PASADENA - An experienced hiker was recovering Thursday after surviving two serious falls while lost in the Angeles National Forest for almost three days last weekend.
With several huge contusions on his head and his body covered with tiny scratches and large scrapes, Guido Mulder, 36, a Canadian living in Pasadena, told of an ordeal that began Saturday as a simple hike into the mountains above Altadena.
Mulder, impressed by the view of the mountains from his downtown Pasadena apartment, said he walked all the way up Lake Avenue to its dead end at Loma Alta Drive, went west to Chaney Trail and into the mountains - some of the steepest in the world - through Millard Canyon.
"I set out around noon hiking to a reach a ridge that I chose by sight," Mulder said of his off-trail ascent. "I was having so much fun that I went out too far. Later, it became misty and I was unable to see more than a hundred feet. I should have waited, but I tried to bushwhack my way back. That was a serious error."
The Los Angeles County sheriff's Altadena and Sierra Madre Mountain Rescue Teams, as well as a helicopter from the Pasadena Police Department, were unsuccessful in locating Mulder, who eventually made his way out of the mountains alone, said Pasadena police Lt. Keith Jones.
Mulder said he stayed focused merely on survival during the 54-hour ordeal, which included a slide down a 45-foot ravine Sunday. During another 25-foot fall Monday, a large rock he was using to pull himself up struck him in the head.
"I woke up and at first I didn't know where I was," he said. "Then I remembered and just kept trying to find my way out."
Mulder said he took a few snacks, a liter of water, another of Gatorade and half a liter of another juice drink. These soon ran out. He wore hiking boots, long pants and a jacket.
He said he spent the first night sleeping in a tree because he was unsure what local wildlife might be lurking - mountain lions and bears do live in the front range - and drank algae-laced water found in a rain-collecting crevice.
Authorities began searching for Mulder on Monday when colleagues at E-Z Data Inc., a computer firm based in his hometown of London, Ontario, reported him missing to the Pasadena Police Department after he did not show up for work, according to Jones.
Two 9-1-1 calls, within minutes of each other on Sunday morning died before the source of the signal could be identified, Jones said. During the second call, picked up by the San Gabriel Police Department, a man was heard saying, "Help, I'm stuck up here" before the call dropped.
Told that Mulder had planned a hiking trip, the mountain rescue team started "a very general search," according to Deputy Gregory Gabriel, the volunteer team's coordinator.
"We had no clues as to where he may have entered the mountains," he said. "So we started a search near the top of Lake Avenue, with the idea he may have taken a bus there from his apartment in Pasadena."
A bloodhound was on its way to assist when the team received a call from Pasadena police that Mulder had been found in Altadena.
"I came out of the mountains" onto Glenrose Avenue about 6:30 p.m. Monday "and started ringing doorbells," said Mulder, whose clothing was soaked with blood. "I approached the first people I saw driving their car into their driveway and asked them to use the phone."
After calling his wife in Canada, he called police and was soon transported to Huntington Hospital.
"I think it would be really unfair for my wife and son to lose me because of my bad decision," he said, referring to the most difficult part of his unanticipated sojourn.
Having been an avid hiker and camper since he was a teenager, Mulder listed mistakes he would be sure to not repeat, among them going out without telling anyone and bringing a cell phone with a low battery.
"I don't know where my short-sightedness came from," he said. "I would never overlook best practices again."
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