an emergency. Our concern was that the weather was forecast to close in and then if they were there another night then things could get more serious with, for example, hypothermia."

The area was inaccessible by foot, said Delgrande, so the team dispatched a helicopter to bring supplies and help move the campers out.

The lake is a high mountain lake with an altitude of about 780 metres, he said. It's usually accessed by canoe, according to Coquitlam SAR's website.

The helicopter removed seven of the people, but also indicated it may be possible for a float plane to land. A float plane later picked up the remaining hikers, who all departed the area by about 2 p.m. Friday.

No one was injured.

Delgrande stressed the importance for hikers to prepare for such trips.

"It looks like they weren't particularly well prepared," he said of the group, noting they got wet and cold from rain, and didn't have supplies, such as food, for extra days.

"There seems to have been no backup plan," he said.

Coquitlam SAR recommends people bring what they call then 10 essentials, including a flashlight with spare batteries, extra food and water, and extra clothing that includes rain, wind and water protection. It encourages hikers to let others know where they are going and their return date.

"You have to ask what's going to happen and be prepared for that," said Delgrande.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 8, 2020

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