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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

2 Missing Hikers Emerge Unhurt at Trail Head

September 28, 2000

CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST — Two hikers who had been sought by rescue teams and bloodhounds in the Cleveland National Forest walked to safety early Wednesday, cold and hungry but uninjured after their overnight ordeal.

Stefanie Barela, 24, and Alys Martinez, 25, emerged just after daybreak at the trail head in Holy Jim Canyon, where some searchers and media crews were waiting.

Appearing flustered and exhausted, the women said they spent the night huddled in a clearing.

"We were just cold and tired and frustrated, but we weren't freaking out, we were calm," said Martinez, of Long Beach.

The women said they went on a hike Tuesday up Holy Jim Canyon trail to help Barela, a Lakewood resident, train for a karate seminar. After hiking mostly uphill for several hours, they realized they had lost the path.

They decided to scale Santiago Peak in order to get reception on Barela's cellular phone. Once there, the phone still didn't work.

The women, both somewhat experienced hikers, backtracked until they found the trail that led to their car. They figured they were only a mile from their car when it became too dark to see, so they decided to wait for sunrise.

Volunteer Orange County Sheriff's Department search and rescue teams combed the hillsides throughout the night, using bloodhounds and vehicles with lights and sirens. A helicopter joined the search at daybreak.

The women said they could hear barking dogs and saw flashing lights below, but it was too dark to find the trail to reach them.

"We feel bad, so many people were looking for us," Barela said.

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