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Hiker gets lost, stays put and waits for rescue

Hiker gets lost, stays put and waits for rescue

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In the middle of the woods, the best moves are don't move, but do trust the technology. 

Pennington County Search and Rescue said a young woman who was lost while hiking did the exact right thing by staying put, contacting authorities and remembering that modern electronics mean you're never really lost. 

This morning the 18-year-old woman from Watertown and her friends were venturing to the popular swimming spot called Hippie Hole on Battle Creek near Keystone. The rugged trail down to the swimming hole proved too much for the woman, and she decided to turn back toward the parking lot, letting her friends go on without her.

It was at that point the woman got off the difficult-to-follow trail, leaving her lost and alone in the forest, without water and in sultry, mid-90s temperatures. 

After 11 a.m., she called 911 emergency dispatch, saying she did not know where she was and couldn't find her way back to the car. Dispatch told her to stay put and help would find her.

Deputies from the Pennington County Sheriff's Office interviewed her friends near Hippie Hole, and a dispatcher remained in contact with her periodically through her cellphone.

At about 12:45 p.m. Pennington County Search and Rescue members arrived at the parking lot the lost woman had been trying to reach. After a short meeting, Tammy Stadel, Gail Schmidt and a search dog, Loki, scrambled up the rocky slopes and pine-covered hills toward the lost hiker.

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"Because she was able to call, dispatch pinged her cellphone, and we were able to pull GPS coordinates," Schmidt said. Those coordinates were fed into Schmidt's handheld GPS device, which pointed the team toward the lost hiker. 

Loki, a border-collie mix trained to sniff out human scent, led the way in the hot afternoon sun as the team scrambled around the rocky bluffs above the canyon, calling for the lost hiker.

About a half-hour into the search, the shouts paid off. The woman responded, and the team found her sitting the shade of a tree roughly one-third of a mile from the parking lot. She was hot, thirsty and a little scraped up, but uninjured and able to walk. 

"She did the exact right thing by staying put," Schmidt said. "We were able to put in those GPS coordinates, and that got us within 100 feet of where we found her."

"It is a lot harder when we are chasing a moving target," Schmidt added.

The woman, whose name was withheld at the request of the search and rescue team, was given water and escorted back to a road where an ambulance was waiting to treat her for dehydration. 

One the way back, the woman said when she got lost, everything starting looking the same, and all she could see were trees. She gave dispatchers information from trail signs, which confirmed the search and rescue team was on the right track.

This was the hiker's first trip to the Black Hills, and she said she wasn't planning on coming back anytime soon.

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An 18-year-old was found by Pennington County Search and Rescue Wednesday afternoon after she got last in the area of the popular swimming spo…

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