Story by Jerick Leblanc/Staff Writer/@jerickjake
What was supposed to have been an exhilarating hike at Slot Canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park turned into a nightmare for an LBCC student on Saturday, Feb. 27.
Simply named The Slot, this narrow siltstone canyon provides one of the most exciting hikes in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Kinesiology major Gabriel Acosta, 22, and Krystal Adair, 23, decided to go on hike to enjoy the views and some sun at the park when unbeknownst to them, the weather would take a turn for the worst and dusk will be much sooner than anticipated.
“We got there at 4 p.m. and as we were hiking down we noticed it was getting to dark so we hiked back up but it got dark faster than we thought. We started using our flashlight to get attention and started screaming for help but no one could see us,” Acosta said. “It started getting windy and it was a steep climb up and the rocks were slipping from my feet.”
They start panicking when they realized they were lost and started using their cellphone to call for help. “We got in contact with the park ranger and they sent someone to come and get up, but because of the windy situation and the terrain they couldn’t see us and get to us. When we did see them we couldn’t hear each other because of the wind.”
There is no trail marker for The Slot. The winding trail cliffs out above a dry falls in a side canyon above The Slot. Acosta said that around 4 p.m., the park ranger at one point offered that they be airlifted to safety but was decided against it since both his girlfriend and himself both have bad knees.
As the day turn into night, Adair said, “It was super scary being in the desert on top of a rock in darkness. I was super paranoid and I tried to build a fire but it wasn’t working.” Both Acosta and Adair were screaming for help and dialing home. “I thought we weren’t going to be found. The entire time I kept saying ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ from the movie.”
Around 8 p.m. a park ranger was able to locate them. “Around that time we saw a big truck with big wheels coming towards us and we realized that the park ranger was able to locate us and we were safe. It was harrowing experience and I am so glad to be safe.” The Department of Parks and Recreation could not be reached for a comment.