PIONEER -- Along Highway 88, north of Pioneer and south of Kirkwood, the forest floor is covered in 10 to 15 feet of snow.
Overnight temperatures have been dipping down into the single digits.
It was in that environment that two cross-country skiers got lost in a snowstorm Saturday with their dog, Parker.
"My understanding is the skiers were able to contact family members and let them know that they were lost and not able to make their way back," said CHP Officer Jared Boothe.
A helicopter from the CHP Valley Division Air Operations in Auburn was called out to help in the search.
Rescue crews on the ground led by the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department had been searching using snowmobiles. But the search was difficult because the snow was so deep.
The helicopter team spotted ski tracks and a snow shelter on Monday morning.
"And that shelter actually kept them warm enough to survive the sub-freezing temperatures overnight. Due to the remote location and the soft-packed snow, we took one of the El Dorado County Sheriff Search and Rescue volunteers, inserted him via hoist," Boothe said. "He was able to assess both of the skiers who suffered some cold-related injuries. And he prepared them for rescue and they were hoisted out one at a time. And then the rescuer was the third to get hoisted out and he also got hoisted out with their dog, Parker."
The skiers were flown by CareFlight and CALSTAR to Sutter Roseville Medical Center. The pair and Parker are expected to be fine.
They did several things right, including having a cell phone, warm clothes and the ability to build a snow cave. But this is a good lesson for anyone venturing out into the deep snow.
"Stay in bounds. Know where you're going. Stay on marked trails," Boothe said. "Let friends or family know where you're going, when they can expect you back. If you don't think you're going to have cell phone reception, please take some kind of personal location beacon that can use satellite services to initiate search and rescue personnel to come directly to your location."