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Local expert shares hiking tips after man rescued from quicksand at Zion

Posted at 9:37 AM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 03:22:37-05

LATEST: Experts share safety tips after a man had to be rescued from quicksand at Zion this weekend.

"Quicksand is a misnomer," said Donald Moore, "it has to do with soil moisture and soil content, and it can happen along river areas."

Moore is the Team Commander at Red Rock Search & Rescue.

He says quicksand is rare in this part of the country, but as we saw this weekend, hikers can come across it.

Rangers say the hiker from Zion was saved after a two-day operation.

Moore says the most important thing to do when you encounter quicksand is to stay calm.

Also, make yourself as light as possible by tossing your bag and jacket.

Moore says you should also try to take a few steps backward and it's vital to move slowly and deliberately.

Another significant consideration when hiking during the winter is the cold weather.

Moore says when you see a storm coming, you should turn back around to safety.

ORIGINAL: A 34-year-old man was rescued from Zion this weekend after his leg became trapped in quicksand, according to the National Park Service.

Authorities say this happened Feb. 16 on the Left Fork of North Creek trail.

The man was hiking with a companion who tried to free his leg after it became buried up to his knee. They were unable to get him out so his companion left him with warm gear and clothing and hiked to call for help.

Authorities say, it was about 3 hours until she got cell phone service and was able to call 911. Rangers tended to her at the trailhead because she was showing signs of hypothermia when they found her.

RELATED: Red Rock Scenic Drive closed due to ice, cold weather

After several hours, rangers found the man. He was stable but suffering from exposure, hypothermia, and extremity injuries. Rangers tried for 2 hours to free the man’s leg from the quicksand in the middle of the creek.

Late into the night, Rangers were able to free the man from the quicksand and began efforts to rewarm him and treat his leg. Rescuers spent the night with him in frigid conditions with four additional inches of snow overnight.

The next morning, the a helicopter responded from Salt Lake City. The ongoing winter storms in the area decreased visibility for aircraft all morning.

Only after a small break in the weather occurred in the afternoon, the helicopter was able safely extricated the man with a hoist rescue operation.

The man was transported to the hospital.

Winter conditions at Zion National Park can be extreme, especially in the higher elevations. Colder temperatures, shorter days, snow, ice, and cold run-off can make easy hikes difficult and strenuous ones treacherous.

Visitors are advised to use extreme caution during poor weather events at Zion.

Zion National Park says Kolob Canyon is currently closed due to snow.