SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- If anyone knows what it's like to cross the breakwater connecting west Saint John to Partridge Island, it's historian Harold Wright.

"From 1978, my first time walking the breakwater, until about 2010, I have walked that breakwater exactly 493 times," Wright said.

Having made that trek hundreds of times over the years in the name of research, Wright knows exactly how treacherous it can be.

From a distant vantage point, the breakwater appears relatively flat, but in reality, it's far from it.

"You're literally jumping from one rock to another in some cases down from one rock to another," Wright said. "The rocks move especially at in a storm, heavy tide surge. The rocks still move."

This past weekend, two hikers learned this lesson the hard way as they became stranded after one started experiencing signs of hypothermia.

"People tend to underestimate how far it is, and how bad it actually is to get out there," said Saint john Fire Platoon Chief Ed Moyer. "Once they're out there, they realize it's several hours to get back, and if they're cold and worn out from going over, it becomes very difficult to get back."

Emergency crews including firefighters, police and the Coast Guard had to be called in for what's been described as a high-risk rescue that took about two hours in difficult weather conditions.

Late last year Saint John council passed a bylaw that would enact fines for certain fire services, including what they described as "thrill-seeking behaviour."

"They'll look into that and determine at a later date whether that applies here," Moyer said.