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It’s a helipad, not a tent pad; Local SAR trying to educate backcountry hikers

CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) – Here’s a pro tip for anyone new to backcountry hiking and tenting — the “H” on that convenient, wooden platform you just found doesn’t stand for “heck of a good camping spot.”

Chilliwack Search and Rescue has apparently had some issues trying to land helicopters this summer because some people don’t understand the need to get out of the way.

“As with any busy summer weekend there are lots and lots of people on the popular trails. The one, in particular, up to Lindeman Lake is one of the most popular trails in the Chilliwack River valley,” says CSAR search manager Doug Fraser.

“We have a helipad set up there for use by search and rescue, BC Parks and for other forestry-related purposes. It’s in a prime location for a great view of the lake and taking a picture. We know people are going to use it for that — and that’s okay — but the message to get out is that when you hear a helicopter coming, grab your belongings and get away from that helipad. Stay well away from the helicopter.”

The group’s Facebook page takes a cheekier approach.

“We do understand the helipad at Lindeman Lake is in a prime location for camping and such but it’s placement is due to many reasons in that canyon namely for the machine and the loading and unloading of persons, subjects, and gear,” reads one post.

“If you choose to use this location for your adventure and you hear a helicopter coming… please grab your belongs and hold them TIGHT, move far away from the pad, stay put, and shield yourselves. Standing on the helipad with your cell phone recording us hovering looking at you is not helping… thanks.”

Fraser says despite gawkers and obtuse campers, the CSAR has never had a close call.

“The pilot would never put the machine in a position where people are going to be put at risk but there was some delay in getting onto the helipad this past weekend because of people who were wanting to take a picture or video of the helicopter coming in,” he tells NEWS 1130.

“There is an element of frustration but we recognize that it’s a matter of educating people. The public that do understand the circumstances can help us by talking to people who are perhaps standing still with their phones. Remind them to put the phone away and move away so the helicopter can land.”

There are tent pads around Lindeman Lake — conveniently not marked with an “H” — which make a much better spot for setting up camp or snapping a photo.

-With files from Marcella Bernardo

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