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Technology Helped Hikers SurviveNearly Five Days in California Mountains

Two hikers missing for five days on California’s Mount Baldy have been found alive after rescuers tracked their footprints to their camp, according to authorities.

Eric Desplinter and Gabrielle Wallace had gone hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains in San Bernardino County, California, on Saturday, April 6th and were expected to return that night. But when the two hadn't returned by 8 p.m., friends reported the two missing.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff said late Wednesday the two had been rescued after days of desperate searching over a 30 square mile area.

Authorities said rescuers found two sets of footprints in Cucamonga Canyon Wednesday at which point they alerted a search-and-rescue helicopter to fly over the area. The rescue team spotted Desplinter, 33, and Wallace, 31, at a campfire and lifted them to safety late Wednesday.

The pair lost the trail and when they tried to descend through a valley, it "was more treacherous than we thought," Desplinter said.

Desplinter was an experienced hiker, but authorities previously said the two had limited supplies of food and water.

The campers rationed what little food they had and drank water through a LifeStraw. This technology can filter dirty water. The ability to stay hydrated was one of the mitigating factors rescuers said helped to make the recovery a success.

LifeStraw products use a hollow fiber membrane. These membranes have microscopic pores that trap contaminants. Bacteria and parasites are bigger than the pores in the filter. Water can pass through, but contaminants larger than 0.2 microns remain trapped. Some LifeStraw products use a two-stage filtration process. In addition to the hollow fiber membrane, a carbon capsule absorbs chemicals like chlorine, pesticides, and even heavy metals like lead.

"Eric and Gabrielle will be flown to the Mt. Baldy Fire Station where they will be reunited with their families and loved ones," the sheriff's office said in a statement.


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