The Main Stream

Aug 4, 2012 1:42 AM

Man who was missing near Sabino Canyon shares experience

TUCSON - The man who went missing during a hiking trip Wednesday is talking about the experience.

Len Gallego went hiking near Sabino Canyon, lost his way, and ended up staying the night. This triggered a major search and rescue operation.

He originally planned on starting near the Sabino Visitor Center and hiking up the Bear Canyon Trail to Seven Falls and turning around. Once he got up the mountain, he chose to take a different route back, which did not turn out the way he expected.

"My granddaughter scolded me," Gallego said. "She's my little 4-year-old. ‘Why did you get lost?' How do I answer a question like that, you know?"

Gallego never thought he was in danger.

"I only had the feeling that it would just take time and I would get there," he said.

He might not have been worried for himself, but he knew the people in his life felt differently.

"I knew my wife was worried," Gallego said, "but I didn't know the extent of how many people had been notified."

He was well prepared, and in the end, a whistle he possessed led rescuers to him.

"Those people are amazing people. I was very appreciative of everything they did," Gallego said. "The work that they do is invaluable."

After scratching up his legs during his detour and taking a helicopter ride to safety, Gallego said he will have a new strategy for hiking.

"I'm 70 years old, so I don't think that I'll be doing any of that type of hiking anymore," he said. "I'll probably stay on the pavement."

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