Two mountain bikers went missing Sunday night above La Cañada Flintridge when they tried to access the former JPL trail, which no longer exists due to the Station Fire and subsequent floods, according to .
Glendale local John Emami and Brentwood resident Dylan Fenster started their ride at 10 a.m. Sunday after they were dropped off by a family member at the Switzer Falls picnic area, Leum said.
They tried to ride back to one of their homes in Glendale by the former JPL trail, Leum said.
"They had to carry their bikes most of the way, over rocks and downed trees," Leum said. "During this hours-long ordeal they both suffered minor injuries to their legs. At one point John 'ditched' his bike, refusing to carry it any further."
By nightfall they were at the top of the Paul Little debris dam, with nowhere to go, Leum said. They had cell phone reception to call Emami's father, who then called the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station to bring the Montrose Search and Rescue Team.
Emami, a Glendale High School graduate, rode the trail for years and didn't realize it was gone.
"My pride's a little hurt, but I'm fine. I've been riding that silly canyon for 30 years, and I hadn't gone up there in a few years, and I just had no clue whatsoever that there was no trail," Emami said.
Now, Emami wants to make a sign to tell people the trail no longer exists.
"I'm more than happy to make a billboard if someone wants to nail it up there," Emami said. "We had no clue, and I've been through there so many times, I knew the trail but I was thinking, 'Where did this thing go?'"
Emami is grateful to the Montrose Search and Rescue Team, who found the lost bikers at night.
"Those guys were absolutely heroes. They're the bomb," Emami said. "I was so impressed by how well they did everything. So professional. They were so cool about everything. My leg was hurt and they didn't complain once about having to go slow for me. They were some of the best people I've ever [met]."
Search and rescue team members found the duo after about 45 minutes in rugged terrain, where they had built two fires to keep warm, Leum said. Emami had left his bike behind along the trail, he said.
"They were very grateful to be rescued, and surprised to learn that the team is made of up volunteers who left their families to go out into the night and find the pair," Leum said.
Rescuers medically evaluated the bikers and lowered Fenster's bicycle down the face of the 100-foot debris dam to other Montrose SAR members who were stationed at the bottom, Leum said.
The field team then hiked the mountain bikers out to a trail which is now overgrown and easy to miss, Leum said.
"I've never have this happen to me and I've ridden them since I was 18. I never dreamed that I'd get stuck up there," Emami said.
Emami is inspired to learn more about the Montrose SAR program, which will host a .
"Just tell the whole gang that they have my admiration. They really blew me away," Emami said.
For about two years Emami told his friend Fenster about the JPL trail bike ride he wanted to take. Before they started the ride, Emami said it would be memorable, Dylan Fenster told Patch.
"It was quite an adventure. We knew we got stuck. We knew we were below snow level so we weren't going to freeze," Fenster said.
The bikers were suffering from exhaustion and had to carry their bikes over cliffs, Fenster said. They also didn't have food packed with them so when Montrose SAR team members arrived they were happy to see them.
"It was a little tough. We thought they might be pretty pissed at us for making them come get them but they were pretty friendly," Fenster said.