Teens Rescued After Surviving Days In The Woods During California Winter Storm

Across California, people have braced themselves as an intense winter storm brought snow, hail, and rainfall in historic amounts.

I live in a small coastal town in Northern California that rarely sees even a dusting of snow. We’re lucky to get snow that sticks for more than 10 minutes most years. However, this year, the snow started falling and it didn’t stop. Even my 75-year-old grandpa hadn’t seen anything like it in his lifetime.

Photo: Malorie Thompson

Even days after the several inches of snow melted, we’re still cleaning up from the aftereffects of the snowfall (while simultaneously being hit with hard hail and rain). Trees are downed all around town, and half of my yard is still inaccessible due to a downed power line that’s yet to be fixed.

Despite the crazy weather, I’ve been blessed enough to stay safe and dry inside a fire-heated home. I can’t imagine trying to brave it outside, but that’s exactly what two teens did when they took off to hike in the mountains of California.

What started as a fun adventure for 17-year-old Riley Ramirez and 17-year-old Cole White quickly turned into a life-or-death situation when the snow began to fall much quicker and heavier than expected.

Photo: Flickr/Martin Criminale License: CC BY-SA 2.0

According to a press release from the Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Department, the two teens embarked on what was supposed to be a 10-day backpacking trip on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail.

After being dropped off near the trailhead in Whitewater, California on February 26, Ramirez and White set off into the woods – only to be pounded with feet of snow.

Thankfully, their parents got worried after losing contact with the boys on February 28 and called in a search and rescue team for help.

Miraculously, after days of searching, the two teens were located alive!

Photo: Flickr/Yellowstone National Park

In the press release, the sheriff’s office explained that a helicopter ultimately located the teens and managed to land and make contact with them.

They wrote: “The crew ultimately flew the juveniles to the Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Station, where they received medical attention, food, water, and a warm place until their parents arrived.”

They added, “During the five days they were hiking, they encountered four to five feet of snow drifts, limiting visibility and making it difficult to stay on the trail. Riley and Cole expressed how severe the weather conditions were and believed they would not have survived without assistance from the Sheriff’s Department.”

Photo: Flickr/Angeles Chapter History Archives License: CC BY-ND 2.0

According to CBS News, Cesar Ramirez, Riley’s father, wasn’t initially worried when the boys set out for the trek considering how well-prepared they seemed being equipped with plenty of food and proper snow gear. However, that changed when the snow started falling and the boys lost contact with loved ones.

According to the outlet, Riley had allegedly lost his jacket due to heavy wind and their tent had broken. Ramirez said: “They’ve told us, ‘We were already convinced we were going to die.'”

Oftentimes when we hear about missing people, especially in the woods during such terrible weather, the outcome is only grim when and if those people are found. It’s truly a miracle these two teens were found alive and well! It’s a good reminder to always prepare for the worst and follow local guidelines for staying inside.

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