Photos by John RODARTE
By Mary O’KEEFE
On Sunday while members of Montrose Search and Rescue were training near Little Jimmy Trail Camp, they received a call concerning a camper who needed help.
Linda Navroth is not new to camping. She knows how to prepare to go into the wilderness and has all the right equipment. She had planned a trip with a camping group of about 10.
“The [camp out] was billed as a beginner snow camping trip [but] became an advanced trip,” Navroth said.
At the site, located in the Angeles National Forest, the snow was much deeper than the group had expected.
“I should have had snow shoes,” she said. “I had crampons, but the snow was up to our knees. A two-mile trip took over four hours. It was brutal.”
Navroth said she is in pretty good shape. She hikes and does not have any heart or health conditions
except for some arthritis in her knee.
“I went in really deep [into the snow],” she said. That step twisted her knee. She was able to catch herself so as not to snap her leg, allowing her to make the half-mile trek to the camp, but the injury had taken its toll.
“[My knee] was tender after that,” she said.
Navroth didn’t eat much that night, and she was exhausted from the trip and the injury. The next morning was worse. She was still exhausted and knew she couldn’t make it out of the campground unaided.
“I told the camp leader that I couldn’t get out on my own,” she said. “It was so horrible knowing I couldn’t make it.”
The camp leader said he and another camper would walk out to get help.
“He and another guy left camp,” she said. “[The camp leader] had told one or two others [in the team] to stay with me but no one did.”
Navroth added that not leaving someone alone is one of the first rules that campers and hikers follow. She is not certain why she was left alone, but it was humbling.
She stayed at the campground in the cold and snow alone, and waited.
“A half hour went by, then an hour and another. I stopped looking at my watch,” she said.
She had confidence in the camp leader and knew he would come through for her, but just wasn’t certain how long it would take.
In the meantime, the camp leader had reached the car and was heading down the mountain when he came upon a search and rescue team.
“It was Altadena Search and Rescue that was training,” said Mike Leum, MSR member. “They knew [MSR] was training in the area so they radioed us.”
“I hear someone saying ‘hello,’” Navroth said. “Here come three people down the snow slope and over the trail.”
MSR Capt. Janet Henderson, an emergency room nurse, evaluated Navroth’s condition to make certain she was coherent, Leum said.
Navroth was in fairly good shape. She had food with her and had eaten some, along with warming up some water so she was not dehydrated. She told them she was too weak to hike out on her own.
“We put her on a sled and hiked out about two miles,” Leum said.
Navroth has since recovered. She did find that she lost five pounds in 24 hours, explaining her weakened condition, but she is ready for her next hiking/camping trip.
“Maybe not in the snow,” she said.
She added that she was grateful to MSR.
“I can’t thank them enough,” Navroth said.