STINSON BEACH, Calif. (KTVU) -- A hiker missing in the wilderness area near Stinson Beach was detained after she emerged from the woods early Tuesday on two outstanding misdemeanor warrants, authorities said.
Lt. Doug Pittman said it appeared that the lost hiker – a transient named Jen – was trying to avoid contact with the search parties that began searching trails around 5 a.m.
"It's apparent to us at this point that she was not as lost as we first believed," he said. "She was just trying to avoid contact with law enforcement."
The incident began with Jen and two men she had met in San Francisco arriving in the sprawling wilderness area in the shadow of Mt. Tamaplais on Monday afternoon.
Pittman said the trio embarked on a hike from Stinson Beach to Steep Ravine.
"During the course of the hike they started climbing up a very steep hillside," Pittman said. "Then it began to get dark. All three decided to turn back. At that point (of their descent) there was a crossroads and a disagreement on which trail to take. The two male hikers took the lower trail and the female took the upper trail."
Pittman said the two male hikers walked into the Stinson Beach fire department and reported that Jen overdue and missing around 3 a.m. and a search was launched around 5 a.m.
He said one of the male hikers set off to find his missing companion and also went missing in the wilderness area for several hours before being found safe around 9 a.m.
Jen emerged from the woods and was discovered near where her car was parked.
"She was aware of the large public safety presence," she said. "She told us she was fearful because she had two outstanding warrants."
Despite the warrants, she was allowed to leave - which KTVU was told is not uncommon for warrants for minor offenses.
The search crews had stopped for lunch at the Parkside Cafe adjacent to the beach, and that's where they saw Bair and the men once again.
This time, they arrested her because Mendocino County wanted her cited.
She described her ordeal after she was separated from her friends. "I just climbed up to the top of the road and walked down the road and it was dark, I didn't know where we parked until the sun came up. It was morning, I ended up walking way too far," said Jennifer Bair.
Bair said she was busted for shoplifting a few years ago. "I've done time for it, I went to court for it, and then I didn't do my community service," she said, which is why she had the warrant.
Deputies took Bair to the Marin County Jail, where she was cited and released.