Rescued hiker counts her blessings

Karin Jain applauds teams’ incredible efforts

Ann Cousineau

Rescued  hiker  counts her  blessingsWhen Thanksgiving Day dawns on Thursday, it will mark more than the launching of this year’s holiday season. It will mark a week since 71-year-old veteran hiker, Karin Jain, began expressing gratitude for the daring rescue teams who brought her down from just below Owens Peak after she was injured late Wednesday afternoon.

“I am very grateful, I’m counting my blessings, and I feel like I’ve dodged a bullet. Under different circumstances, this could have been a life-threatening situation out there in the pitch dark,” Jain said. “We had come down halfway through Grapevine Canyon when I slipped and dislocated my hip.”

Uncertain that Jain’s GPS emergency signal had reached 911, her 45-year-old son built a signal fire, and the two settled in to wait it out.

According to a Kern County Sheriff’s Office press release, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday there was a report that a personal locator beacon activation in the area of Owens Peak near Inyokern.

As volunteer members of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, China Lake Mountain Rescue Group, and Kern Valley Search and Rescue Team were responding, further information came in from a 911 cellular phone call.

“Kern County Fire Department Helicopter 407 responded to conduct a rescue, but due to high winds, 407 was unable to hoist the victim to safety. Thirteen search and rescue members and two firemen from the Inyokern Fire Station began hiking to the GPS coordinates where the victim and her son were believed to be. The terrain was extremely steep and covered in loose rock. After locating the two hikers, Karin Jain was placed into a basket stretcher and carried to a waiting ambulance. It took rescuers over eight hours to carry the victim to safety,” the KCSO report said.

“I will never forget the sight of lights walking toward us when they found us,” she said. “I cannot say enough about the rescue teams. What they achieved was well above and beyond what anybody should be called to do.”

“Luckily” she added, “in the end, there was also an emergency room doctor who knew exactly what to do; it’s not something that happens every day. He popped it back together.”

During a phone interview Thursday, Karin was resting in Lancaster. She could still walk she said and intended to keep moving around so she would not get too stiff to hike. Worried about her hip popping out of place without warning in the future, she had a Friday appointment to visit a surgeon for possible reconstructive surgery.

“I love to hike; I’m physically fit and have had no orthopedic problems. I’m a healthy person and I love the outdoors, always have. On last week’s hike we had gone to the top Owens Peak,” she said. “I also enjoy walking Black Mountain and Red Rock Canyon. I enjoy hiking in High Sierras in summer and the desert peaks in winter.”

Karin Jain found words to begin expressing her thanks to local search and rescue volunteers and other emergency response teams that came to her rescue last week. See her letter to the editor on the Opinion page.

Story First Published: 2012-11-21