Hiker rescued from forest after eight-day fast
Published: August 28, 2007 | 6692nd good news item since 2003
The revelation was not, perhaps, what he expected.
A Berkeley man who hiked into the Los Padres National Forest to conduct a multi-day fast found himself too emaciated eight days later to hike out and was rescued Tuesday by the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department.
Backpackers who had encountered Gerald Horne 12 miles into the rugged backcountry hiked to the trail head and alerted authorities. Rescue team members were lowered to the hiker via helicopter and then airlifted him out of the forest to a waiting ambulance.
Horne, 38, was transported to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.
“He said he was just going out to find himself and get away a little bit and go on a fast,” said Sgt. Joe Moses on Wednesday.
But by day five Horne couldn’t hold down food or water, Moses said.
By the time the backpackers stumbled upon him at Sykes Camp over the weekend, it was clear Horne wasn’t leaving the forest under his own power, Moses added.
“A couple of them came out and said, `This guy needs help,’ ” Moses said. “So we went in and got him.”
Those undertaking extended fasts should seek regular monitoring, including physical examinations and weekly blood tests, according to a Web article by Dr. Elson Haas, founder of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin in San Rafael and author of “Staying Healthy with Nutrition.”
Long fasts may reduce blood protein levels and will drop blood fat levels, Elson wrote. They can also spike uric acid levels as the body scavenges protein, resulting in painful joint inflammation and potential kidney damage.