Memorial Day weekend got off to a fast start for local first responders. Search and rescue teams from Habersham and Rabun counties were called on Friday to rescue two lost hikers from near the bottom of Tallulah Gorge. They spent over six hours getting the two men back to safety.
The rescue operation began around 6:30 p.m. Friday when Habersham E-911 dispatched units after receiving a call that a hiker fell down a rock face. When his friend went to help him, he moved off the trail and was unable to find it again to go get help.
Habersham County Emergency Services, HABSAR, and LACI responded to the scene. They asked the Rabun County SAR team to assist. Rescuers used a drone to locate the hikers. They found them 600 feet down in the gorge.
While one search team rappelled down to the hikers, another team assembled a high line across the river on the floor of the canyon. After reaching the hikers, the first SAR team lowered them to the other team which helped them safely cross the river and reach the stairs.
One of the hikers sustained a minor laceration to his shin but was able to walk out of the gorge with rescuers.
After being lost and stranded, the two were safely returned to the rim of the gorge after midnight. While paramedics were checking them for injuries, four officers from the Department of Natural Resources came up to talk with them. The officers cited them for hiking to the gorge floor without a permit.
Due to COVID-19, DNR has temporarily suspended issuing permits to the gorge floor as a safety precaution. Visitors may still access certain day-use facilities and trails. For more information on current restrictions at Tallulah Gorge CLICK HERE