Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, Inc. Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, Inc.

TNSAR Search 3/31/2014

Michigan Bluff Lost Trail Runner

Submitted by Geoff Quine

On March 30th Robert Root left Michigan Bluff with his running club for a run on the Western States Trail. There was a fast group and a slow group and Mr. Root had joined the slow group. Shortly after the run started, his group stopped and he decided to try and catch the fast group. The fast group ran along the Western States Trail to Swinging Bridge where they turned around and returned to Michigan Bluff the same way they came. They did not see Mr. Root on their return trip, nor did the slower group. After a hasty search of their own, his running group called 911, Placer County SAR was called out and search efforts were carried out until dark that night.

Searching resumed the next day with an even larger ground presence as well as air assistance. As it turns out, the MP saw the helicopters on day two but was unsuccessful in his attempts to signal them. He also took an exploratory trip in an attempt to get re-oriented but when he came upon a water bottle he had left behind earlier in the day, he realized he had gone in a circle and yelled some choice expletives into the wind. He took shelter again in the same spot as the night before and did his best to stave off hypothermia. He had some gels and shot blocks for food and some potable water to stay hydrated. Apparently he didn't sleep at all the two nights he was out as he feared getting hypothermic in his sleep and dying.

On the afternoon of day two the weather began to turn with heavy west slope snow showers down to about 4000ft. Five searchers from TNSAR responded to the command post in Michigan Bluff at approximately 8PM which was a pretty much a ghost town by the time they arrived. The searchers deployed in a team of three (Team One) and a team of two (Team Two). Team One would take the Western States trail to the Deadwood area and clear several side trails that had not yet been searched. Team Two would descend down to El Dorado Creek and then head downstream on the Bake Oven Trail clearing all likely areas on the way to the Bake Oven site which had also not yet been searched.

Both teams descended to El Dorado Creek where Team One continued up the hill toward Deadwood and Team Two took the Bake Oven Trail toward the Bake Oven Site. Team One climbed up to Deadwood to find several inches of snow. This made finding side trails sometimes difficult but many of the new prescribed areas were cleared. With at least a four hour hike back to the command post, Team One decided to make the return trip to the command post.

During this time, Team Two had traveled down their prescribed route calling out the victim's name and blowing their rescue whistles as well as searching several flat areas that looked to be likely areas to take shelter. Being several hours ahead of Team One, they headed back to the command post where one searcher from Team One joined a group of searchers from the Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit and re-deployed to the field to search some of the other trails in the Devi's Thumb/Deadwood area.

Sometime around mid-day on day three, a search team was having lunch at the El Dorado creek bridge when a man fitting Mr. Root's description, who had decided that morning to go \up and west\, appeared at the bridge. All things told he was in good shape, extremely cold, dehydrated and a few scrapes but otherwise fine. He was stabilized by the team in the field and transported to primary care where he was released a few hours later.

Sage Barrasso
Laura Read
Kim Bromley
Jackie Thomas
Debbie Kelly Hogan

Geoff Quine
Troy Corliss
Paul Kitano
Matt Jacobs
Erin Reading

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