Ricardo Perez and Brian Chim. Photo: King5 News
On June 30, 2013 two teens, Brian Chim (19) and Ricardo Perez (18), started up the trail to Mason Lake on what was expected to be a hike and a swim on a hot day. Once arriving at the lake they decided to go further, and continued east-bound on the Mt Defiance trail (#1009) toward Rainbow Lake. At the time, much of that trail was covered in snow. In an interview later they said “at some point we just lost the trail in the snow, and then in the creek bed, and then we thought it was a trail but then we continued down the creek bed and we just lost it”. Heading west to get back to Mason Lake, they ended up too far north and were drawn down into the upper reaches of the Pratt Valley near Lake Kulla Kulla, probably on or near the little-used trail below Sir Richard’s Pond (unofficial name).
By 6pm they knew that they were lost when they came across a waterfall instead of the expected lake. The waterfall was probably the outlet of Lake Kulla Kulla. Brian, the more experienced of the two, felt confident that with warm summer weather they could build a fire and it would not be to bad to spend a night out. Ricardo was not so sanguine, saying “Brian kept me together. I was crying like a little girl. … Brian was there and talked me down.” They spent the first night in a “huge ravine” and the next morning had to descend a “phat cliff … we had to go from tree to tree and a couple times we had to traverse over rock faces with 40 foot drops.” During this period on July 1 they saw a helicopter looking for them, so they waited about 6 hours and when the helicopter did not return they headed down to the Pratt River and “took the river as far as we could go.” As the second night came they accepted that it might take longer to be found than expected, and it was difficult staying warm without long pants or a sweater.
On the third day, July 2, they were spotted by a helicopter search team near the confluence of the Pratt and Spider Lake creek. Upon seeing the helicopter again, one of them shook a small tree to get the rescuer’s attention and they were hoisted into the helicopter and taken to Bandera airfield near I-90 exit 45. For spending two nights out they were doing relatively well, being just a little scratched up. Asked what they would do differently next time Ricardo immediately said “NOT HIKE!” To that non-list, Brian added a first aid kit, an emergency blanket, plenty of food, and “make sure the trail I’m going on is an actual trail”.
Possible path based on published reports
Pratt River conditions at end of July, 2013
Snow covered trail beyond Mason Lake where they lost their way
On June 19, 2013 the US Senate approved the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act, bringing it a step closer to becoming the law, but still requiring passage in the House. Before celebrating, it’s sobering to remember that we’ve been here before — in 2010 the 111th Congress passed the bill in the House, but not Senate. Then last year the bill did not come up for a vote in either branch of the 112th Congress. Originally introduced in 2007, there’s a chance that 2013 will finally see passage, bringing wilderness status to the lowland forests of the Pratt valley and increased protection for most of the Middle Fork river.
Alpine Lakes Wilderness additions passed by Senate
Spider Lake and the Pratt River valley
The Pratt Connector trail construction is roughed in all the way to the connection with the Pratt railroad grade. In this section a new trail has been blasted into the rock buttress where the old one dipped below it.
New trail blasted from the rock
Old trail passing below the rock buttress
Map from Pratt River Connector proposal
PDF archive of maps from Pratt River Trail Connector #1035 Relocation