BIG SUR, Calif. -

The Monterey County Sheriff's Department as well as allied agencies have a search and rescue effort underway for Big Sur resident Arvin Nelson. 

The search started two days ago in the Ventana Wilderness for Nelson. The 55-year-old is described as an experienced hiker.

Nelson started a solo 10-day hiking trip on August 6th and told his friends if he wasn't back by the 14th or 15th to start looking for him.  Friends called the sheriff's department on the 16th to report Nelson missing and the search started at  4 p.m.

"All of us who know him are taking it very seriously, it's not a joke," friend Suzanne Tennyson said. "He didn't just go off somewhere, he needs help."

But, Tennyson remains hopeful. 

So far 32 people are searching by foot from Monterey, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Luis Obispo counties as well as the Bay Area Mountain Rescue group.

Currently, three helicopters from the Coast Guard, National Guard, and CHP are assisting in the search as well as the sheriff's department plane. 

Nelson is a popular server at the Big Sur River Inn Restaurant and well-known to the tight knit community.

Nelson’s friends said he's very well know in Big Sur and has a lot of people praying for his safe return. 

NewsChannel 5 caught up with Fernwood Campground bartender David Maloof who said Nelson worked there for about 8 years, ending his stint there around 2008 and then took a job just down the street at River Inn.  Maloof said Nelson also works as a substitute teacher for the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District.

Friends said Nelson is an avid outdoors-man and knows his way around a trail.  So when he didn't show up for his shift last Thursday, everyone began to worry. 

"Very experienced, most definitely.  That's his passion out there, back in the woods.  (He would) Come in here, hang out, listen to music, always playing the harmonica.  Like one of my friends posted on Facebook, one of the worst dancers you would ever meet.  But it comes from the heart," Maloof said.