By Polly Keary, Editor
Each year, hundreds of Pacific Crest Trail hikers stay over at the Baring home of Andrea and Jerry Dinsmore on their way from Mexico to Canada.
As the season grows late, sometimes those stragglers still on the trail get in trouble in the high country.
The Dinsmores know that, so they have a system in place to help when things go wrong. They ask hikers leaving their home to call when they get to Stehekin, the next outpost of civilization on the trek, a hike of about five days.
When a young man in his mid-twenties left their place last month and didn’t call for more than a week, the Dinsmores got concerned.
Fourteen days passed, and they still hadn’t heard from him. Thinking that perhaps he had forgotten to call, they called to the Stehekin Post Office to see if the young man had picked up his supply box, a box of food and other necessities that hikers typically mail ahead of themselves to their next stops as they trek.
The package was still at the post office.
So the Dinsmores called Snohomish County Search and Rescue, an organization with which they have had a fair amount of experience in their many years of offering hospitality to hikers, and which they greatly admire.
They also located the young man’s mother, who lives in Pennsylvania, asking if he’d been in contact. He hadn’t, so the Dinsmores established a line of communication with her to keep her informed of the effort to find him.
Search and Rescue took two days to assemble a team that included three helicopters and a crew of searchers, and were just ready to head out when they got news that the young man had just stumbled into the Stehekin Post Office, 18 days after leaving the Dinsmores’ home.
He had gotten badly lost in a blizzard and wandered for days, finally going the last five days entirely without food.
Humbled but undeterred, the young man went to Chelan, got a cell phone GPS device to keep himself from getting lost like that again even in a blinding snow, resupplied, and hit the trail once again.
“Everyone was happy, and he got a new perspective on life,” said Andrea Dinsmore.