JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – Following two rescue missions on Mt. McLoughlin in the last week, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue (SAR) officials are offering safety reminders to hikers. The change of seasons means unpredictable weather, colder nights, and an earlier sunset. Hikers who have planned ahead and have adequate supplies are more likely to have a safe outcome.
On Sunday, October 21, 2018, at 8:30 p.m., a hiker called 911 to report a man in her party had become separated during their descent. The lost hiker only had 5% battery remaining on his cell phone, so he was only able to call 911 once. SAR volunteers hiked for five hours in the night to reach the man, who had become dehydrated. They provided aid and then hiked out together.
Because of better preparation and planning, the second mission had a better outcome. On Tuesday, October 23, at 5:02 p.m., a woman called 911 to ask for assistance after becoming lost in the trees on her descent. She had a full cell phone battery so SAR officials were able to speak with her and help her find her way to Highway 140 where SAR was waiting for her – essentially allowing for a self-rescue. The hiker was also equipped with necessary food, water, and gear.
SAR officials say most people who become lost while hiking Mt. McLoughlin run into trouble during the descent from the summit; the trail can be difficult to see in the scree.
SAR officials offer the following tips to stay safe on the mountain:
- Tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back.
- Be aware of the weather forecast and prepare for unexpected changes.
- Carry adequate supplies (“The 10 Essentials”) for an overnight stay, even if you’re planning a day hike.
- Make sure your cell phone is charged; carry an external power source. But, remember that even with a way to summon help, it can take hours for help to reach you.
- If you are lost, call for help as soon as possible. Don’t call a friend or family member – call 911.
- When hiking with others, be sure to stay together.
- Avoid “shortcuts” off the main trail.
- If you become lost, stay in one place.