Missing Hikers Huddled, Built Fire to Keep Warm in Cold, Rain

A San Bernardino County Sheriff's helicopter crew located the hikers near a camping area

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    Three San Diego County men who set off Saturday on a day hike to the peak of Mount San Gorgonio were in better shape after being spotted and plucked from the trails by a search and rescue helicopter crew. The hikers used the magnifying glass of a Swiss Army Knife to start a fire that was seen by the air crew. Jacob Rascon reports from the San Bernardino Mountains for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on May 7, 2013.

    The search for three missing Southern California hikers ended Tuesday after about 40 searchers -- some on foot, others on horseback -- combed the mountains near Big Bear after a night of cold and rain.

    Ryan Shankles and Miguel DeLatorre, of Oceanside, and David Yoder, of Carlsbad, were found about 10:15 a.m. in Northfork Meadows near Mineshaft Campground and appeared to be in good condition, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

    The men used a "Jesus Is Lord" banner they were carrying and huddled together for two cold nights to keep warm, Yoder said.

    "We spooned," said Yoder with a laugh. "Then we finally got a fire started, that that's what got us here today."

    Missing Hiker: "We Spooned" to Keep Warm

    [LA] Missing Hiker: "We Spooned" to Keep Warm
    Hiker David Yoder describes how he and two hiking partners stayed warm during three cold nights in the San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear. Jacob Rascon reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Tuesday April 7, 2013.

    "We don't like to use the word 'spooning,'" said Shankles as the hikers spoke with reporters Tuesday morning.

    The three were reported missing Sunday morning. The church group friends were believed to have been on the Fish Creek Trail, located off Highway 38 about six miles past a visitor center, near Big Bear.

    The hikers were headed to San Gorgonio Peak Saturday when a fourth member of the group turned back and waited for his friends to return. James Goins, who said he was short of breath about 90 minutes into the hike, told NBC4 the men were not prepared for the cold, wet conditions that arrived Monday.

    The men went below a crevice in an effort to return to the trailhead, but wound up losing their direction.

    "We just weren't sure," said Shankles. "We tried to go back to the original trailhead."

    Snow levels in the area were expected to fall to 6,500 feet Monday night as a cold, wet storm moved across the region. Temperatures early Tuesday were in the 30s, and a winter weather advisory was issued for the mountains through 11 a.m. Tuesday with snow in the forecast.

    A San Bernardino County Sheriff's helicopter crew located the hikers near a camping area.

    Goins had reported his friends missing Sunday morning when they did not return.

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