JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — Last week, search and rescue teams from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) had two separate rescue missions out on Mt. McLoughlin for lost hikers. Now they are warning local hikers to be well-prepared before setting out on any treks.
On Sunday, a hiker called 911 to report that a man in her party had become separated from the rest while they were descending the mountain. It was 8:30 p.m. when she called — after dark. The lost hiker was able to call 911 once, but his phone was down to 5 percent battery life.
Search and rescue volunteers had to hike for five hours through the night in order to reach the man, who they found dehydrated. JCSO said that the rescue team provided aid to the man before they hiked out together.
In a separate incident on Tuesday, a woman called 911 to ask for assistance after becoming lost among the trees while descending Mt. McLoughlin. JCSO said that she had a full cell phone battery, so search and rescue officials were able to talk her through getting back to Highway 140 where teams were waiting for her — "essentially allowing for a self-rescue."
"Because of better preparation and planning, the second mission had a better outcome," JCSO said. The second hiker reportedly had all of the necessary food, water and gear for the trip.
According to search and rescue officials, most people who become lost while hiking on Mt. McLoughlin run into trouble while descending the summit, as the trail can be difficult to see.
Search and rescue 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.