Survival Story: Overnighter turns into 6-day stay for missing Oakland hiker
YOSEMITE, Calif. (KTVU) - For six days, no one knew where Alan Chow was, or whether he was lost or injured in the back country of Yosemite National Park.
National Park Service (NPS) confirmed on Friday that the missing man who was hiking in Yosemite was found okay, hydrated even.
Chow, 36, an Oakland resident, was last seen Feb. 17 at the Hetch Hetchy entrance of the park, but wasn't officially noticed as missing until Feb. 20.
Chow is said to be in good condition and was reunited with his family, according to NPS.
Chow was backpacking alone and was fortunately spotted by a NPS ranger in a helicopter around noon on Friday above Wapama Falls in the Hetch Hetchy area after what was described as an extensive search effort.
Yosemite Park Ranger Scott Gediman says Chow had done everything right to survive.
"The lesson here is for everybody, is that if you're out in the back country and you fall, you hurt yourself, you get lost, just stay put and don't try to walk around and get even more lost," said Gediman.
Gediman says the trails are usually clearly marked and visible in the summer, but with the winter snow and cold, some of the trails were covered. Chow got lost, Gediman said.
It was a holiday weekend, so Chow's disappearance wasn't noticed until Tuesday when a coworker at the Alameda County Social Services Agency in Oakland became alarmed when Chow didn't show up for work. The coworker reported Chow missing.
Chow's family and friends were so worried this week with the snow and cold weather in Yosemite.
Gediman says Chow's careful preparation allowed him to survive the freezing temperatures and snow for nearly one week.
"[He] did the right thing by setting up his tent, using melted snow for drinking water, had some food, had warm clothing and was able to stay put," said Gediman.
Chow, an avid hiker, was embarking on a solo overnight hiking trip along the popular trails in the area.
"He is with his family now in Yosemite. He is fine. Not even hypothermic; will not even be going to the hospital," Gediman said.
One neighbor said her heart went out to Chow's mother.
"She must have been going crazy not knowing where her son was," Victoria Arce said.
The search effort included as many as 60 people, who focused on the area near the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, where Chow was last seen.
Rescue operations, included the California Highway Patrol, Bay Area Mountain Rescue, California Office of Emergency Services, Marin County Search and Rescue, Tuolumne County Sheriffs Office, El Dorado County Sheriffs Office, Contra Costa County Search and Rescue, Southern California Winter Ski team, and YoDogs search dog group.
"I am so happy, I am so happy. I been praying, really I been praying," said Arce.
Rescue teams also were relieved that Chow had only minor injuries.
"We're just thrilled and thankful we were able to find him," said Gediman, "The fact that Mr. Chow is safe and reunited with his family is just the best news and we couldn't be happier about it."