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Officials rescue deaf hiker from Pikes Peak State Park in northeast Iowa

Solo hiker who was injured let rescuers know her location by playing music on her phone

A pathway through the trees leads to a lookout over the Mississippi River at Pikes Peak State Park in McGregor on Wednes
A pathway through the trees leads to a lookout over the Mississippi River at Pikes Peak State Park in McGregor on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Officials last weekend rescued a deaf hiker who was injured and lost at Pikes Peak State Park near McGregor.

The woman, in her early 30s, was hiking alone Saturday in the state park along the Mississippi River in far northeast Iowa, when she got lost on an unofficial trail that went down into a ravine and she hurt her ankle, said Matt Tschirgi, Iowa Department of Natural Resources park manager.

“She had hiked down and kept going further into the ravine, thinking it would connect with a trail,” Tschirgi said Thursday. “It was difficult for her to go back uphill.”

The woman texted a family member, who called the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, which alerted Tschirgi. He immediately started scouting trails that matched the woman’s description, but couldn’t immediately find her.

Law enforcement officials got a ping from the woman’s cellphone, which allowed rescue personnel to focus on a steep ravine about a mile from the river, Tschirgi said.

Dispatchers who were in contact with the woman by text instructed her to play music loudly on her phone, which was how rescuers found her.

Clayton County Conservation officer Tucker Anderson and Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Engelhardt treated the woman’s injured ankle with ice and supported her up a steep climb out of the ravine, while Tschirgi scouted ahead for the smoothest path.

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“The three of us guys could hike over logs and up rocks, but we wanted to give her the best route possible,” he said.

They got her far enough out of the ravine to load her onto a stretcher and eventually an ATV, so she could be taken to the park office for evaluation. She was found to be safe to drive, so officials took her to her car.

The DNR is not releasing the name of the hiker, who Tschirgi said was embarrassed and felt bad about the number of people involved in the three- to four-hour rescue. The woman didn’t have much hiking experience and probably shouldn’t have been out alone, he said.

The DNR reminded hikers to stay on the trails marked with signage, never hike alone, and to always carry a cellphone or way of communication and water to stay hydrated.

Other emergency responders that assisted with the rescue included the MarMac Police Department, MarMac Rescue, McGregor Hook & Ladder Company 1 and Tri-State Ambulance Service.

Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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