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Nonexistent Google Map Trail Prompts Hikers’ Rescues in Canada


A search-and-rescue group in British Columbia advised hikers to use a paper map and compass instead of street map programs after it said two hikers had been rescued by helicopter after likely following a trail that did not exist but that appeared on Google Maps.

The group, North Shore Rescue, said on Facebook that on Nov. 6 Google Maps had removed the nonexistent trail, which was in a very steep area with cliffs north of Mount Fromme, which overlooks Vancouver.

The group said it had deployed a helicopter and a rope rescue team on Nov. 4 to the backside of the mountain, which is 3,888 feet high and covered in temperate rainforests, to help a stranded hiker who did not have a light and could not be seen below the dense tree canopy.

“The team was able to locate the subject, get him in a harness, and bring him safely down to a location where he and the team could be extracted by helicopter — just before the clouds closed in and would have otherwise prevented helicopter access,” the group said.

“In the wilderness, situations change dramatically and quickly and having the confidence to be able to know that you can sort your way out of it starts with having that skill set,” Mr. Colhoun said.

This is especially important because technology can fail, he said. A device’s battery might die, and satellite signals could be interrupted by natural obstacles, such as dense forests, deep canyons and bad weather.

“When you’re in the wilderness, in austere environments, you don’t really have a second chance if your technology fails and you don’t have a backup system,” Mr. Colhoun said.


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