Twenty hikers, including at least two children, were rescued on Sunday night and Monday morning near a swimming hole in the western part of Virginia called Devil’s Bathtub. Flash flooding in the area caused creeks and streams to rise rapidly, stranding the hikers on the trails surrounding the swimming hole.
Bristol Virginia Fire Department, Duffield Volunteer Fire and Rescue, Fort Blackmore Volunteer Fire Department and Norton Fire Department responded to calls for help around 7:15 p.m. Sunday evening. Later, the assistance of the Virginia Emergency Operations Center and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management for Swift Water Rescue Teams was also requested, according to the Herald Courier.
Rescue crews worked through Sunday night and into Monday morning searching for and rescuing hikers trapped on the trails. All the hikers were eventually rescued and were reportedly in good condition, though some suffered from mild hypothermia and one suffered a twisted knee.
“The real challenge is the stream crossings and when you have the water come up very quickly, that’s going to trap people in places where they can’t get out and they can’t get out because the terrain is so steep and in some places, sheer vertical cliffs and then other places, they may end up on an island trapped by water on all sides of them,” Billy Chrimes, Search and Rescue Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency management told WJHL News Channel 11.
The Devil’s Fork trial, which leads to Devil’s Bathtub, was temporarily closed following the incident but reopened on Tuesday.
Authorities warn that hikers to Devil’s Bathtub should always be on the lookout for rising water because the area is prone to flash flooding. Only experienced hikers should attempt the trail, as a portion of the trail requires a creek crossing.