Overdue hiker safely rescued from Desolation Wilderness

An overdue hiker has been found alive in Desolation Wilderness.

Nathan Sperring, 29, who had been overdue since Tuesday from his hiking/camping trip, was found Thursday afternoon by search and rescue personnel at his campsite near Dick’s Lake in the Desolation Wilderness.

Sperring, according to El Dorado County sheriff’s deputies, had done a lot of things right, but overlooked the possibility of rapidly changing mountain weather.

He had not dressed for windy, snowy conditions. Sperring woke up last Sunday morning to find 6 inches of snow on the ground. The weather had cleared some, so Nathan packed up his camp and began to walk out. His tennis shoes and light coat proved to be insufficient for the conditions.

As the weather became more severe, Sperring followed his tracks in the snow back to his protected campsite and set up camp again to wait out the foul weather and the arrival of help. This may have saved his life, deputies said.

On Thursday, multiple SAR teams were flown into the Desolation Wilderness and dropped off in strategic locations. Just after a helicopter dropped off one of the teams and left the area, SAR personnel heard a whistle off in the distance. Sperring had seen the helicopter and was blowing his rescue whistle.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About author

This article was written by admin


Comments (11)
  1. Upper Truckee says - Posted: October 27, 2012

    Thank God he is alright.

  2. Tahoeadvocate says - Posted: October 27, 2012

    Yes, he’s lucky he’s alive. How much will the bill be that he’ll be sent for his rescue?

  3. thing fish says - Posted: October 27, 2012

    Who cares?

  4. Tahoeadvocate says - Posted: October 27, 2012

    You should care. What do you think it cost to put together the teams of taxpayer paid employees to find and rescue someone. I feel that I am responsible for myself and if I make a mistake, I should pay not you.

  5. thing fish says - Posted: October 27, 2012

    I don’t care. As a society we should help people who need it.
    How much money did we spend as a nation killing people today?
    And you complain about spending money to save a life.

  6. Irish Wahini says - Posted: October 28, 2012

    I hope the hiker completed the permit required to hike in Desolation Wilderness – very important so folks know where he/she is headed & when to expect them to return.

  7. Billie Jo McAfee says - Posted: October 28, 2012

    Good to have you back Mr. Sperring. SAR, thank you for being available for the search and ultimate rescue.

  8. ljames says - Posted: October 28, 2012

    it’s really interesting to see how folks reflect their sense of community and/or generousity in such comments – and who exactly they see as part of their community. Even though someone may exhibit less than good judgement in hiking in sneakers with an approaching storm, I think I am a little more comfortable with “Thing Fish” than a few of the others. The example about money spent w/o complaint on hurting others I think strongly suggests it isnt really about the money – it’s about only “caring about those that are like me.” Maybe that is always how most folks will be.

    By the way, dont rely on your Wilderness permit to rescue you – this is a mechanism to control use numbers not rescue people. There is no mechanism to check who has come back out!! The only thing it might do is give a general locality to check where someone thinks they are going after someone reports them overdue. Not particularly helpful if you get lost or, not to mention there is no permit requirement you have to go where on the permit you say you are going.

  9. Perry R. Obray says - Posted: October 28, 2012

    The few minutes it takes to check a handful of weather sites(including NOAA) starting around 10-14 days before a trip is a no brainer in a harsh weather environment. Last 72 or so hours before a trip is critical, I’d think checking every day, the last 3 days is a requirement in such a severe weather environment as Tahoe.

  10. thing fish says - Posted: October 28, 2012

    Reporting on every one of these rescues is very important. I hike a lot, and usually hike solo. I consider myself a strong hiker (can summit Tallac in 2.5 hours), but know that only one slip can take me out. I carry a big pack for a day hiker, it has 1 day of food, 100oz of water, down jacket, whistle, parafin sticks, broken cd, large knife, radio, maps, treking poles, gloves, etc. And people always know where I go. My rescue plan, if I can’t crawl out, is to start a very smokey fire, because any smoke will get attention.
    I also have CALSTAR.
    I take all these precautions because of stories like this. If the hiker had boots, rain pants, and duct tape, they could have hiked out (tape pants to boots).
    He made it out. Hopefully people learned from it. All is well, forget the money.

  11. Horse tails says - Posted: October 28, 2012

    I hope everyone of the agencies who took the time to look for this person sends him a bill. Today’s world thinks there will always be a S&R to come take care of them when they do STUPID things.