Sequoia-Kings Canyon weekly incidents: Episodes of altitude sickness in backcountry locales


SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
Ash Mountain
● 9/13/2019: Rangers responded to the Foothills Visitor Center for a report of a motor vehicle collision. The vehicle was observed down an embankment in the main parking lot. The driver stated while attempting to park the vehicle, it suddenly “lunged forward” and subsequently went downhill toward the headquarters parking area. Both occupants refused medical care and the vehicle was towed away.
● 9/15/2019: Rangers responded to a report of a river rescue at Potwisha Falls where an 18-year-old male was in the river clinging to a rock. In a joint operation with Tulare County Sheriff’s Office dive team, a rescue swimmer accessed the victim and placed him in a personal flotation device and helmet then swam back to shore with him on a rescue board. He was uninjured and able to hike back to his vehicle.
Lodgepole
● 9/13/2019: Rangers responded to Round Meadow for an 80-year-old man from Southern California who fell while walking off trail, resulting in a shoulder injury. The rangers assessed and treated the patient, who refused EMS transport.
Mineral King
● 9/14/2019: Rangers responded to a report of a 57-year-old male who had a heart attack approximately 100 feet from the summit of Sawtooth Peak. CPR was attempted by his family but was unsuccessful. On 9/15, rangers were able to access the subject and conducted a short-haul with a helicopter to recover the body. He was turned over to the Tulare County Coroner.
High Sierra
● 9/9/2019: A 66-year-old male advised a trail crew at Rock Creek that he was feeling ill and was shaking. He was dizzy and unable to walk. An EMT was dispatched who assessed his condition. Based on the doctor’s recommendation, the subject was flown to the Ash Mountain Helibase where he was transferred to an ambulance.
● 9/14/2019: Park dispatch received word through Inyo County of a 911 call from near the summit of Mount Whitney. The coordinates placed the caller in Inyo County. The caller advised that she was a member of a group of three and one of their team members was vomiting, having trouble breathing, and had collapsed. The park and Inyo County received conflicting reports on the exact location. Inyo County called in CHP helicopter H80 to assist with the extrication of the patient. At the same time, the parks helicopter H552 was involved in another medevac and was not available to respond. The patient was successfully flown out by H80 to Lone Pine.

KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Grant Grove
● 9/12/2019: In the early morning hours, rangers and Ambulance 5 responded to mutual aid request at Montecito Sequoia Lodge for a 45-year-old female experiencing an allergic reaction with swelling to her face. The patient was transported by NPS ambulance and transferred to an ambulance from the Central Valley to be taken to the hospital.
● 9/12/2019: Rangers and Ambulance 5 assisted with the Mather Pass SAR.
● 9/12-13/2019: Rangers responded to an overdue party report at Redwood Canyon. The overdue party was day hiking and reported to not have any food, one bottle of water, and a light jacket. A hasty search was conducted the night of 9/12. On the morning of 9/13, two search teams, consisting of two members each, hiked out onto trails in the Redwood Canyon area. At around 9 a.m. the missing hiker was located, uninjured and unharmed. He had “borrowed” food from a party backpacking in the area. He was escorted to the trailhead and reunited with his party.
Sierra Crest
● 9/8/2019: The Taboose Fire, near the Taboose trailhead, outside the park on Inyo National Forest, which began 9/4, blew up due to a significant wind event overnight. Based on a mutual aid request from Inyo NF, two Sequoia-Kings Canyon wilderness rangers were flown to Taboose Pass to implement a trail closure of the portion of the Taboose Pass trail outside of the park. As of 9/16, the fire is 9,438 acres and 61 percent contained. Visitor vehicles were burned up at Red Lake trailhead, but firefighters were able to protect visitor and employee vehicles at Taboose trailhead. Prevailing west winds have kept smoke from impacting the park. Inyo NF is working on a long-term closure of the Taboose Pass trail (which intersects with the Pacific Crest/John Muir trail in Kings Canyon NP) and the Red Lake trail (which does not come into the park).
● 9/8/2019: Based on a mutual aid request from Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, park helicopter H552 completed three flights to evacuate seven visitors from Red Lake due to the Taboose Fire cutting off their eastern exit.
● 9/9/2019: Associated with their delayed wilderness exit due to the Taboose Fire, two adults were evacuated by park helicopter H552 from Bench Lake station due to being out of needed daily medication and other medical supplies.
● 9/9/2019: The park was notified by Inyo County Sheriff’s Office of a pair of 63-year-old females who were one day overdue from a backpacking trip from Onion Valley into the park over Kearsarge Pass to Rae Lakes and 60 Lakes. Wilderness rangers in the area were notified. The next day the park was notified by Inyo CSO that the party had exited at Onion Valley without assistance.
● 9/9/2019: The Lone Pine trailhead ranger reported a 39-year-old male with an ankle injury at the McClure Ranger Station. After evaluation, the visitor was evacuated by park helicopter H552.
● 9/10/2019: Wilderness ranger/EMTs intercepted a hiker from Mather Pass who was experiencing extreme foot pain and was unable to continue on his itinerary. The male was able to get to the Bench Lake Ranger Station and a helicopter evacuation was scheduled for 9/13. On 9/12, the patient began experiencing difficulty breathing, and his condition deteriorated, possibly due to altitude illness. Due to the changing circumstances, a park medic was flown to Bench Lake station, and the patient was evacuated by park Helicopter H552 on the afternoon of 9/12 to NPS ambulance 5, and later transferred to another ambulance for transportation to the hospital.
● 9/11/2019: The Park was notified of a satellite SOS activation at the JMT/Goddard trail intersection. Wilderness and trailhead rangers responded and found the party, who did not require any assistance. The device had been accidentally triggered.
● 9/12/2019: The Mineral King subdistrict ranger managed a medevac from the Bench Lake station for a 62-year-old male with a facial laceration from a ground-level fall. He was evacuated by park helicopter H552.
● 9/14/2019: A Grant Grove ranger managed a medevac from upper Bubbs Creek for a 21-year-old male who had been sick for several days and tent-bound. He was evacuated by park helicopter H552.
Cedar Grove
● 9/9/2019: Rangers/Ambulance 4 responded on call-out to a 30-year-old male with severe stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice. The patient was transported to a rendezvous ambulance at Big Stump Entrance Station.
● 9/12/2019: Rangers set up a trail camera to watch a deer carcass. There were multiple animal visitors captured on camera including two black bears. 
● 9/14/2019: Rangers responded to Sentinel Campground for an employee who was bitten by a dog. The employee refused medical care, the incident was investigated, and the dog owner was cited.
Revenue and Fee Management Branch
Entrance Stations:
● August monthly visitation stats:
Sequoia
190,139 Recreation visits, a +3.1% increase over August 2018.
Total year to date 888,278 total visits, a -2.24% year-to-date decrease from August 2018.
Kings Canyon
113,009 recreation visits, a -1.96% decrease from August 2018.
Total year to date 475,652, a -8.49% year-to-date decrease from August 2018.
● Bear activity in Dorst and Lodgepole campgrounds over the weekend. 
Wilderness Branch
● Seasonal grazing closures in effect for Upper Crabtree, Penned Up, and Bench Lake meadows.

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