Hikers rescued near glacier

Posted: Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Rescuers were called to Mendenhall Glacier on Sunday night to bring out two hikers that became stranded in the rain and darkness after their dog became skittish on cliffs near the glacier.

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Korry Keeker, 31, and his girlfriend, Erin Sanders, 32, had just visited the ice caves off the West Glacier Trail and had descended a rocky area when their dog began to whine and would not follow, said Keeker, who is a reporter for the Juneau Empire.

Attempts to reunite with the dog were unsuccessful until after dark, when it became too rainy to find the trail again. At around 8 p.m., they used a cell phone to call Bruce Bowler with Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search. The rescuers used kayaks to meet the hikers on the beach near the glacier around 9:30 p.m., bringing headlamps and raincoats.

Bowler said they were the second couple in one week who got stuck without a flashlight after dark. He said fall has arrived and those venturing into the mountains should always carry a flashlight and rain gear.

"It was dark, dark, hard-to-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face dark. His description put him in a place of potential danger. There were 300-foot cliffs in the area. We weren't sure of his position in respect to those cliffs," Bowler said. "There could have been a real potential for injury."

Keeker did not have a flashlight or rain coat on the hike, which began around 2:30 p.m.

He said the experience was a "little humbling."

"It was just a day hike gone bad," he said. "I'm never going hiking again without a headlamp."

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