5 Days After Going Missing, Hikers' Footprints Lead To Their Rescue

Eric Desplinter and Gabrielle Wallace rationed food and water during their five-day ordeal in the California wilderness. 

By Gina Tron
Eric Desplinter & Gabrielle Wallace

After five days of being lost in the wilderness, two missing California hikers were found alive after rescuers spotted their footprints and followed them.

The footprints led to a happy ending for Eric Desplinter, 33, and Gabrielle Wallace, 31, and everyone who was worried about them. 

The couple went missing on Mount Baldy Saturday afternoon as they were heading toward Cucamonga Peak. Desplinter lives in Chino Hills and Wallace lives in Rancho Cucamonga.

On Wednesday evening, a “search team in Cucamonga Canyon found two sets of footprints and began following them,” the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office said. From there, the search team was able to provide coordinates for the sheriff’s helicopter, who flew over the area only to spot a campfire.

“The crew is preparing for a hoist rescue and will hoist them out one at a time,” the sheriff’s department wrote Wednesday.

The hikers were then airlifted to safety.

They were flown to a fire station for a medical evaluation and after that, were reunited with family members,  KABC reports.

"We're very grateful to be found tonight. I'm ready to get to bed and get some rest," Desplinter told reporters.

He said he and Wallace rationed food to survive during the five-day period.

"We rationed our food, drank water through a life straw, kept as warm as possible."

The couple have been described as experienced hikers.

Ever since the couple went missing, dozens of search-and-rescue crews began combing the area to find them.

“Volunteers are a real blessing to our agencies, providing thousands of hours giving back to make our communities better and stronger,” Sheriff John McMahon said in a sheriff’s statement, speaking about the rescue team. “This is a perfect example of their commitment.”

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