Lost hiker, couple stuck in snow rescued in Mendocino County

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A lost hiker on Cow Mountain and a couple stuck in snow on a remote Mendocino National Forest road spent a night out in the elements before being rescued Monday, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said.

The hiker was a 56-year-old Ukiah woman who got lost on the popular recreational mountain that sits in Mendocino and Lake counties. As night set, she called for help, saying she was unable to find her way back to her car, sheriff’s Lt. Shannon Barney said.

Deputies had a possible GPS location from her phone, which pointed toward an area near a rifle range on North Cow Mountain. They drove the area and hit their sirens, which the woman heard. However, she couldn’t get through the terrain to the road and spent the night on the mountain.

She made her way Monday morning to a roadway where she met with sheriff’s search and rescue volunteers launching a search. The woman wasn’t injured and was returned to her car so she could go home, Barney said.

On Monday, deputies learned of a couple who’d tried to cross the Mendocino National Forest in a small sedan but became stranded when their car hit a snow drift, Barney said.

The couple left Willows on Sunday and headed for Covelo, but didn’t arrive as planned. They’d taken Forest Highway 7 — a remote road connecting Glenn and Mendocino counties that turns to dirt about a dozen miles east of Covelo.

“They got most of the way over the top of the mountain and somehow got stuck,” Barney said.

Drivers often don’t realize how long deep snow remains on the narrow roadway and that elevations reach nearly 7,000 feet in Mendocino County, Barney said.

“We get a significant number of snow rescues in April and May. It’s warm here and they think the road is open,” Barney said.

Snow‑blocked drivers are common enough in spring on the mountain road that deputies from Mendocino, Glenn and Tehema counties know the drill — they head up the mountain from their areas as far as they can until one of them reaches the stranded driver.

The couple spent the night in their car. A call for help kicked off a search and a Mendocino County deputy in a four‑wheel‑drive vehicle found them several miles inside Glenn County. He helped them down to Covelo, Barney said.

“We’re trying to get people to check with the U.S. Forest Service before driving. We have snow well into summer,” he said. “Find out whether the roads are open and tell people where you are going.”

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter@rossmannreport.

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