Cold hikers rescued from Gowlland Tod park

Three young men and a dog spent a cold night on a rocky cliff after getting lost in Gowlland Tod Provincial park on Sunday.

Three young men and a dog spent a cold night on a rocky cliff after getting lost in Gowlland Tod Provincial park on Sunday.

Three men — two from Highlands, aged 20 and 28, and a 21-year-old from Colwood — started hiking north from the Caleb Pike trailhead in the late afternoon, and quickly became disoriented as darkness set in.

Realizing they were lost, one of the men called his mother on a cellphone, who called emergency services. The men then stayed put on a cliff west of Jocelyn Peak, well off the trail and about four kilometres from their car.

“It got dark quick,” said Highlands fire Chief Guy Brisebois. “They tried to turn back, got disoriented and totally went off the path.”

Highlands firefighters and West Shore RCMP were called at 8 p.m., and Metchosin search and rescue a few hours later to search the snowy, rocky trails in Gowlland Tod.

In cellphone contact with police, the men could see water, prompting auxiliary Coast Guard unit from Brentwood Bay to lead the men toward their boat by shooting flares into the sky.

The crew helped guide them down the cliff to the beach, and had them in the boat by about 1 a.m.

Only one of the trio had clothing appropriate for the freezing weather, Brisebois said, while the others had on windbreakers. The men were cold, but none had hypothermia.

“They definitely weren’t dressed for the weather,” he said. “I think they were pretty cold by the time they got in the boat.”