Madera County authorities warn hikers to be cautious as some go missing

With amusement parks closed and Yosemite limiting capacity, more visitors are heading outdoors in the county.
MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's been a busy summer for search and rescue teams as more people escape to the mountains during the pandemic.

Many of their hazardous hikes have ended up in even riskier rescues.

"This month alone we've responded to 12 rescues in Madera County," says Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue.

"People are coming from urban areas who'd otherwise be (going to) movie theatres, Disneyland.. they're coming out of the wilderness."

Pogue says a lot of their calls are coming from areas around Bass Lake, Angel Falls, and Lewis Creek.

With amusement parks closed and Yosemite limiting capacity, more visitors are heading outdoors in the county.

Calls aren't winding down as they usually do around this time of year and these rescues take up a lot of manpower as well as a lot of risk.

While some hikers are rescued, others remain missing.

Ashley Macus says her aunt, Sandra Hughes, took off to the Sierras in June and her family hasn't heard from her in weeks.

In July, deputies found her campsite a mess.

"Everything that's happened since is uncharacteristic. She loves the forest, she would never trash things," says Macus.

She was spotted in July, then again in early August.

Deputies aren't giving up, but resources are running out.

Macus says she knows Hughes is still out there...and are holding on to hope that they'll see her again soon.

Anyone who spots Hughes is asked to call the Madera County Sheriff's Office.

If you are heading to a trail, deputies advise you to stay with your group, turn around if the trail seems risky, and go on a trail that meets your fitness level.
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