The allure of wild blueberries lured a hiker off of Perseverance Trail into the former Ebner Falls picnic area late Saturday afternoon where he lost his footing and fell into steep terrain near the waterfall.
"It was so loud I couldn't hear myself saying anything," Nathan Arentsen said. "It was maybe my 50th time down the falls ... and probably my last."
Arentsen was hiking with friend Sirma Taskova. He went ahead and was following the blueberries along the ridge, surprised that they were out so late in the season.
"I was going for these berries in a bush right at the edge and all the moss just fell right away from me," Arentsen said. "I just slid all the way down. The walls just crumbled in my hand ... at one point I nearly fell into the waterfall. So I just stopped and started yelling for help."
Taskova could hear his screams but said she had no cell phone signal. She ran into another hiker who could get through and they dialed 911. That Good Samaritan was known only as "Amber."
Juneau Mountain Rescue personnel responded to the scene along with a member of the Alaska State Troopers.
The Ebner Falls area, opposite the Mount Juneau Trail Head sign, used to have a picnic bench but it was taken out due to deaths at the site, said Karl Bausler, director of JMR.
Bausler said Arentsen had gone along the edge near the former picnic table area and followed it 15 feet along a 25-degree slope covered in pine needles. The ledge broke away and Arentsen slid to the base, bumping his face and dirtying his clothes, and came to rest in an area surrounded by 30-foot rock walls.
Bausler said JMR set up some anchors, a main line and belay line, and sent responder Cory Hanson down with an extra harness.
Bausler said he estimated Arentsen got into trouble about 3 p.m. and was located at about 4 p.m. He was back to Perseverance Trail by 7 p.m. just as the chill of the night started. Bausler said he could have been in serious trouble if he had to spend the night, but the area was protected.
"These are the last blueberries this year for me," Arentsen said.
Arentsen wasn't the only stranded hiker in that 24-hour period. Raymond Tsang and Margretha Vrolyk were lost on the Breadline Trail on Friday night, according to a press release from the Alaska State Troopers' office. Tsang said he did not have a flashlight, the release states.
Members of the Juneau Mountain Rescue team found Tsang and Vrolyk after searching for about half an hour. The pair was found approximately one-half mile from the Cohen Drive Trailhead, the release states.
Contact Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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