A woman was hospitalized for severe injuries following a fall and emergency evacuation during a Mother's Day hike on Mount Diablo.
San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District dispatchers received a call at approximately 2:15 p.m. on Sunday (May 14) alerting the agency about a hiker who had fallen nearly 100 feet from Devil's Pulpit, just below the summit of Mount Diablo on its southern slopes.
A paramedic from the fire district joined the rescue crew aboard CHP helicopter, where they were lowered to reach the injured hiker before strapping her into a harness, with both being hoisted into a waiting air ambulance. The woman was taken to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where she was hospitalized for severe injuries.
Despite its foreboding name, SRVFPD battalion chief Erik Falkenstrom said that Devil's Pulpit was not considered to be especially dangerous terrain, and that this was the first rescue he'd seen in the area.
"We don't see a lot of rescues at Devil's Pulpit," Falkenstrom said. "In my time here, going on 18, 19 years, this is one of the first ones I can recall happening here."
He added that the woman's injuries seemed to have been sustained due to a chance slip and fall during a walk with her husband and two daughters, driving home the point that even easy hikes pose their challenges and require safety precautions.
Although Devil's Pulpit isn't a common site of injuries and rescues, Falkenstrom said that SRVFPD trains on more treacherous parts of Mount Diablo every spring in preparation for rescues as the weather becomes more inviting and draws people to the mountain's trails, such as Signal Rock.
While chance falls are hard to predict, Falkenstrom said that a common reason for injuries and rescues by SRVFPD is temptation for outdoors enthusiasts to hit the trails in the warmer months without fully taking stock of their own physical abilities after months of cold and wet weather discouraging outdoor recreation.
"A lot of what we get is folks who haven't been out hiking for a long time, they see a nice day and then before you know it they fall like this and they get hurt, or they get lost or disoriented, they get lightheaded dizzy," Falkenstrom said.
Falkenstrom emphasized the importance of safety precautions for hikers, including bringing water, looking at terrain and weather forecasts ahead of time, and telling someone where they will be going and when they expect to be back.