Riverside resident Ramon Llamas and his dog, Mole, hike Mt. Rubidoux three to four times a week. On Monday morning, their routine hike turned into a rescue mission when the 1-year-old canine discovered something moving in the rocks.
"He likes to go look in the rocks and he kind of pulled me over, pulling and crying and I said, 'What's going on boy?'" Llamas said.
Llamas feared it was a coyote lurking in the outcropping of rocks. In the early morning darkness, Llamas said all he saw were two eyes staring back at him. But then Llamas realized it was a man, so he called to him asking if he needed help.
"He said, 'I need water, please don't leave me.' So I gave him water from my backpack and in a minute he said, 'You got more?' So I give more water," Llamas said.
Although the trapped hiker was less than 100 feet from the main trail, no one could hear his calls for help because he was trapped and hidden in the rocks. The 44-year-old hiker told Llamas his name was Paul and that he had no idea how long he had been shut in.
"He said he'd been there between four and six days with no food," Llamas said.
The trapped hiker, who apparently did not have a cellphone with him at the time, said he tried to dig himself out, but couldn't.
Llamas and a group of fellow hikers called 911. Firefighters with the Riverside Fire Department's Technical Rescue Team hiked to the location and helped pull the severely dehydrated hiker to safety.
"In talking to him, he came up here during the night time, so we think he was unaware of his footing, slipped in between some rocks and slid down to the location where he was at," said Riverside Fire Capt. Bruce Vanderhorst.
Thankfully, Mole's keen senses helped alert his owner to a man in desperate need of help. Mole, who is a rescue dog, perhaps is returning the favor.
The rescued hiker was recovering at Riverside Community Hospital. According to a hospital official, the man said he wanted to thank Llamas and his dog for finding him.