Missing backpacker found alive but injured

One day after he was reported missing, Gregg Hein was found on Thursday, July 10, lying near Davis Lake, (elevation 11,058 feet) in northern Kings Canyon National Park. Hein, 33, of Clovis departed the Florence Lake trailhead on Thursday, July 3, for a strenuous two-day hike and ascent of Mount Goddard (13,558) in Kings Canyon National Park.

When searchers reached the peak, the register contained an entry for July 5 written by Hein showing that he had indeed bagged the peak as planned. 

A helicopter that was going to drop off searchers in the vicinity of Davis Lake on the evening of July 10 spotted a man lying approximately 50 yards away.

When the searchers contacted the man, he identified himself as Hein and said he had been injured five days earlier while descending the peak. He had suffered significant trauma to his lower extremities when he fell 150 feet but managed to crawl to the spot out in the open.

Hein told rescuers that he made a makeshift bandage out of hiking gear for his broken leg, which had a bone protruding, rather than applying a tourniquet because he wanted to save the leg from being amputated. 

The leg became infected but Hein remained clear-headed and in a survivalist state of mind. After he ran out of food he ate insects and melted snow for drinking water. 

The rescue helicopter transported the victim on the morning of July 11 to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.       

Since the rescue, Hein has had the first two of four scheduled surgeries and expects to be totally healed in several months. If he learned anything from his misadventure, Hein said, his days of going solo are over, but not his hiking and trail running. Once he is fully is recovered he will be back in the great outdoors he loves.

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