POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 8, 2011
Firefighters completed a seven-hour rescue of a father and his young son from a trail behind Dillingham Airfield early Thursday morning.
The Mililani man called for help at about 8 p.m. Wednesday after he and the boy tried to take a shortcut, then could not return to the trail, said Honolulu fire Capt. Terry Seelig.
The pair was hiking the same trail that visiting Norwegian professor Are Hjorungnes had strayed from before falling to his death in May while apparently trying to take a shortcut.
Seelig said the man, who is in his 40s, and his son, who is under 7, began hiking Kealia Trail at about noon Wednesday. They reached the ridge overlooking Makua Valley and were returning to the trail head when they left the switchback path.
Seelig said they were trying to take a straight shot to their vehicle, which they could see from the trail, but came to a sheer drop and could not climb the steep terrain back to the trail. The man called for help after dark.
Firefighters in a helicopter could see his flashlight about 700 feet up the mountainside, but gusty winds and rain in the narrow ravine prevented them from picking up the hikers.
Instead, nine firefighters had to hike in, using flashlights for about three miles before forging a new trail through brush for another mile.
Once above the hikers, they lowered ropes several hundred meters that the man and boy used to climb back.
Firefighters and hikers headed back and emerged from the trail head at about 3 a.m.
The man and boy were tired and shivering but not hurt, Seelig said.
He said hikers should prepare by knowing trail conditions and their abilities as well as having proper equipment, including clothing to keep warm if they are stranded overnight.
"Never, ever leave the trail, and if you don't think you're on the right trail, then you should call for help instead of guessing and taking a chance," he said.