for those that dont know grouse mountain is actually part of metro vancouver ... there are quite a few day hikes around there ... every yuppie here runs up that mountain ... not to say the victim was such ... but it is not considered "serious" in general
VANCOUVER — When Michael St. Laurent was found by a hiker on Saturday afternoon — after nine days in the remote wilderness of the North Shore mountains — he had already been preparing to die.
The 45-year-old had inked his name, date of birth and next-of-kin in red felt pen on his forearm.
Delusional, suffering from hypothermia, dehydrated, long out of food and suffering from severe “immersion foot,” a condition akin to frost bite, he knew he wouldn’t last another day, said North Shore Rescue team leader Tim Jones.
“He knew if he wasn’t rescued [Saturday] that was it — it was game over for him. He told us that,” said Jones.
“He’s very lucky he didn’t become bear [food] meat,” added Jones.
By the time a team of rescuers reached St. Laurent Saturday night in the Hanes Valley, a remote backcountry wilderness on the backside of Grouse Mountain, it was too late in the day to airlift him to safety.
Instead, they made camp and he was moved out by helicopter early Sunday morning.
St. Laurent was in stable condition in Lions Gate Hospital, said Vancouver Coast Health officials Sunday.
Early Sunday morning, after being airlifted to safety, St. Laurent told reporters he had been planning a one-day trip, but that he got stuck in the bush.
He said he saw rescuers looking for him and could hear them, but that they couldn’t hear him.
St. Laurent said he started hallucinating on the third day. “And from there, it’s been a wait-and-see game to see who else was going to come out, and it’s been a very tough slog,” he told Global TV.
North Vancouver RCMP Cpl. Richard De Jong said St. Laurent was hampered from getting out of the remote area because he had hurt his hip and knee, possibly by falling down an embankment. “The first day in, he injured himself,” said De Jong.
St. Laurent’s planned 15-kilometre trip would have taken him around the backside of Grouse Mountain to the entrance to Lynn Headwaters Regional Park at Lynn Valley Road.
The route, which is recommended for experienced hikers only, has steep unmarked scree slopes and creek crossings.
Jones credited St. Laurent for not panicking, but said he had made some critical mistakes in preparing for the lengthy hike into the rugged backcountry.
St. Laurent had not told anyone where he was going, created no trip plan and did not bring his cellphone with him, instead leaving it behind in his car. These are “cardinal sins,” said Jones.
The RCMP noted St. Laurent is single and did not have many family members in the area.
St. Laurent had brought a tarp along, which would have kept the rain off of him, but was wearing running shoes unsuitable for the rugged terrain, noted Jones.
St. Laurent ate blueberries after his food ran out after two days, and drank some water, but was unable to start a fire.
By a stroke of luck, St. Laurent was discovered by an off-duty volunteer with North Shore Rescue who was on a trail run with her boyfriend.
It took her some time to figure out that this was St. Laurent as he was delusional, noted Jones.
The rescue worker used one of North Shore Rescue’s supply caches in the area to provide dry clothing, food and a hot drink for St. Laurent.
Her boyfriend went to notify park rangers that St. Laurent had been found, but by that time the encroaching darkness precluded the possibility of a helicopter rescue. A nine-person North Shore Rescue team returned, and set up a camp using supplies from a cache. Two rescuers stayed behind with St. Laurent helping to treat him for dehydration and provided morphine for the pain in his feet.
Jones said it is not exactly clear why Jones was not found earlier.
The weekend after he went missing on Oct. 13 there were many people hiking in the Hanes Valley area because of the nice weather, noted Jones.
It appears that St. Laurent could hear some of those hikers, and tried to communicate with them, he said,
It’s possible he may have seen some park rangers.
“In our time with him, he was still a bit confused. So we’re not sure exactly what he did,” said Jones, one of the two rescuers who stayed overnight with St. Laurent.
The North Vancouver man was suspected missing after his grey 1987 Volvo was found in the gravel parking lot near the base of the Grouse Skyride.
The incident was reported to police, who immediately contacted the North Shore Rescue, the mountain search-and-rescue team based in Vancouver.
The RCMP also put out a public call for information.
Although a ground and air search had been conducted for more than a week for the missing man, no evidence of his whereabouts was discovered in the steep and densely forested terrain in the North Shore mountains.
“Even with the helicopter, the bush is so dense and it’s such a big area, that if you can’t get out and signal somebody, you are going to go unseen,” said De Jong, the North Vancouver RCMP officer.