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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Hiker Captures Moment She Thought Could Be Her Last After She and Dog Fell Off Boulder and Became Stranded

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Courtney Leasure from Ohio and her trusty pup, Marley, were hiking near Lake Tahoe on Sunday when they got lost.

Leasure describes herself as an experienced hiker, and her Instagram is full of the adventures she and Marley have been on, but Leasure said the trails were unmarked and she followed footprints in the snow, which is how she ended up lost.

As the two wandered through Desolation Wilderness, the views were breathtaking, but at some point Leasure became concerned that they were well and truly lost and might not make it back out.

Both dog and human had suffered some minor injuries: Leasure had fallen off a 5-foot-tall rock and Marley’s paws had been cut up by the terrain.

“I’m glad I didn’t hit my head,” Leasure said. “I … I could have died, you know.

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“I was afraid. [I was] way off. I was on the side of the mountain.”

Marley was apparently having a rough go of it as well, sensing her owner’s state.

“Well, she was shaking and she could probably see the fear in me, so we were both shaking — she was whining, holding up her right paw,” Leasure said.

Thankfully, she still had her phone, and she posted photos of the landscape. In the video, she is breathing hard and says, “In case I die before I make it.”

Leasure then used her iPhone’s SOS feature to call for help, and a search team was able to locate her and escort her back to safety.

“On Sunday the EDSO Search And Rescue Team (SAR) in South Lake Tahoe responded to a solo hiker that had become disorientated and lost while hiking out of the Desolation Wilderness,” the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office posted on Wednesday.

“This hiker was with her K-9 partner, Marley, and they were trying to descend the Horsetail Falls/Pyramid Creek, when they became stranded in steep rocky terrain. Both had minor injuries from their descent and Marley suffered injuries to her paws. Search and Rescue members assisted in navigating out of the wilderness and providing extraction for Marley.”

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“This required a special K-9 harness that Search and Rescue Operations keep in its cache of equipment. Both Marley and her owner were escorted out of the wilderness safely. SAR is a much needed resource in our wonderfully rural county. Thank you to our awesome SAR volunteers for their assistance.”

Leasure was understandably relieved by the rescue, though she said Marley being carried down the mountain in a sling was quite the sight.

“I was blown away, I was so happy, and I was crying, and I was panicking and trying to breathe and it was a bunch of feelings,” Leasure said.

“It was the cutest thing ever but the saddest thing ever at the same time.”

While they’re both doing well after their ordeal, Leasure has decided that from now on, when she goes on difficult new trails, she’ll bring along a human hiking partner as well.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking