MT. SHASTA, Calif. — Search crews Monday rescued a hiker who separated from his party and then fell Sunday while hiking atop Mount Shasta, authorities said.

MT. SHASTA, Calif. — Search crews Monday rescued a hiker who separated from his party and then fell Sunday while hiking atop Mount Shasta, authorities said.

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

He was airlifted from the mountain by California National Guard troops in a Black Hawk helicopter to Bunny Flat, where an ambulance took him to Mercy Medical Center in Mt. 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 did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

As the group of five seasoned hikers headed up the mountain, Buckland lagged behind, 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 did not show up, 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 for help 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.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.