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Search and rescue tied to hidden treasure prompts warning from Utah authorities

Members of the Salt Lake County Search and Rescue team help an injured hiker get down from Ferguson Canyon on Saturday.
Members of the Salt Lake County Search and Rescue team help an injured hiker get down from Ferguson Canyon on Saturday, June 26, 2021.
Salt Lake County Search and Rescue

A 49-year-old man suffered a foot injury while searching for a $10,000 treasure that required him to be rescued over the weekend, authorities said.

Crews were dispatched to Ferguson Canyon near Cottonwood Heights shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday. Salt Lake County Search and Rescue officials said the man was hiking with three members of his family, searching for the treasure when a large rock fell on his foot near the canyon overlook and made it impossible for him to walk back down on his own.

Two dozen search and rescue workers were dispatched, and crews helped get the man down the canyon and back to the parking lot by midnight, the agency said. But it wasn't the last they heard about the treasure, which was placed in an undisclosed location along the Wasatch Mountains between Ogden and Santaquin earlier this month.

“Our team ran into several other groups of hikers all looking for the same treasure. Most were unprepared to be in the backcountry and asked our team for water on the trail,” the agency wrote Sunday.

It’s worth pointing out that search and rescue teams all across Utah have experienced upticks in calls in recent years completely unrelated to the treasure. For instance, the Washington County Search and Rescue team reported an all-time high in rescue calls last year, according to St. George News. The outlet also reported Friday that there have been 83 calls already this year.

Zion National Park officials also reported a recent spike in search and rescue calls, especially during the June heat waves.

However, the treasure-related incident prompted Salt Lake County Search and Rescue officials to remind people about hiking safety in the outdoors. That includes the “10 essentials” for hiking.

As noted by the National Park Service, those are:

Navigation: Bring a map, compass and GPS system, and learn your route before you begin your hike. Learning how to use a topographical or relief map is as important as a compass.

Sun protection: Bring sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat to minimize sun exposure. Long shirts and pants also help protect against the sun.

Insulation: Bring a jacket, hat, gloves, rain shell and thermal underwear for possible changes in weather conditions.

Illumination: Bring a flashlight, lanterns and headlamp, especially at night. It's also important to pack extra batteries.

First-aid supplies: Bring a pre-made kit and update the kit to replace components that have expired.

Fire: Bring matches, lighters and fire starters to create a fire if necessary. Of course, make sure you're in an area where fires aren't banned due to drought-related measures.

Repair kit and tools: Duct tape, a knife and scissors are key components of a repair kit. A multi-tool that also includes a screwdriver and a can opener is another useful item for a repair kit.

Nutrition: Pack an extra day's supply of food. Salty and easy-to-digest snacks, such as trail mix or granola bars, are recommended.

Hydration: Bring lots of water. Drink before you feel thirsty, especially in hot weather and while you're active outdoors.

Emergency shelter: Bring a tent, space blanket, tarp and bivy in case of need.

In addition to those tips, the team encouraged people to not hike alone and to let family or friends know where they are and when to expect them back from their hiking trip.