A FITNESS fanatic who became lost at Falls Creek was found by cyclists more than 12 hours after he set out on his five-hour hike.
Police say the Sydney man, 40, didn’t tell anyone where he was going before he set off on Thursday.
That made things difficult for his rescuers, who said they had no idea where to start looking after he had failed to return to his lodgings.
Acting Sgt Peter Dilley, of Mount Beauty police, said the man, who had walked in the area before, set out about 9.30am on Thursday without a mobile phone.
His friends raised the alarm when he didn’t return by 6pm.
The man had gone to Mount Nelse and then was walking to Howmans Gap when he fell and became disoriented.
When he was found, he couldn’t tell police how far he’d fallen but he had skinned both his knees and had blackberry cuts on his legs.
Acting Sgt Dilley said the man had started to wander, following the heavily vegetated Rocky Valley Creek, where it was a struggle to make any headway.
Eventually, he made it to the Rocky Valley dam wall where he was discovered at 10pm by cyclists.
Police said the man was tired, disorientated and probably a bit dehydrated, but he did not need to be hospitalised.
A police plane, which had been called in for the following morning, was cancelled.
Police said the case was an example of why it was important for hikers to tell someone where they were going before setting out.
Searchers in four vehicles, including police, were sent out to look for the hiker.
Acting Sgt Dilley said there were logbooks at the beginning of trails and at guest houses that were regularly checked by police.
Alternatively, he said it was as simple as leaving a short note, saying for example “out for a walk, going to Mount Nelse and back”.
Falls Creek is a popular destination at this time of year for athletes taking advantage of high-altitude training.