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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 8:24 p.m., Monday, September 29, 2008

Honolulu firefighters rescue 3 hikers

Advertiser Staff

The Honolulu Fire Department today ended up assisting three hikers, instead of two, in two separate rescue operations that had a bizarre connection.

The incident started yesterday when a man and woman, who intended to hike to "Stairway to Heaven" in Haiku Valley from the Tripler Ridge Trail, called for help at 7:17 p.m.

HFD suspended its rescue efforts for the couple stranded on the Ridge Trail at 9:30 p.m. due to heavy cloud cover that made it hazardous for its helicopter to continue flying. Firefighters, however, were in contact with the hikers and advised them to spend the night on the trail. The couple's only source of light was a cigarette lighter.

HFD completed the rescue mission today at 6:30 a.m.

The surprise came four hours later.

Fire Capt. Terry Seelig said HFD did not find out until 10:30 a.m. today that a 27-year-old man had hiked in late last night to assist the stranded couple. The man took no cellphone, water and did not tell anyone what his plans were, Seelig said.

The man eventually met up with the stranded couple at about 3 a.m. today but was told they were staying put. The man borrowed their cellphone and left a message for his wife to pick him up at 4:30 a.m. at Windward Community College and continued hiking the ridge.

Family and friends of the man requested help in locating him at mid-morning.

Seelig said the firefighters located the man, who had a sprained ankle, and brought him out in Windward O'ahu at 1:40 p.m. today.

Mabel Kekina of the Hawaiian Trail & Mountain Climbing Club said volunteers have not cleared the Tripler Ridge Trail for about a year. Kekina added an experienced