MT. SHASTA CITY, Calif. — Search crews today found and rescued a hiker who split from his party and fell Sunday while hiking atop Mount Shasta, authorities said.

MT. SHASTA CITY, Calif. — Search crews today found and rescued a hiker who split from his party and fell Sunday while hiking atop Mount Shasta, authorities said.

Steve Buckland, 44, of Shasta Lake City, spent Sunday night alone in the snow and without his backpack before he was found, cold and with a sprained ankle, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department reported.

He was air-lifted off the mountain by California National Guard troops in a Black Hawk helicopter to Bunny Flat, where an awaiting ambulance took Buckland to Mercy Medical Center in Mount Shasta, deputies said.

Buckland was treated for a sprained ankle and released, deputies said.

"He was very lucky," said Brian Trotter, one of four others hiking with Buckland. "Outside of a long, sleepless, cold night, he's OK."

Buckland could not be reached for comment.

As the group of five seasoned hikers headed up the mountain, Buckland began to lag behind and taking several photographs while the others chugged forward, Trotter said.

After Trotter and the three others reached the summit, they waited for Buckland, then headed down the mountain when he was a no-show, Trotter said.

A short time later at a place called Misery Hill, the foursome met Buckland on the trail, Trotter said. Buckland seemed lucid and not winded, and the group agreed to wait while Buckland reached the summit and returned, Trotter said.

'"We waited and waited, but he never popped out," Trotter said.

Trotter and other hikers heard some faint cries for help and Trotter called authorities at 5 p.m., he said.

Trotter said Buckland took a wrong path through the snow on his way down from the summit, sprained his ankle and eventually became trapped between an ice bank and a deep precipice.

Deputies said Buckland's backpack slid onto an ice field and out of his reach Sunday afternoon.

— Mark Freeman