Family rescued from top of California waterfall after sending SOS in a bottle downstream

A family on a camping trip in California had to get creative after they found themselves trapped on top of a waterfall with no mobile phone service.

Curtis Whitson took his partner and his 13-year-old son for an expedition into the Arroyo Seco tributary as part of a four-day river-floating and camping trip in the middle of June this year.

However, when they reached the top of a 40-foot waterfall, Mr Whitson was dismayed to find a rope that he had previously used to rappel down was no longer secured there.

With no service available to call for help, Mr Whitson turned to an old method that he felt would be the best hope of being rescued.

He scribbled a note detailing their plight and location and placed it in a Nalgene water bottle, scratching the word "HELP" in capital letters on the side.

Mr Whiston then sent the bottle off down the waterfall, praying someone would find it.

“The only thing left to do now is wait,” he told his girlfriend Krystal Ramirez and son Hunter Wilson.

Amazingly they didn't have to wait long, around midnight they were awakened by a voice over a loudspeaker that said: “This is search and rescue — you have been found! Stay put and we’ll be back to get you tomorrow morning.”

Mr Whitson was amazed the bottle had been found so soon.

“It blows me away how it all came perfectly together,” he told the Washington Post. “What are the odds?”

The trio were told by rescuers that two hikers found their bottle about two miles downstream and alerted search and rescue.