GLENDALE — The number of people who had to be rescued from local hiking trails and parks has so far doubled from what it was last year, according to the Glendale Fire Department.
Glendale firefighters typically respond to four rescue incidents each year that involve hikers stuck on mountain trails for various reasons. But this year, firefighters have performed eight mountain rescues, which officials attributed to out-of-town hikers who don’t realize the difficulty of some trails until it’s too late.
“A lot of times we have people that we are helping, rescuing and pulling out of there that are not local residents, so they are not acclimated to the strenuous hiking,” Fire Capt. Vincent Rifino said.
Those hikers will often attempt to veer off the trails and take shortcuts, which are generally more challenging than traveling the length of the path, he said.
That was the case for the Fire Department’s most recent rescue.
Fire crews rescued two siblings who tried climbing a steeper route Nov. 14 by cutting across the longer cemetery trail at Brand Park, Rifino said. But once up the mountain, they were unable to climb down the trail.
Fire crews talked to the siblings on a cell phone while a Los Angeles City helicopter hoisted them off of the trail. The pair had scrapes and bruises, but declined medical transportation.
With most mountain rescues, hikers become fatigued and are unable to hike down the trails, official said. Many hikers also don’t dress appropriately for weather conditions.
“They put themselves in a position on the side of a hill and should not have left the original trail . . . they are fatigued, they are tired, cold and hungry, and they are sitting on the side of a hill and can neither go up or down,” Rifino said. “That’s where we come in.”
Many hikers tend to veer off the paths because they confuse game trails for marked hiking routes, Glendale park naturalist Eric Grossman said.
Deer that live in the lower mountain elevations often create game trails, which look like man-made hiking trails, he said.
“People see those game trails and they start to hike them and then they realize they are in an area that they can’t get down or it becomes too steep,” Grossman said. “They think they are marked trails and they are not, so that’s the problem.”
Grossman often helps fire crews during mountain rescues, which he said are mostly due to people hiking off the marked trail.
In the spring, city officials will host a trail safety workshop, which will teach hikers how to trek the trails and what they need to be prepared for if they get stuck on a path. The workshop will take place April 7, 14, 21 and 28.
City naturalists will hold an overnight backpacking hike May 1 and 2 in which hikers will be taught survival tips.