RVers are outside a lot and often come across a game warden. They might assume these officers spend most of their time checking fishing and hunting licenses. It’s not so: They do far more. This report is typical of many we come across regularly at RVtravel.com, in this case from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. To which we say to the officers involved, “Thank you for being there.”
The abandoned car and the lost hiker
A Big Bend Ranch State Park Police Officer and a Presidio County game warden were patrolling River Road at night through Big Bend Ranch State Park when the officers noticed a car parked in the Closed Canyon Trail parking lot after the park closed. In the car, they saw a park pass for that day, a car rental agreement, a jug of water and snacks, but the driver was nowhere to be found.
The Closed Canyon Trail is short and stops at the Rio Grande after several steep pour offs (dry waterfalls). The last pour off is about 60-feet tall. The officers hiked the trail in the dark and far as they could safely go and called out for anyone still down there, but with no luck.
The next morning, another park police officer was informed about a possible lost hiker. He checked the parking lot and saw that the car was still parked there undisturbed. The three officers headed back to the Closed Canyon Trail that afternoon with rappelling equipment to search farther down the trail. When they reached the first of the three steep pour offs, the officer called out for the hiker who excitedly responded for help.
THE PARK POLICE OFFICER was able to rappel down to the hiker who had descended all the pour offs and was at the riverbank. When he reached him, the hiker was dehydrated, exhausted and had injured his ankle. He told the officers that he had gone down the trail alone in the afternoon, fell into a deep-water hole and was unable to climb out. Panicked, he decided to continue down the trail thinking it would lead him back to the parking lot.
Temperatures that day were around 106 degrees and he drank river water to try to keep hydrated. He hiked along the riverbank but was unable to navigate the steep canyon walls of Colorado Canyon. The officers requested a helicopter to help extract the hiker, but due to bad weather it wasn’t available until the next morning.
So, with the help of an additional game warden, two state park rangers, a U.S. Border Patrol agent and a Presidio County Sheriff’s Deputy, the team of officers were able to assist the hiker to climb back over the pour offs and navigate the rest of the trail back to his car. Presidio and Terlingua Emergency Medical Services arrived and gave the hiker medical care and he was then taken to the local hospital for further treatment.