Pacific Crest Trail hikers are being urged to stay off the path after two rescues and one death occurred in the San Jacinto mountains in the last two days.
On Friday, a hiker was found dead near Mountain Center by emergency crews following a multi-hour rescue attempt.
The next day, two hikers who were stuck on the trail in snow and ice had to be pulled off the mountain by a rescue helicopter crew, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
Both hikers escaped unscathed.
The Pacific Crest Association is urging “thru-hikers” — those planning to trek the whole 2,650 mile-long trail from the U.S.-Mexican border to the Canadian border — to either cancel or postpone those plans amid the dangerous conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Extremely dangerous conditions present a serious danger along the PCT on San Jacinto. One PCT hiker died in a fall and multiple other rescues of PCT hikers have occurred in the last 48 hours,” the Pacific Crest Trail Association posted on Facebook.
“Remember, we have already asked you to stay off the trail due to the worldwide pandemic that is occurring. Please leave the trail. This is not the time to be doing risky things outdoors. First responders need to focus on COVID-19.”
Even more treacherous conditions may be on the way for mountaineers, with one to two inches of snow expected to be dropped on elevation above 6,000 feet Sunday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
“This is not unusual. Conditions like this are normal in that area at this time of year. This year may be worse, and it’s quite possible that conditions will get worse in the coming days,” the Pacific Crest Trail Association said.